We at Health and Healing Therapy want to give you the opportunity to get to know our therapists, what their clients struggle with, how they help, and who they are. We believe that connection and comfort with your therapist is vital to growth and healing, so we hope that knowing more about us can put you to ease and assist you in making a decision about whether we are the right therapy practice for you. To do so, we have interviewed each of our therapists about themselves, their careers, and their thoughts around therapy.

Today, Megan Quinn is with us discussing the importance of support, her adoration for her clients, and the need to focus on yourself and ask what you want.

Why do you think it’s important for people to participate in therapy?

That’s an interesting question, because I think my answer years ago probably would have been different than it is now. As I continue to gain experience being a therapist, I notice that there’s this assumption that we, the general population, have a certain set of skills. There’s an assumption that we have coping skills, we know how to regulate our emotions, and we know how to communicate our feelings when, in most cases, no one really teaches you how to do this very well. I think that’s why therapy is so great – because it teaches you those skills that maybe you’re lacking or just need a bit more support in. We’re usually in our own heads, so it’s also nice to get a different perspective and hear from somebody else. Sometimes, when you say something to your therapist and you hear it out loud, then you’re like, “oh! That’s what I’m thinking!” You realize something about yourself. When you tell somebody else, you can understand, “oh, now that I just said that, this is what that means.” I also think that having a person who is an overall support for you and can remain neutral really helps as well.

What does a therapy session with you look like?

I was thinking hard about this – it depends on my client. I truly feed off my clients’ energy. So, if my client is having a really rough day, we’re going to be a little bit more calm, but if my client’s in a good mood, they’re making a lot of really great progress, and they’re happy, then I’m like, “yes! Let’s celebrate that!” If I were to think about what a session looks like from the outside, I think it looks like you’re talking to a really good friend who you trust. I’ve had clients tell me, “I really trust you, so I’m going to tell you this,” and “you’re the only person I’ve told this to.” Them saying that creates a sense of trust by just knowing that they feel comfortable and safe enough to express that emotion. There’s some laughing in my sessions because I like to bring my personality and their personality into it and keep it light for certain conversations, but – yeah! I think if I were to describe it in one way, it would be like talking to a really good friend who happens to have a background in therapy. *laughs*

So making it more conversational instead of formal?

Right! That is a perfect way to put it. Also, there’s no, “we are going to do this, and then we are going to do that.” Each day I come in with a general idea of exploring a conversation or topic, but it’s all based on the client. If they come in and there’s something they really want to talk about that’s on their minds, I let them guide that. That is totally on them and how they want to utilize their time.

What is the best advice you’ve given in a therapy session?

I’ve been thinking about this, too. I think there might be two things. One is – I don’t know if it’s advice, but I ask a lot of questions about what the client wants. A lot of the time, especially when there are people who are trying to do things for others – like my adolescents who are trying to do things for their parents and to meet their parents’ expectations, or if I have moms who are taking care of their house and kids – I ask my client, “What do you want? What works best for you, and what are you looking for?” A lot of the time, they say, “I don’t know” and you can tell that it’s something that they haven’t thought about. By asking that question, it gets them to think more and put the focus on them – this is about you! It’s so great that you take care of your daughters, or that you take care of your son. That’s fantastic, but you’re here for you. What does that look like for you, and how do you want to use your time?

I also think that teaching breathing techniques is beneficial, as simple as it may sound. There are so many people who say, “I did my breathing, and it’s really helpful!” Again, we’re generally not taught how to use breathing techniques or how to use them as a coping skill, right? So, when we’re having an anxiety attack or feeling really nervous – breathe! Let’s breathe and calm our bodies down, and then we feel a whole lot better. Most of the time, especially for my adolescents, whenever I talk about breathing they make a face at me, like, “(*sighs*) I don’t want to. It doesn’t work for me.” Then they try it, and they say, “yeah, it was actually pretty helpful!” So, it’s very simple! I keep it basic, and it works.”

What is one of the hardest parts of being a therapist?

Therapy takes time. Therapy is not something where you think, “I’m going to go three times and be ‘fixed’,” right? That’s not how it happens – depending on your goal, it takes time. So, there are times when you’re making progress and you regress one week, or maybe it’s that your progress is a bit slower than you anticipated or slower than you want. Hearing that hopelessness sometimes, whether it’s in the very beginning of a session or the first time I meet with my clients, it’s like I can sense this feeling in them that “I will never be okay.” I know you will be because we’re going to get you there, but seeing that pain in your clients is really hard because you want to make everything better and you want to help them, their situation, or whatever they’re going through, but it takes time; it’s not overnight. I understand that, but having my clients understand that and being able to support them through that very difficult, hopeless feeling is hard sometimes.

What do you like the most about being a therapist?

There are two things: one, I love connecting with people. I love learning more about my clients and their families, whether it’s their culture or who they are as a person or their job. I ask a lot of questions because I like getting to know and connecting with my clients. The other thing I like the most is seeing my clients progress in their journey. If they make any sort of progress, I’m a big celebrator about it! They might say, “it’s not that big of a deal,” but I say, “no, yes it is! It’s huge, how great is this!” I really talk that up because I want them to see that any ounce of progress is progress, and any progress shows that we’re moving somewhere, you’re moving somewhere, we’re getting you to where you want to be and you’re practicing your coping skills – it’s good to take that in as much as you can. I’m not expecting perfection. My favorite thing is seeing when they recognize their progress because I’m so excited, then they’re excited and hopefully, and I think, “yes, this is why I do what I do.” It’s just a really good feeling.

What are common challenges that your clients face? What is an area or are areas of specialty you have?

My area of specialty is adolescents and emerging adults. I’ve been a school social worker for a while – this is my sixth year, so I’m very focused on adolescents. For common challenges, I would say anxiety and depression are my top two biggest concerns right now, especially with COVID. I know that’s heightened a lot of emotions, but even overall, anxiety and depression are very prevalent. Another, I would say is – I don’t want to say life adjustments, but going through changes in life, both big and small changes. Those are probably the things I think my clients face the most: having difficulty getting through that and learning how to handle everything leading up to that adjustment. That can be accompanied by self-doubt, low self-esteem, and trying to do things both for themselves and for other people. Sometimes, life is just difficult to navigate. They’re not always sure how to feel about situations, so I help them figure out their mindset and what they’re thinking and feeling. I think that’s usually what a lot of my conversations consist of.

What do you want/is your hope for your clients?

That they’re happy with themselves and with whatever they decide. I want my clients to feel good and to feel like they can handle anything life throws at them. Anxiety will not go away, but being able to recognize that and go, “okay! I have anxiety, and I’m accepting that,” can be really helpful. So, I really want them to accept who they are and be able to say, “I have this (fill in the blank) problem, but I am going to use the skills that I have to get through it because I can, because I am able and capable of doing that, and I am a rockstar.” I want my clients to be happy and to be rockstars.

What do clients say about working with you?

That’s a really good question – I might have to ask them! Honestly, they probably would say that sometimes I’m really goofy. My hope is that they would say they feel comfortable talking to me and am insightful. As I said, some clients have said to me, “I want to tell you this; you’re the only person I’ve told this to.” So, I hope they would say that they feel comfortable, feel able to express their thoughts and feelings without judgment, and feel safe in our environment together. I’m hoping that’s what they would say – I mean, I think they like working with me if they keep coming back each week. *laughs* I’m hoping that’s good!