Exploring Stress & Anxiety Management: Insights from Therapist Jacqueline Stone

Today my guest is Jacqueline Stone, a Therapist and Counsellor who deals with stress, anxiety, and depression; outlines some of the coping mechanisms and strategies to deal with them. During the episode, we talk a lot about some of the challenges, not just to us, but to our children, our whole story of how we interact with the devices that we find ourselves within the palms of our hands. ⁠

Exploring Stress & Anxiety Management: Insights from Therapist Jacqueline Stone

In today’s episode, we are diving into a bit of therapy. So today, my guest is Jackie Stone, a Therapist and counsellor who deals with stress, anxiety, and depression, and outlines some of the coping mechanisms and strategies to deal with them. And in this episode, we talk a lot about some of the challenges, not just to us but to our children, our whole story of how we interact with the devices that we find ourselves within the palms of our hands.

This is a great episode for raising our awareness about that, but also a great episode for giving a bit of insight into what it is like being a therapist and some of the strategies that you can use to overcome some issues which may just be spinning around in your head in a very well in not in a very constructive way. Anyway, I won’t say any more than that. I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Jaqueline Stone.

Podcast Transcript

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:00:07] Hello and welcome to Unstress. My name is Dr Ron Ehrlich. Now, before we start, I would like to pay my respects and acknowledge the traditional custodians on the land on which I am recording this podcast. That is the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation recognize their continuing connection to the land, waters, and culture. I pay my respects to their elders past, present, and emerging.

Now today’s episode, we are diving into a bit of therapy. So today my guest is Jackie Stone, a Therapist, Counselor who deals with stress, anxiety, depression, outlines some of the coping mechanisms and some of the strategies to deal with them. And in this episode, we talk a lot about some of the challenges, not just to us, but to our children, our whole story of how we interact with the devices that we find ourselves within the palms of our hands.

And this is a great episode for raising our awareness about that, but also a great episode for giving a bit of insight into what it is like being a therapist and some of the strategies that you can use to overcome some issues which may just be spinning around in your head in a very well in not in a very constructive way. Anyway, I won’t say any more than that. I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Jackie Stone. Welcome to the show, Jackie.

Jacqueline Stone [00:01:41] Thanks, Ron. Good to be here

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:01:43] Jackie.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:01:44] Stress is something that we hear a lot about on this program is actually called Unstress, a little play on words about understanding stress. But I wondered if you might share with us what you see most people understand is being stressed.

Jacqueline Stone [00:02:00] Sure. So I think and this comes largely from my practice and experience, you know, hands-on deck with people suffering from stress and talking about stress and the reading I do around us. I think the key thing is, well, these days that I notice is a sense of overwhelm.

People are stressed in their lives because we are crazy busy these days and our days are jam-packed. There are there’s the same number of hours, but we seem to squeeze more into them. I think, you know, our lives online contribute to that enormously.

We didn’t have to deal with so many providers. We didn’t have so many bills. We didn’t have so many things that could go wrong with this device, that device, this connection, that connection. And I think it’s all part of it as well as our busy lives. So overwhelm is probably the big word that I would use for what we are struggling with.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:03:17] Yes, well, I mean, that in itself, it’s I remember seeing a film recently that was set in the 1980s, and the most amazing thing about it was there was no computers. There was actually somebody was struggling to find a phone, to make a phone call, had to find a phone booth and get changed to put into that phone booth. Now we’ve got it. You know, we’ve got little computers in our hands. Yes. And what are the how people how are people reacting to that? Kind of overwhelming.

Jacqueline Stone [00:03:53] So I think. It’s the thing that strikes me is a sense of helplessness and interestingly, I mean, we can get into this if it arises, but helplessness is often what underpins trauma. Right, and traumatic experiences, so I won’t make too much of that except to say that it is not good for us, we are not well built to handle and cope with a sense of helplessness. And the overwhelming stress that people are experiencing has them sometimes tip into this sense of helplessness. They feel out of control. I guess that’s the other the way that, in fact, helplessness is probably my word. People most commonly speak themselves of feeling out of control.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:04:56] Hmm. Hopelessness is an interesting one, because we did this a few we did a program a few weeks ago on trauma and helplessness and the two words and I know you haven’t we talked about this before we came on. And it’s so interesting because I know you haven’t listened to it and I’m going to hold you that against you, Jackie. But they were two words, interestingly, that Sarah Woodhouse used as well, and helplessness, right? Yeah. And how is that affecting people? Well, I mean, two words that come to mind that you must see all the time is depression and anxiety.

