Same Time Next Week? | S1 Ep7 | Steph's Therapy Story

Season 1 | Episode 7

Steph's Therapy Story Part 1: Just Starting Out


This is the first part of a 2-part episode with Steph Barron Hall, an Enneagram 3 who had just begun going to therapy again when I interviewed her last year. In this episode, Steph talks about her experience with therapy and how she had finally gotten to a place in life where she could allow herself to feel emotions and acknowledge big changes. But, when we listened to this episode back almost a year later, Steph and Michael both noticed something really important: Steph still seemed extremely guarded.

In next week’s episode, you’ll be able to compare Steph’s demeanor, voice, tone, and level of vulnerability from the time this first episode was recorded, to the interview I do with her almost a year into therapy. We’ll be the first to tell you - expect BIG changes.


  • Catastrophizing

  • Coping mechanisms/ defense mechanisms

  • Burnout

  • What makes a good therapist

  • Effects of the pandemic on mental health

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

  • The importance of finding a therapist that “clicks”

  • Couples therapy

  • Acknowledging patterns throughout our life

  • Setting goals in therapy


Episode Transcript

 Michael Shahan 0:01
Hi. Welcome to the same time next week, the podcast where we demystify the therapy experience by talking with people who share their own personal therapy journeys. In each episode, we begin to uncover what therapy actually is, how it works, what helps, what doesn't, and everything in between. I'm Michael Shahan, a marriage and family therapist in Kansas City. Let's get started. Today's episode, I interview my friend Steph, she's an enneagram coach, entrepreneur and an Instagram influencer. I hope you enjoy this episode. This is part one of a two part episode. The first episode I interview Steph about a month into her therapy experience. In part two, I interview her again, after about a year of therapy. I hope you stick around for Episode Two next week, I think you'll be fascinated to hear how things have changed for her after another year of therapy. For you, how has therapy been helpful in your own life and your own growth in your own story?

Steph Barron Hall 1:02
Yeah, I mean,

Michael Shahan 1:04
that's a huge question. Yeah.

Steph Barron Hall 1:06
It is a huge question. But I think that what's kind of interesting, I mean, I'm sure we'll get it a little bit more into this. But like, my first few tries at therapy didn't go well at all. And it's only been in the last month or so that I've really found a therapist that I really like and that I feel like I can actually do some real work with part of that is probably when I, you know, was trying therapists say 10 years ago, I don't think I really had a lot of awareness of like, what I needed and what I needed to work on. But I think therapy has really helped me to just challenge my assumptions about like, what is true or what is right for me or, or those types of things, therapists, like help you with your feelings, but then also my therapist is always like, okay, but what are the facts?

Michael Shahan 1:53
So for you, it's not just the feelings part that was helpful, like the she said, You they helped you point out, what did you say? Things that you were seeing things that you weren't seeing correctly, is what we said

Steph Barron Hall 2:05
or things that I was like, it was like I was catastrophizing and had no idea. And then she was like, is that supported by any evidence?

Michael Shahan 2:15
And that's okay. It's almost directly challenge those beliefs in you in ways that you didn't without that, yeah. Okay. Can you explain to people what catastrophizing is? Because it's, uh, I think people can make maybe make some assumptions, but it's a pretty, it's a very therapist-y term, I think.

Steph Barron Hall 2:30
Right? So I'll give an example of like, literally what happened yesterday. So yesterday, I have a dog that is like, my baby, obviously, hearing myself say that I was like, I'm never gonna be that person. But I'm totally fine. So we rescued him. So we don't really know how old he is. There's like a lot of unknowns in his past, but he's like, very, very sweet and seems very, like vulnerable, I guess, in a sense, and he had to have a safe clean, which, for the most part, when dogs have their teeth cleaned, they have to be anesthetize because just it can be really traumatic and they have to do extractions, all different stuff. So when dogs of his age, say six or seven, I'm not really sure, go under anesthesia, there are a lot of risks. So when I made the appointment, they talked with me about the risks, and I had to sign off on all this stuff like this could happen, this could happen, this could happen. And so it's been seriously giving me anxiety for like six weeks. Wow. And yesterday. Yeah, I know. Like they're booking way out ahead of time, right now. But um, yesterday morning, I was just like sitting with him and I was like, This is gonna be the last time that we're gonna like each other and all this stuff like and I was like, you're catastrophizing like in the moment, I was able to be like, okay, dogs do this all the time, there is a risk, it's very low, it's probably going to be fine. Like, and so that's kind of what catastrophizing is where you take one little thing that could potentially happen, and you make that the sole narrative of what's happening, or what's going to happen. And then it like ruless your life because you can't not think about it. Yeah.

Michael Shahan 4:18
So So you're saying that therapy helped you even see that you were doing that? How did that happen? Just by your therapist pointing it out to you by asking you more targeted questions that you wouldn't ask yourself or something. How did that work?

Steph Barron Hall 4:29
Well, actually, I honestly can't remember if that specific phrase came from my therapist, my husband's office. But because, you know, it's like co during this whole COVID thing and everything like we are together 24 seven. And so we both have our therapy appointments and we leave for the other person's therapy because it's at home. And then when we come back, we just like, have a little postmortem and talk

Michael Shahan 4:58
more debriefing session with each other about what happened.

Steph Barron Hall 5:02
Yeah. Yeah. So but yeah, she challenged us thoughts by saying something I think like, Is that what's probably going to happen? Or is that like, what is going to happen? Or is that like, kind of the worst case scenario?

Michael Shahan 5:18
Like almost challenging? The reality of the possibility of that? And yeah, and so is somebody else pointing that out for you? Did that help you see it in different way?

Steph Barron Hall 5:28
I think so. And she also was just like, Is that helpful to think like that?

Michael Shahan 5:33
Okay. Yeah, that's I think that's such a simple but such a good question. So many things that we do in ways that we think actually aren't helpful. But we don't realize it. Yeah. Like you are doing that. And but maybe part of you part of your brain thought it was helpful or something because I don't think you'd be doing it if it didn't. Yeah, but it actually wasn't.

Steph Barron Hall 5:54
Yeah. And I think, well, that's something I've actually realized this summer. So my insurance has what they call coping skills classes. And essentially, they, I mean, it's big groups of people, and you go and like, listen to a therapist, give a presentation. It like sounds kind of dull, but it was actually really engaging and really helpful to me. Yeah. So Wow, it would, it's free. So that's a really nice thing. So you can get therapy through the insurance or you can go to these and, or you can go to these classes. So that was awesome. Yeah. And so we had this one class, where he went through all these defense mechanisms for like coping mechanisms. So how I think about it is coping skills or healthy coping mechanisms are unhealthy. Okay, that's a good way. I mean, it Yeah, it's probably not that cut and dry, but whatever. So what I realized through that is my big one. My big coping mechanism is pessimism.

Michael Shahan 6:52
Hmm, okay. Sure. Which goes along with that. Mm hmm. Yeah. Wow. So you sort of defense mechanism for you almost like your your brains way of solving problems is by looking at like the the negative side of things.

Steph Barron Hall 7:07
Like Yeah, beating life to the punch almost.

