Therapists do it on the couch

…and I did it!!

On an office chair.  Staring at a computer screen.  I lasted for almost two hours, and I double clicked a mouse a few times.

And actually, besides being very tired and $100 poorer afterward, this therapist licensing exam had little to do with sexy times.  Unless you also stay up late studying therapeutic techniques in order to have better success during sexy times.  In which case I pity you.  Go get some sleep.

But I digress from the real issue – which is, as soon as the paperwork and my check goes through, I WILL BE A LICENSED THERAPIST!!!

How cool is that, you ask rhetorically?  Pretty damn cool, I answer needlessly.  Except that “therapist” can be broken down into “the rapist,” and the work that I do is often with rape survivors.  I’ve always hated that.  Thanks a lot, SNL.

In other news, the letters after my name will soon be MFT, which Brian lovingly says stands for Mutha Fuckin’ Therapist.  I foresee this going on my business cards.

The exam I took today was the second and final exam of the licensing process to become a Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of California.  At least this exam was half as long as the first (the first being a grueling four hours long), but the questions on this one were far more complicated and confusing.  If there’s one thing I hate, it’s an exam that makes me second guess myself, and there was a lot of that going on today.  But neverfear, for I persevered and I emerged triumphant!

Speaking of triumphant, the weather today in the area was awesomely correlated to my day.  I woke up nervously to overcast skies that quickly gave way to pouring rain (which is pretty rare for this area in the summer).  I drove to the exam in that rain, where my anxiety reached its peak.  When I emerged from the testing facility all smiles, the rain had stopped, the clouds had parted, the sun was shining, and I swear I could hear angels singing along with my joy.

Speaking of joy, this is what it looks like:

I’d like to thank all of my professors, clinical supervisors, coworkers, and my clients past and present for helping me to learn and grow and make mistakes.  And I’d like to thank my friends and family for listening to me vent about the former, but also for supporting me no matter what.

Also, one of my supervisors once said that significant others of people going through the therapy licensing process should get their own special award of recognition, and I wholeheartedly agree.  It must suck to watch me learn all these new therapy techniques and then cower in fear as I unleash them on the relationship.  Thanks for sticking with me through this whole thing, B.  You’re kind of awesome.

And now on to more important things: I have to figure out how I want to change the tagline of this blog, for the “almost” is no longer needed.  Winning suggestions get a cookie.

Victory is mine!

HOLY CRAP, YOU GUYS!!!!!

Break out the limoncello, cuz I PASSED MY FIRST ‘SO-YOU-WANNA-BE-A-THERAPIST’ LICENSING EXAM!!!!!!

 

This was a grueling 4 hour exam sitting in front of a computer screen, not being allowed water or wallets or pockets or hoods or even my own used tissue from home, answering no less than 200 questions about treatment, diagnosis, and how to properly hide your ongoing drug addiction from your boss.  It probably covered more than that, but my brain turned to mush around question 156.

Needless to say, I am mentally and physically exhausted.

But man, for a person like me with ongoing poop issues, there is no better natural colon cleanse than preparing for an hours-long, stressful, the-future-of-my-career-rests-on-this exam.

Nothing better.

Failure doesn’t go with this outfit

So my application to sit for my licensing exams was approved!  Huzzah! 

Too bad I couldn’t have found this out a month ago when the licensing board actually sent out my approval letter…to the wrong address.  Sigh.  And trust me, this was their mistake, not mine.  Not that I am keeping score.  Except that I am.

Now I have a date set for me to take my first exam, and I ain’t tellin’ no one when that date is juuuust in case I fail and then have to go through what I like to call The Clueless Effect.

 

Rewind back to the year 1995.  O.J. Simpson was found not guilty, I was 12, and Alicia Silverstone hadn’t regurgitated vegan food into her yet-to-be-born child, but she had made the movie Clueless.

In this amazing coming-of-age film, loosely based on Jane Austen’s Emma, Alicia Silverstone played Cher, a girl who knows what it’s like to have people be jealous of her, me included (did you SEE her closet?!).  Cher turned 16 and took her driver’s test.  Of course everyone knew, and so it sucked when she got back home to find her makeover-doll-turned-best-friend flirting it up with her ex-step brother crush and she had to tell them she failed.

At the tender age of 12, I felt for Cher.  You try driving in platforms!  I screamed right along with her.  But I didn’t yet know exactly how shitty it felt to have to tell friends and family that I failed at something…until I turned 16.  I failed my first driver’s test, and that failure tasted like spoiled milk with black pepper.  And shame.  Bitter, bitter shame.  One of my classmates sincerely stroked my bruised ego: Wow, you’ve never failed anything before!  Humility burns like stomach acid.

I’ve learned a lot from Cher and from my own experience.  First, never waste time practicing to park.  Everwhere you go has valet.  Second, searching for a boy in high school is as useless as searching for meaning in a Pauly Shore movie.  Third, don’t ever tell people when you’re gonna take a huge, important pass/fail test.

I don’t plan to fail, but in the slim chance that I do, I don’t wanna talk about it.  As if.

So let’s just say that I am taking this 4 hour doozy of a test quite soon, I am freaking out, and I’ll let y’all know when I pass.  I’ll throw a party and I hope Marky Mark is there.

Send some dope vibes my way!