Anxiety and Depression

Jacqueline Stone [00:05:33] So this is the problem with the way that we are living with so much stress. It’s that we I just see society on the edge of anxiety and depression. It’s a huge risk that we carry with us living with so much stress, because this is what happens when something bigger goes wrong.

We so easily tip into anxiety and depression so it and it doesn’t take a lot to get from one to the other. We can sustain stress or stressful living for a time. And of course, you know, all the physical and medical implications of that. But for instance, some people will experience in stress, worry, and rumination, and that contributes into anxiety and depression.

So this is where it becomes well, I guess I use the word carefully, but more pathological. Once we’ve tipped over into from stress, into anxiety and depression, then we’re dealing with a condition that needs to be addressed very intentionally. They tend not to lift without making some effort, without seeking some professional assistance or making significant changes in life.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:07:10] Hmm.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:07:12] Yeah. I mean, I think that’s one of the interesting things about the experience of being in therapy. I mean, I’ve had that experience on two or three occasions in my life and there’s something very cathartic about coming into someone’s office who you don’t know, well you don’t know them and they’re not friends and they’re not family. So there’s no baggage here. And you’re having to explain something about how you feel to someone who you haven’t met. That in itself is a very cathartic experience.

Jacqueline Stone [00:07:48] It is cathartic. It’s also anxiety-provoking for most people. But this is part of therapy. Part of therapy is doing the courageous thing. And it is having a therapist help you to create a safe space and facilitate your sitting with your feelings. And sitting with what arises and supporting you in working through that in a healthy, constructive way. Yes, well, yeah,

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:08:27] it’s a very I mean, it’s an interesting relationship, isn’t it, because the vulnerability of the person sitting there is clear.

Jacqueline Stone [00:08:38] Yes.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:08:39] They otherwise wouldn’t be there. How do you? Is that something you need to assess really quickly? How vulnerable is this person?

Jacqueline Stone [00:08:48] Absolutely. And so I think this is going to be a really useful term, a lot about a lot to do with stress, anxiety, depression, therapy, all of what we’re talking about here. It’s all about emotional regulation. Hmm.

So and we can draw those analogies between how we process, digest, and regulate physically and nutrition and all of that sort of thing. Likewise, we’re less aware of it, but we are constantly being bombarded by stimulus and experience and we need to process that and we need to digest and we need to regulate ourselves emotionally. And people can do that in a healthy and constructive way or a destructive way or a less helpful way.

So on your phone, reach for the bottle. There are healthy ways too outside of therapy, of course, walking, exercising, speaking with a trusted friend, meditation, going for a walk without looking down at the phone, but being in nature, all of these things are more healthy ways of regulating our emotions.

But these days, we’ve barely got time to scratch ourselves. And if you think about it, no one I mean, kids wouldn’t have a clue. None of us these days wait at the bus stop. With our thoughts, with our feelings, barely anyone sits in a restaurant between ordering their meal and waiting for it to come, they’re on their phones. So we are out of practice with emotional regulation, with processing thoughts and feelings, which is constantly distracting.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:11:02] Yes, I was going to ask about, you know, because we hear so much about getting in touch with your feelings. And clearly, the experience in therapy is all about that. Getting rid of media is one thing. Yes, but getting in touch with your feelings is easier said than done. Well, apart from getting rid of the technology.

Jacqueline Stone [00:11:28] Yes.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:11:30] What are the strategies that people can use before they come into the therapist’s.

Strategy to stay away with it

Jacqueline Stone [00:11:34] A really good question. And this will be different for different people. So some people almost are hypersensitive over access and their feelings come very readily. They are triggered or aroused and their emotions overwhelm.

Well, then I think we’re talking about the rest of us. And so at the other extreme, there are many of us these days who are out of touch with their feelings. There’s a disconnect between themselves and their feelings, even between themselves and their sensations in the body.