Michael Shahan 7:11
Yeah. Okay. Sure. Like, like realizing or so that you can get ready and prepare for it or just so you can sort of, because it feels emotionally easier to let yourself down before you're let down by other things or something. exactly that. Wow. Okay. So not necessarily to prepare for the worst, but to just kind of mentally ready yourself for Wow, okay. Wow, that sounds more enneagram wise, that sounds less six, six ish, nicely preparing for what goes but almost like mentally just getting ready for the blow that might come.

Steph Barron Hall 7:44
Right. Because when that blow comes, it typically causes a lot of feelings. As an enneagram, three, and I have a tendency to think my feelings not feel my feelings. Yeah. Okay. It's a lot easier. And especially as a three who's like ambitious and like, has big ideas and big dreams. I think that those things are tempered at times.

Michael Shahan 8:11
tempered what things that like, your ideas and dreams are tempered by the emotions?

Steph Barron Hall 8:16
No, like, I temper them by being pessimistic about them.

Michael Shahan 8:21
Oh, you temporarily your own ideas and dreams. Oh, okay. Okay, so you have the dreams and excitement about doing these things. But at the same time, your pessimism tends to if unchecked, like, squash them down. temper your own ideas. Wow. Makes sense. It sounds frustrating.

Steph Barron Hall 8:40
Yeah, well, yeah. And I wasn't always that way. No, I used to be like, gung ho about everything. Like I like, I would just be like, I can do this. I'm gonna do it. Like,

Michael Shahan 8:53
almost just confident about almost anything. Mm hmm. I think you've talked about that with me before. Yes, the business things that you've done, like, Yeah, why not? I can I can figure this out. I can do I can

Steph Barron Hall 9:03
hack it. Which I can but it's extremely stressful and sometimes not always the best way to do it.

Michael Shahan 9:11
Sure, I can see that in you. So do you think part of your pessimism and tempering that down has been helpful if going full charge is sometimes not helpful?

Steph Barron Hall 9:24
Maybe, but I'd love to like look at it a little bit more realistically. Okay. Okay. Yeah, one thing my therapist has helped me see is like, I tend to live in extremes. So I'm like, extreme. You know, hustle every day. or extreme, do nothing and feel unproductive. Wow. Okay. So like, so like, a few years ago, I when I started my first business, I was actually managing a day program for adults with developmental disabilities. So that was a very stressful Job is great. It was a great organization. But it was extremely stressful, just the nature of the job. And then I started my first business. And so I was doing that. Well, and it was wedding florals. And so I was literally working. Like whenever I'd have a wedding, I'd work all weekend and then go back to work, I would like, wow, I would get up early in the morning, maybe like two or three, and then go to the flower market and downtown LA. Get all the flowers, pack them into my car, drive my car to my office, work my full day of work, which could sometimes be like nine or 10 hours, just depending. Wow. And then go home and then like literally work all night to get the stuff ready for the wedding. No

Michael Shahan 10:46
way. So just always going, going going. Yeah.

Steph Barron Hall 10:49
And then I left that job went to their job, kind of was doing the same type of thing. And then after I stopped my floral business, I was bored for like, a millisecond and decided to run a half marathon. Wow. Okay, which at the time, I could only run a mile.

Michael Shahan 11:10
No. Wow. And you just I should be able to do a half marathon.

Steph Barron Hall 11:14
Well, it was an April and then the half marathon was October.

Michael Shahan 11:18
Okay, so I like plans time to Okay, okay. Yeah.

Steph Barron Hall 11:21
And then I I think I was already doing my Instagram, my current Instagram and like business at that time. The new one. Wow. All at once. Now, I wasn't doing florals any longer. Yeah. And then I started grad school. So for a while I was doing grad school, my Instagram account, which is really time consuming and working full time. And so that was like my mode. I was just constantly in overdrive basically. And then a lot of other things happened but basically found myself in a place where there has in the middle of a pandemic, trying to work from home at this point only have grad school and the Instagram. I don't have a I mean, my full time job is my Instagram. Yeah, sure. Yeah. And I think I just I think I maybe was realizing that I had like a delayed sense of burnout, almost

Michael Shahan 12:22
delayed sense of burnout. Yeah, cuz it was,

Steph Barron Hall 12:25
it wasn't really until like, it was like, eight or nine months after I left my full time job that I started really crashing and being like, I'm so unproductive I can't do anything

Michael Shahan 12:35
can't get Wow, is that what is that? What like, like when you crashed and was over overworked and burnt out? That's what started to happen. Like you started being unproductive.

Steph Barron Hall 12:45
Yeah, or I think maybe it was just like the heaviness of not knowing the future with like, the pandemic and

Michael Shahan 12:52
so, therapy wise, you said recently you found a therapist that was really helpful. Is that is is that what pushed you to sort of find this most recent therapists that recent burnout pandemic stuff?

Steph Barron Hall 13:04
Yeah, cuz I was kind of like, I don't know what's going on with me.

Michael Shahan 13:08
Wow, this is the kind of thoughts you had your head about, like, what's going on with me? What's wrong with me? Okay,

Steph Barron Hall 13:15
well, you don't like that.

Michael Shahan 13:17
You know what?

Steph Barron Hall 13:18
I know you don't like that.

Michael Shahan 13:19
What do you mean? Oh, just

Steph Barron Hall 13:21
the whole thought of like, what's wrong with me is me.

Michael Shahan 13:25
Yeah, totally sure. But it's not about me right now is a really, really common thought. I think that has to I think that's one of the driving thoughts that brings people to therapy in the first place. Like what's wrong with me? What I'm doing isn't working. What's wrong? Like, what's happening? Why can't I keep doing this? Like, I always have been doing this.

Steph Barron Hall 13:39
Yeah. And I think I think I just what my therapist helped me to realize is like, I really compartmentalize things. And I don't take in, like, the impact of everything that's happening in my life. I'm like, this is thing is hard. And this thing is hard to say it's kind of difficult and etc. But like, I don't understand why I don't feel productive. Like I just don't get it.

Michael Shahan 14:07
Wow. Oh, so almost blaming yourself for compartmentalizing so well that you don't understand why you're so unproductive and burnt out. Whereas if you were to look, if you were able to look at the picture, the picture of your life as a whole, it would make sense. Yeah. Okay. So is that something that you learn in therapy that you're able to see in a different way?

Steph Barron Hall 14:25
Yeah, I mean, because my therapists,. So one of the big things that drove me to therapy was really feeling like anxious and depressed. Okay, so, and my insurance, the way that they do it is they kind of give you this assessment, and they're like, Wow, you are very, very depressed. I was like,

Michael Shahan 14:44
is that what the assessment told you? Yeah. Wow. Were you surprised at that? Ah,

Steph Barron Hall 14:54
I mean, I tend to ace test so like, no surprise, I got 100% depressed

Michael Shahan 15:01
Ace in a very different way

Steph Barron Hall 15:07
Opposite. But I was like, I think I had a really hard time seeing why, like, I think really hard time staying connected right? actual reasons in my life like I was like something's wrong with my brain.

