Dr. Jay-Sheree is joined by Psychiatry Resident Dr. Joshua Anthony for a candid discussion on therapy.
We mentioned two websites in the episode to help find a therapist:
Welcome to the millennial health podcast. I'm Dr J. Cherie Alan, a board certified family position who's passionate about the health of my fellow millennials. I know we're books and busy, but your first wealth is your health. So I'm taking some of my most important health messages and bringing them here to you on this podcast. My goal is to share some valuable information and draw awareness to some important health topics. But I encourage you to please consult your physician for personalized medical advice. So last episode, Lee talked about major depression with Dr Claudine Jones, born and New York City Bates psychiatrist. And we mentioned therapy. Ah, lot. So this week, I wanted us to talk a little bit more about therapy. And so, for this episode, I've brought in one of my medical school classmates and a psychiatry resident, Dr Joshua Anthony, who's also known as the Therapy Doc. Hey, Josh.
Hey, A J. How you doing, everyone.
Thank you. Thank you so much for joining us today and having this awesome conversation with us.
I'm glad. Thio.
So, uh, how about you tell the audience a little about yourself a little about your background in psychiatry and how you became the therapy, Doc, Check him out on instagram me All this is his, uh
um So I grew up in Huntsville, Alabama, a place known as the Rocket City, the oldest of three grew up in a single parent home. Had a lot of different experiences As as, ah, child, that kind of exposed mi Teoh. Different things that just a prison system my father was in and out of prison. Got to see, like, a close and personal effects of drug abuse and things like that and that really like shaping moded like my early life, but also became, you know, like the driving factor to me, you know, wanting to achieve and, you know, eventually get into medical school. I had the privilege of going thio hbcu for undergrad Oakland University as well as for medical school in the hair medical cop, which that's where I met Dr J. Sorry. And while there when I first got there, I actually was, uh, going straight for surgery. That's what I was gunning for. Andi. I think that as time went on, there were little things that were pushing me to psychiatry, but I was actually trying to stay as far away from psychiatry. It's possible just because of my experiences. A za child. I didn't, you know, really want to be in a position where be working with, you know, people that may be addicted to drugs and things like that Because that was something that was, like, very present. No. In my early childhood, I feel like bringing that that back. But somehow here I am, you know, finding out that Hey, this is actually where I belong. My experience from child actually does give me a lot of understanding now for the patients that that I see in that I talked thio and kind of helps inform, you know, the training I received this. Well,
sounds good. Oh, wow. So then how did you take those life experiences and transform them? Tow becoming the therapy, Doc, How did that come about?
As a child, I actually did not see any black doctors like that. Like I may have known one black doctor that I was introduced to as older teenager. But there just wasn't that kind of representation where I was from. And so when we were in medical school, J. Sri Kanda knows, like that's kind of wind, like all these different social media platforms, like started booming when we first started medical school was Twitter And, um, you know, like everybody's trying to find their voice and things like that, like you don't know what you can say. Oh my, what not to say online, but after a little one kind of found out that social media, especially platform site instagram, are places are great places to increase representation through pictures through videos through storytelling and kind of, you know, dispel some of the myths that that exists just out there that, you know, like there are no black doctors like, you know, this is a good place to show why. Oh, here's a black doctor or even, you know, de stigmatize. You know, topics like mental health or, you know, going to see a psychiatrist or a therapist. These are great platforms for us to be able to do that.
I'm here for that. So let's jump right in like, let's make a case for therapy. Why would you recommend therapy to an individual?
Oh, man. So I think unfortunately, mental health just in general has kind of been separated from just what total health is. So when you think about, you know, being physically healthy, there's no problem with, you know, going to a doctor every year for your checkups, with getting recommendations for staying physically healthy. But then when we approach the topic of mental wellbeing things, or maybe the one thing that here the most, it's like, you know, I'm not crazy. Uh, no, but that's really you know, I guess for a lot of people, that's a result of you know what they were taught or, you know, just the stigma that's associated with it. But the same way that you know, check ups and check ins. Ways to live your life sought to increase your physical health that also exist for your mental health. If you've ever experienced depression or anything else, you know, like you know, physically, it becomes hard to do something if your mind state is not in a healthy state of being, though that's why you know, for a lot of people, therapy can be a very good avenue to becoming mentally well, and, you know, helping you also be your best physical self.
