Discovering Therapy on Your Own Terms with Janet and Brianna Velazquez
In this episode, Lorilee is joined by mother and daughter duo Janet and Brianna Velazquez. Janet and Brianna are both licensed mental health professionals whose goals are to help their clients uncover their true potential and lead lives that are worth celebrating. Brianna is a Licensed Professional Counselor MHSP and Janet is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. The three discuss the many benefits of therapy as well as the misconceptions and roadblocks that can inhibit getting started on a path to self-discovery and growth.
- On the Velazquezs’ playlist:
- “One Less Day” by Rob Thomas
- Uncovering our true potential
- Understanding EMDR
- Pursuing a life that is authentic and meaningful
- Permission and perfectionism
- Deciding to start therapy
- How therapy can help with conflict resolution
- What professional help can offer us
- One tool for our G&G toolbox
Mentioned in this episode:
- EMDR and Reprocessing Therapy
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
- The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron
- John and Julie Gottman on conflict
Sponsored by Her-Bank.com
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Episode 13 – Janet + Brianna Velazquez Transcript
[00:00:00] Lorilee Rager: Hey, I am Lorilee Rager and this is Ground and Gratitude. It is a podcast about designing the life you want, one that not only grows, but also gives.
Before today’s episode, I’d like to tell you about where I bank, Her Bank by Legends Bank. This episode of Ground and Gratitude is sponsored by them. Her Bank celebrates, honors, and supports women, especially entrepreneurs, by providing financial services and resources through a core team of experienced female bankers, which is so reassuring to me. Her Bank creates a bridge to help women overcome barriers when it comes to money conversations and decisions, while providing women with a better banking experience. Check out Her-Bank.com to learn more. Her Bank is a brand of Legends Bank. Legends Bank is a member FDIC equal housing lender.
My guests today are a mother and daughter duo, Janet and Brianna. Brianna is a Licensed Professional Counselor MHSP and Janet is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. In addition, Janet has her PhD in clinical counseling and supervision. They spend their professional time helping clients feel empowered and on a positive path to growth and wellbeing.
Their goal is to help their clients uncover their true potential and lead a life that is worth celebrating. Today, we’re talking all about therapy – when and where to look for it, what it gives to our lives and much more.
Well welcome, Janet and Brianna. Thank you so much for joining me today and thank you for being on the Ground and Gratitude podcast.
[00:02:05] Brianna Velazquez: Thank you.
[00:02:06] Janet Velazquez: You’re welcome – thank you for having us.
[00:02:08] Lorilee Rager: So lately… absolutely. Starting out, there’s a pretty serious question that I like to ask, and the kickoff question is – I need to hear from both of you — complete honesty.
What song is on repeat on your playlist today?
[00:02:26] Janet Velazquez: Um, mine is “One Less Day,” Rob Thomas.
[00:02:32] Lorilee Rager: “One Less Day,” Rob Thomas.
[00:02:35] Janet Velazquez: Yes, from Matchbox Twenty. I’ve loved him forever.
[00:02:39] Lorilee Rager: I wondered if that was Matchbox Twenty, Rob.
[00:02:42] Janet Velazquez: He actually was a military child too, so I just love him.
[00:02:46] Lorilee Rager: Aw, I did not know that. I loved Matchbox Twenty back in the day.
[00:02:50] Janet Velazquez: Mhm.
[00:02:51] Brianna Velazquez: They are good. Yeah.
[00:02:52] Lorilee Rager: What about you, Brianna?
[00:02:53] Brianna Velazquez: For me, the playlist I’ve had on this morning is a mixture of songs by Kehlani. I really like her as an artist. Um, so, I can’t think of one specific one that I’ve been playing a lot this morning, but all by her. So, big fan of her. Yeah.
[00:03:12] Lorilee Rager: Okay. That’s good though. I like to sometimes just tell, you know, whatever device I’m talking to, just play Adele like just play it all or whatever. So…
[00:03:20] Brianna Velazquez: That was me this morning.
[00:03:22] Lorilee Rager: Yeah, okay. That’s good. I love music so much, and it helps, helps all the moods and all the emotions, so, I always want to know what people are listening to, and sometimes, you know, something will get stuck on repeat, or take you down a rabbit hole of other things. So good, alright!
[00:03:37] Brianna Velazquez: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:03:38] Lorilee Rager: Thank you. Thanks for that! Okay, so, diving right into the conversation because I really, really, really value, um, the importance of therapy, and, because of my relationship with Janet for the past over two years, I really think it’s an important topic to talk about. And I think there’s a lot of, um, um, like common misconceptions, or just a lot, not all of them understanding from the people that I know in my story and my sobriety, and now being so vocal about the importance of therapy and, um, they ask a lot of questions. So I thought it would be really good to have some just great topics to cover, and I’d love to get your all’s insight on. And, the first one is, um, the topic of uncovering our true potential, and, to kind of connect to that, to the question is where do you begin in therapy to uncover our true potential? Or what does that really mean to you when I say that?