So the first thing to try is to tune in and feel what you can feel at a sensory level. It’s an excellent way into better emotional regulation and reconnecting with our feelings and emotions. And I will say this in the in the consulting room. When you say that, can you tell me what do you feel? And they look at me blankly, what do you mean? And I said, well, can you find a sensation in the body that goes with that thought? And it’s normally about a struggle, whether they’re talking about a relationship or they’re talking about something that’s going on at work, whatever it might be, or say, you know, where’s is registering? Because they’re all we ought to be connected with our physical self and feel do we feel the tightness in the chest.

You know, that may go with a bit of anxiety or nerves. Do we feel it in the pit of our stomach, something that’s weighing down on us or concerning us? Is it tension in the jaw that you’ll be familiar with, which might be about frustration or anger or holding something back and so forth? So a really good way in is to just take some time to register what’s going on inside entry-level?

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:13:57] Yeah, well, well, yes. That’s something we do so love. The other coping mechanisms you mention, I mean, some of the what are some of the more destructive coping mechanisms that people use.

Jacqueline Stone [00:14:13] Yes, yes, so there are many. The most one of the most common, of course, will be alcohol and other substances. And the difficulty here is that in our society, it is I was going to say acceptable, but almost socially unacceptable not to drink. It is widely and readily available. And, you know, the corporates that are still providing Friday night drinks free, it’s really, really difficult for people to say no.

And it’s very easy for people to get into the habit of unwinding with a drink. They get home and crack a bottle of wine. And for many people, there will be not a drop left by the end of dinner. And it’s really concerning. So they this is a destructive way of managing regulating emotions. It’s numbing.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:15:26] Mm hmm. Yeah.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:15:29] Yeah. And the other one is kids. Kids are not really escaping this problem either. I was quite alarmed to hear about the impact of mental health and kids. What are you seeing? What sort of problems are you seeing?

Jacqueline Stone [00:15:45] So this. I mean, I cannot not mention the screens again. So this is a child of the current day. This is their main source of emotional regulation is getting to the screen. So they’re not waiting anywhere now for anything they just pick up their screen and distract. Yes. And they feel frustrated. They feel upset. They’re not sitting with that at all. They are just going online and finding a funny video to distract themselves and get them out of anything that feels bad.

Of course, the online environments are also contributing to the problems because of all sorts of issues like self-image and everybody posting. They’re the best version of themselves online and nothing else. It’s very problematic. And it’s the media, it’s the immediacy, the accessibility that is such a problem because then there’s no wait for anything. They just pick up their phone and they can access anything that want.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:17:06] I mean, I think I’ve observed because, you know, I’ve got some grandchildren and those grandchildren are five and two. And even at that early age, I would say to my family, I say the biggest one of the biggest challenges, in fact, arguably the biggest challenge is how to regulate technology. And I know your kids are older, you know teenagers. So how do you approach that as a parent, knowing all that you know, how do you do that? How do you regulate that with kids?

Family Zone

Jacqueline Stone [00:17:46] So a few key elements. Number one, start with yourself. Parents need to be looking at the modeling that they’re providing for their children. If the parents can’t get off their phones, then the problem is much bigger and it’s significant.

And, of course, that’s where it starts, because the children will say that their parents don’t have any self-restraint with their phone, that it is always by their side. And so it’s normalized. And so that’s all that they know. So this is a significant problem. And look, I have clients in my room. You know, I’ve had some new mothers struggling not to look at their phone even when they’re breastfeeding during the night.

It’s, you know, and it’s heartbreaking. And they know that there’s something wrong with that. And in fact, it’s becoming more common for people to come and say, I recognize I’ve got a problem with this. And likewise, it’s even people. So it used to be only people who well, everyone seems to work globally. These days, but people in jobs where they working with colleagues in different time zones. It seems to be even worse. That’s where it started.

People would tell me that they couldn’t help themselves but check their email if they got up during the night to go to the bathroom. And I say this because it’s really important for people to hear and hopefully react as you just did, is cannot we need to keep a hold of the fact that this is not normal or healthy otherwise, we’re all doomed. We’ve got to keep reacting with shock because otherwise, we’re not going anywhere with this. We need to recognize that it’s not normal for each family member to have their phone beside them as they’re eating dinner.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:20:08] Mm hmm.

Jacqueline Stone [00:20:08] And I, I actually try really hard with my kids are regularly will not answer my phone. I regularly will hear it beep with a message and not look at it and they’ll look around and say, Mom, your phone, and I’ll say yes. And so that they can say that we have a choice, we’ve got to put ourselves back in the driver’s seat with technology.