I agree with that completely and in my practice. I see that a lot. You know, a lot of the chronic medical conditions, the diabetes in the high blood pressure and, you know, obesity. Like my patients. One of the things a lot of them will say is like, Doc, I know what to do. I know it to dio, right? But then it's a question of So why are we doing the things that we know right now? How to dio and I find that it's sometimes a battle in the mind? Righto could have grasped an understanding of what's going on, but also just have the strength to do those things. Change those routines. You've lived your life a certain way for such a long time. Kind of settled into the way things are right, which, in my words, are the most dangerous phrases in the world. Right saying like This is the way it's always been done right, But it's hard. It takes a lot of willpower and a really strong mind toe overcome a lot of that, and I think a lot of people underestimate how much that impacts your physical well being. And I mentioned it's what Claudine last week, so many people come to me like, Oh, I'm just so tired and I'm not sleeping and I'm not, you know, like all these physical symptoms. And when we get to the root of the problem, we're making sometimes, you know, a a mental health diagnosis. But what else can you do for us?
I think something's said therapy can help us with our some of the benefits of their Pete's probably too many too late. Fetal are people in here, But one of the big ones is improved relationships with others, something that a lot of people don't know, or maybe ignores that. Your perspective, with the way that you view yourself very much so, influences how you interact with others. So a lot of times, you know, people are dealing with issues like insecurity or, you know, they may be dealing with some other issue. You know, that actually happened long ago in childhood, but it may have become a barrier to them, you know, establishing deep and meaningful relationships with others. And so there he could be very helpful that, you know, helping you resolve some of those issues coming to sort of, ah, conflict resolution within yourself. I'm helping you to Hill from, you know, pass emotional traumas and things of that nature also mentioned, you know, the physical benefits, you know, that come with mental health maintenance in general, it's good to help increase motivation for you to do other things so it can help influence our it can help benefit, you know, your work life, your career, life. Ah, lot of very successful people go to therapy on. And so it's not something that's just for, you know, people that are coat unquote crazy. And as a matter of fact, whenever you know patients, you know, all ages no, like, you know, as soon as they see Kai psychiatrists on my jacket there like No. Oh, I know you think I'm crazy, like, you know what? We all are a little bit.
You have a
little bit crazy. So in general, I said, like, you know, they just helps you to live a better life, because I think that ah, lot of people and I see this a lot, especially in like the black community. We have a survival mentality, and so that's how we've been trained to live and operate. And so when you like live under that mentality like you prioritize. And unfortunately, mental health is not a top priority when you're trying to survive, but you will be one a shift from surviving to thriving. And when you start, you know, driving, you find that mental health is actually really important. Mental health maintenance and therapy is a great way to maintain your meself.
I love that. I love all of those reasons you've mentioned. Could I add another one, though? Because this is the one that brought me to therapy, which is professional burn out. So that's a big one, especially among you know, it is physicians, but all other professions go through the same sort of burn out in their own way. And I actually had a colleague that I reached out to, and she said to me, and I'm talking to her about burnout on my job and how I was feeling and she said, Have you gone to therapy? And I just couldn't understand what therapy and what I'm telling you about the frustrations of my job and charting till 8 p.m. At night. What does therapy have to do with that? And when I say it's been a game changer and it has absolutely been a lifesaver. I think two major things that helped me to do was reframe the issues I was having and look at them in different ways. I think that was very important. The second was to set boundaries, and at a certain point I needed toe say no. I remember one of the things I told my therapists really got to me. I have so many faxes to sign throughout the day or forms that come in. So I'm going from room to room to room, seeing patient, patient, patient, patient. There's the in basket with all the test results and everything you need to call patients about. But then I got a lot of faxes and paperwork that I had to do as well. All those forms that your doctor has to sign. I they all come to me and I that was really overwhelming me because my nurse would just add them all to my desk. So I get back to my desk and I can't even get to my computer to get anything done. One simple thing that, like my therapist helped me to do, is like why not just create a little basket that you hang at the front of your office and you label it. I'm sorry you labeled urgent, and your nurse can put them in there instead of cluttering them all over your desk so that, at least just like, takes away. You know, some of that anxiety just getting back to your desk in the 15 pieces of paper piled up. And that was huge. I was like a game changer, Hank, It's so simple. But it was a game changer, and therapy really helped me to come to that realization and to set that boundary like put this in this box, I will get to it in one hour if it's labeled urgent, you know?
