5 Major Communication Problems Women in the Workplace Face – and How to Overcome Them

Do you advocate well for yourself at work? It’s not uncommon to have trouble asserting yourself, especially at work. Fortunately, there are ways to move beyond these challenges. I spoke with Zencare.co for their latest blogpost: “5 Major Communication Problems Women in the Workplace Face – and How to Overcome Them.” Personally, I think these ideas can apply to anyone, of any gender, who wants to improve their communication skills.

Click the image above to learn more. And if you’d like additional help improving your communication skills, don’t hesitate to book a free consultation with me to see how therapy can be useful.

Beating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Beating Seasonal Affective Disorder

Does your mood tend to grey as the cooler, darker months roll in? Although also known as "the holiday season," for many, this time of year comes with depressed mood, fatigue, insomnia, oversleeping, weight gain, appetite changes, and trouble concentrating, to name a few. These are all symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a mental health disorder impacting over three million Americans each year.

Symptoms of SAD can begin as early as late August or as late as January or February. On average, symptoms start in October or November and last about five months. Symptoms can increase or decrease during this time depending on the amount of light you're exposed to. For example, a cloudy day can worsen symptoms and a sunny day can mitigate symptoms.

"How do I know if I might have SAD?"

The most common symptoms of fall/winter seasonal affective disorder can be organized into four major categories:

  • Physical symptoms of SAD:

    • Low energy, changes in appetite (increase, decrease, and cravings for carbohydrates), stomach aches, changes in weight, muscle aches and pain, and headaches.

  • Emotional symptoms of SAD:

    • Feeling depressed, anxious, sad, irritable, and decreased enthusiasm for things previously enjoyed.

  • Cognitive symptoms of SAD:

    • Trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, negative self-talk (e.g., “I can’t stand winter”), and thoughts of death and/or suicide.

  • Behavioral symptoms of SAD:

    • Changes in eating habits (eating more or less, excessive carbohydrate consumption), reduced activity, withdrawing socially, crying, and sleep problems (excessive sleeping, insomnia, restlessness).

"What can I do if I have SAD?"

According to the American Psychological Association, SAD is a type of depression that may best be treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – an evidence-based psychotherapy – as research indicates more long-term benefits than those from anti-depressant medication or light therapy. Other popular forms of treating SAD are with negative ions, medication, diet, exercise, and supplements.

CBT for SAD

CBT includes various types of cognitive, emotive, and behavioral interventions that can help you overcome SAD. Here's one method you can try on your own at home:

The CBT model suggests that once you are experiencing depression, if you increase activity the depression will lessen, which will follow with more activity, which will follow with decreased depression, and so on. One of the many tools provided by CBT to patients includes encouragement to keep a "Weekly Pleasant Activities Plan." Such a planner includes creating a calendar with planned activities and then filling in whether the activity was done, for how long, and an enjoyment rating. Observing a visual log of positive outcomes can be encouraging to keep putting effort into changing your behaviors.

If you think may be suffering from SAD, I hope you'll recognize that this is a treatable condition that you can seek help for. I'm happy to provide a free consultation to see if therapy might be the right fit for you. Contact me today or book a consultation now.

References:

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders 
(5th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Rohan, K. J. (2009). Coping with the seasons: A cognitive-behavioral approach to seasonal
affective disorder. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Rosenthal, J. Z., & Rosenthal, N. E. (2006). Seasonal affective disorder. In D. J. Kupfer, A. F. 
Schatzberg & D. J. Stein (Eds.), Textbook of mood disorders (pp. 527–540). Arlington,
VA: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc.

Overcoming Fear to Pursue Your Passion
Overcoming Fear to Pursue your Passion

Join me and Walking in Other People’s Shoes for an intimate chat with their November guest blogger--recovering corporate lawyer/fitness entrepreneur Sheela Pai--about how she overcame her fear of ending her decade long legal career to pursue her passion of fitness consulting and blogging. We’ll discuss how she worked through her concerns about taking the leap and other hurdles she faced. Healthy snacks will be provided.