[00:04:47] Janet Velazquez: Well, for me, I’ll just dive right in. I think I definitely go with an EMDR modality, which, in basics, just means that we’re uncovering what’s underdeveloped in somebody’s life and what’s overdeveloped in their life. And the overdeveloped is so wonderful because we’re so good at it, but the underdeveloped is what we probably need to look out a little bit more.
And so I think, at the beginning, when I’m with somebody, I can start to notice what kind of things that they’ll they’ll do just almost as a habit, rather than thinking I could say no if I would like to. I could actually ask somebody for help if I would like to – those kinds of little things.
[00:05:27] Lorilee Rager: Mhm, mhm – what about you, Brianna?
[00:05:29] Brianna Velazquez: Yeah, I think whenever I hear that question about uncovering your true potential, I think some of the first kind of things that I would want to dig into would be perhaps why. Why do you feel like that’s your true potential? Where’s that coming from? Um, is that something perhaps that is really, uh, a potential that you are wanting to go after? Or is that something that somebody else has, while you’re growing up or in a romantic relationship or whatever it may be, has kind of perhaps facilitated or encouraged? And really sifting out where, where is that want for that true potential coming from so that you can, you can really dive into. What is it that I want? What is it that I want my potential to be? And making sure that that’s true to you and authentic to what your wants and needs are.
[00:06:28] Lorilee Rager: Mm, yeah. I actually love that you, you made a point that made me think of the true potential, that the main part of that is truth. So what, is it your truth or is it someone else’s truth?
[00:06:40] Brianna Velazquez: And that’s hard to sift through sometimes. Yeah.
[00:06:43] Lorilee Rager: ‘Cause once you’ve lived so many years in maybe somebody else’s true potential or whatever their truth is, you don’t maybe know what yours is.
[00:06:52] Brianna Velazquez: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.
[00:06:53] Lorilee Rager: Which is a really good reason to come to therapy.
[00:06:56] Brianna Velazquez: Yeah, I think so.
[00:06:58] Lorilee Rager: And then going back to Janet, you said EMDR, maybe for our listeners that don’t understand what is, what does EMDR… what is EMDR and what does it help with?
[00:07:12] Janet Velazquez: So in, in short, EMDR was developed by Francine Shapiro. I want to give her credit in 1987 for it. Um, it’s actually eye movement, desensi- desensitization, um, and reprocessing. So, I still look it up sometimes. I just think EMDR; however, I feel grace in that, because later she said she would have just named it Reprocessing Therapy, if she would have had the chance.
[00:07:39] Lorilee Rager: Oh.
[00:07:40] Janet Velazquez: But it became EMDR. Basically it uses bilateral stimulation to help our brain take what’s in the prefrontal cortex, and kind of stuck there, to be able to move it back into our system, so it doesn’t cause daily issues and things. So, for instance, when you guys were talking about, um, just how, how we, how we come to therapy. We grow into the person we have to be to survive in the family we live in, and then we grow into an adult, and sometimes, those mix. Our foot’s in the past, and then our foot’s in the present, and we don’t understand why we’re reacting in certain ways to people or stimuli. And, a lot of times, it comes from our attachment trauma when we’re younger. And so, EMDR helps reprocess that into a healthy, healthy way of looking and feeling and being, rather than being stuck.
[00:08:33] Lorilee Rager: Mm.
[00:08:34] Janet Velazquez: So those are the simple ways of putting it.
[00:08:37] Lorilee Rager: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I just hear a lot about it and haven’t had a lot of experience with it, but it seems like anyone that talks about it, it’s so helpful too, and I think the whole uncovering your true potential is really a big reason to come to therapy that maybe a lot of people don’t even know that’s why they’re coming to therapy. Um, and so, asking you Brianna, um, another question kind of in that same vein of, you know, how do you help someone, um, begin to like, lead a life that, that feels true and worthy of celebrating?
