Your practice will wax and wane: Take advantage of the slow times to rest and catch up, and don’t worry, the busy times will come again. I have since discovered that there are seasons of therapy: the holiday months are very slow, because people are busy and they are spending their money on holiday celebrating. The summer months are somewhat slow because people are vacationing. A week or so after the New Year until summer is my busiest time, and the fall is another upswing in scheduled appointments. I have learned to use those slower times to write, to rest and to catch up.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. (www.tinatessina.com). Tina is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California since 1978 with over 40 years= experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 15 books in 17 languages, including Dr. Romance=s Guide to Finding Love Today; It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction; The Ten Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make After Forty; Love Styles: How to Celebrate Your Differences, The Real 13th Step , How to Be Happy Partners: Working it Out Together and How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free. She writes the ADr. [email protected] blog (drromance.typepad.com), and the AHappiness Tips from [email protected] email newsletter. Online, she=s known as ADr. [email protected] Dr. Tessina appears frequently on radio, TV, video and podcasts. She tweets @tinatessina.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Thanks for asking me!
I lost almost all of my extended family and my father between the ages of twelve and eighteen. I had to drop out of college for lack of funds soon after my Dad died; even though I had a full scholarship. Starting at an entry-level job, I worked my way up to accounting department manager, and was an accountant for 15 years. I was married at age 20, divorced after seven years. Finally found therapy when I was 28, to help me heal all my grief and loss. In the process of extensive therapy, I figured out I wanted to be a therapist, and put myself through college by starting my own accounting business and got my Masters in Counseling Psychology. Got a California Marriage, Family Therapist license in 1978, have been in private practice since then. My first book, How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free, was published in 1980. Married Richard Sharrard in 1982 and we’re still happy together.
Can you share the interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
In my first two years of private practice, five different counseling centers I was working at closed without notice, forcing me to find a new place and move my clients each time, so I finally decided to be in private practice by myself, and I have done that since 1982.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I can tell you about panic: when I first began my practice in Long Beach, after my marriage to Richard, I was nervous about money, as most new business owners are. One day, after several phone calls cancelling or postponing sessions I was counting on for income, a bill arrived in the mail, and I panicked. I was very upset, and I said to Spirit “If you want me to help people, I need some help: it’s too scary to do this all alone.” Two minutes later, the phone rang, and it was one of my clients, who said: “I just wanted to tell you how glad I am that I found you; you have helped me change my life.” After I got off the phone, I said “OK, that was what I needed” and in a few days, enough clients had scheduled for me to meet all my bills. I haven’t really worried about money since, even in the slow seasons.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
I just published a new edition of The 10 Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make before Forty
https://tinyurl.com/y4dyqdrl I am creating a series of podcasts to help people with life and relationships.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Rev. Denton Roberts, M.Div. LMFT, was my mentor and trained me in therapy. He helped me pull myself out of grief and despair when he was my therapist, and then I joined his classes for clinicians while I was getting my post-grad degree. He was a major influence in my life and work. He recommended that all therapists need to be clients first, so they will understand the work from the client’s point of view.
Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that will help people feel great?
There are three things you can do to bring more happiness into your life:
1.Gratitude: Remember to notice and be thankful for whatever you have, what your friends, family and partner do for and give to you.
2. Generosity: Giving to others, especially giving thanks and kindness, will make you happy, because giving feels good, and your generosity will come back to you.
3. Ethics: Living your life according to a set of ethics that make sense to you will make you feel good about yourself, and increase your happiness.
To create more gratitude in your life, try these guidelines:
• Take some time each day to be thankful for each and every thing that comes your way. Do this silently, for yourself, not ostentatiously, to impress others. If you say a grace before meals, say it silently, and think about how fortunate you are.
• Keep a list for one week about every good thing that comes your way: funny e-mail, a phone call, a business success, a loving gesture. At the end of the week,you’ll be astounded at how much you receive.