We I would suggest to everybody that they turn every notification possible off and then immediately they’re back in the driver’s seat. So you can access social media. I know that there’s a lot of good. In social media, but only if you’re in the driver’s seat and you log in when you choose to because it’s the right time for you to check out what’s going on.

It’ll not be driven by the technology part fading into part of this, out of control, helpless feeling. We’ve got to live more intentionally and that’s the whole mindfulness thing. But get back to the kids, starts the modeling first and then there are all sorts of regulations, routines, restrictions that we need to put in place. And I would highly recommend to every family that they do the research and choose whichever device, app, or restrictions are available to them.

I would I’ve only recently updated what we use, and it’s an app that enables me to first put the controls in place so that my children cannot access anything to do with weapons and porn and gambling and all those sorts of things that children shouldn’t even be accidentally able to access. And then there are the routine.

So I can sit when their devices go to sleep at night. I can’t access them during the night. And this is this is partly about family relationships as well. I am tired of policing it and I don’t want the aggro that goes with constantly nagging. So it is all electronically done now.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:22:37] So this is an app on their phone.

Jacqueline Stone [00:22:40] Yes, on my phone.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:22:43] On your phone as well as

Jacqueline Stone [00:22:44] well as theirs. So I have had to say, you know, there was a lot of discussion. I had to sell it to them. You know, that this is about them not having to listen to me constantly nagging in the car. And I said it is all up for negotiation. We can discuss when it goes off. And I can drive it.

So specifically that there is, for instance, an hour and a half or whatever it might be for my almost 16-year-old daughter who cannot access tiktok or Snapchat during the time she would normally be doing homework. Mm. So this is you can tailor it that specifically.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:23:36] Yes. Well that is just I don’t know, I mean I’m not in that graphic anymore but that is a really and the grandchildren haven’t got their own phones yet, which you could at least know that Jackie. They haven’t got their own phone. But I’m keen to see my five-year-old granddaughter. It’s not far away.

Jacqueline Stone [00:24:00] Yes, that’s right.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:24:02] It’s an interesting that is good to hear. That is good to hear, because for it to be a family app that you’re in control of is. Yes, it’s critical. What are some what’s the name of that app? Do you remember what it is?

Jacqueline Stone [00:24:16] This one, in particular, is called Family Zone.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:24:19] Family Zone. Okay that’s good? I like that. But of course, the challenge is the kind of fear of missing out. Yes. Because the. Did you see yesterday what she posted on and everyone’s talking about it because your mum has put this control on that you’re out of it. And that that in itself is a challenge.

Jacqueline Stone [00:24:45] Now, it is really hard, but I would say to any parent listening, be a parent, you know, we’re not their friends and we can we need to step up and we need to be willing to incur our children’s wrath. It’s going to happen anyway.

So, you know, you’re doing this. This is about safety. And we’re all catching up. We used to saying, you know, we’re used to implementing safety, road safety. We’re used to implementing where and when they can go out of the house and so forth.

We need to step up and do this now with the online environment. And there are many experts out there and there are many apps and devices and we’re playing catch-ups. And most of my information has come lately from excellent talks that I’ve gone to at the kid’s schools. So it’s about. But it’s about retraining as adults.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:25:56] Yeah, I mean, I think I always liken it to this. This is like us in a toy shop or in a sweet shop, if you like, where we were exposed to this new toy. It gives us access to everything whenever we want to, but we haven’t quite learned how to manage it and deal with it. And this is obviously what is going on now in schools and in households for those that are willing to acknowledge it. And there are the early adopters.

Yes, but there will be hopefully the unwashed masses that follow because the results of it are pretty obvious. I mean, if evidence is anything to go by current mental health statistics, which we won’t go into, but we all know that they are ridiculously high. Yeah. And the solution is not medication.

Jacqueline Stone [00:26:50] It is not, not yeah, in some cases, of course, but most of us, it’s not even nearly the answer, we’ve got to sort ourselves out at the lifestyle level, which is what you’re all about.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:27:04] Yes. Yes. And one of the other challenges with technology, of course, is its ubiquitous nature. Like you may have those controls on your phone for your kids. Yes. Their best friend might not. So let’s go over to so-and-so place.