[00:09:20] Brianna Velazquez: Yeah. Yeah. I feel like that ties in to some of the first question of, of really digging into what, what things do you enjoy to celebrate? What are the things that are bringing you that happiness and can provide, even in the midst of other struggles that you may be experiencing, some bright spots? And so I think that digging into what, what are those things for you? Or what could they be? Or as there– are there things that you’re, that you’ve heard about or wanted to explore more and just didn’t feel that you could or had the permission to do so? Or, you know, perhaps there were barriers of, “Well, I’m not an expert in this,” or “I’m not this or that.” And really kind of wiping away some of that, and, and, I feel like a lot of it is allowing yourself permission to not be perfect in different things and still feel okay in the midst of whatever it is, whether it be work or, you know, busyness at home, or things like that, that you as yourself and your own happiness and joy is and should be valued. And that, yeah, you have the permission to do that in the midst of all sorts of different stages of life. So I think those are — that’s one of the first things that I think are important to just kind of normalize and talk through and, and get through some of that so that you can dig a little bit deeper ’cause you feel okay, this is okay. This is okay for me to do that.
[00:11:01] Lorilee Rager: Mhm yeah. That — permission is a big word. Like a big, like it’s a big happy word for me now, but it’s — yeah, I think, I think a therapist relationship really does begin with giving you that permission to say and think those things that you never felt you were allowed to do. Don’t you think?
[00:11:26] Brianna Velazquez: Yeah. Finding more autonomy in yourself, I think, is one of the big things that I think, as therapists, we can help do, in my own therapy, I’ve done, so —
[00:11:38] Lorilee Rager: Mhm — yeah, yeah. And perfectionism is a whole other thing, too.
[00:11:42] Brianna Velazquez: Ah man.
[00:11:43] Lorilee Rager: Trying to do it perfect.
[00:11:45] Brianna Velazquez: Yeah.
[00:11:47] Lorilee Rager: So, letting both of those —
[00:11:49] Brianna Velazquez: That’s a hard one.
[00:11:50] Lorilee Rager: Yeah. Yeah. The, the two P’s, for sure. Um, yeah, so, I think that, um, another thing it made me wonder is: when do you, when do you recommend, or, or, maybe this, maybe this, I won’t word this right, but when do you recommend when someone should go or should begin this journey um, in therapy? It’s one of those things where in my story, it was, it was just a suggestion from a school adviser that was like, maybe you need somebody just to talk to, a third-party and remove, you know, removed, that could just be a professional, you know, just sounding board or coach. So, I kind of went, maybe not while I was, in medical terms, I was not having a heart attack, but it’s like, it’s the joke you hear about– you’re in the ER, having a heart attack and you’re asking them about your heartburn kind of situation.
[00:12:41] Brianna Velazquez: Mhm, mhm.
[00:12:42] Lorilee Rager: Yes. It’s one of those “do you go when you’re on fire” or, um, and then, or is it like a maintenance thing? Or is it both?
[00:12:53] Janet Velazquez: I think probably people do both. Yeah. I think a lot of times people end up in therapy, um, not with an invite, such as you had, but because somebody else has pretty much said “You’re going to go to therapy or else,” or their own life, it’s like, oh my gosh, I’ve lost this person and that person, and it just seems like maybe I need some help. So I think that it, it so many different things and reasons, and I think it’s even hard to figure out sometimes when people will stay versus when they’ll decide they’ll leave because they think they’re well enough, but then they come back a few months later because they really haven’t yet. And I love that we, we don’t, we don’t determine or use things in a way that you have to stay. You know, we’re able to be like, well, you know, if you’re ready to go and you’re doing okay, that’s okay, and I’ll be here when you need me again.
[00:13:45] Lorilee Rager: Mhm.
[00:13:47] Brianna Velazquez: Yeah, I think that the way that you were invited into exploring therapy is, I think, a really wonderful, nice way, a nice introduction, because I think a lot of people do come — I mean, at least that I see, um — a lot of times in a crisis situation or yes, kind of that ultimatum of “You need to do this. There’s so much going on.” Or just self – kind of telling yourself I am at my limit. And I think a lot of times people are at their limits whenever they come in, but yeah, it’s certainly not the only time that you can, and I think it’s nice to, to have that normalized around you and encouraged of, yeah, this, this can be something that you can be at and explore when you’re not in crisis. I know that I talk with my clients a lot about, you know, when maybe, in the beginning we, we see each other weekly or whatever feels good for you, and then we can drop it off to monthly, or we can do this and we can do check-ins and things like that and, and allow it to be a space where, yeah, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a crisis for you to come in and you can still have your space that’s held for you, um, in a really nice just-for-you way.
[00:15:05] Lorilee Rager: Mhm, mhm yeah. You said something too about, like, listening to yourself or that, that sense of self, and it made me think of like that little voice. It’s not always like screaming bloody murder, you know, it’s just kind of always back there just tapping, and if you listen to it, that voice, yeah, is maybe telling you “maybe you should talk to somebody,” and support around it, I think is really important.
[00:15:30] Brianna Velazquez: Absolutely.
