Episode 47: Psychotherapy Memes — Connecting & Commiserating Through Humor [featuring Nicole Arzt]
Burnout and impostor syndrome are common for therapists, so taking a moment to connect with other therapists to find some humor in common struggles can really help you get out of the grind for a moment to laugh and relax a bit.
In this episode, I talk with Nicole Arzt, therapist, author, and the creator of Psychotherapy Memes, about how she built an inclusive space for therapists based on the idea of shared humor and collective experience, as well as the struggles she faced as a therapist in community mental health, how she copes with and overcomes impostor syndrome on the daily, and more.
More about Nicole:
Nicole Arzt is a practicing psychotherapist in Southern California. In her work, she has worked with a wide variety of individuals, couples, and families. Her clinical emphasis lies in treating substance use, eating disorders, and complex trauma.
An accomplished author, Nicole contributes to numerous mental health organizations. She owns Soul of Therapy LLC, a writing and SEO business for therapists. She is also the founder of Psychotherapy Memes, a global community of more than 125,000 followers. Psychotherapy Memes aims to provide a comedic outlet for coping with the many challenges associated with this field.
In addition, Nicole enjoys consulting and speaking with new therapists about working in mental health. She's been featured on several podcasts and has been the keynote speaker for several events around the country. She currently facilitates the Prelicensed Group on the Teletherapist Network.
Her debut book, Sometimes Therapy Is Awkward, is available wherever books are sold.
Nicole's website: www.psychotherapymemes.com
A Thanks to Our Sponsor!
I would also like to thank Embark EMR for sponsoring this episode.
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There's even a patient portal where your clients can access notes, documents, and generate their own invoices and superbills. Embark EMR is setting a new precedent in EMR functionality and affordability. Embark’s simple one-tier system is $20 a month per therapist, and there are never any extra fees. Try Embark EMR today with a free trial at embarkemr.com.
PATRICK CASALE: This episode of the All Things Private Practice Podcast is brought to you by Embark EMR. Embark is a superb software solution for the solo practitioner as well as group practices. Embark was designed by therapists to be simple and intuitive without all the extra stuff that you don't need, so you don't feel like you're being nickeled and dimed.
Embark enables scheduling with automatic appointment reminders, a note organization system with multiple pre-built templates, and an automatic invoice and Superbill generation to make it easier on your clients. There's even a patient portal where your clients can access notes, documents and generate their own invoices and Superbills.
Embark EMR is setting a new precedent in EMR functionality and affordability. Embark's simple one-tier system is $20 a month per therapist and are never any extra fees. Try Embark EMR today with a free trial at embarkemr.com. You can also use code ATPP for 20% off an entire year of Embark.
Hey, everyone, you are listening to another episode of the All Things Private Practice Podcast. I'm your host, Patrick Casale, joined today by Nicole Artz. She is an LMFT in California, but also, more importantly, the creator of Psychotherapy Memes, which a lot of you probably pay attention to, follow all week, and use so that you can get out of the daily grind of being a clinician. So, really glad to have you here. And we're going to talk about imposter syndrome, Nicole's book, and whatever else comes up along the way.
NICOLE ARTZ: Excited to be here. Thank you for inviting me on, Patrick.
PATRICK CASALE: You know, it is was a long shot? You know, I was like thinking, I'm like, "Man, I've had so many cool guests on." And I follow your stuff, and I was like, "I'm just going to DM you and see what happens." And I'm glad that there's like a mutual linkage with Katherine and The Teletherapist Network. And, you know, she's fantastic. And I can't say enough good things about her. But I am really happy you're here and all of my clinicians were excited to hear this episode. So, I just want to say that to you. You had a major impact on people.
NICOLE ARTZ: It's a big pedestal, hopefully, I [INDISCERNIBLE 00:01:54].
PATRICK CASALE: I think you can, you know? So, tell us about, like, the development of Psychotherapy Memes, because you have thousands of followers. And not only is it like, it's just such good, relatable content. And I'm curious about, like, how often you're creating these, like, how often you're putting energy into this too?
NICOLE ARTZ: Yeah, so the inception, if you will, of Psychotherapy Memes started, I think it was, it's been about four years now, it was 2018, which in my head was just a year ago, but it's not.
PATRICK CASALE: No concept of time anymore. It doesn't matter.