Michael Shahan 15:22
Whoa, actual reasons I think there's a lot there good that implies is that like maybe some shame, I don't know maybe some shame before like it's not the actual context reason but it's me something's wrong with me instead of like nobody could actually function like this well for long.

Steph Barron Hall 15:37
Yeah, yeah. And I so she had me like my first time with her she had me write down everything that had changed in the last year. And what I realized is literally every single thing in my life except for what dog I have an who is married to, changed in the last year.

Michael Shahan 15:58
Everything else?

Steph Barron Hall 16:00
Where I lived, my job, my education my like what type like renting to living with family to buying a house to all of these. Like leaving my religion like all of these things had changed. Wow.

Michael Shahan 16:17
And so it took like somebody a therapist, like saying, hey, write this down and look into it for you to even see it to even see that the impact that that would have on you.

Steph Barron Hall 16:25
Yeah, yeah, I was. I think like, in my head. I was like, these things are unrelated.

Michael Shahan 16:31
Really? Wow. Okay, I just couldn't connect them.

Steph Barron Hall 16:34
Yeah. And I think my therapist was like, well, you're a human like, helped me to see like, I'm a human being. And like, everything in my life is connected because

Michael Shahan 16:46
of those things that she directly told you or things that you realized with the question she asked you and then or both?

Steph Barron Hall 16:54
I think a bit of both. I don't think she like she would like she definitely said she's very direct, which I really appreciate. But she she basically told me at one point, she was like, when we look at things like anxiety and depression, a lot of the time an instigating event can be a big change in somebody's life. And when I look at your life, you've had big changes every single month for the last year. Wow. And so it's no surprise that you're not feeling great.

Michael Shahan 17:25
Was it like? Yeah, what was it like to hear for you?

Steph Barron Hall 17:29
It felt really validating,

Michael Shahan 17:31
Validating, to like to hear that, like, what what message was there? Like, it's not something wrong with you. It's just there's a lot of change in this happens. Kind of like almost like normalizing that for you and getting rid of some of the discomfort that came with how you were thinking about it before.

Steph Barron Hall 17:46
Yeah, yeah. And I think Well, okay, so I feel like I I think we've talked about this, but um, I feel like the term gaslighting is getting applied to everything right now.

Michael Shahan 17:59
Yeah, yeah, we have talked about this. Yes. Okay.

Steph Barron Hall 18:03
So in kind of an interesting way, and I don't want to like when people feel like that phrase is really powerful for them. I don't want to take anything away from that. But for me, I'm like is gaslighting just anything, though? But I did see this post on Instagram. And it was talking about how we Gaslight ourselves. In the sense of like, you go through something really difficult or you have a really hard work situation or whatever. And you're like, it's not that bad. I should be fine. Like, it's not that bad. I should just like, if I were strong enough, I would get through it unscathed. And I was like, Oh, my gosh, that is totally. That is totally what I do.

Michael Shahan 18:43
Gaslighting yourself? Wow, I see that all the time. Like when when my clients tell me all these things happen. And then they sort of, I think I've told you this, I sometimes use this phrase in my clients, like, I'll say, like, you're gonna have to, you'd have to try a lot harder to convince me that you're not handling that well, because there's no way you should be able to handle that. There's no like the things that it's it's happens a lot. I think it makes sense, especially with enneagram threes, where that could be such a powerful, like narrative and thing that you do to yourself. That's so common that people thinking. And I don't know what that is where that comes from.

Steph Barron Hall 19:14
I think maybe part of it is that in our society, and a lot of ways we're not allowed to talk about our emotions, we're not allowed to feel them, or talk about them. At least that's what I feel like that's my filter as any sharee. Right. Sure. Yeah. It's like, if you do something based on how you feel, you're being illogical,

Michael Shahan 19:34
illogical. Wow. Yeah. Like, it's that and that's almost not okay. Right, or not, right or not.

Steph Barron Hall 19:42
And so, like, what I'm learning is that my feelings can tell me a lot of things like, I had a job one time, that pretty much within the first month I was like, This is not, this is not good. But I continued to tell myself it's not that bad. Other people can do it. There's something wrong with you. If You can't

Michael Shahan 20:00
Wow. invalidating your own emotions about it in so many ways.

Steph Barron Hall 20:06
Yeah. Wow there for a long time, really

Michael Shahan 20:09
just kept going. And so the emotions, were telling you that it wasn't good long before you made the decision to step away.

Steph Barron Hall 20:17
I think I felt like I had to, or I felt like it would be an embarrassment or something.

Michael Shahan 20:23
Wow. Yeah. But also like things kept you there. In your own head. Yeah. So for you, if your convention is like, Oh, so what? So you said you had some therapists that I mean, this year, most of them are more recent therapist is good. And you like her? Right? So what is what for you makes a good therapist? And what for you makes a therapist that's like, you don't want to be there and nothing's out and things aren't helping.

Steph Barron Hall 20:50
I think like, a therapist I can be honest with is really important for me. And I mean, that should be a given, right? Not like, Okay, so the first time I met my therapist, I'm like, this summer, I tried out a couple different therapists, and a couple of them just didn't work for me wasn't a good fit, tried it out. I want somebody who's actually going to listen to me, and I can actually talk about things with. And like, when my face kind of does like a weird thing, where it's like, I'm spacing out. It's on zoom, right? Or not zoom, but it's on, you know, video chat. But for therapists to actually notice that and be like, what's happening right there. Now for me,

Michael Shahan 21:40
yeah, okay. So almost like even seeing the in the moment reactions that you're having, and sort of calling attention to them and being curious about them? Yeah. Wow. Okay.

Steph Barron Hall 21:50
I tend to have one therapist that would just, I would just glaze over and be like, you know, just trying to explain what my face looks like right now. Just like, Yeah, I would just glaze over. And then she would just keep talking. I was just gonna say the first time like, I talked with my therapists, the current one, just to do an intake, like about an initial appointment. I was like, Okay, well, what is your like? What's your method? Like? What do you what do you do? You know, yeah. Because I learned from talking with a therapist, that I need to ask that question, because some methods might just not work for me. Yeah. Okay. Or I think actually two way that somebody answers that question tells me a lot about like how experienced they are.

Michael Shahan 22:37
Yeah, okay. Well, like I don't know, we just talk We'll see. Maybe you're, you become slightly hesitant.

Steph Barron Hall 22:44
Yeah. Or it's if it's like, full of like fluffy language. I'm like, Huh, huh.

Michael Shahan 22:50
I don't know. Yeah, sure. No, even sets up like this. You sort of almost implicitly implicitly. Yeah, get the question. You're starting to get the question like, Can I trust you answered from your therapist, and even asking that question. So even like how they say it, and what they say begins to answer that question for you and create a sense of safety and trust.

Steph Barron Hall 23:11
Yeah. Okay. So she was like, she told me a little bit about she, and she basically was like, her methodology is your first day in therapy, I'm preparing you to leave. She's like, I, I want this to actually like you actually be moving forward and the way that you are processing and growing and everything. And she also said, which I love, she was like, I cuss a lot. And if that really offends you, I will try to pull it back. But like, it's just part of who I am. It just comes out. I just liked people to know. And I was like, that's great. I don't trust anyone who doesn't cuss.