[00:15:32] Lorilee Rager: –the stigma, but I didn’t think of it so much until somebody asked me about what do you, yeah, “do you go in crisis moments or maintenance moments?” And I was like, oh, well, both, but, like, the maintenance of it, you know, I always, I always like to say, I like to go every two weeks, no matter what, even if it’s the greatest day ever or the worst day ever, you know, based on — I don’t want to base it on my mood or the moment. And so that’s what I was wondering what your thoughts were on, on that, because I try to encourage people to say, now, if you’re going to do it, I want you to, I want you to stick with it. Like, keep your appointment, give it a good — I made up 90 days — in sobriety, it’s a 90, 90 thing where you do a meeting a day for success, and I kind of equate therapy — I mean, not that you can go every day, but, um, yeah. I just think it’s important.
[00:16:29] Brianna Velazquez: Yeah. And I think sometimes it’s finding a clinician that’s a good fit for you too, so, that allows you to feel comfortable of, okay, I can go on a good day and I can be celebrated. And the things that are really exciting for me and I can share, and we can reflect on that positive progress in, in a really healthy way.
Yeah. The growth and, and I think if you have a clinician that can hold space for you in a good way, that, that feels safe for you, then, then it feels a little bit better to come on a good day, on a tough day, and it feels perhaps better to be able to discuss what’s comfortable frequency-wise and, um, what’s conducive to life in the moment. So.
[00:17:17] Lorilee Rager: Mhm, yeah. I know in my experience too, it may be a good day and I may be telling a story or mentioning something and something gets pointed out that, oh, well, remember that’s this, or remember, remember that from back there? Or remember that it’s an old habit or an old way, somebody maybe was manipulating you? And I was like, oh my gosh, I didn’t even realize that.
[00:17:40] Brianna Velazquez: Yeah. A fresh set of eyes — and ears.
[00:17:43] Lorilee Rager: A fresh set of eyes and ears is exactly what I would say a good therapist is for. Good, good. Okay. Good. All right. Well, um, so the next thing, just even saying this is probably gonna make me a little red and splotchy, but, the word in general is conflict – conflict resolution. I wanted to talk about that because, oh my gosh, I can’t, I, well, I can’t handle some days, any days, most days, conflict and how to have uncomfortable conversations. And I just wondered, um, I just wanted your thoughts on that, in general, um, about conflict resolution and how therapy helps that.
[00:18:24] Janet Velazquez: I’ll dive in first because I think it’ll be a good segue for Brianna. So, I grew up in a family that was not conflictual at all. Very — I would call them very white bread, you say nice things to people, you are complimentary, you might say, oh, I don’t like that so much, but not anything big. You just do not argue and fight with people. And then I married into a Puerto Rican family, where my husband’s parents are from New York.
And I, um, I had many days that I ran up to upstairs just crying because I didn’t understand why people fought so much. And so I really learned how to adapt and survive within that marriage family system. And then our kids, I was telling Brianna the other day, I said, wow, I grew up like this, but you grew up with consistent arguing, debating over everything.
[00:19:22] Brianna Velazquez: Everything.
[00:19:23] Janet Velazquez: Everything. So I think she probably is much better at staying calm these days in a conflictual situation, whereas, I am ready to dive right in.
[00:19:36] Lorilee Rager: Mm, yeah.
[00:19:38] Brianna Velazquez: Yeah. Conflict. The, when you say that, um, my, I think because, and my mom just explained the way that, that our family dynamic approaches conflict and conversations with big emotions is how I kind of look at them. Um, I feel like when I hear conflict, I — it’s not something that feels intense or scary for me. It’s just kind of something where I look at it as a conversation with big emotions, and if you are doing, doing the conflict type of conversation in a safe relationship, it, it, for me, I can look at it personally as an opportunity for healing, an opportunity for just approaching things curiously and having a deeper understanding of somebody that I care about and just witnessing somebody else in a different way. So, sometimes, sometimes it’s sifting through when we’re up here, emotion-wise, you know, high level of emotion, and maybe we are saying things with a really, you know, louder voice or something, but that was something that I was used to, so that’s fine, and still am. But, I think I reframe my own view of conflict of, when done well with somebody that I care about, or just hoping to have a better understanding of each other. And if we can do that well, um, that vulnerability can allow us to connect better.
[00:21:24] Lorilee Rager: Mhm.
[00:21:24] Brianna Velazquez: You know, that doesn’t happen every time though.
[00:21:26] Lorilee Rager: Yeah, it — you have to baby step towards that, and have that — build that healthy– but, so I wondered for, in my case, my, I wonder why do I avoid it so much and how to kind of overcome that in with, with somebody, you know, a professional therapist to help me, because I mean, I– old me would avoid conflict like the plague. I’m talking, I wouldn’t even tell you if I didn’t like guacamole. I would just say I liked it because you liked it, but I don’t understand why we avoid it so much.