To reserve your spot, please RSVP by emailing ms.elliewindham@gmail.com. Seating is limited! Tickets are $15 per person and can be paid via Venmo. 

Julia Baum is a licensed psychotherapist who helps creative entrepreneurs overcome productivity blocks, procrastination, and work/life imbalance. She uses evidence-based therapeutic practices, ancient philosophy, mindfulness, and understanding from her own background in the arts to help her clients reach their full potential. She holds a MSEd in Mental Health Counseling from Fordham University and a BFA from the School of Visual Arts. Julia works in private practice in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. Find her on IG at @yestherapy, Twitter @juliabaum, or Facebook at @juliabaumtherapy.

Sheela Pai is a recovering former corporate litigator turned fitness consultant and blogger. As a consultant, Sheela works closely with studio owners and other fitness entrepreneurs to develop strategies for building their businesses and growing their communities. On her blog A Healthy Slice of Pai (www.ahealthysliceofpai.com) and Instagram (@ahealthysliceofpai) she shares her experiences and lessons learned as an active fitness enthusiast in the NYC boutique fitness scene, her triumphs and takeaways as she trains for the NYC Marathon and beyond, and her thoughts about current trends in fitness, health, and wellness. 

Walking In Other People’s Shoes is a blog community for women to inspire and encourage each other by sharing how they found their voices. In addition to the blog, they host workshops to help women to find and strengthen their voices. http://walkinginotherpeoplesshoes.com/

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) - Julia Baum Therapy

If you’re curious about therapy, chances are that you’ve heard about, or at least seen the term, CBT out there. CBT stands for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and it’s the leading form of evidence based treatment for mental, behavioral, and emotional health concerns. It’s the primary method of treatment that clients at my practice engage in to help them feel better and reach their goals. I’ve been studying CBT for over 10 years and training in it for the entirety of my career in mental health. Recently I was asked by My Wellbeing to provide a better understanding of what CBT is all about, what it looks like in the room, and more. I was so excited to offer a bit of what I know for their “Things we didn’t know…” series. Read through our conversation below or see the original post here.

1.How would you describe Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

CBT is a modern, evidence-based, empirically supported model of psychotherapy based on both scientific research and time-honored philosophy. In CBT, the client and therapist work actively in collaboration to help the client overcome problems rooted in the past, present, or future. The therapist aims to assist the client in changing unhelpful thinking, feeling, and behavioral patterns that contribute to their problems and develop skills to help manage life’s ups and downs. CBT is a problem-focused, action-oriented style of talk-therapy that teaches clients practical ways to identify, challenge, and replace unhelpful response patterns with adaptive, healthy thoughts, feelings, and behavioral patterns to reach one’s desired goals. CBT teaches clients to utilize these skills on their own with less and less reliance on the therapist over time.

2. How did CBT come to be? What types of philosophies inform it?

CBT came from an understanding supported by clinical research that feelings and reactions are created mainly by the beliefs we hold about and meanings we attach to our experiences. CBT recognizes that psychological disturbance is primarily established and maintained by maladaptive thoughts and behaviors.

The development of CBT has come in three distinct movements. The first wave of CBT, called Behavioral Therapy, applied principles of classical conditioning and operant learning to bring forth overt behavioral change.

The second wave combines Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy, which emphasizes information processing and the role that maladaptive thinking has on emotional and behavioral patterns in order to incite change - this approach is considered “classic CBT.”

The third wave focuses keenly on clients’ relationship with their thoughts and feelings more so than the content of either in order to initiate change. As such, CBT is considered a therapy itself and also an umbrella term for all of the therapies that have come forth during each wave.

CBT is in part based on constructivist theory, meaning that individuals are responsible for their own reality.

Recognizing one’s responsibility naturally implies an ability to make efforts toward beneficial changes. The Greek Stoic philosopher, Epictetus said, “It is not what happens to you but how you react to it that matters."

CBT does not discount the impact of biology and external stressors on mental health, though it maintains that thoughts, feelings and behaviors are interrelated, influence each other, and can be changed by the individual.

