When Therapy Works - But not Enough - Mindfulness is Toolbox Training

"My therapist tells me I have all the tools, and I just need to use them.

I don't know why I'm not using them.

What's wrong with me?"

I've had two clients in the last week tell me this exact same thing. It was surreal because they both used the exact same words, and the same tone of voice! They both went on to say that they were afraid they didn't have the self-esteem or self-worth to actually do what was best for them, and that they thought they were broken. Yet, as I continued to listen to their stories, I heard extremely confident and self-assured women talk positively about themselves, their careers, their values, and their perspectives of life.

I told both of them that I see them as strong, confident, self-aware, passionate and powerful women. I gave them examples of how they expressed these traits to me. I told each of them that I could see how much work they had done in therapy, and that they had come a long ways and were doing everything right. They weren't the problem. Their therapists just didn't have the skills or time to teach them HOW to use those tools effectively. I told them that what they experienced was like a mechanic handing you a HUGE toolbox, and telling you to use them to fix your car, but not TEACHING you which specific tools to use on what parts of the car or when. It's just too much!

Therapists Aren't Teachers

Then I went on to explain to them that their therapists were good at their jobs. They had given them a full and very complete toolbox of tools, and in many cases the tools were easy to use and they were using them. They had diagnosed what was wrong, and told them what they needed to do. ("your car needs a catalytic converter, here are the tools to fix that, now go do it.") The therapists hadn't given them enough instruction on HOW or WHY or WHEN to use those tools. We can't blame the therapist for that. It's not their job to be toolbox trainers. Their job is to dig into the deeper issues, figure out the root cause, and help you find WHAT to do. But they expect you to figure out the HOW, WHY and WHEN. They know what tools to give you because they have these giant toolboxes. But, they don't have the time in your sessions, nor the training to actually teach you how to use the tools properly. They aren't teachers (anymore than your mechanic). That's a whole different skillset.

That's where I come in as y our Mindfulness Mentor, and why these two clients sought me out. Many (if not most) of the tools your therapist has offered you are Mindfulness Tools. And they work. Sure, you tried them, but you likely weren't entirely consistent in using them. This is because your therapist didn't take the time to teach you the WHY, HOW and WHEN of using the tools. Especially the more complex ones. In most cases, the learning curve on those complex tools is too much for you.

Sometimes the Tools Therapists Give Are TOO COMPLEX

For example, many of my clients tell me that their therapists tell them they need to do yoga or meditate, because those are clinically proven and researched effective methods of dealing with stress and anxiety. They are right, yoga and Meditation (which are extremely complex practices) help you achieve mindfulness which in turn addresses most mental health issues. But your therapist isn't likely a yoga or meditation teacher. They need you to go find a yoga or meditation teacher or class or online program to do that. There are two things working against you here. First, your yoga and meditation teachers aren't talking to your therapists, so you are left to your own devices to make those connections. Your professionals don't have the full picture (like your cardiologist talks to your general practice doctor). Second, your yoga and meditation teachers likely don't have the skills to break their practices down into bite-sized pieces that your highly sensitive high-anxiety self can manage.

I have a Master's Degree in Teaching, so I know how people best learn. In terms of mindfulness tools and tricks, our brains learn best when we know WHY we are doing something, HOW it works in our system, and WHEN we need to practice it. And, the skills involved need to be broken down into tiny, practical, and manageable step-by-step tasks (homework practice). Your therapist doesn't have the time in a session to do this, it would take the whole session or more. Secondly, they don't have the teaching skills to know how to break down a skill into step-by-step lessons.

The good news is that once we set upon a simple step-by-step lesson plan, I can teach you how to use the tools in a way that they work, and you won't need re-teaching (unless you don't do your homework). Usually, my clients (students) only need 5-10 sessions and they are done. I can almost guarantee (if you do your homework) doing Mindfulness Mentoring will escalate and elevate your work with your therapist really quickly.


If therapy has worked, but not quite enough, try supplementing it with Mindfulness Mentoring. Book an Appointment.