And yes, it’s quite frightening, really, because when you look online to see what you can explore and I mean, I’m thinking particularly here, if young children have pornography or that in particular, and from that getting a sense of normality about sex and intimacy for goodness, we are we really setting ourselves up here, aren’t we?

Jacqueline Stone [00:27:49] Absolutely. And look, hopefully, with what’s going on this year, we are becoming more alert to the issues. But this is the problem. Children are getting their sex education from porn and it’s disastrous. It’s disastrous for it.

All of the kids involved, the boys, the girls, everybody, because, you know, the many boys are none the wiser, that what they’re saying is not how it’s done. It’s not normal. And they’re not going to get the same responses. They it’s I mean, physiologically, it’s affecting them.

They often can’t operate sexually in a normal way when it comes to a normal situation because of what they’ve been exposed to online. And the girls are being subjected to horrendous sexual experience that they may think is normal as well.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:28:52] Mm hmm. Well, the issue of abuse and consent is an interesting one, too. And I think, you know, when we look at what’s happening in Australia with this parliamentary event or incident with the woman, Brittany Higgins, this kind of has brought brings up memories for people that have kind of dampened them down. And I mean, it’s really making people hyper-sensitive and hyper-vigilant. This is a double-edged sword, really, isn’t it?

Jacqueline Stone [00:29:30] It really and truly is. So on the positive side, we have these amazing women in Brittany Higgins, Grace Tame, and others who are speaking up. And this is off the back of some use of this now, what with the royal commission into child sexual abuse in institutions. And we are speaking more widely about these issues and it is making our children safer in that sense.

Our children now have a language from school that we never had. They’re able to talk about feeling unsafe and why, you know, at the sports carnival, they are sent to the bathroom in three days and they have a mantra. What is it?

Look at know looks like kind of an image of what it is, but they are told what to do. And one of them goes for help and one of them stays. And one of them yells what or whatever it might be. This is incredible to me. We had nothing of the sort. And so they are much safer in that sense. And so this is the positive side also that we are able to talk about these things.

Workplaces are slowly becoming more aware of the safety measures that they need to put in place, but also of what people are suffering. And there’s more support available for people who are going through things on the other side. This is triggering people.

People are in a vulnerable state because they are stressed anyway. And the stories are bringing up all sorts of their own experiences. OK, so people are seeking help to a greater extent again, which is a good thing, but sometimes they’re not accessing the right help or enough help or soon enough.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:31:53] It’s pretty tough out there. It’s interesting, isn’t it, because we’re dealing with this issue of technology on the one hand and learning how to harness it. And we’re talking about abuse and consent and respect. On the other hand, all of these things have really emerged, too, and in a very positive way. This is these are important conversations. And then along comes covid. Wow. How do you see how what impact has that had on what you’re seeing in your clinic?

Jacqueline Stone [00:32:29] Yeah, so. Many, many different elements, covids clearly, you know, really important to acknowledge first that we are so lucky here in Australia compared to others that many of us have sustained our employment and our livelihood. And so we’re lucky on that front and that we have the health system available that we have.

So in many aspects, we’re doing very well. And it’s really important that we remember that others are not so lucky. And people in Australia as well who have lost their livelihood, their lifelong small businesses, and so forth. So there is that I mean, the other things to point out that people if it escalated the stress in people’s lives, so of course, we’re away, too. And it’s been spoken about in the news that there was an escalation in risk and experience of people in domestic violence situations, people being stuck at home, all of that even as far as people accessing their superannuation.

I start talking policy, but it’s frightening. And, you know, women being coerced by their husbands into accessing their superannuation. And the list goes on on that front. But even those not in abusive situations, incredible relationships strain whether that’s borne of financial strain or having the children suddenly having to home school. Yeah, well, all sorts of elements that really tipped people over the edge.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:34:42] I mean, even within relationships, you know, people, you know when you’re in a relationship with someone. Yes, that’s great. But did you sign up to the 24/7 week on which we can work out arrangement, which either brings out the very best or the very worst in any

Jacqueline Stone [00:35:03] And we know that consumption of alcohol went up and people weren’t you know, people weren’t able to go to the gym as they might normally have done as a healthy coping mechanism. So there are all things, all sorts of things that went very wrong.