In CBT, clients are also responsible for doing the work necessary in therapy to create the changes they seek; they are not merely a passive receiver of the therapist's work.

Classic CBT was first presented to the field of psychotherapy by Albert Ellis, Ph.D., in 1955 in the form of what is now called REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy) (back then it was called Rational Therapy), and by Aaron T. Beck, MD in the early 1960s as CT (Cognitive Therapy).

Aaron T. Beck is often considered the “Father” of CBT, while Albert Ellis is known as the “Grandfather” of CBT. Both were particularly interested in an alternative to psychoanalysis, which was the most widely accepted therapy at the time.

At present, CBT is widely recognized as the set of psychological treatments with the most extensive empirical support and research contributions over the past six decades from around the world continue to further the development of CBT as a whole through the present day.

3. How hands on is the therapist in a CBT-style therapy?

CBT is a very hands-on style of treatment for both therapist and client. The therapist takes an active role in the client’s progress and provides a safe and open space to address concerns and help direct the work toward the client’s desired outcomes.

For example, it's customary that an agenda be mutually agreed upon at the beginning of each meeting to respect the client's objective(s) for that particular session and remain productive in that vein. The therapist may offer handouts, worksheets, and other projects that the client may choose to participate in during or outside of session to enhance the therapeutic process.

4. Please share a real but anonymized example of what CBT looks like in the room.

J came into session wanting to change his habit of staying late at work every night, never leaving on time, and thus neglecting personal wants and needs to relax, socialize, and sleep, which was contributing to chronic stomach aches, and his boyfriend was frustrated that he never seemed to have any free time.

This pattern related to his overall problem with anxiety, which he has sought treatment for.

Together, we identified the trigger for his self-defeating behavior. There were, in fact, a lot of tasks at work, but his colleagues were able to leave on time with the same workload.

Cognitive impairment and learning disabilities had already been ruled out.

We explored which feelings and subsequent reactions he had about his work. He stated that he felt anxious, had a hard time concentrating, and was easily distracted.

As a result of feeling anxious, we noted that his predictions for the future seemed very doom-and-gloom.

We could see why was he was staying late every night, given that he could hardly concentrate and was consumed with worry. He could barely focus on his work this way.

Next, we uncovered the harmful beliefs he held about work that contributed to his anxiety and made him less efficient. With the help of directive questioning, he recognized that he’d been telling himself he absolutely must be recognized as the best employee, couldn’t bear to be seen as anything less, and if others viewed him as anything less, it would mean he’s no good at all.

I then helped J assess the outcomes he created for himself by living with these chosen ideas about work and self-worth. He could see that these rigid and extreme beliefs had gotten him into a pattern of self-defeat. He had been so fearful of failing to be “the best” that he was burnt out and working below his potential due to the stress and anxiety symptoms he created.

Once he realized his predominant thoughts have harmed his ability to do well at work and enjoy his free time, we challenged those thoughts further to break down his attachment to them. Through various techniques, I posed inquiries for him to consider and in doing so he realized that his attitudes had been unhelpful, illogical, and untrue.

Within this process, I modeled and taught him these inquiry skills so that he could use them himself in the future.

With my help, as needed, he developed a new attitude: “I prefer to impress people at work so I'll work within reason to do so, but there’s no law of the universe that I MUST be considered the best employee. I can stand it if I’m not seen that way and can work to improve if I choose. Whether people at work think I'm the best or not, my value and worthiness will not change. I can seek to improve at work to enhance my experience there, but it will never be a measure of my worth as a person because my worth is inherent.”

He made the connection that with this new mindset he’d feel healthy concern about getting his work done and have the motivation to do his best without getting distracted nearly as often. He would be able to leave his job on-time as his colleagues do.

His outlook on the future would be realistic, and he’d put the appropriate amount of time and energy into his work and still have time for the other important things in life. The anxiety and stomach aches would be replaced with healthy concern and symptom alleviation.