Michael Shahan 23:47
So there's another piece that like, led to more trust for you.

Steph Barron Hall 23:51
Yeah. And to like, I, I've softened this a lot. But I tend to want to get to the point. So especially if I'm like, I'm the type of person who like if I meet someone for a call, unless they start conversation around, like, how are you doing today and small talk and stuff like that? I'll just be like, Alright, so here are the things that we need to do. Okay. And so I appreciated that she was like, I'm not going to hem and haw and be like, Who are you? She's like, I'm just gonna be like, Alright, what's up this week? Yeah. Okay. You love that? Yeah. Some people would hate it. But it works. Yeah, yeah.

Michael Shahan 24:31
Okay. Some people that might not vibe with him as well, because they maybe they need them more small talk easing into things. Yeah. Okay. So yeah, yeah, that makes sense. And I love that you're highlighting. I mean, therapists are so different, and so are people. And you don't have to work well with every therapist because you won't.

Steph Barron Hall 24:53
Yeah, well, I think I mentioned this briefly. Like I alluded to it earlier, but when I was in college, I tried I had a couple different therapists. Yeah, I think this might be an enneagram. Three thing, honestly, I think I was very aware of like whether I was doing a good job at therapy. I was like, What do you want me to say? Like, what do you want me to get out of this?

Michael Shahan 25:16
You're almost asking your therapist that question. Yeah. Like in your own head, or even directly?

Steph Barron Hall 25:21
Yeah, I mean, it kind of in my head. I remember with one therapist, there's this moment where she was like, I think she was probably frustrated because I wasn't getting anywhere because I was having a hard time like opening up and talking about stuff. And she was like, so how are you feeling about moving forward? Do you want to keep meeting and I remember just being like, what, what does she want me to say? Does she not want to talk to me anymore?

Michael Shahan 25:45
Oh it wasn't like, Hey, do I want this? It was at what does she want me to say? What is she thinking? Yeah. What is she wanting? Wow. Okay. Wow, do you think that was? Is that something you do with everybody? Is that an Enneagram three thing? Did you say that already?

Steph Barron Hall 25:59
Yeah, I think it's a fairly unhealthy aspect and finger three, but um, it definitely is that shapeshifting quality? Yeah, sure. Like, you're just trying to figure out what that person wants. Yeah,

Michael Shahan 26:11
yeah. So does your therapist now the one that you like it? Does she do anything to kind of keep that from happening or challenge you or to discourage that kind of thinking?

Steph Barron Hall 26:23
I will, like I said, it's been like, 10 years, probably since I had that experience. And I think I think I've grown a lot since then. Yeah. Okay. I awareness. Yeah. For a few years, I met with a spiritual director, which was really helpful for me to to kind of get out of that mindset of like, what do they want me to say?

Michael Shahan 26:45
Wow, okay. So that so you work through a lot of that even with like a spiritual director of some kind. Okay. And that was helpful for you to see those patterns in you and stop them? Because I think Yeah, so back then with your older Did you read? Were you able to, like, see and be aware that you were doing that? Or it was it just kind of happened so naturally, that you didn't even know it was going on?

Steph Barron Hall 27:06
Yeah, I had no idea what's going on?

Michael Shahan 27:07
Just sort of Yeah. Wow. Okay. The pattern was so like, autopilot in you. Yeah. They just did it. I didn't even think about it or doing think of it doing anything different. Because like, almost like asking a fish to describe water or whatever. like that for it. Right. It's like, I don't know. It's just, this is what I do. And I really think different.

Steph Barron Hall 27:23
Yeah. Wow. Yeah, I think it's different. And also, like I mentioned, it's really helpful for me, because because like, I'm not always aware of what I'm feeling. I've worked on it a lot. And so it's really helpful for like, but you can normally see it like on my face. Well, sometimes.

Michael Shahan 27:44
See what? The emotions?

Steph Barron Hall 27:47
Yeah, like, if someone's paying attention. A lot of people find me to be very, like, they're like, you just seem always really calm, which I don't experience myself tha way at all I'm like, I'm all over the place.

Michael Shahan 28:03
Wow. So your own inner experience of you is very different than how other people see

Steph Barron Hall 28:08
you. Yeah. Wait, you're not into astrology right.

Michael Shahan 28:11
Now? I mean, I don't know really know much about it at all. No. But if you are, then you can share if it's meaningful to you.

Steph Barron Hall 28:17
Yeah. So um, for any listener, um, I am a Libra. But what's that's my sun sign, but my moon sign is Gemini, so they tend to be a lot more emotional and a lot more like kind of all over the place. More kind of spirited, I guess. Okay, um, whereas Libras are typically very balanced. And then my Ascendant sign, which is how others typically experienced so the moon sign is how I experienced myself. So that's the Gemini very like spirited. motional. Okay. And then my Ascendant sign or what people on the outside see me as is Capricorn, which is very cool, calm and collected all the time. Yeah, very calculated. So it's fascinating, because when I learned that, I was like, that blows my mind, I didn't realize that other people saw me that way. Wow,

Michael Shahan 29:15
you didn't even know before the other people like perceived you in such a different way. Wow. Yeah. So is that something you learned in therapy or just through your own growth work in self awareness across the board, you sort of begin to pick that up and realize the difference?

Steph Barron Hall 29:30
I think I just began to pick it up and realize the difference through learning about that stuff, but it is. It's helpful in therapy, because it's like, like I mentioned, if something is showing up on my face, or like, there's just like a micro, like, sometimes it's like, I don't even notice that my face changed. But if my therapist does, hmm, then she can call attention to it and ask what's going on?

Michael Shahan 29:53
Well, it's almost like draw that out. If you maybe even sort of cut past that, like maybe you don't know what's happening or you assume other people see it, but they Don't and so she's able to sit like play this role of, that just happened. Let's talk about that and sort of make you more aware of it. Exactly. Wow. What's, what's that been like when she does that? I mean, I'm sure it's helpful, but is it at times uncomfortable or confusing or upsetting? Of course.

Steph Barron Hall 30:17
Okay. Okay. Like, huh? Yeah, it's not really comfortable. Like, it's not great. It's like, obviously, if I, if I had a thought that I didn't want to say there's a reason. Okay. Okay. But it's also really helpful, because it's just like permission to talk about whatever is going on. And like, sometimes I'll be like, Oh, I'm sorry. Like, I feel like I'm getting off track. And she's like, Well, no, like this is this is really helpful. like to talk about.

Michael Shahan 30:46
Yeah, so you almost doing your own thing? I don't know. Like, I'm sorry, this is too much. I don't want to be talking too much, or getting off track and not doing this. Right. Just like there is no right. Almost giving you permission to do things differently than you normally do. Yeah, wow. Yeah, I, it's so interesting. enneagram wise around client seeing, like, the patterns that each number has in that like type of thing. Like, yeah, like a lot of twos will apologize for talking so much. I'm sorry for talking so much today. I'm like, but I really love the session today. But I'm so sorry for talking so much. And it's like, are you? What do you think you're here for?