[00:22:05] Janet Velazquez: Yeah, I think we avoid it because sometimes there are shame and guilt and sometimes there’s shame in voicing our own opinion or being who we somehow have a little piece of us that says we are that, but that piece of shame, it just, it collapses us.
And then we’re not able to regulate, especially when we have loud people around who are bringing back that story from childhood, you know. When we are grown up, sometimes our families and even people that remind us of our families, can make us go back to that piece when somebody had power over us, instead of being able to say, “I am really a very smart person and I’m able to do this.” Shame just brings us right down, which inevitably does not allow us to have the conversations we want to have, and they become more reactive, or we simply just freeze and don’t have them instead.
[00:22:59] Lorilee Rager: Mhm, yeah, I could, I could see that for sure. Um, and I was also wondering because now, because now I want to live true and I want to live my true potential, the truth part’s so big, I, I find myself probably having more conflict because I want to tell my truth and want to say whether I do or don’t like guacamole. For the record, I do like guacamole, but, um, I was just– so what are some, some of the steps or thoughts or ways that, um, you, you recommend in, in the therapy setting, to get through that or to work on how to, how to have a healthy conflict with maybe some of those past people or even future people that I don’t want to lie to? What do you think, Brianna?
[00:23:52] Brianna Velazquez: I think, yeah. I feel like sometimes, setting some personal boundaries, probably around what ways do I feel safe to engage in this conflict? Perhaps it is in a certain setting or perhaps it’s kind of putting some precursors on that conversation of, “Hey, I’m about, about to talk with you something that’s difficult and you know, I would appreciate if you did, or did not do X, Y, Z,” or thinking through what do you need to feel as safe and empowered as possible in those conversations? And you can– and so some of that is thinking about asking yourself, “what do I need?” And being able to answer that so that you can discuss that with somebody if you’re going to have a conversation that you could foresee being challenging to have and where you are talking about things that are perhaps, you know, a little bit scary for you going in. But, if you’re able to identify “What are my needs to have this conversation well and express that?,” I think that is a way you could potentially set yourself up for success.
[00:25:15] Lorilee Rager: Yeah, I really liked that idea of naming it. There’s something I’ve probably read, and I don’t remember. It was either maybe The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel, van der, van der Kolk’s– or The Highly Sensitive Person, but one of those said, and I remember reading it and just like, you know, clutching my pearls and being like, “Oh my gosh.” It said, when you’re trying to have a hard conversation, if you name it, just like you said, if you just say”, I just need to have this hard conversation, if you could just listen and not say anything back yet,” or, you know, and it was a really big first step for me to be able to, you know, have what I consider conflict. And then the world didn’t explode. It was done– the sun still came up and, you know, whatever I thought was gonna happen, didn’t happen. Um, when it came to trying to get through some conflict.
[00:26:17] Brianna Velazquez: And I think the more you, you do that and allow yourself to kind of say and reflect, “Oh, I did this and the world did not explode, and that actually was okay. Maybe uncomfortable, but I made it through that, and look at this, I’ve done this well,” and be able to reflect and give yourself those pats on the back for doing the difficult things. I think that can sometimes allow some motivation to say, okay, well, I can, I can keep doing this. Um, and perhaps in some scenarios that might be less scary, you know, but–
[00:26:56] Lorilee Rager: Yeah, I agree. I agree completely with that. Janet, do you have anything to add on conflict resolution?
[00:27:05] Janet Velazquez: No. I think that those are all really good points. I think the biggest thing really will be to, you know, like you’ve done, just give yourself permission and set the boundary about– and, and be able to leave the conversation if you need to. You can also help people if your heart rates going above that 10% above your resting heart rate, which comes from John and Julie Gottman out of Seattle, that you need to leave the conversation. You can have fun at a dance or football game, stuff like that, but when you’re arguing, if you’re not able to keep it lower, you probably have to leave the conversation for a little bit or else you won’t be able to– your, your brain won’t be able to signal the right things that you’d like to say.
[00:27:45] Lorilee Rager: Ooh, that’s very good. Yeah. Permission to leave the conversation like that also never entered my mind prior to going to therapy. Never entered. I mean, I thought we were going to have to just duke it out until it was win or lose and I knew I would lose. So I was like, what’s the point of even having a conflict. So, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. That’s good. That’s good stuff. Um, okay. So I also– one of the takeaways that I also have noticed in myself through my two years or more of therapy is how this was a silver lining that I just didn’t expect. I thought, you know, of course, I thought the common misconception was, you know, I would come in and lay on a chaise lounge and talk about my feelings and cry and it would be this horribly sad, depressing moment.