Once he had this adaptive new attitude top-of-mind, we collaboratively developed homework to help him strengthen his conviction in this rational attitude. We decided that he’d share the new rational belief with his boyfriend to strengthen his understanding of it, as well as write it out and respond to any arguments he had of against it to address reservations about this new point of view. In the next session, we started by following up on how the homework went.

5. Please share three or more issue areas CBT is particularly helpful in working through. Why do you think that is?

CBT is effective in treating the vast majority of diagnosable mental health disorders as well as problems such as low self-esteem, assertiveness issues, feeling stuck, indecisiveness, relationship problems, self-control, anger, hopelessness, and more. CBT is so effective in treating a wide range of problems because it targets the client’s thoughts and behaviors in the here-and-now as the primary means for change.

6. How long does a CBT treatment generally last?

There are no one-size fits all in therapy. The length of treatment, assuming there aren’t external factors limiting the number of sessions, really depends on the client’s goals, the severity of their problems, and their commitment to the work inside and outside of meetings.

CBT doesn’t have a prescribed number of sessions, although it is often chosen when there are factors which limit the number of sessions a client will attend.

CBT is empirically supported as a brief treatment method for measurable change. The Albert Ellis Institute for cognitive behavioral and rational emotive behavioral therapy describes CB/REBT as "short-term therapy with long-term results," because this method of treatment has been developed to help clients become their own therapist over time.

7. Are there certain personality types that would work especially well with CBT?

I think there’s a form of CBT for anyone looking to address their troubles actively. CBT is particularly good for those looking to be challenged in the therapeutic space.

When I first meet clients, many of them tell me, “I want someone to call me out on my shit.”

CBT therapists are trained to therapeutically call you out on your shit with compassion, empathy, and unconditional acceptance. A CBT therapist can help you think critically about your patterns without judging or criticizing you.

8. Are there certain personality types that may not enjoy working with CBT?

I think some types of CBT may work better for some than others. CBT may not be the best fit for someone looking to gain insight into their past without any particular goals for treatment outcomes.

9. How do you know if CBT is working for someone? How do you know if it’s not?

Many therapists help clients develop Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-specific) (SMART) short-term objectives and long-term goals for therapy so we can measure progress over time, as well as adjust or change goals as needed.

Rather than something difficult to measure, such as “feeling less anxious,” we would, for instance, reduce panic attacks to once per month or less, and sleep a full eight hours every night at least six nights a week for at least three months, etc.

As objectives are met, we develop new ones to progress toward long-term goals. If objectives aren’t being met, we reflect on why and problem solve from there. SMART goals help therapy stay on track, and the client and therapist have a good sense of how things are going.

10. How should a therapy-goer prepare for a CBT session? What type of work is entailed?

You can start CBT wherever you are. Often it’s hard to identify what’s wrong or what you want to achieve in therapy. You don’t need to know the answers to these questions to begin, but your therapist will probably ask what you hope to gain from treatment. If the first step in therapy is figuring out what that is, it’s 100% okay. A CBT therapist can help you better clarify what you might want to work toward.

Once the therapeutic process begins, clients usually benefit most when they are engaged during and between sessions. The best way to make progress is to implement your therapeutic gains into everyday life. A therapy session is usually 45 minutes, so what you do with the other 10035 minutes of the week counts for a lot!

11. What is your favorite thing about CBT?

I love that my clients gain a healthier mindset to take with them beyond therapy. They have skills, tools, and takeaways that they can apply to any problem they’re faced with down the road.

Since CBT is goal-oriented, it’s great to rejoice with my clients in the progress they make. I also get satisfaction in supporting and helping my clients get back on track when they’re not making the progress they want.

Backsliding is normal in any form of therapy, so I love using those experiences as an opportunity to learn about adaptability and resilience. These are lesson my clients can use to their benefit the next time the road gets rocky.

12. What advice might you give to a therapy-seeker wondering if CBT is right for them?

If you’re interested CBT, I recommend researching a well-trained therapist with whom you think you could feel comfortable with and set up a consultation.

Most therapists, including myself, offer a free consultation for anyone curious about working together.