NICOLE ARTZ: Right, right, and you know, people often ask me about it. And I don't have that cool of an answer. I wish I did. Honestly, I was working at a standard mental health agency, also, doing a little bit of private practice on the side. But like most people who are probably listening to this, like, very much related to the grind of working in an agency, the grind of, like, private practice, just the grind [INDISCERNIBLE 00:02:50] all the nuances that come with that.
And so, I don't know, like, I just started kind of creating some memes for it. And at the time, I was a little scared to, like, really publicize myself serious, so I was anonymous for a couple of years on Psychotherapy Memes, just, it's like [INDISCERNIBLE 00:03:10] making crazy stuff out there and like realizing, okay, other people relate to this.
And so, it's just kind of grown organically over time. I don't have any really cool outreach advice or anything of that note. I started making memes and putting them out there, and then, eventually, getting a little more interactive with the community. I do like a Q&A every week, I share other therapist things, I've got involved with really different networks, and programs, and things like that, and have gotten to talk to and meet a lot of cool people in our fields.
And so, it started just like as a little fun project and now it really has kind of evolved into this big community and this really cool inclusive space of just therapist's kind of, A, commiserating, but I think, also, connecting. Like, connecting and this idea of shared humor and a shared collective experience of, okay, we all have kind of these commonalities, this feeling insecure, or feeling inadequate, or feeling uncertain. And I guess just raising more of a voice to that inner voice that a lot of us have had. Maybe that answers your question in kind of a roundabout way.
PATRICK CASALE: It really does. And I think the beauty in that and, you know, what I try to do, too, is allow people to authentically be themselves, and also, there's relatability in this process, like, you know, I do coaching with clinicians from all over the country and everything is the same. Like, the experiences are the same no matter where they are, whether they're at a group practice or an agency in California, or they are working in Arkansas or Oklahoma. It's like the same shit in these agency jobs and there was always this, like, breaking point, right? Like, where it was like, "Fuck this, I'm not dealing with another, like, bonus Christmas luncheon from this shitty restaurant. I'm done with this. I'm going to do my own thing."
NICOLE ARTZ: Yeah, yeah. And I guess, when you're in your little, like, bubble, which a lot of us have been in, like, when you're just working at your job or just hanging out with your cohort, like, you think, "Okay, that's our shared experience." Not realizing why and how unanimous it can be until like what you're talking about, like, it's the same shit everywhere, every agency, every, like, starting new therapist [INDISCERNIBLE 00:05:24] and those anxieties, and those frustrations are very, very similar across the board.
PATRICK CASALE: They really are. And I think you're right, when you're in this bubble, you're like, "It must just be this job, it must just be like the fact that we have some things that maybe feel a little bit dysfunctional." And then, you go to another one in your area, and you're like, "Oh, maybe the leadership seems a little bit better." But like, it's still the same process. It's the same expectation, productivity, etc., lack of resources. And I think so many of us have this intense anxiety, and insecurity, and imposter syndrome, that you and I were talking about before about, like, going out on your own, starting your own thing. And this feeling of like, I can't make it on my own, because what I don't know, I don't know. And the only way people can make it in this field is to work for a place that inevitably beats you down and grinds you down.
NICOLE ARTZ: Well, and one thing that, excuse me, add to that, is like even if, like, one of the worst case scenarios is if you don't think it's the job, or if you don't think it's the supervisor, you'll go to like, "Oh, well, maybe it's me, maybe I'm not cut out for this, or maybe I'm not good enough for this field, or maybe, like, I have too much pressure or expectation for what a job should be." And so, like, I know, for me, I definitely went into that space from time to time and like, "Well, [INDISCERNIBLE 00:06:38] have a problem here, am I like not getting something the other therapists are getting, right? The other therapists seem smarter, or more savvy, or more like they have their shit together if you will."
And so, yeah, I think that can be a dark space that I know a lot, like, just in doing psychotherapy memes I've realized a lot of therapists really struggle with that. And it's not just the new therapists, right? And you can be 10, 20 years into the work, and you're still like, "Well, is it me? Am I still not good enough? Am I able to take that leap of faith and try something new? Or am I able to like make it on my…" These questions that you were just talking about that, I think, so many of us still worry.
And I still struggle with that from time to time. Like, "Am I really going to do what I think I'm going to do? Like, am I really capable of all this? Or is this going to, at some point, just kind of run its course, and then, I'm going to be scrambling?" You know what I mean? I think those insecurities still crop up from time to time.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, I think you're spot on with that. And, you know, imposter syndrome, insecurity seems to run pretty rampant in our field and profession in general. And I think maybe that's because there's a lot of introspection, too. And there's a lot of, you know, putting pieces of ourselves in our work and just a different field for a lot of people in general.
But, you know, I spoke at the Therapy Reimagined conference last year on imposter syndrome. And I definitely was having imposter syndrome talking about imposter syndrome, because I'm like, somebody's going to find me out. Like, I clearly don't know what I'm talking about to be on this stage and to talk about this thing, right? But ultimately, normalizing the fact that we can be successful and it can still exist every single day of our lives. And when I try to give, like, some hope and optimism too, is like it can still exist, but maybe it doesn't have to paralyze you the way it paralyzed you when you first started maybe thinking about starting your own practice or doing something different.
NICOLE ARTZ: I could not agree more. And I love that about the imposter syndrome, about talking about imposter syndrome. Like you, I've definitely been invited to give talks, or just different conferences and things. And that's always the topic people want to talk about, because that's what folks are interested on. And I'm sitting there like, "Well, what am I qualified to speak on?"
And it's a trip. It's a weird experience to have that and it's a question I get on my Q&As a lot, like, how do I overcome this? How do I get rid of this, and I just don't think you do fully, but like you said, you've learned to get to a place where it doesn't paralyze you or it doesn't guide your every action. You're like, okay, well, I'm going to still take that job, I'm going to make that, you know, leap of faith, I'm going to take that risk, even if I feel a little, like, I'm faking it, or I'm not good enough for it. Like, I'm going to act as if I can still do it.
And I think that's been a lot of my growth and maybe some of your growth as well is just saying, "Okay, I am not going to listen to this part right now, [INDISCERNIBLE 00:09:27] my guts anyway, and I'll deal with the imposter stuff that comes."
PATRICK CASALE: Absolutely. It's really well said and people want, like, the magic recipe, I think, to like get rid of it. But I think it's like, if you can talk about it openly, that can sometimes take back a lot of the power that it has over us, because I know for so long it prevented me from doing so many things like leaving my agency job, starting my coaching business. I kept thinking, "Why would anyone hire me as a therapist or why would anyone hire me as a practice coach if there are other therapists and practice coaches out there. And they probably do it better than me or have more experience or whatever the case may be?"
And that is just our own shit coming up our, own insecurity, and then, like, just naming it, and putting it out to the world, and just being like, I feel this way. And it's okay. And then, everyone else is like, "Oh, I feel that way, too." So, you're not alone.
NICOLE ARTZ: No, I could not agree more. And all these things are talking about like it is scary, and you think a lot of therapists or just people stay in their comfort zones. But the comfort zones, there's an Asterix by it, it's not really that comfortable anymore, right? And [INDISCERNIBLE 00:10:35] starting to resent it, and feel annoyed, and feel like you've gotten [INDISCERNIBLE 00:10:38]. But it's like, that's predictable misery, and so, we'll choose to stick with that rather than, like, try something new. Because yeah, those insecurities and those inferiorities emerge.
And so, yeah, it's been a journey for me to work through that as well. And I like the progress that I've made. I'm proud of myself for that. But I would be lying if I were to say, like, "Oh, yeah, there's this magic answer, like, this three-step process or just do this to feel confident, you know?" If I could sell that, right, I could just go retire [INDISCERNIBLE 00:11:11] some nice tropical islands away, but…
PATRICK CASALE: If only you could make that, like, self-help book. And I'm sure they exist out there too of like, these are the three things that you do to combat imposter syndrome. And some of that could be true. But, you know, you and I have created things throughout COVID. And, you know, have captured and grown audiences. And you were telling me that even though you've written this book that people are really responsive to and there's a lot of positive feedback, that you are still experiencing significant imposter syndrome around the book pretty often. Do you mind talking about that?
NICOLE ARTZ: Sure. You know, I think any author can attest to this, putting a book out in the world is vulnerable, right? I mean, you are putting some… I hate using cliches, but like, I'll just use the blood, sweat, and tears, because that is kind of, like, the metaphor that speaks to, like, you're putting a lot of effort into producing this thing. And there's that voice in the back of your head or even in the front of your head, like, "Is anyone going to read this? Like, is it how real life is? Like, this was a little waste of time."
And I even sort of talk about this in my book, like, you're comparing it to like the top leaders in the field who've written these brilliant pieces of work, and you're like, "Well, I don't compare to [INDISCERNIBLE 00:12:24]" Like, I don't compare to [INDISCERNIBLE 00:12:26]." Like, "Why would anyone have to listen to what I have to say?
And so, you're kind of grappling with that while also being like, "No, I think I got something good here. I do think they know a little bit that could help and support other people." I think my experience was a little different than a lot of first time authors, because I do have a background in professional writing. So, I didn't feel like, "Okay, I have no idea what I'm going to write." I knew I had those fundamentals down.
And I also had a lot of support from the Psychotherapy Memes platform. I knew that people, for better or worse, were kind of looking at me as this kind of point of guidance of like, how to navigate these new ceilings in this fields. I knew a lot of my audience was pretty… I call it zero to five, but the zero to five-year therapist, these like new therapists who are in graduate school, leaving graduate school, or kind of like just getting their feet wet with starting their own practice or getting license. All those obstacles that we were facing in the beginning of our career.
And so, I knew this book needed to be written, that we were missing something like this in our field, but there was definitely that [INDISCERNIBLE 00:13:34] the one to write it, you know? And I think the imposter syndrome definitely still arised because there's no perfect book. And I do struggle with perfectionism. So, there are times where it's like, "I should have not written that, or I should have written [INDISCERNIBLE 00:13:48] or edited that differently." Or, "Oh, I got that one-star review. Like, everybody is actually going to hate me. And if I ever write another book no one will read it." So, it's all that like anxiety spitting out. But I also feel humbled knowing that's common for most writers, that writers are like our own worst critics. And we're a troubled and dramatic breed.
PATRICK CASALE: I like that you name it that way. And there's so much to kind of pick apart in that, like, perfectionism and imposter syndrome go hand in hand, right? Like, I can't release this to the world until it's perfect, and it will never fucking be perfect. Like, I cannot tell you how many times, like, with coaching clients like, "Okay, my site today, my website cannot go live until it's perfect." I'm like, "When is that going to be?" Like, there's never going to be a time that that can happen. But we can get paralyzed by perfectionism. And I struggle with that all the time.
NICOLE ARTZ: I do too. And it's kind of, like, what is that balance between, okay, yeah, you really should fix something, because it kind of sucks versus, like, is it maybe at [INDISCERNIBLE 00:14:51] that that realm of good enough, and my definition of that might be different to your definition, that might be different than his, and it could evolve over time, I've learned that too. And so, I imagine, like, running a podcast, that's similar, that too, like, you know, you creating episodes, editing episodes, just like there's probably a lot of times you're like, "Ah, this isn't perfect, but I got to put it out there. I have this deadline." You know, and so, I think writing well has a similar formula.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, I think that's really well said, and it comes up in a lot of the stuff that I do, whether it's, like, launching a coaching program, or the podcast, or putting anything out there, like you said about putting a book out there. You allow yourself to then be vulnerable, and then, you're open for critique, right? And that is when we start to see our insecurity rise up. When you do get that one-star review, when that one person says, "It was good, but it wasn't that good." Or like, "It could have been better." And then, you start to like doubt everything that you've ever done in your life.
And that is when I think, okay, instead of doing all these things I should just like disappear back into bartending again and never do this ever again. But there's a-
NICOLE ARTZ: [CROSSTALK 00:15:59] clumsy so I would not make a good bartender. My husband is always joking [INDISCERNIBLE 00:16:02]. I actually did check my teeth before this episode [INDISCERNIBLE 00:16:05]. But I feel like, yeah, I mean, you could go back to bartending. I don't even have that to fall back on. I don't know what I would do.
PATRICK CASALE: Sounds like you wouldn't go back to your agency job, though, if that was the case.
NICOLE ARTZ: No, no working… I'm sure you relate to this, learning how to work for myself and build my own businesses has been best. Like, it's been crazy, but it's in the best experience I've ever had. And it would be very hard to go back. I never would say never, because like an awesome opportunity can come out, like, life can be short, but it can also be very long, you never know like, where your career is going to take you. And I do think that speaks to some of the beauty of the therapy field is there's a lot of [INDISCERNIBLE 00:16:48] in this field and there's a lot of different, like paths you can take. And so, I can't think of it, like, no, I will never go back. But it would really have to be right fit, with the right kind of people, doing the right kind of work for me to consider that option.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, I like that. And it's not a binary process in this career. I mean, there's so much we can do. And there's so many ways our skills are applicable, which is a good transition, because you also mentioned talking about multiple streams of income. And I think so often right now clinicians are so ready to get out of the agency job environment, start their own practices. And then, a lot of times get into practice and think, "Okay, either this is great. But I'm kind of bored now." Which is my personality in a nutshell.
But we're like, "This is better than what it used to be, I get to be my own boss, but I'd like to make more money, I'd like to no longer, you know, exchange 60-minute increments of my time and rely upon that." And I get that. And you're seeing a lot of therapists go into coaching, but I'm wondering about, like, streams of revenue that you've created that feel like, okay, I don't have to be in front of the screen, front and center, you know, hour after hour to make the rent or pay the bills.
NICOLE ARTZ: Totally, I love the question. I've always been pretty entrepreneurial. I don't want to say I love money, because that sounds like greedy, but I love like understanding how money works and how to grow my, build my, kind of play with money. And so, building different streams has been enjoyable to me, because like you said, like, there is power in moving away from like 50, 60-minute increments. You exchange time for money and learning how to, like, buy your time back is, in my opinion, like, the best thing you can ever buy for yourself.
And so, going back to that, different things I've done, I was actually just talking about this on Instagram, like, last week, all the different types of things that therapists can do, but things I've done include, one of my first bread and butters was doing a lot of content writing for different therapists. That is an active process, but I would help with like blogs, Psychology Today profiles, homepage copy, building out their websites, things like that, things that a lot of times the perfectionism plagues therapists from getting started, and then, they are, you know, not able to actually launch what they want to launch, because they're still tripped up on, "Does this work make sense?"
[INDISCERNIBLE 00:19:09] has definitely been a source of income since I want to say I've started the therapy career and it kind of gone together and at this point now I do a lot of contract writing for a lot of different organizations, I contribute to a lot of different sites and I enjoy that. It is active, but I find that it uses different parts of my brain, therapy doesn't, so I like having that mix and match approach.
The book, I mean as a source of writing [INDISCERNIBLE 00:19:37] is passive. So, like that's a really cool passive income source for people who like writing, is that you're continuing, essentially, to earn money off of that.
Speaking engagements, I've done some affiliate marketing for different companies. I don't really, like, monetize the Psychotherapy Memes community at times. I've done here now, like, a few different sponsorships, a few different, like partnered collaborations that are compensated, but it's not something I like very primarily focus on. I don't want to lose the integrity of what the page is and maybe get too salesy, right? But there's that balance, because I definitely get some really cool offers that come by, right?
And I mean, yeah, of course, I'm not going to lie and say like, that's not tempting from time to time. But I really try and source the opportunities that come my way to make sure they feel authentic and appropriate for my audience, because I know, like I said earlier, a lot of people look up to the page for, like, trusted guidance, and I don't want to jeopardize that.
Merchandise, [INDISCERNIBLE 00:20:37] makes some snarky minds and notebooks and sell those through a website and on Etsy. So, those are kind of fun, and something I probably want to make some more of in the future, because it's a fun little like side project.
I'm trying to think what else but those are the main ones that come to mind, but I like dipping my toes in a lot of different projects. Sounds like you too, because I get bored pretty easily. It's like once something's like working really well I'm like, okay, now what? Instead of just enjoying, like, the fruits of that labor, I'm like, okay, now I need to go build something else, or I need to build that out even more.
PATRICK CASALE: Sounds like my life in a nutshell. Sometimes it's even, like, the inability to take it in, like, oh my God, you've created this, right?
NICOLE ARTZ: Yes.
PATRICK CASALE: And just to absorb that, instead of sitting with that, it's like, okay, what's next? Now, what else can I create with these skills that I have or the audience that I've grown? And I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. I'm sure some people are like, "Oh, that feels like grind or hustle culture." But in reality, I think, a lot of people's brains just work that way and are wired to do different things throughout our lives.
And like you said, time is probably our biggest currency, right? Because we can't get it back. And I see so many therapists use the word passive income now. And then, I kind of chuckle, "Oh, my God." It takes a long time to become passive income. However, it's unbelievably gratifying. And everything you just mentioned, therapist's skills can apply to all of those ventures. And even more than that.
Like, I think so often, we think so clinically, as if like, how else can I make money if I'm not doing clinical work? And in reality, we're really good at being creative, and resourceful, and, you know, attuning, and building relationships, and helping people feel motivated and empowered. And that can be in so many different realms. And if we could just move away from the mindset of like, "All I know how to do is help people through A, B, and C." And that's just simply not the reality.
NICOLE ARTZ: I could not agree more. And, you know, I would fully agree, like, a lot of our skills do translate into other domains, into other areas of connecting with people or selling ideas. And I don't even mean that like in a spammy way. I mean that like being able to help people just in different avenues, rather than sitting couch to couch with a [INDISCERNIBLE 00:22:53], you know?
And one caveat, like, [INDISCERNIBLE 00:22:58] mean, what if I don't want to do, like, you don't have to do that either. You know, like I know, many colleagues who are very happy with the career that they've built for themselves as therapists and not like, I don't think it's healthy to assume that all therapists need to build, like, these empires, or, you know, hustle culture, what have you.
But I think for certain people, and maybe it's people like you and me who like the energy and kind of the adrenaline of that, it's nice knowing that you can dabble with it, and play with it, and probably build something out of it if you have the grit and the desire to kind of make it grow.
PATRICK CASALE: That's perfectly said. And for everyone listening, yeah, you absolutely do not have to build your "empire." You may be very happy just working for yourself and seeing clients and that can be the rest of your career and that is okay. And for some of us, I think it's important to know that you're probably going to get bored and you're probably going to create something else and create something else. I've already thought, "All right now that private practice coaching has been going really well for two years now what? Like, what am I going to do for money?' And I asked my wife, I asked my VA, and they're like, "What the fuck are you talking about?" Like…
NICOLE ARTZ: Yes, my husband [CROSSTALK 00:24:10].
PATRICK CASALE: … a curse.
NICOLE ARTZ: My husband and I take these long walks with our… we have two kids. We just had a newborn about a month and a half though and we take these walks and I swear he hears me like go through like 10 ideas before noon, point all these things that I'm going to do, and like most of them don't pan out, and I'm sure you relate to that, like, but there's something fun it just kind of the brainstorming, and then, you forget the threads you were going to pursue, but yeah, he's always like, "Just chill out. Like, truly you already have a lot going on."
It is hard sometimes and that's one of my own flaws when I'm trying to work on these [INDISCERNIBLE 00:24:41] to like just sit and enjoy some of the things I built rather than the, like, okay what's next, what's next, because that can have its downsides too right of not being able to just sit, and wait, and like take it in, like I think you said earlier, taking it in. But not to get too off track, I do you think that passive income can definitely be a misconception, because a lot of people are still trying to do a lot of active end up doing more work, thinking they're making something passive. And then, they like double burnout, if you will.
PATRICK CASALE: Yes, absolutely. And I think I had an episode with Jo Muirhead. She's a therapist and coach out of Australia where we were talking about passive income. And it's like, if you're trying to create passive income because you're burnt out from being a therapist, you're probably not going to create passive income well, either, because you're just burnt out as a human being in general.
And I think so often we are just burnt out. This field is seeing an intense amount of it. And that's why having pages like your own, where you can come, and just laugh, and like, have everyone's dark sense of humor come together and have relatability is really important, because this work is fucking hard. And these last couple of years have been fucking hard. And I'm going to get some shit from my email list about saying fuck too much now.
NICOLE ARTZ: Yeah, I get those DMs quite a bit every [INDISCERNIBLE 00:22:58] person, they're like, "Hey, Nicole, I think you curse too much." And it's like, "Woo."
PATRICK CASALE: You don't have to follow it.
NICOLE ARTZ: That's it. And then I get the announcement that they're unfollowing and it's [INDISCERNIBLE 00:26:08] I always find that hilarious when someone messages me to tell me they're no longer going to like what I say, thank you.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, I had someone message me, and email me, and say, "Hey, all of your content has been so helpful. You've helped me build my business for free." This is not someone who did coaching with me, "But you curse too much. And that is lazy and unprofessional." And I was like, "Well, you can unsubscribe and you don't have to be subjected to this lazy, unprofessional free content anymore."
NICOLE ARTZ: Oh, I love when they announce their departure, we get relief.
PATRICK CASALE: Who wants a gift of people, like, leaving for airplanes for stuff like that, and things of that nature.
NICOLE ARTZ: [INDISCERNIBLE 00:26:47] but I wasn't sure if you would know what I'm talking about. [INDISCERNIBLE 00:26:50] this is not an airport, you don't need you to announce your departure.
PATRICK CASALE: I can count, like, the amount of times I've said that in my Facebook group for the people who, like, make their last stand and they're like, "And I'm getting out of here and this is why." And I'm like, "All right, see yeah, that's cool."
NICOLE ARTZ: Yeah, and you know what? Speaking of imposter syndrome, one little thing to tie that all together, it's so cliche, but I think it's always humbling for me. And hopefully, for listeners and you like, realizing like you're just not going to please everyone, like, no matter what, but one is not going to like what you have to say. They may be deeply offended with what you have to say and maybe will have an issue with it.
And I think I used to let those one, or two, or even several voices really brought me down, like, those are the real voices, not the 99% of people around your like have my back and supporting me. And so, again, as cliche as it is, just reminding myself, like, okay, there is no universal liking and anything on this planet. Like, we as humans cannot agree on anything, really. Except that we only see us, I think.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, I haven't found a pro mosquito person yet in my life.
NICOLE ARTZ: And that's neither of our industries, so… And anything that's [INDISCERNIBLE 00:28:01] mosquitoes. But yeah, I don't think we're just wired to please everyone. And I also believe, like, if you're truly pleasing everybody you're probably pleasing none, because you're not taking enough risk, you're not doing things boldly enough, you know, and your character isn't showing through. And it sounds like you and I both really value being authentic in the work we do. And so, if you're just kind of skating by and trying to make everyone happy the authenticity goes missing, and then, you've lost the whole product, in my opinion.
PATRICK CASALE: I couldn't say it better myself. And I think that authenticity creates relatability, it creates your brand, and you are going to attract and repel based on what you put out there. And like you said, we don't exist in an echo chamber. So, we're not going to be for everybody.
And I think our brains do really focus in on and hyper-focus and on, like the 1% of people who are like, "I hate this, this is terrible." But in reality, you lose sight over, like, how many people your stuff is really supporting and helping. And that is really the most important thing to focus on in all of this.
And I think so many of us have these people-pleasing tendencies of like, I can't show up and be myself because someone is going to get upset about it. And then, once you are allowing yourself to have permission to do so, you see some significant growth happen in not just your business, but in your personal life.
And for me, allowing myself to just have my own voice and say things differently, and I know I have a lot more privilege than most, but it really has helped grow my business, grow my brand, because people are attracted to what I offer for a reason. And it sounds like that is the exact same thing for you. And I do think it really does help with the imposter syndrome piece as well.
NICOLE ARTZ: Yeah, I like the way you said of all of that. I completely agree. And I think why Psychotherapy Memes has continued to thrive in the ways it has is I really tried to just make it as real as possible and not sugarcoat the seals, and not sugarcoat the work we do. And that bothers some people, because I've definitely gotten people commenting or messaging like, "Hey, you're [INDISCERNIBLE 00:30:05] view on therapy." Or, "Hey, like, I don't trust therapists now after reading your stuff."
And I tell you that kind of misses, I don't want to say it misses the mark, but obviously, my intention is not to be [INDISCERNIBLE 00:30:16] terrible shit show. But it's illuminate and like raise voice to what we all are already feeling.
And for clients who view the page, because I know there's a good amount of people who are not there to engage, it's a reminder like your therapist is also just human, and you're not in charge of taking care of their feelings, but this reminders are like we're all just humans down and healing other humans, and therefore, nobody is immune to the human experience.
PATRICK CASALE: It's perfectly said, I could not agree with that more. And, you know, that's a big part of the work that I do is just really helping therapists realize that they are humans. Yes, we have training, yes, we have masters or PhDs. But at the end of the day, we are human beings, and we're allowed to have personalities and be ourselves, and speak up about things that we care about and cursed in our content, and wear shorts to practice. I can't tell you how many times I've been seeing, like, "Do you let your therapist wear shorts to work?" Like, why the fuck do you care about that?
NICOLE ARTZ: My husband [INDISCERNIBLE 00:31:15] silly wearing shorts. He's the director of a few agencies out here and I [INDISCERNIBLE 00:31:22], "You wear shorts to work?" And he's, "Yeah, like, absolutely. Like, why do I care?" But I [INDISCERNIBLE 00:31:27] first thing, like, is that professional? And he looks great, he looks fine. They were not like, you know, booty shorts or something weird. [INDISCERNIBLE 00:31:36] if that's what you like to wear to work.
But, yeah, it's funny, these like random, and like these biases, and the expectations that we all have, like, we all carry them, you know, what we should or should not be doing? Yeah, cursing being another one, you know, people who've asked, "Can I curse in session? Can I…" Or a client even be like, "Can I curse with my therapist?" And it is crazy. Just all these, I guess, just variables that run through our mind all day long. And I think they contribute to these feelings of insecurity, because there's so much gray area in what we do. There's some pretty defined black and whites that so much and it is still quite gray. And it is largely up to us as therapists to kind of define what that is for us and how we are going to tap into that authenticity ourselves to connect with our clients in the work that we do.