[00:28:38] Brianna Velazquez: Yeah.
[00:28:40] Lorilee Rager: But I’ve ended up now living this more fulfilling and meaningful life, that I just had no idea was, was part of it, a part of, uh, a win of, of doing the work of going to therapy, so I wanted to ask, um, about that, about, you know, how does, how does therapy, in your own words, help us experience a more fulfilling and meaningful life.
[00:29:10] Janet Velazquez: Yeah, I think for me, I think it’s being able to understand that there is– even if you do not have people in your family or within your friends that are non-judgmental, you can go to a therapist and she, or he, can be in the room with you and be non-judgmental about things that have happened, even if they’re things that maybe somebody might cringe about that you have done or have been done to you and you can work through them and understand that you met things with the courage or the ability that you had in that moment and telling our story, whether it’s, you know, messy or beautiful, it really helps affirm that we are okay. And I know that’s that said a lot but we are okay, we can move forward and we can do more, and we’re not what’s been done to us. We are who we are presently.
[00:30:05] Lorilee Rager: Yeah, I agree that the having a non-judgemental, um, person to help you just understand maybe what you did or why you said what you said or why you do the things you do is huge, ’cause I feel like, in family dynamics, there’s all judging. At least it is in my Southern roots for sure. It’s a lot of judging, but, um, that was a big benefit of learning early on in therapy that every time I went and every time I came out of it, I felt a little bit more fulfilled to be who I am, maybe. That maybe it would be okay, like you just said. Okay. Yeah. So Brianna, I want to ask you -how can therapy help us kind of unearth long standing behavior patterns?
[00:31:00] Brianna Velazquez: I think one of the big things with that of the– especially thinking about long standing behavior patterns, having a place, a safe, and I think this has already been said, non-judgmental space to sift through that and sift through some of the whys and do that in a way where you’re not being shamed for perhaps functioning in ways that worked for you. And you were doing those because that was keeping your past self safe or your current self safe, and now you’re learning new ways, in a non-judgmental, non-shaming way, to say, you know, you did, you did this and you were doing the best you could with what you had and you– look at you, you kept yourself safe, safe up until now. Now, how can we dig through that in a different way and understand, okay, perhaps when you were doing this, it was to protect yourself from this. Now that we know that what is perhaps a different way that we can dig through that? What’s a way that still feels good for you, but allows you, you know, to, to meet the needs that you do have? So I think, allowing yourself to have a space to understand why without casting judgment and, and somebody, a safe sounding board, to just discuss those things with, I think is helpful and important. And I think that’s one of the really great things that you can do in therapy.
[00:32:37] Lorilee Rager: Oh, I totally agree with that because I think of– maybe we don’t always know or are aware of what, of our own, um, patterns or habits–
[00:32:48] Brianna Velazquez: Right.
[00:32:49] Lorilee Rager: –until a professional therapist can go, “Well, you did, you did say that before. You did do that before.” Or, in my experience with recovery, when I would figure out like avoid conflict or lie about the guacamole and I would be angry at myself and then I would drink, but I didn’t, there’s no way in hell I would’ve figured that out I hadn’t have talked it out with someone. Is that what you mean, sort of?
[00:33:17] Brianna Velazquez: Yeah, absolutely. And, and a person that can help you find new patterns and in the way, give yourself that permission to– and maybe, even in some ways, some encouragement to say, I know that this is the cycle that you’ve done things, and perhaps we can do it a different way. And, and I know that this cycle is uncomfortable for you. That’s maybe why we’re here. Let’s figure out a new cycle. And it’ll be hard. It’ll be hard to do or integrate anything new in, right? But that cycle that you have had is not serving you as well as you want it to, so let’s collaboratively come up with something that works for you in your life that feels good and authentic for you.
[00:34:03] Lorilee Rager: Yeah. It’s not serving you anymore when maybe it used to, but for some reason, it’s not– I don’t even know if I care about the reason why it’s not anymore.
[00:34:11] Brianna Velazquez: Sure. Yeah, yeah.
[00:34:11] Lorilee Rager: I just, for a fact, know, it is not working anymore.
[00:34:14] Brianna Velazquez: Right.
[00:34:15] Lorilee Rager: Yeah. Yeah. Um, so yeah. Okay, good. This is good stuff. So, um, I also wondered if you could share or have any examples of negative perceptions that may be holding people back? Or like, I don’t know if there’s like a common one? Or, I know a lot of people tell me they feel stuck in how to get unstuck.