It’s important to work with someone who engages in professional training and support, but the therapeutic relationship is just as important, which is why taking the time to speak over the phone first can help you decide.

According to
research done by APA’s Society of Clinical Psychology, “the therapy relationship accounts for why clients improve (or fail to improve) at least as much as the particular treatment method.”

Want to know if CBT is right for you or if we’re a good fit? Book a free consultation with me to learn more.

Summer Dry Spell? A Freelancer's Survival Guide
Julia Baum Therapy - Summer dry spell - Freelancer's survival guide

It’s now the middle of August, and in NYC that means beach weekends are numbered, it’s more humid than ever, and although it’s raining as I write this, freelance work is running dry for many creative professionals, particularly freelancers. It happens every year. Business slows down in late summer because so many clients are away on vacation. It’s just not a high season for many creatives, and it’s easy to let panic slip in. After all, it’s been slow for weeks and weeks, and we as humans tend to jump to the negative more often than not. Here are some tips to keep yourself sane when work slows down.

Don’t panic - Remember that you’ve been through tough times before and acknowledge that you’re resourceful and capable of getting through this one, too.  

Take advantage - Things will pick up again. Enjoy your free time and the peace & quiet it brings because there were times when you would have practically killed for this time off. It’s here now, so savor it while you can. If this rain ever stops, get yourself to the beach or the park, take a long bike ride, have a picnic, read, meditate. Even if the rain doesn’t stop, do all the things. 

Be proactive - Invest energy in developing skills and accomplishments for your CV, refresh your website, and make new promo materials to distribute. Create new personal work that you can leverage into more lucrative projects. Let your clients know you’re available for upcoming work. Make an effort to network with new and familiar people in your industry. You have time to take someone out for coffee. Do it! Every day this week! You don’t know what may transpire now or far down the line. Plant as many seeds for opportunities as you can. 

Prepare yourself - Your clients will be back from vacation soon, and reaching out to you. Make sure your personal affairs are in order so that you’re ready to go when the time comes. Finish the spring cleaning you started back in May so that your home is a tranquil space to return to after the long days you’re about to have. Establish healthy sleep, eating, and exercise patterns now that will sustain you when things get busy again. Just because you can stay up until 2 am doesn’t mean it’s a good routine to get into if you want to hit the ground running. 

Stay positive - This phrase is so cliché that it pains me even to say, but it’s essential. Assume things are going to work out and that this is a temporary dry spell, not a life sentence. Do not depress yourself with hopeless thinking because if you allow yourself to go down that road, you won't muster the motivation needed to take the steps I laid out above, and those are the things that will help you turn this around ASAP. Allowing your negative thoughts to take over will lead to a sense of hopelessness and complacency, and that’s not going to help you maximize your opportunities. Act in ways that demonstrate a positive outlook and the feelings and opportunities will follow. 

In summary, I'm saying what Dr. Albert Ellis, the second most influential psychotherapist in modern history (1), used to tell his clients all the time: "Push Your Ass." The suggestions listed above take effort and willpower to achieve. Sometimes you have to push back hard against fear and negativity to come out on top. It’s not easy to cope with a slow summer, but I promise, you will get through it one way or another. It’s up to you how you’ll make this time count. Consistent effort over time will pay off, or to put it more poetically, take it from one of my favorite bands:

"Still always remembering
When the going gets tough
That the labor of our love
Will reward us soon enough."
- The Growlers ("Going Gets Tough")

If you’re seeking more support around work frustrations, I welcome you to contact me at julia@juliabaum.com.

Reference
1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/24/AR2007072402199.html?noredirect=on

New Group - Loneliness
Julia Baum Therapy - Group Therapy - Loneliness.jpg

Do you struggle with feelings of loneliness? Working with 100's of clients over the years, one thing I've noticed is that a surprising number of people struggle with loneliness, and sadly, many do it alone -- without realizing that so many people around them are suffering similarly in silence. Whether you're going through a rough patch, just moved to the city, or haven't felt a part of something for a while, a support group with others who relate can help.