Yeah, Yeah, I agree with something. You said that, you know, You said it was simple changes that basically made a huge difference. And that's what I've seen a lot to a lot of times. But like my, uh, my mom and my grandmother used to use his statement like, you know, you miss the forest for the trees or something like that. And so, like when you're like, right in the middle of something, you have something right, you know, right in front of you. So it's easy to miss, like the big picture or just step. That and therapy kind of, you know, gives a chance to do that, to step back. And also, you know, you have two heads. Two heads are better than one. So I absolutely agree with you.
So what are some of the barriers that you see in practice in getting people to go to therapy?
Oh, man. So I think the biggest one, which is, Well, what's crazy? New? I think about it. And a pun intended. I'm sorr um but, um, I used to think that surgery was probably the most intimate, trusting relationship that you know you could possibly have with your patient. But after being in psychiatry, I kind of realized, you know, I feel like therapy. Um, it's probably one of the most intimate types or talk their peace One of the most intimate types of treatment that we do with our patients and because it's so, so deep, it can feel intrusive. And some patients, you know, they may not feel ready for that. I'm handling it at home. We don't want to tell people on my problems. Everybody's trained to be, you know, as independent as possible. And sometimes, you know, talking with someone is associated with weakness. If I do this and you know I'll be admitting that I'm weak are what if my family finds out so that, you know, takes me to the next Berries, This stigma with therapy, You know, a lot of of families, especially in certain communities, like, you know, this it's associated with being crazy, you know? And you think about site, actually, don't even really have a definition of you know what is crazy? Um, you know, that's not something that we use in the medical field. Um, you know, we don't diagnose somebody with with crazy, but, you know, just in everyday life, you know, mental health has that huge stigma that, you know, if it's something that you try to address through therapy, If you go to the hospital to see a psychiatrist, then all of a sudden there is this issue of you being met a door mentally competent or, you know, being able to actually handle those pressures and stress says that you're dealing with on the day to day basis It's like, Well, that's exactly why you would go to a therapist in first place to handle them on. And then I think maybe the last big one that I see is that a lot of people want to be able to go to a therapist that understands them. So this may mean that there's a therapist from that looks like them that's from their cultural background that's from their side of town, but somebody that can understand where they're coming from. And I personally think that that is actually very important because patients have been misdiagnosed, not necessarily because they have a condition, but because the cultural understanding of certain behaviors is not there for the provider that necessarily sees them. So they may interpret this behavior as being something abnormal, when in fact it's It's just, you know ah, culturally normal expression or something like that. And so I think those are probably the main reasons why people or the main barriers you know that intimacy that's required with your therapist. You're really building a relationship with your therapist, the stigma that's associated with mental ho, and then I'm being able to find a provider that understands where you're coming from.
I I really, really love that. So I hope you guys air hearing that. And if any of those apply to you, those are reasons to just push through and get the help that you need, you know, just to get your life, like, back on track. You know, I wanted to share one of, ah, the lessons that might therapist shared with me that I thought was incredibly instrumental in turning my situation around. So she take a sheet of paper and she divided it into three parts. And so, uh, one section she said, What is the event or the situation that is bothering me? And then on the second part, she said, Is any of this my responsibility? And if so, what action steps can I take? And then on the third part, she said, if not my responsibility, let it go. And that was so helpful to me. I told you I ended up going to therapy just for professional burnout. Burnout among doctors. Health care providers widely discussed topic at this point. And I went through this list with her and I wrote the things that were really like contributing to me feeling the way that I did, and doing that allowed me to identify some of them, make some changes and then let go of the ones that were not my responsibility to change all right or ones that I genuinely had no control over. And how was I going to do a better job of going around that right? So I definitely you like That's one thing I wanted to prove because I think of all the things she taught me that was the most helpful one. So I just wanted people to get a sense of like what you can get from therapy like it's not, you know, sitting in a chair and I don't know, like the stereotypical things you think about, you know, we are on the couch or, you know, it's genuinely a conversation with an objective person who's trying to help you sort through just the day to day rigors of life. You know you don't need like a diagnosis. To go to Therapy is like life is hard and it's okay if you just need some help navigating day to day stressors and the rigors of living hashtag adult ng e. So Dr Anthony's though this brings us to the end of our conversation. One thing I