[00:34:39] Brianna Velazquez: Yeah. I feel like my mom can probably speak on some of the common EMDR core beliefs. I think those– I’ve, I’ve read through some of the common EMDR core beliefs that a lot of people have, and I think those– there was definitely ones, even for myself, either, either thinking about, oh, I hear this in therapy or for myself as me thinking, oh, okay I see myself in this and that, so, maybe she can share some of those.
[00:35:10] Janet Velazquez: Yeah, I, I love the, I love that it’ll bring different things out with an EMDR or therapy, or just in conversations with people that you can trust that, yes you’re– you probably have some things inside you that say “I can’t get it right. I’m always wrong. I don’t have people around me. No one supports me. I have to do it by myself. I can’t ask for help. I won’t take help. Help only comes with a price.” So there’s things I think are really, those are pretty common coming from a family, and there’s probably a list of 30 or 40 more that can just roll around somebody’s head, and it makes it really hard when they’re stuck to go ahead and move forward and do something about it. And I think also with therapy, I think we can, we can use that to help ourselves and help others get bids in a conversation, just out of curiosity. And so you can kind of– it’s like getting your feet wet a little bit. You don’t have to jump in and say, “I can do it myself. I’m, I’m able.” You’re just kind of giving a little bit of information, little by little to difficult family members. If they’re able to understand. And you’re also showing yourself a little bit of courage so it doesn’t backfire on you and reaffirm “oh yeah, I can’t, I can’t get it right. They’re just going to take over again.” And so I think that those are, those are things that swirl around and things that we can do to help.
[00:36:33] Lorilee Rager: Mhm. Yeah. I can totally relate to that. It’s one of those things where trying to get– change the narrative in your head, um, and that negative perception, that maybe you don’t even realize it’s holding you back–
[00:36:51] Brianna Velazquez: Yeah.
[00:36:51] Lorilee Rager: –until you get into a room with a professional and talk it out.
[00:36:56] Brianna Velazquez: Yeah, yeah definitely.
[00:36:59] Lorilee Rager: And I think that’s something that, um, is another one of the many, many benefits of, of–
[00:37:06] Brianna Velazquez: Absolutely. Of therapy.
[00:37:08] Lorilee Rager: Yeah, for sure. Well, um, before we wrap up, I just wanted to, to uh, offer and ask if there was any other important topics or messages that you wanted to share for anybody that may be new or considering therapy, um, that would make them feel less scared?
[00:37:33] Brianna Velazquez: Well, I think one of the big things to think of when you’re going to therapy and whenever you are starting that process is that the healing that you’re going to do is not linear. It’s not something where, okay, two sessions, like, I never have to do this again. Um, sometimes it’s, sometimes things can feel a lot more resolved after a couple of sessions, um, but, but to have grace for yourself through that process as well of, yeah, if you’re, especially if you’re just beginning therapy for the first time, it is a little bit scary and, and a lot of people experience that and to normalize that that’s okay. And, and, what you’re working through sometimes will, will take a little bit longer or maybe it won’t, but to allow yourself some grace to take the time that you need and, and, and move through that process in, in the way that feels right for you. So, just because maybe somebody else felt great after three sessions, or just because somebody else goes weekly for two years, doesn’t mean that you have to subscribe by anybody else’s way. So, I think just kind of keeping that in mind is, is it’s a unique thing for you because you are a unique person. So–
[00:38:56] Lorilee Rager: Oh yeah, absolutely. The comparison side is, could be so dangerous and yeah, it is unique to every person. Yeah. What do you think, Janet?
[00:39:04] Janet Velazquez: I think I have one thing that I’d really like to add to that and you get to determine what’s working for you. So, I’ll have a lot of people who do see me and they’ll say, you know, so-and-so: mother, father, um, spouse, somebody in their system, might say that therapy is not working for you. You still, you have a lot of problems still. And they don’t get to determine that. You get to determine how quickly or slowly, or, if at all, you need to change some things. And, as a therapist, I am not going to force you to stop drinking or seeing somebody who maybe isn’t the right person for you, or acting differently with your mother or father or brother or sister. I might ask you how it’s still working as we work on things and try to come up with some other strategies, but it’s not someplace that you’re going to get forced into doing something before you’re ready to do it. And we will completely as therapists celebrate when you’re ready to make a change.
[00:39:58] Brianna Velazquez: Absolutely.
[00:39:59] Janet Velazquez: We’ll celebrate it to the earth and heaven and all the way around.
[00:40:03] Lorilee Rager: Yeah!
[00:40:04] Brianna Velazquez: Yeah.
[00:40:04] Lorilee Rager: Yeah. For sure. Oh, that’s really, really, really, really beautiful and kind and feels less scary when you– to know that going in. Um, and yeah, it’s your own pace. Even in my experience, when I, some days I want to be really honest, and some days I do not, so, that would be the speed of, of the progress. And it’s knowing it’s on my own terms and that I’m able to kind of control that feels safe, also.