I mean, there are all sorts of things that went very right as well. And people did have more downtime. They didn’t have their commutes to work. We know that they started taking out baking soda and all sorts. So there were some positives. But it and I guess the thing to talk about, again, just to highlight that, going back to that helplessness or sense of out of control, this is what covid did for many people.

It triggered them into an experience of uncertainty and fear that possibly put pressure on those other elements you know cracks in the foundation. I talk about whether it’s childhood trauma or loss that they experienced or more recently in life. But those those those pressure points are there. And when something like covid comes along with all the uncertainty and stress that that brings, it leaves people exposed and vulnerable.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:36:38] And tell me, yes, as a therapist, you know, with patients coming in, clients, clients are coming in one after the other, day in, day out. That must take a terrible toll on the individual. What are some of the mechanisms that are in place to protect the health of the therapist?

Jacqueline Stone [00:36:57] Ah Okay. There are many and some of these up to the therapist say some of the ones that people might not be aware of is that we all belong to a professional association. And they were myriad emails coming, updating us on, for instance, how to adapt to the online environment for those therapists who were used to conducting therapy online, there was. upskilling, there was support in terms of what’s going on and what we need to know, so there’s the professional association.

There are also the requirements of ongoing professional development, which is good because we know we have to get a certain amount of hours each year and that keeps people in the loop and keeps them upskilling, and so forth. But more significantly, there’s a requirement for a certain number of hours of clinical supervision. So all therapists must be accessing a salient trained colleague who essentially is supporting the therapist, keeping an eye out for their well-being, noticing what they may be carrying or how client material may be affecting them, and whether they meant or supporting them in sustaining the therapies, being effective and safe and constructive and so forth in this therapy practice. So that’s an important one.

Therapists tend to be very conscientious, well-meaning people. Many therapists will do way over and above the minimum requirements of both professional development and clinical supervision. They often have really strong professional networks because it’s really important with this kind of work to be able to speak with like-minded people who are aware of the experiences that you have and that that can speak in a supportive and constructive way about the work that you’re doing. And it’s part of the training to be able to self-care, self manage.

Many therapists will be proponents of many of the lifestyle elements that you advocate and so many of us undertake mindfulness training. And in fact, there’s research that suggests that therapists who have done, for instance, an MBA course, mindfulness-based stress reduction course are shown to get better client outcomes.

It’s not only the benefit of themselves, but to the benefit of their clients, so often therapists have done their own therapy also. So we like to think of ourselves as masters of self-regulation. And I say therapy as a therapist, as quite a mindful exercise or practice.

I am sitting with a client and their feelings and thoughts overwhelm trauma, whatever it means. But I’m also sitting with my own responses and reactions to that and having to regulate in the moment, but and be attuned to the impact on me so that I can then digest and process and offer it back in a sense, you know, better digest it all in a constructive way to offer back some understanding from my point of view.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:41:08] Mm hmm. That’s that is I think that’s just such an important thing for people to hear because I think the other side of the coin is, what do you say to a person who clearly would benefit from therapy but is very reluctant? You know, I’ve got my friends. I don’t need to. We are talking, you know, what do you say to people like that? What would you say?

Jacqueline Stone [00:41:37] Yeah, look, I think it’s really hard. I mean. So often what I say is therapy’s not for everyone. I think that’s a way of letting them know that I’m not going to preach or push. And because it is fact, there will be some people for whom therapy is not the answer just now, it may actually be that they will benefit more from going and doing some yoga or another form of bodywork, like a martial arts or taichi or something along those lines.

They may not be ready for therapy or it might not just be the time for them right now. So for some people, therapy might not be the answer just now. I also will say that it is important that they find the therapy that will suit them best. So I’m always very transparent with new inquiries and I will explain that there are therapies that are more present, focused, and perhaps solution-focused.

They want a therapist who will do some reality testing with them. Who will stay with what? With negative thoughts perhaps, and to interrogate those and engage and challenge those who will do some problem-solving who will consider what the positive resources in a client’s life right now.

Now, I may do all of those things, but always the way that I work is to take into consideration the client’s personal history. I am interested to understand the person’s growing up and personal history and family history because it lets me know the context of how they found themselves here today. But some people are not ready or willing to go there just now.