definitely want you to think about some pearls or what are the big takeaways. You want our listeners tohave from this conversation, but I wanted to run something by you really quickly. So you mentioned reducing the stigma, you know, and I'm not talking mental health or mental health diagnoses. I'm just talking about therapy because you do not need a diagnosis to see a therapist, right? And I think I should throw it in to for our listeners, ways to find a therapist. You know, online. Certainly, like psychology today. I know has a recent data bank of therapists. You can always contact your insurance company. You could Google therapists or counselors near me and see who's in your area and just give them a call. Ask them if they accept your insurance. Um, and if they don't, you know, will interest pay for a portion of it and you could cover the rest depending, you know, on your social or economic situation. Also, Ah, therapy for black girls dot com is another really good one, too, and they have a really great podcast, and they're pretty active on Instagram as well. So just in terms of where do I even start in trying to find the therapist? Those are some pretty good resource is, But I wanted Thio. I don't know, join the or really do something about the effort to de stigmatize this. And I thought about, like, a campaign, like, I don't know, like my therapy life hashtag my therapy life. And, you know, we all kind of share that like, Hey, this is my story. That's what therapy helped me to dio, like, you know, just some of those stories out there because I think the hardest part for people, like what's there be like? Like, what is this gonna
be? Oh, no. Yeah. No, I think about their p. Um, kind of like I think about, you know, physical training. If you ever seen, um, you know, uh, trainers on TV or what? Not like a lot of people actually don't like going to see their physical trainer because, you know, what will you get that you're gonna have to work hard? Um, but like, the benefits of doing it are unquestionable. Um, And so, like you said, it's not just a sitting on a couch in this. What? A lot of people seeing their mind when I think about their be like you're going there to do hard work on. And it that means that, you know, there's gonna be some uncomfortable, uncomfortable ity. But after the fat, you know, you will feel better. And, you know, you notice that little things here and there start improving around you and, you know, just enable you to kind of navigate life better cause, like he said, J like life is hard as it is. And we all tend to be very hard on ourselves, like no expectations that we have on ourselves. Sometimes, you know, I kind of remember studio can be harder than the ones that you know society have of ourselves. So I think, you know, terms of reducing stigma. First, you just normalize that you increase that representation, you know, doesn't matter what your profession is, doesn't matter where you're from. Therapy is beneficial for everyone because you're going to see if their piss does not mean like you said that you know that you have a psychiatric disorder or that you have a mental condition. Therapy can benefit everyone just in popular media to I seem like a push at kind of normalizing therapy and just mental health awareness of So I've listened to the Breakfast club. Sometimes a lot of focus now is put on, you know, bringing guest speakers that, you know, may, uh, do therapy or, you know, that maybe the professional what, not insuring the benefits of it on TV. We also see no, a lot of famous people talk about the benefits save experience from therapy. Jay z Charlotte made no Kanye West because you know it. It doesn't matter. It really doesn't matter how much money he makes. One thing that light has always struck me Is that with suicide. You know, a lot of times, you know, we may like idolization of my famous people. You know, I think that they have this glamorous, fascinating life that we all want, but at the same time, No, I was saying the same celebrities despite how much money they make. What not? I still suffer with depression. Some of the most famous celebrities that you know come to my mind have, unfortunately, you know, passed from suicide. And so you know, these issues off of mental depression being connected, you know, with each other. Those are things that that everybody deals with. You know, loneliness is an issue that everybody deals with. Like you have a lot of people around. You still be incredibly lonely. And so they're pretty, you know, it can help, You know, address our can help you tackle with all of those things that you know, personally affecting you. So, you know, I think we should talk about it more, bring it to the 21st century, Um, and making where it's, you know, it's not a big deal. It's, you know, a quick option. Like you said, somebody asked you. Now, have you thought about doing therapy? I think you have a really good friend. And and you know that Should that should be the answer from anyone else. You know that? No. Really Building. Yeah.
You're having an issue. Oh, my God. Thank you so much. Dr Joshua Anthony at the Therapy. Doc, Thank you so much for joining me today. So, guys, though, you know my goal is to share this valuable information, draw awareness to some important health issues and today hopefully convinced as some people if you needed to try therapy, right? I still encourage you to consult your physician for personalized medical advice. So please, y'all subscribe and share at the podcast with your friends. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out on Instagram at your faith. Doctor friend. You know, I dabble on Twitter and Facebook and all that, but really I'm on instagram. And this week I'm a launch in the campaign hashtag my therapy life.