Steph Barron Hall 31:20
Do you think that you're here so I can

Michael Shahan 31:23
write it I don't think maybe cognitively they don't actually think that but like their gut is telling them like that wasn't I shouldn't have their own defense mechanisms are so strong and deeply rooted in them that me allowing them and giving them space to talk in ways that they normally don't is like uncomfortable for them. It's like doing something different. Letting them I was gonna say making them kind of making them do something different, like the patterns that we normally do in our lives. If we have a good therapist, I think therapists can see those and shift it. And they don't have to play the same role that they don't get sucked into your own patterns and just reinforce them. Does that make sense? Yeah. I think that's huge and uncomfortable. Because Yeah, we've done we do what we do all the time over and over again. And if we don't anymore, even if we don't, even if we want to, it's very uncomfortable.

Steph Barron Hall 32:07
What I think is so great about therapy is like, we don't naturally I think most of us don't naturally challenge the ways that we grew up, or the thought processes that are deeply ingrained in us. Yeah, yes. And so that's really helpful to challenge those. Yeah. Because it's like, having a parent who's like maybe more of a perfectionist, and then having my therapist challenge some things that I say, and then be like, oh, like, that is because this is what my parents thought was sad. But I don't have to think that.

Michael Shahan 32:42
Wow, wow, what there's such like permission and freedom in that. But also, yeah, I love that. Yeah. Yeah. Like because we don't we usually just, it's our reality. And this is how our family like I've heard people tell stories, like that's the quote, like what was what did you not realize was weird in your family until you grew up? Like my family used to do this. And I had no idea. It was weird until I mentioned that everybody looked at me weird. It's, we're so it's so normal. And for us that we don't realize that engine is our own thought patterns, our own emotional patterns and the things that we do and the things we ruminate on the things we believe, like that's, it's so handed down to us and taught to us that we don't even question it. And we think that's the only way to do it. Until it doesn't work anymore. When people don't say it this directly, but they usually come to therapy, saying the things I've always done to cope are now hurting me more than they're helping me. And I don't know, and I don't know what to do. That's basically the summary of what brings, in my opinion, what brings people therapy in a lot of a lot of times, it looks very different contextually for everybody. But that's kind of the underlying message. Yeah, that makes sense for you to like, I've always done it this way. And but now I have no motivation. I can't anymore in what's what's going on.

Steph Barron Hall 33:47
Like, I've always just allowed myself or not allowed myself like I kind of enjoyed that I have that inner drive and energy. Mm hmm. Yeah. Uh huh. And then it's suddenly gone. And not suddenly, but like, and so it's helpful. It's like, because instead of beating myself up about it, it's like, oh, this is what's happening. Just different. Oh,

Michael Shahan 34:09
yeah. So it's just how you even treat yourself in those coping mechanisms and stories.

Steph Barron Hall 34:15
Yeah. Yeah. And I think my therapist has helped me to see like, and not just the therapist, but like, you know, my spiritual director and like other, you know, therapists. Yeah, I mean, to see like, I don't have to be like, all the ambitious way, or all the, like, not ambitious way. Like, I can't find a middle ground

Michael Shahan 34:34
challenge the black and white thinking. Yeah, yeah. So in cognitive behavioral therapy, it's this idea. It's a specific style of therapy, they have things called automatic thoughts. Has anybody ever used that phrase with you, your therapist? No, it's basically this list of automatic thoughts that we have but tend to cause problems and they are there's catastrophizing is one of them. Black and White thinking is one of them. And there's like this whole list of like 10 or 15 different I don't know I haven't looked at in a while but it's like those those automatic thoughts that we use, so It sounds like there's two of them that you tend to utilize a lot. If you're not aware that catastrophizing and black and white thinking

Steph Barron Hall 35:06
definitely that makes sense. Oh, I'm thinking about

Michael Shahan 35:11
Oh, what do you mean? Like oh, saying it that clearly directly makes it make more sense for you?

Steph Barron Hall 35:17
Yeah. And I think I mean, again, like I said, I probably have, like all of them in some way, shape or form.

Michael Shahan 35:23
So never question about that. I think it's fascinating sometimes. So your own expectations of what therapy should look like, given like media portrayals and things like that. What was surprising to you, if anything about the actual therapy experience?

Steph Barron Hall 35:39
Honestly, I think I thought every therapist was a good one.

Michael Shahan 35:44
Oh, wow. Okay. Wow. Like everybody should be really good at this and should be able to help.

Steph Barron Hall 35:50
Yeah. And I didn't realize how much like, I would really need to find the right one for me.

Michael Shahan 35:59
Wow. Okay. The importance of finding somebody who really clicks with you? Well,

Steph Barron Hall 36:02
yeah, or there I once because my husband, I actually had a fantastic there like a couple therapists, okay, that was like us very much use like the Gottman Institute. And her therapy. And she was fantastic. And gave us like so many tools. Well, and also like, I am a big proponent of therapy I haven't prioritized in with individual therapy until recently. Right? I also think in movies and stuff they portray, like, if you go to a couples therapist, it's like you're at the edge. Yeah, yeah. Okay. But for us, it was like, we've been married for a while. And we would just like to, like how like, figure out some of these things, like, have better communication and stuff,

Michael Shahan 36:51
not just because you're about to split, and you need help last ditch effort,

Steph Barron Hall 36:55
right. Which I think is really powerful. I think everyone should do that.

Michael Shahan 37:00
Yes, I agree. I'm a little biased, but I agree.

Steph Barron Hall 37:05
Yeah, and I also think people should go to a therapist for premarital to a therapist, not to a pastor. Sorry. That I

Michael Shahan 37:15
agree with that. Like there's this sort of personal connection you have with a pastor can really skew things and keep you from being honest and make things uncomfortable and cause all sorts of dualistic relationship stuff that there is intentionally stay out of so that it can be helpful and healthy. Yeah, you told me before some about how fun those that experience was for you.

Steph Barron Hall 37:37
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, it's always I also think therapists, sometimes maybe have better boundaries, because they don't feel responsible for your spiritual life. Okay, so I just think some of the questions to ask are a little bit inappropriate for a pastor. I talked about some, but it's like, I went to one church for like, six years. That was really toxic. I don't know. I also Okay, this is this might be I don't know if people told you this before, or if how, I don't know how long your podcast is supposed to be. So maybe

Michael Shahan 38:14
I'm ready for it.

Steph Barron Hall 38:15
I don't find Christian therapists, like not therapists who are Christians, but therapists who specifically teach from like a quote unquote, biblical or like, do therapy from like, that biblical lens? For me in my life, they have been very unhelpful, in what ways? Because whenever something hard happens, they slap a Bible verse on it. Hmm. Okay. Sure. has been my experience. Yeah, yeah. For you. That's what happened.

Michael Shahan 38:46
Which is just basically, I mean, just a different way of invalidating emotions. Yeah. Which is kind of what you just kind of, from what you've told me so far, that's sort of what you do already for yourself invalidating emotions in specific ways. And so to have somebody do it, and just the same thing, but in a different way. There's no way that's helpful no matter what, no matter what, like religion, or church or whatever, even people listening might be uncomfortable with that topic. But I think no matter what the topic is, if it's an invalid entity of emotions in any way, shape, or form, it's not gonna be helpful.

Steph Barron Hall 39:15
Yeah. It doesn't really help you to grow. Yeah,

Michael Shahan 39:19
yes. It just gives you more, especially, for you with your own thoughts and ideas about yourself and how you should be doing this better and how you should be functioning better in life and like, that's just going to feed that that's not going to actually change that. I think it's probably just gonna feed it and new and fun and exciting ways.

Steph Barron Hall 39:35
Yeah. Wow. Yeah. And I think growing up in the church, for me, is kind of one of the things that really solidified I don't think it has the same effect on everyone. Okay, it had the effect of invalidating emotions in that way. Right. Like saying, like, like, emotions aren't real. Or if you think or if you feel your emotions, you're a logical, yes. Yeah, basically. And then also, like you can't trust yourself and you are What's wrong with you?

Michael Shahan 40:05
Hmm, yeah, you should reach out for. Wow. Yeah. Is that the kind of messages you got from those? Those places? For me? Yeah, sure. And I mean, I know some people who didn't get those kind of messages. So it's not like the fault of, but for you very, very much fed those things that are already in you. Yeah. And very unhelpful ways. And that's what I think, yeah, they're pretty good therapy. There's like a balance between of comfort, right, love, like, I'm safe here and comfortable here. And I can be vulnerable and sort of, like, moving you in a very different direction. Or, or not, or, like, you're doing things really different in your life, I think, is a balance. Because if it's too much into things different than it's just, it's just gonna, you're just gonna want to leave, you're not gonna, you're gonna get defensive and throw up your own defense mechanisms, I think probably like, I don't think he's plunged so deeply into discomfort without any sort of safety or comfort can actually be not helpful at all.

Steph Barron Hall 41:02
Yeah. Well, I also think that, like, going back to the movie question earlier, one thing I didn't realize about therapy is that it's actually like, you should go in with some goals. Like some things you want to accomplish. Like, a lot of times, it's portrayed as you just go in, and you talk about your feelings, but actually, like, hmm, you have to have like, some idea of what you want to get out of it.

Michael Shahan 41:25
And you won't Yeah, I mean, that's a I know, it can be very interesting three thing to like goals and one goals. But I think that's true across the board for everybody in therapy. And I always, the question I ask my clients in the first session usually is something like, if this work goes well, and we do this for who knows how long, a few weeks, few months, whatever, and things change, and you're happy with it, and things shifted, like you wanted them to shift. And this works well, how would you be different? And how other people see you as different? I think it's like a good way that it gets them thinking like, okay, like, practically, like, what would I want to change in my life? How do I want to react differently? How do I want people to see me different? Like, how would people know that the change has happened in me, because my behaviors have changed? Yeah. And I always ask that question. I always go back every few weeks. Okay, are we still working on this? Is it still going? Well, how are we going these goals? Just I think that's, it feels like a waste of time. They're just coming in talking about something different every time. Yeah. Without a thread connecting at all. I think the context can be very different, but like continuing to weave back in those major goals throughout everything that you talk about. Yeah, in my opinion, is super important.

Steph Barron Hall 42:26
Well, I actually, it's funny, I actually asked my coaching question, or my coaching clients something similar.

Michael Shahan 42:31
Okay. What, uh, how do you phrase yours? Well, I have one

Steph Barron Hall 42:35
type of coaching session in particular called intention setting, we basically go through, like, how they would rate their mental health, emotional health, spiritual health. Again, I don't I don't teach it from a specific spiritual background. But I believe we all have some sort of spirituality to us. So that's kind of my perspective on that. Yeah. Physical family like, Okay, cool. So I asked, like, it's kind of like an inventory of like, how things are going. And then I asked, so if all of those numbers right now, we're like, where you'd like them to be. So say, like, the other day, I had a client who, for them, like I've had clients, who five is good. So on a scale of one to 10. Five is good. Wow, I had clients who like, if anything is below a seven, they're like, Oh, that's bad.

Michael Shahan 43:29
Okay, yes. So it's

Steph Barron Hall 43:31
kind of interesting. But yeah, so I'll ask like, if those numbers were where you'd like them to be like, where you think is a good number? What would that look like in your life? Or that look like practically? What would that look like a week from now? A month from now? a year from now? Wow. Okay. Yeah, very specific. And it's actually really interesting. Because I think it it does like what you're saying, it's like, when people think about it that way, they're like, Oh, now I have something that I care about that I

Michael Shahan 44:00
want to work toward. Yeah, gives a good direction.

Steph Barron Hall 44:03
I mean, obviously, it's not therapy. So it's like, we're not going into their past. Really, we're really talking about the present in the future. But

Michael Shahan 44:09
sure, but there's so many so make sense. I think there's still an importance on goals like that. Wow. If you if somebody were to come to you and say be on the fence about going to see a therapist, what would you What would you say to them?

Steph Barron Hall 44:22
I think I'd honestly be curious why they're on the fence. Okay, I really think that the biggest thing, but like, are you motivated to change? Like, are you ready? That's the biggest thing, because if they're not, and they're not gonna listen to their therapists, or they're not gonna really talk about stuff, it's like, wow. Like, maybe maybe be a little bit more curious about why and then go see a therapist.

Michael Shahan 44:50
Wow. Okay. Interesting. But

Steph Barron Hall 44:54
I yeah, I think it's definitely productive for literally anyone. at almost any time, as long as they're ready to grow and change, because I really, I really think there's always going to be something that can we can grow from.

Michael Shahan 45:11
Yeah, I tend to believe that as well. Yeah. And the the red or the willing willing to change thing that you mentioned, I love that you mentioned that because there were other therapists, while back told me, You make a huge mistake as a therapist, if you assume that everybody who walks in your office is ready to make change. Because like, some people come in thinking they are ready are wanting to be ready or pressured in by a spouse or by somebody or whatever, there's not that willingness to because there needs to because it can get Yeah, there needs to be a willingness to really change if you're going to push past those difficult things. And the discomfort that we talked about earlier that can happen with challenging your own narratives and seeing things in a different way.

Steph Barron Hall 45:50
Yeah, but sometimes, like, I just want to go and I just want to talk about something without having to change. What do you what do you know? Like, okay, so like, I went, and maybe like, I should just be like, kinda to help my, my college age self, I went through something fairly traumatic. And I, I just want to do a therapy and talk about it. Like, I didn't want to change, or grow. I just wanted somebody to hear me.

Michael Shahan 46:22
And I think that's also okay. I don't I don't want you to hear me say like, you have to be ready to just do the work immediately, like, right away, or else you don't go to therapy. Like I don't want to hear me say that for sure. Please want to talk about which is like, which is where you're at in the process. That's all you could do. It sounds like,

Steph Barron Hall 46:37
yeah, I think I just like wasn't ready to let go of that. That.

Michael Shahan 46:44
Yeah, that makes sense. And again, like, Yeah, I don't think you have to I'm, you had to, like, make sure you're ready to let go before you walked into therapy, because then maybe therapy would have never happened, right? But I think in talking about it, and verbalizing it and processing it, it can make us more ready to move past those things. Yeah. Or we don't even see what we don't like. So there's something called the stages of change in therapy. I don't know, I'm gonna probably butcher it because I don't use it a lot directly. But there's like pre cons. The cons of pre contemplation contemplation are the first two stages so I pre contemplation is even like, am I even, like even before they're contemplating the change and the contemplation is even thinking about the change? Do I even want to do this? And like both of those steps, there's isn't even like this, let's do this mentality. It's which isn't, which is therapy can still be helpful. It can help poke and prod at things that like me, because because I think we can be so blind to how our patterns and like, just like you said, how our patterns are hurting us. Yeah. Like you didn't really even realize just how exhausting those things were for you. And just how you were how you were talking to yourself and invalidating your emotions. You even you just knew that something was up. Maybe you started to slowly realize that but you didn't really know what it was or where it was coming from?

Steph Barron Hall 47:58
Yeah, that's so I mean, yeah, it's like a word about awareness, which is obviously like in the enneagram. world, we talk about that a lot to where it's just like, the awareness is the first part.

Michael Shahan 48:09
Yeah, that's just one of my favorite things with the enneagram. Is that awareness. It's sort of if I ever use this phrase with you before, but like therapy, for me is a lot of making the covert overt I talked about before.

Steph Barron Hall 48:22
I don't think so. But that totally makes sense.

Michael Shahan 48:24
Yeah. And then and then some, and that's what the enneagram does. So many ways that they points out the patterns in you that are happening. And if there's no awareness, there's no changing.

Steph Barron Hall 48:34
Yeah. Because like, like all of the changes I've talked about. I feel like a lot of them came from the enneagram, Really?

Michael Shahan 48:42
Yeah, they helped you see the parts of yourself that were sort of happening and working below the surface, the covert parts? Yeah, like over,

Steph Barron Hall 48:49
they helped me see like, oh, maybe it's not super healthy to have like, 40 jobs. For me, you know, or maybe it's not great to go into your therapists office and expect them to dictate, like, expect to kind of Ace therapy by like, making them.

Michael Shahan 49:11
Yeah. Wow. That's interesting how like, maybe like it could have. Do you think it was your therapists responsibility to see that you are wanting to like Ace therapy and call that out? Or was that something that you wouldn't have been able to see? Does that make sense? I don't know. I wasn't aware of it. You already have it. Yeah. earrings. You mean it was happening?

Steph Barron Hall 49:30
Yeah. So they probably did. You know,

Michael Shahan 49:33
probably they probably knew what was happening. Hmm.

Steph Barron Hall 49:37
Maybe? I don't know. I wasn't aware of that tendency in myself, though.

Michael Shahan 49:41
Yeah, you had no idea what's happening. It was just so naturally how you did things. Wow. The enneagram helps you see that more than anything?

Steph Barron Hall 49:50
Yeah. Hmm. Yeah, because I actually hated that. Like, whenever I first learned my enneagram type, I remember this. I had an apartment at the time where we had a balcony. And I just remember sitting out on my balcony, and just like literally praying to be a different type, really? Because I was like, I hate this thing about myself so much.

Michael Shahan 50:17
Wow, that's it that's heavy. At those parts of yourself well, and I mean, which I think that probably means. I mean, that usually means that somebody actually arrived at their crack number, if they have these, like, really humiliating ranges of what they're doing, because you go, those patterns don't want to be seen. And when we see them, we get really uncomfortable.

Steph Barron Hall 50:36
Yeah, it's Yeah, it's like that shape shifting thing. Which is weird. I have a lot of like, type seven tendencies to definitely more type three.

Michael Shahan 50:46
Yeah. Which is a type three, the more uncomfortable things to see in you.

Steph Barron Hall 50:52
Yeah, I think so. Because it's like more about like, I would rather be like, I'm not emotional. But I am.

Michael Shahan 50:58
Yeah, it's more comfortable to try to pretend that you're not. Mm hmm. Yeah. Okay. That makes so much sense with the social stances with the feeling repressed the three, seven and eight. Yeah, it's kind of, it's easier and more comfortable to just sort of do put that aside and not notice that and work with that and pay attention.

Steph Barron Hall 51:19
Yeah, and I think sevens are a bit less emotional than three is typically less emotional. I think that they, in my, in my experience, because they perceive the world through thinking and not through feeling. Even though both are feeling Oh, yes, yes.

Michael Shahan 51:37
Yep. Since you're in that feeling dominant as well. Yeah, that makes sense. There may be even more cut off from it. Yeah. Yeah. My, my supervisor was in grad school and post grad school was a seven. And she had been doing this for years and years and years. And when she found out about the enneagram, she realized that she had been thinking her feelings more than feeling or feelings that she ever thought as yours as a therapist.

Steph Barron Hall 51:58
Isn't that fascinating? Yes. Yeah. It's such a, like, it's such a shortcut, in some ways, like, in a good way.

Michael Shahan 52:06
Yes. Very much. So.

Steph Barron Hall 52:07
No, that's actually, I don't know, I don't know if you have people take tests. But I, or if you just like, I figure out what they are through

Michael Shahan 52:16
therapy, I do a little bit about I'll have them take a test. And but just make sure they know, this probably isn't going to be perfectly accurate. So just let it guide you to a number of Don't let it don't just assume that it's correct.

Steph Barron Hall 52:28
Yeah. Yeah. Cuz I think like, my whole philosophy is like, if, if you can't sit down and like do the real work that you need to do of like self discovery to find your type, then you can't really expect yourself to do that work. Once you do find your type.

Michael Shahan 52:45
What do you mean, like so if you're not willing to see it, then you're not willing to do anything about

Steph Barron Hall 52:49
it. Like if you're not willing to sit and like, do the hard work of self reflection, and like figuring yourself out in order to figure out which type you are, then you're not going to, that's not going to be your tendency? When once you do find your type, like, you're not going to suddenly be like, okay, now I'm going to reflect on myself.

Michael Shahan 53:07
Yes, yeah, sure. That makes it almost like the same. Are you saying maybe I misunderstood, you wanna make sure I'm hearing you correctly? So have you ever heard the term isomorphism? No, it's basically this idea that like, how we do one thing is that we do everything. And kind of we sort of do the same patterns in different contexts in our life in different things. Is that kind of what you're saying, like the same sort of part of you that might keep you from even being aware of in the first place? Is that keeps you from even doing the work?

Steph Barron Hall 53:31
Yeah, basically. Okay. Okay. Like, and also but also that, like, if you're not willing to sit down and like, reflect enough to find your type, like, because that's why people take tests a lot of the time, I think,

Michael Shahan 53:43
yes, because they don't want to Oh, wow, yes. They don't want to sit there and ask themselves those difficult questions and sit with it and spend time contemplating it. Okay. Sure. Yeah.

Steph Barron Hall 53:51
But my my challenge is like, then how do you expect yourself to do the actual growth work once you figure out your

Michael Shahan 53:58
that's brilliant, but more of even a challenge to them, I give you all you want to just take a test and be told what number is, then this isn't going to be helpful anyways? Yeah. Wow, I've never thought of it that way. Like that. That makes a lot of sense. So yeah, and it sounds like for you, the enneagram has been almost as just as helpful, or especially in combination with therapy. And even on its own, it's been helpful to show you like things. It's given you shortcuts that maybe it would have taken somebody lots of therapy to even figure out and see. Yeah, that's cool.