So it’s important that they know that if they’re adamant that they don’t want to talk about the past, I’m not the therapist for them, but I don’t want to put them off seeking other help. Yeah, so so there are ways to help people into getting some professional help. Again, it might be that they will benefit more so just now from doing a mindfulness-based stress reduction course in a group where people are learning slowly but surely to tune in to their body and feel the sensations to sit with some feelings and thoughts that are arising, that may be a better way for them.

Yeah, yeah, no, just to say, however, ultimately, therapy really is a fantastic tool for many people, if they can find their way into the office often, that’s one of the hardest bits. To actually dare to give it a chance, and I often say to people, you know, if you decide to give it a go, come along for a session.

If you decide that it could be beneficial. Think about coming along four to six times in the beginning and see how you go. That may be enough for now. So I like to ease people in and let them know that there’s always a way out. This is their choice. But to give it a go and if I can find my way into a therapy office, then they will have a therapist. Some people will be ready with their story.

Some people need the therapist to ask questions. You know, there are very few therapists who will be so traditional talk therapy, blank screen that they will force the client to sit in silence and speak when they’re ready.

Most therapists these days will help the client who needs it to get started. And they will be looking very carefully and observing very carefully at how someone goes in this space. What do they need just now to make it safe? Some people will need you at times to go for a bit of small talk.

Again, this is not a traditional Freudian approach with a blank screen. Sometimes there is call for bringing the outside world in to make it more safe in that moment. Many therapists will have a multitude of grounding techniques to keep the client in what we call the window of tolerance.

We don’t want them overwhelmed because that’s not good therapy, nor do we want them under excessed, which means they’re going into shut down know there’s fight-flight-freeze going on and we’ve got to bring them back into their body, into the room, feeling safe again and then gently, gently.

You know, I will always say to clients, you don’t have to go anywhere. You’re not ready to. I will open the door. I may even dare to shine a flashlight, the torch down into the dark. But it’s your choice when you walk through. You know, and there are many ways of working in therapy without having to tip someone over into what they’re not ready for.

Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:47:41] Well, Jackie, thank you so much for opening that door and shining the light in for us today. It’s been great to talk to you. I’m going to have links to your site. There’s some great resources on there. And thank you so much.

Jacqueline Stone [00:47:53] My pleasure. Really good to talk with you.


Dr Ron Ehrlich [00:47:57] Now, I often ask my guests at the end, what do you think the biggest challenge is for us on our health journey today? But I clearly didn’t today. And the reason was pretty obvious because I think this whole idea of overwhelm and technology is clearly one of the biggest challenges we all have.

And I thought it was great to talk to Jackie about the therapist’s role and to give us all an insight from their perspective about how they approach the relationship because they are dealing with people who are vulnerable. But having gone through this on two or three occasions, and I remember the very first time that I ever did have therapy and I’ve mentioned this before on the podcast, but between my two daughters, who are 35 and 31, we did have a stillborn. And my reaction to that was to just get on with life. Let’s move on. Let’s have another child.

Let’s you know, to I don’t know if that’s typically male, but I was that was typically me and my wife was very determined to deal with this more holistically. And so we went for therapy, a grief counseling. And that was just a total revelation to me. I resisted it. I didn’t want to do it. But it was it changed my life.

And since then, I’ve had two or three other instances where I had sought therapy and have had really, really positive experiences. And my take on it is, is that just the experience of sitting down with a professional who is aware of your vulnerabilities and who listens to you does nothing else.

Just the process, the cathartic process for an individual to relate a story to a stranger who is trained and aware of your vulnerability is in and of itself an incredibly positive experience, I think. And then to have that therapist who is trained and experienced guide you carefully through the process of self-awareness and discovery is also a very positive thing. So I really enjoyed talking to Jackie and hearing that all again and reinforcing. And if I had to say and as she said, it’s not for everybody. And there are many other strategies that you can take to deal with emotional stress and build resilience, which is precisely what Unstress is all about.

Unstress is a made-up word about understanding stress and our wellness program Unstress and simply do well is all about understanding stress and implementing simple strategies to build resilience. So, you know, there is that low. Look, don’t forget to leave us, a review got to put in the plug. And don’t forget to download the Unstress with DR on app. And don’t forget that there are some wonderful resources coming. I hope this finds you well until next time. This is Dr Ron Ehrlich be well.


This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions.