“Take time to reflect” With Beau Henderson & Dr. Morgan Levy

It’s important to remember that therapists are human too. We have feelings and experience days that are not always so good. We have to take time for our own self-care and self-reflection. If we don’t take care of ourselves, it becomes almost impossible to be there for our clients. As a part of my series about the […]

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It’s important to remember that therapists are human too. We have feelings and experience days that are not always so good. We have to take time for our own self-care and self-reflection. If we don’t take care of ourselves, it becomes almost impossible to be there for our clients.

As a part of my series about the “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Morgan Levy.

Dr. Morgan Levy is a licensed psychologist in Florida with her doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology. Dr. Levy specializes in treating high-achieving individuals experiencing significant levels of anxiety. She utilized mindfulness-based interventions and insight-oriented approaches.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Iam happy to be here! I’ve always been fascinated with stories, both real and imagined. Growing up, I was reading books all the time. This eventually translated to my love of talking to people about their own lives and their own stories. In college, I became heavily involved with meditation and mindfulness. I experienced firsthand what it was like to use mindfulness to become more aware of my own feelings, motives, and hopes for the future. It was a natural transition for me to become a psychologist and work with people so that they can learn about themselves and experience similar growth and self-understanding. After college, I received my doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. I specialized in mindfulness and treatment of anxiety and mood disorders.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I’ve had so many great and unique moments since becoming a psychologist. The biggest curveball I was thrown was diving full-time into online video therapy due to COVID-19 (well we were ALL thrown that one). Before all of this, I was seeing clients both in person and online. It has been such an amazing experience diving even deeper into the world of the people I am working with. I get to see their homes, their pets, and even how they decorate their space. This is so unique and has been such a gratifying experience.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

When I first started online therapy, I thought it would be great to have my dog sitting on the floor during therapy sessions (I work with a lot of people who love animals). Well, it turned out to not be so great! During one of my first few sessions, my dog decided that she was bored and started climbing on me! Now, if she was a tiny dog, this wouldn’t have been a problem. She’s a border collie mix. So pretty big. She ended up pulling off my headphones and knocking over my laptop! I had a good laugh with my client. Lesson learned. Ever since then instead of having her in the sessions, I let her stay outside of the room with a nice peanut butter treat.

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?

I believe that anybody who wants to be a therapist should have experience being in therapy themselves. So, I believe that my own therapist played a huge role in helping me get to where I am today. Through therapy, I increased my own self-understanding of my patterns and what I needed to do to grow and live life in accordance with my values. I had my own struggle with self-care and balance, but I learned the importance of acceptance and recognizing that “good enough” is always better than “perfection.”

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

It’s important to remember that therapists are human too. We have feelings and experience days that are not always so good. We have to take time for our own self-care and self-reflection. If we don’t take care of ourselves, it becomes almost impossible to be there for our clients.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

Listen! When employees feel HEARD, they are more likely to enjoy the environment and be more productive. Support them. Allow employees to take mental health days when they need to. Showing that you value their own mental health and wellness is so powerful. Self-care is important and necessary for everybody.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Mental health is often looked at in binary terms; those who are healthy and those who have mental illness. The truth, however, is that mental wellness is a huge spectrum. Even those who are “mentally healthy” can still improve their mental wellness. From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to improve or optimize our mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each.

This is a fantastic question. It is SO true that mental wellness is a spectrum and that everybody can benefit from improving their own mental health.

1 — Reflect: Most people have a tendency to go about their day without thinking too much about their emotions or what they are experiencing. This could lead to feeling like you are “in a rut” or that the days are just repeating themselves. This can lead to significant feelings of anxiety and depression. It just stinks. Taking just a few minutes everyday to reflect on your day can help stop these repetitive patterns. Reflect on what you did that day and if your behaviors and actions are an accurate display of how you want to live your life. It is so important to live with intention to feel at ease and content. For example, some people like to make a cup of tea when they practice their self-reflection.

2 — Breathe: When we are busy we often forget to just breathe! Research shows that taking deep breaths helps to improve our mood and calm down our physiological reactions. If you are so busy that you forget to breathe, I get it! Set an alarm every few hours and when it goes off just take 30 seconds to breathe deeply!

3 — Connect with others: A fantastic way to optimize mental wellness is to reach out to others. It has been shown time and time again that social support improves our mood and can decrease anxiety and depression. You don’t even need to have a lot of people to reach out to. One or two people that you connect with and can express yourself to can work wonders in decreasing anxiety and depression. For example, you can join a virtual club or organization.

4 — Self-care: Engage in self-care! This could involve getting back into a hobby that you used to love doing, but maybe don’t have time for anymore. It could involve taking relaxing baths or going for a walk. I love going for a walk with my dog (yes — the one who climbed on me) and enjoying nature with her! Pro tip: You can even practice reflection and breathing during this self-care activity. I’m all about efficiency.

5 — Seek support in therapy: I truly believe that everyone can benefit from therapy. Therapy is not just about getting rid of feelings of depression or anxiety, but also about enhancing your life. It can help you learn why you have certain patterns and help you grow! Also, therapy is not limited to only in-person sessions. You can seek out an online therapist and have therapy from your own couch!

Much of my expertise focuses on helping people to plan for after retirement. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In addition to the ideas you mentioned earlier, are there things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.

Major life transitions can feel very jolting. During any major decision, it’s important to remember the “why.” Use the reflection technique I mentioned before to really understand your motives behind retiring, your expectations and hopes for what retirement looks like, and what potential issues may come up for you. For example, if you think you may have too much free time, it may be helpful to brainstorm activities to fill your time with! You can practice old hobbies or discover something new! Retirement may also feel isolating. Remember to seek support from others.

How about teens and pre teens. Are there any specific new ideas you would suggest for teens and pre teens to optimize their mental wellness?

If you are a teen or preteen who is reading this, I’m sure you have heard this before, but I really recommend taking some time off from social media whenever you can. Believe me, I know it’s annoying, but it can REALLY improve your mental wellness. If nothing else, please don’t compare yourself to others on social media. Remember, most people only post the good that happens in their life ☺

I am so impressed with Gen Z and their amazing ability to use their voice for what is right. Remember that you have a voice and don’t stop using it.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

The Harry Potter series had a significant impact on my growth as a psychologist. Not only is the series complex and full of rich character arcs, but it exposed me to the magic world of “fandom.” Through fandom, I have witnessed the beauty of social support and people connecting with each other even if they live across the world. I have seen beautiful acts of people lifting each other up and showing support through difficult times. It is a community of acceptance.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My hope is for all people — and all animals — to be loved and treated with fairness, equity, and with no harm.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

One quote that has been on my mind in recent months is from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He said, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” We are all humans and share the human experience. The ups, the downs, the sweat, the tears — we have a tendency to forget that. We need to embrace diversity instead of being afraid of it.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

They can visit my website or find me on Facebook. I try to post helpful tips and tricks to promote mental wellness!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

Thank you! Happy to help!

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