• Saying “Thank You” to your partner, family and friends allows both of you to feel valued. Gratitude is powerful, and, used properly, a much greater motivator than demanding, criticizing, or nagging. Creative gratitude is the most powerful kind. It’s easy to scope out what kind of thank you will be memorable for a particular person, when you’re paying attention. Recognition is a powerful motivating factor, and a little gratitude can go a long way.
• Whenever a negative thought comes to mind, counter it with a feeling of thanks for something that is good in your life. Change your focus from what’s wrong to what is right.
• Start counting what you already have that you cherish. Consider beginning a gratitude journal, and noting all the positive things, beloved possessions, and tender moments you experience. Or, start a gratitude jar, and note down on scraps of paper all the positive things, beloved friends, favorite possessions, and tender moments you experience in your own life and store them in the jar. Then whenever you feel frustrated, down or discouraged, pull out a few papers and read them. You’ll find that reminding yourself of all you have to be grateful for will cheer you up and help you remember that your life is a good one.
Looking for the blessings in every day will maximize your awareness of how lucky you are, and increase the luck that comes your way. I think of it the same way I think of receiving a gift. If I receive good things by thinking “It’s about time”, then who would want to give me more? But, if I receive gifts with gratitude and pleasure, then the giver wants to give me more. I think life works the same way.
Is there a particular book that made an impact on you? Can you share a story?
The one that stands out most is Integral Psychology by Ken Wilber. It’s the only book I’ve found that outlines the kind of thinking behind the therapy I do. Mr. Wilber helped me clarify my thoughts and understand the origins of my eclectic style, including spiritual thought.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
It would be a movement to establish peace, within individuals, within families, within the world.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’m working on healing the planet, one person at a time in my therapy practice. I reach more people through my books, which readers have called “life-changing”
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
1.You need to understand how to run a business to have a successful private practice:
Nothing in my schooling prepared me for running my own private practice. Fortunately, I had work experience as an accountant that helped with the financial end, but I had to figure out my own way to attract clients. I started by contacting ministers in the many churches in Long Beach, where I live and work. I offered to help them with the many people who come to them in crisis, and that got me started in private practice. I then discovered that satisfied clients are the best advertising, and most of my clients come through referral.
2. My mentor taught me that I needed to do my own work in therapy before I could understand how to help others. No one in my schooling even mentioned that. I have found that my own journey through healing has provided a good template for guiding others.
3. I didn’t need to take insurance to be successful: In a private practice with no other employees, filling out insurance forms, arguing with insurance companies about the legitimacy of my diagnoses, even having to diagnose from the DSM was aggravating, difficult and very time-consuming. When I finally dropped taking insurance, and just giving my clients “Super Bills” which included the info they needed to file for themselves, my practice did not suffer at all, and I was much happier.
4. My job is not to change anyone. They change themselves, and I guide them through the process of change and healing.
5. I never know what I’m doing: So many clients have come back to me saying “When you said……, it changed my thinking.” And I never remembered saying those words. I realized that what the client hears may not be what I think I’m saying, and I have to focus more on what the client is hearing, and what it means to the client.
6. (I know you only asked for 5) Healing guidance comes through me, not from me: I needed spiritual study beyond my university education to understand the mysteries and miracles of ordinary life and of healing.
7. Your practice will wax and wane: Take advantage of the slow times to rest and catch up, and don’t worry, the busy times will come again. I have since discovered that there are seasons of therapy: the holiday months are very slow, because people are busy and they are spending their money on holiday celebrating. The summer months are somewhat slow because people are vacationing. A week or so after the New Year until summer is my busiest time, and the fall is another upswing in scheduled appointments. I have learned to use those slower times to write, to rest and to catch up.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
“It’s never too late to be who you might have been” George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Mr. Ken Wilber, author and philosopher or Mr. Richard Bach, author of “Illusions: Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah”
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
My website www.tinatessina.com has links to all my social media sites:
Dr. Romance Blog: drromance.typepad.com
Thank you for all of these great insights!
About the author:
Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.