Steph Barron Hall 54:27
I mean, my therapist has no idea what the enneagram is. But it does give me some language. Yeah, sure. describe myself differently.

Michael Shahan 54:35
Mm hmm. Yeah. And I think if she even if she doesn't know what the enneagram is, she still is probably seeing similar patterns in you whether she has a label of enneagram three for them or not. She's probably still seeing the same patterns.

Steph Barron Hall 54:46
Mm hmm. Yeah, that's, and I actually, now I think of it my spiritual director did know the enneagram fairly well, but we never talked about it. Okay. I think because she was very aware that it was my work. And didn't want to talk about it.

Michael Shahan 55:02
Okay. Didn't want to like, come in. I feel like you knew way more than her and says you don't want to go in that direction.

Steph Barron Hall 55:09
Yeah. Not really. Actually. I think she was just she was infuriating. She was infuriating is obviously like, very, like a very endearing person. But she would challenge every single thing. I thought, Wow. Okay, in a really helpful way. But like,

Michael Shahan 55:32
Wow, so it's almost like, in challenging that that was very, very difficult for you. Yeah. Wow, you wanted to you did not want your fingers pried off of those thoughts. Right. So it was very uncomfortable. I think that's one thing I also want to highlight with this a lot is, a lot of times this work becomes it's not just rainbows and butterflies, people can romanticize change. Yeah, there's gonna be so great. It's gonna be awesome. But yours it like it was infuriating for her to ask these kinds of questions and challenge these things that you the ways that you think, yeah, I see your face. Yeah.

Steph Barron Hall 56:05
Yeah. But actually, like in terms of change, um, there's this paper that I read about intentional change theory. Talking about, like, how, when you first buy, I think, Richard, I always forget for name, I think it's Richard Boyatzis. Okay, but he talks about how, like, at the beginning of a change journey, if you aren't very self aware, typically it can be like, almost like a roller coaster. Because you have like, a big growth moment and then crash. But as you become more self aware, it like really smooths out that kind of roller coaster mentality, because it's, well, not so like, fits and starts, it's a lot smoother. Yeah, girl on the way. Sure.

Michael Shahan 56:58
I love that. And I would even imagine that. Some of that might be from, from what I've seen with clients is that because of the meaning they make out of the roller coaster, like, Oh, this is great. I made all this change. And they in their heads, like things should be good now. But they don't realize that like, there's up and down and everything. And they go back to that how they were or they respond in a similar way that used to before therapy. And then suddenly, like, what, what's even going on? Have I even changed and it can just like those are the meanings they make of it without the awareness that this is going to be happening a lot. And there's a long process can almost like hamstring them in, like along the way.

Steph Barron Hall 57:34
Yeah. And I mean, also Boyatzis talks about this thought process of like the honeymoon effect, and then the sleep. Okay, so you have the honeymoon, right? where you're like, oh, everything is amazing. And then you have the sleeper effect where it's like, you initially like things might seem like they change, but actually the real change doesn't happen until six or 12 months down the road.

Michael Shahan 57:56
Wow. Yeah. Okay.

Steph Barron Hall 57:59
Which is like what you're describing where clients are like, wait, what's going? Yes, it's why did I grow in that? I went back?

Michael Shahan 58:05
Yeah, I usually tell clients that their life is gonna look like a construction zone for a long time. Or like, yeah, like, yeah, like, it's, you're gonna be upset with it. And things are gonna go slow and be different and awkward. But that's what it takes to actually change things or analogy of, if you've been spending your whole life, shoving all your stuff in the back closet to make your house look good to actually clean it out. You're going to take everything out, and it's going to be everywhere, and it's going to be really uncomfortable. Yeah. And it's and they can hear that. But I think so people fall into that like, is a great change. Here's the awesome session, I got some of the stuff out. Like why why do I go back to why or because we always, always will pull up these old coping mechanisms, especially when things get difficult in life and in therapy. things get difficult. Yeah. So it's like this spiral that can if you're not aware of it, yeah, I have clients wouldn't come in months, like months after we started working in just they get something hits them. And they're just like, I've made any change. I'm right back to where I was. Nothing's even just there. And that's really uncomfortable place for them. Yeah. Have you experienced that at all in your own growth journey?

Steph Barron Hall 59:09
Yeah, I think so. Like, I think there is like a level of frustration where it's like, I know that this is the thing that makes me feel healthier, and I don't do it.

Michael Shahan 59:19
Wow. Yes, that's exactly it.

Steph Barron Hall 59:23
Yeah. But I think one of the really hard things about therapy is that the growth doesn't actually happen in the session. And like, sometimes I'm like, I wish we could just stay in the session forever. You know? But like the process that really happened there. I think it really happens in the real world when it gets tested.

Michael Shahan 59:42
So I love that there's this guy named James Finley, who I love I think I've probably talked about with you before. He says like, he says that same thing, the growth habit, like you get sort of broken open in therapy. And when you go back to the world, these parts of you that were never exposed or exposed and you react very differently to them in like, that's where most of the healing can happen like practically, which I love that phrase like it breaks you open in a specific way. And then you go home homes looking at your life in a different way that you weren't able to before. And sometimes there's more pain and more discomfort. But you never noticed it before. It's not like it wasn't there.

Steph Barron Hall 1:00:16
Yeah. Basically, in my master's program is very focused on internal change and growth. Okay. So which is interesting, but I think it's because it's a Jesuit university.

Michael Shahan 1:00:30
Oh okay, so what is the graduate program?

Steph Barron Hall 1:00:33
It's communication and leadership. Okay. I'm masters at Master of Arts in Communication and leadership. And then my emphasis is organizational communication.

Michael Shahan 1:00:43
Okay, so even within that, there's, there's lots of emphasis on internal change and growth. Yeah, that's awesome.

Steph Barron Hall 1:00:49
It's all about like, personal ethics. Even like organizational communication, like organizational change, I went through an organizational development class last semester. And it was like, I thought it was going to be about organizations. But it was about it was about like becoming a change agent yourself. And to do that, you have to be self aware, you have to grow from within, you have to be willing to make change. And I was like, I didn't expect that I was gonna be talking about like, changing the structure of an organization. Wow.

Michael Shahan 1:01:23
Like practically but for you, it wasn't it was more about that. Wow. Okay. I think I might want to we probably could probably in this in a second. I love this sort of that change intentional change topic to end this with because I think that's so that's such a bad thing that people don't realize about therapy. And they think that they're it's a failure if things aren't working right away, or things got good and then went backwards for like, it's but that's the kind of how therapy That's how life looks. I think, if you're able to see it, like I think therapy, it can help you be aware of that even happening, and that doesn't mean you're doing it wrong, or that you're bad or that you're failure or whatever personal narratives you tend to have around those things. Thanks for listening to this episode of same time next week. Please feel free to share with your family and friends to help support the show and help us in working toward D stigmatizing therapy. So same time next week.

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