I'll be facilitating a support group to address loneliness this fall in collaboration with My Wellbeing. Connect with others who are experiencing similar feelings and move toward more meaningful connections, together.

Wednesdays 3-4p September 12-October 17
$40/session

216 E 14th St. 
New York, NY 10003  

Space is limited. 
Email me at julia@juliabaum.com or alyssa@mywellbeing.us to apply or learn more.

Are your emotions hurting your business?
Julia Baum | CBT Therapist | Blog Post - Are your emotions hurting your business.jpg

I read an article the other day for business owners that frustrated me. It said that all emotions get in the way of running a successful business. As a CBT therapist, I can tell you, that sounds insane. I was annoyed that creative entrepreneurs are being told to damped their passion -- to squelch their feelings and live like robots. Have you ever worked with someone who’s lost their passion? It sucks! One of the last things I want is for my clients to try numbing out their feelings in an attempt to be more effective in business.  

Humans are emotional beings by nature. Existing with feeling is part of what makes us people and not plants. Asking anyone to turn off that innate process is not only unrealistic but also unwise. We respond to our feelings through the actions we take. Having strong healthy feelings around your hopes and dreams fosters the strength and grit you need to work hard, overcome setbacks, and keep going. Remember that lackluster colleague? Are they doing anything exciting right now? Without emotion, we usually fall short of our potential to influence and lead others.

Not all emotions are helpful though. Some actually encourage backward tendencies, like wanting to give up, procrastinating, and avoiding responsibility. Unhealthy feelings also encourage unhelpful thinking: for example, when we feel overwhelmed, which is an unhealthy negative emotion, we tend to think in self-defeating ways -- “Everyone is going to think I’m a fraud. Maybe I should put off this launch; I’m too stressed right now. Maybe I’m not cut out for this.”

Knowing that feelings drive subsequent thoughts and behaviors, it’s wise to mindfully foster healthy, productive feelings that propel us to do our best work, maximize opportunities for success, and prevail over challenge. As a therapist, I would never encourage a business owner to leave emotions out of their work. I want my clients to handle the ups and downs of entrepreneurship with resilience and grace, not like a zombie.

Here’s proof that even negative feelings, if they’re healthy, can be helpful: my annoyance about that article prompted me to write this one, which I hope will inspire you to consider the types of emotions you feel and how they impact your business. If you think your emotions are getting in the way of your full potential, therapy might help. I welcome you to contact me for a free consultation.  

Reduce Your Anxiety with CBT

There are some really nice, simple tips in this article on small ways to help yourself reduce anxiety. CBT is mentioned specifically as a technique, but many of the other suggestions are supported by CBT theory as well. While this article by The Mighty clearly states that it's not an attempt to offer a cure, the general approaches described have helped many people feel less anxious and I hope will help you, too. 

Q&A with My Wellbeing

I recently spoke with My Wellbeing, a community for mental health advocacy in New York City, about my experience as a therapist in Brooklyn. With them, I shared what I love most about being a cognitive behavioral therapist (CBT), how my background as an artist impacts my style in the treatment room, and what I'm studying right now. To learn more about me, click (here) for the full interview. 

[Past] Event: Breaking Through Writer's Block

In collaboration with Walking in Other People's Shoes

Do you feel inspired to write but find yourself lost and unfocused when it’s time to put your ideas on paper? Have creative blocks made it hard to express your unique voice? Join us for this collaborative and supportive workshop where you will learn the causes of writer’s block and what you can do about it now to stop staring at a blank page and get your ideas out there. Other creative blocks will be addressed as well. We look forward to seeing you there!

January 25th, 2018

7–8:30 pm at New Women's Space 

Get your tickets (here). 

10 Ways to Tame Your Startup Stress

Brooklyn-based entrepreneurs face tremendous challenges when bringing their innovative ideas to market. Stress in the work-place can contribute to physical and emotional pain and suffering when left untreated. Thankfully, you can learn life-long skills to better manage fear, anxiety, and stress so that you can thrive and your business can flourish. I was recently called upon to contribute to Leslie Alderman's article in The Bridge about this very common concern. Read the full story [here].