Moonwalking with Matt Damon

This is the good angel on Melissa’s right shoulder speaking.  Melissa really needs to buckle down and study for her licensing exams, so if you see her on WordPress, please kindly yell at her to stop procrastinating and get to work.  This is for her own good, after all.  Thanks ever so kindly!

Hey peeps.  This is the hot mess of a devil on Melissa’s left shoulder.  Don’t you even think about yelling at my girl here.  She works hard and she deserves a break by spending hours upon hours on this awesome site where people congratulate themselves on being masters of the universe!  Melissa doesn’t need to study; she’s got it down-pat.  Peace out, yo.

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Welcome to my world, everyone.  This is what I deal with on a daily basis now.  And since I am currently blogging…I think my devil has won out for a stretch.  So while I’m here, I wanted to share a really awesome recent discovery that is actually helping me (slowly, arduously) study for my exams.

I just finished reading this book called Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer.  It’s about this young journalist dude who did a story on memory competitions, got interested in the topic and culture, and committed to doing a year-long memory training experiment that resulted in him winning the following year’s American Memory Championship.  Crazynuts!

What I liked the best about this book is that he actually gave tips for how we can all improve our memories.  The brief take-away message is that our human brains are not built to remember random numbers (like phone numbers), random words (like a shopping list), or random anything.  We more easily encode and retrieve memories that are both visual/spacial and contextual.  Thus, the trick to better remember random things is to first create context for them, and then make them into something visually striking.

An example: let’s use a shopping list of the following items – milk, eggs, dish soap, kitty litter, and ice cream.

First, we use what’s called a memory palace (Josh gives historical context for why this technique is used, and it’s awesomely interesting).  Memory palaces are used as virtual storage spaces for the things you want to remember.  Usually, a memory palace is a building that you know very well, and you can visualize every nook and cranny in your mind very easily.  A memory palace can also be a mental walk through a familiar place, like the street you grew up on.  This provides the context for the items on the list.

For this example, I will use the home I grew up in as a memory palace for this shopping list.  I start by imagining myself standing on the sidewalk facing the house.  The first item on the list is milk, and I will place that here, at the edge of my front lawn.  I want to make a mental image of milk that is somehow shocking and, well, memorable.  Josh suggests that sexual images and anything very much out of the ordinary tend to stick in our minds the best.  I imagine a kiddie pool on my front lawn filled with milk, but that’s not enough.  I picture a naked Matt Damon bathing and splashing in this pool of delicious, silky 1% milk (This is a hunky Jason Bourne Damon, as opposed to an Informant! Damon, just so you know.  Just…helping you to visualize.  To remember better.).  I might even put a mooing cow behind the pool for emphasis.  Mr. Damon is smiling and laughing and beckoning to me.  Sorry, Matt, but I need to move onto the next item.

In my mind, I walk up the front path to my front door.  I imagine that the front of the door is one giant fried egg, where the yolk is a face and it’s all dripping and oozing like Pizza the Hut in Space Balls.  I have to eat my way through the egg to get into the house, and I focus on tasting the salty, delicious egg.  Man, I wish I could turn back and wash that egg down with some milk, but I can’t.  I’m on a memory mission.

I am in the tiled entryway now.  I picture that the entryway is flooded up to my waist in bubbly dish soap water, and I look to my left and see that my brother is surfing around on a giant greasy plate.  I wonder if Matt Damon can surf?

I half walk, half swim through the suds over to my left and into the formal living room.  In here, I see that my lovely cat Sadie has spread her kitty litter all over the coffee table and white couches so she can pee and poo wherever she likes.  There are stains all over and the room reeks of cat pee.  Good thing Matt didn’t come in and smell this mess.

I walk through this room and on into the family room, which is where my family watched TV together.  My imagination transforms this room into a giant walk-in freezer.  There is ice all over every surface, and I am shivering.  I can see my breath.  In place of furniture, piled all around me is giant scoops of different flavors of ice cream.  To my left, chocolate.  To my right, mocha almond chip.  Under my feet, I am slipping on some bright green mint chocolate chip.  Dude, let’s go find Matt and that cow and make a milkshake!

So you see basically how it works.  The next time you want to remember your list, just start at the beginning of your memory palace and do the whole walk-through again.  Try it sometime with a list of some sort and see how fun it is!

This brings me back to the topic on my mind the most these days.  Needless to say, my anxiety about my licensing exams (yes, plural.  as in more than one) is growing.  Among many other things, these tests cover 9 theories of therapy, and each theory has several concepts and interventions that I need to understand and remember….so last Sunday, I gave it a whirl and I devoted one room in my childhood home memory palace to each theory and, with a little work and creativity, I turned each concept into a visual image.  This is so exciting, you guys!!  I now have my uncle doing gymnastic flips on scaffolding in my living room (structural therapy), Freud is tied with stretchy rubber bands to a pole in my basement (concept of attachment in psychodynamic theory), and a giant apple core is in my parents’ bed smoking a cigarette (concept of core schemas in cognitive therapy).

So far, these images have stuck in my brain with very little effort and they don’t seem to be going anywhere.  Indeed, in the book Josh says that these images are easier to remember months and even years later.  Huzzah!

So, people in my blog universe – please send me good studying vibes!  Now, if you all (and the good angel on my right shoulder) will excuse me, I have some more remembering to do in a kiddie pool full of milk.