[00:40:36] Janet Velazquez: Yes.
[00:40:38] Brianna Velazquez: Absolutely.
[00:40:39] Lorilee Rager: Well, good. Well now we’re, um, to the end question, so I need both of you to, to know that we have a Ground and Gratitude toolbox that, it can be as big as you need it to be, it can be as small as you need it to be, it travels well on the plane, all the things. Um, but I would love to know from each of you, what is one tool that you would leave in our Ground and Gratitude toolbox for others? What is something that maybe helps you get grounded or helps you, um, give or get gratitude? A quote, song, meditation – but what would you leave in our toolbox?
[00:41:17] Brianna Velazquez: Yeah, so I think one of the big things that I can think of that I utilize myself is whenever I am needing perhaps that grounding, um, which happens often. I work full-time in emergency psych, so sometimes you just need, need to step away. Um, one thing that I utilize for myself is, is stepping outside in fresh air and doing some deep breaths and usually choosing to leave my phone, give myself permission to take that 10, 15 minute break away from whatever I may be experiencing. And that’s, you know, outside of work as well of okay, if I’m, if I’m feeling like a lot’s coming at me and I just need that space and time, I will give myself permission to be outside, fresh air, change my setting, take some deep breaths. Evaluate from there – what does it do, that I need, do I need to connect? Do I need to make a quick phone call to a friend, a family member? Do I need a little, funny distraction on whatever social media app it may be? Do I need to continue to take some breaths and walk? But, I think, for me, that’s something that is really important, and I find very valuable is, is taking some– if it’s nice enough, even if it’s not some, some fresh air– and allowing myself, my nervous system to regulate a little bit and get back to that heart rate and good breathing and less spinning in the mind and then seeing, okay, what, what is it, do I need from here? Do I need to connect? Do I need to distract a little bit and find some joy and laughter? Do I need to move my body? And give myself permission to do that for a period of time, knowing that whatever I’m going back into, I’m going to be more well-prepared to face or handle or do whatever it may be. So–
[00:43:28] Lorilee Rager: Mhm. Oh, I love, I love, I’ve always heard go get outside or change your environment, but no one’s ever said to me, but then ask yourself, what do you need from there? That’s golden right there, ’cause I be like, I can walk the street 500 times and I still have the same problem setting in my office, but I never thought about, okay, now that you’ve done the walk, what do you need? Do you just need a hot cup of tea? A sandwich? A call with a friend or a loved one? Yeah. Oh, that’s good. Totally putting that in the toolbox right now. What about you, Janet?
[00:44:02] Janet Velazquez: I think, for me, something that grounds me that I love to do and dislike to do at the same time is laughter. I’m really serious a lot of the time and I prob– I probably think work is very important, business is very important, getting things right is very important, having, you know, the perfect stuff at a meal is very important. All of those kinds of things that just drowned you, and my family, my girls, especially, they’ll try to get me to laugh sometimes, and I will try not to, but I know that when I do, I just feel so good. And, one of the things I love about Brianna, since she is here on the podcast with us today, with me, is that, sometimes, when I’m also a little bit edgy and somebody comes towards me and wants to be there for me, I will try to just be there for myself because I can do it myself. And so she’ll be like “Two-arm hug, Mom, two-arm hug, and it is, like, it’s a lifesaver. So those, those little tiny things keep me grounded. I realize that I have other people around me and I need to rely on them as well.
[00:45:09] Lorilee Rager: Oh, it’s so good. Okay. So you technically put in two, but I’m allowing it, you– laughter, and the two- arm hug because I’m a huge hugger, and I know with COVID it has been terrible for my hugging addiction, but it’s got to be two arms, two full hands on the back. It has to be. I don’t want to side-hug, I don’t want a one arm. Yeah. Okay. Perfect. Perfect. Well, that has been absolutely just what we needed to hear everything we needed to hear. Thank you so much, both of you for your time and your wisdom and sharing your gifts of being two amazing therapists. I’m happy to know you.
[00:45:51] Janet Velazquez: Thank you Lorilee, thank you.
[00:45:52] Brianna Velazquez: Thank you for having us, so much. I appreciate it.
[00:45:55] Lorilee Rager: Yay. All right, it’s over.
Thanks again so much to Janet and Brianna for having such a wonderful and open conversation today about therapy. And thank you for tuning into Ground and Gratitude. You can find more information about the show and resources about mental health at groundandgratitude.com. Join me next time for more honest conversations, exploring what it means to truly live a life grounded in gratitude.Ground and Gratitude is produced by the Kelly Drake and AO McClain, LLC. .