PATRICK CASALE: Yeah, that was perfectly said. And, you know, I've even had staff of my group practice ask me in interviews, "Are you okay if I have tattoos? Like, are you okay if I like show them off?" I'm like, "Yeah, I don't fucking care. As long as they're not offensive, like, be yourselves, you know?" And I think we get this, like, whitewashed messaging from grad school and agency work that we have to be a certain way and how we have to be personally and professionally.
And, again, we're human beings going through the same stuff that our clients are going through. And I think it's important to be relatable. I think it's actually doing yourself a disservice if you are not relatable and accessible.
Like, when I started out, I only worked with young men struggling with addiction, because that was my life and my experience, and I would curse in my content. And I was scared to do it at first. But what happened is I realized, like, then all of these younger adult men started calling me. And they were like, "Oh, my God, like, a therapist, who isn't going to judge me for saying fuck."
And I was like, wow, the power of like being just a normal human being. And that has really translated into everything that I do. But I get why we're scared to do it. But I think that time and time again, we just see that it does create accessibility and relatability. And we are in the business of building connection and relationship.
NICOLE ARTZ: Agree and one good thing to notice is I do think the landscape is changing a bit. And I want to attribute that to just like the internet and social media, websites, things like that. Like, if you're super sterile, you come across as really generic at this point, and you're probably not going to get the clients you want. And I've noticed that in a lot of the writing work I've done for clients, stuff I've done on like on social media for clients, like, if you're not letting some of your personality show through, and how you market yourself, how you talk to clients, how you do those console calls, how you do… like, pretty much every step of the process, including the therapy, but let me even say before you get in your office, you're coming across as a story, you're coming across as like this, like, textbook.
And therapy is changing. I think most of us are moving away from, like, wanting this like blank slate therapists, and we're now wanting more of that human connection with our clinicians. Yeah, I know for me, like, I've always loved going to therapy. And if I were at a place right now where I would look for a new therapist, I don't want just some generic, you know, like, Psychology Today profile. I want to know who you are and what you stand for. And you know, like, yeah, and if you have tattoos, like, that doesn't bother me if you're good at what you do.
But I think, I don't know that… and that's changed a lot, like, even in the past decade, because it's different than how it was when I went to school. Like, I had a professor when I went to school who told women we needed to cross our legs during session, that we're going to come across as pretty much too slightly if you didn't. That would never fly in today's, like, training or teaching, you know? And I think the landscape is changing a lot, industry is not just mental health, but it is one change I think it is and it's for the better, that we're allowed and it's more emphasized that we're human nowadays.
PATRICK CASALE: Couldn't say that better myself either. And I think that is really an important point for everyone listening, both therapists, entrepreneurs, people who may be therapy clients. I was doing TikTok videos about Your Psychology Today sucks And This Is Why, and it was fun. But like, God, they're so bad, but they're all the same. And I can give the same feedback over and over again, I could just copy and paste, like, make it about the client, don't make it about you, stop using clinical jargon, nobody talks like that. But in reality, I do think you're right, the era of psychotherapy is changing. And I think it's for the better, because we are embracing identities, and cultures, and marginalized communities. And just the recognition that, like, blank slate robotic head nodding therapist doesn't really attract or appeal to anyone anymore.
Our homepage for our group practice, actually, I wrote, like, authentic human beings, no head nodding, or how does it make you feel statements here. And then, like, therapy is fucking hard. But we're here to support you. And I cannot tell you how many calls we get because of that. And just like-
NICOLE ARTZ: Yeah, you know like [CROSSTALK 00:36:24].
PATRICK CASALE: Oh, no, I just think embracing personality is important.
NICOLE ARTZ: I could not agree more and making lots of websites for clients, like, I'm like, yes, Alicia and Laura. Like, I will interview them, they were here, you got to know them. And I think we're in this era of therapy being very trendy, not in a short-lived way. Hopefully, not, but like, we're just more accepting of mental health awareness and mental health intervention probably than we've ever been, which is great job security for people like you. But also, just good for our society, right? People being like okay talking about going to therapy and these kinds of things. And so, yeah, I think that lends a hand to, again, just more authentic space. Some had noddy, "Okay." because I had-
PATRICK CASALE: Some, some, not 60 minutes of it, not like-
NICOLE ARTZ: Of it, that sometimes you can do, a little head nodding. But yeah, I mean, that's the kind of website that would speak to me too, you know? Like, okay, I have an idea of who you guys are, you're authentic, you're real. That means my problems probably won't scare you too much, right? Because that's what most clients want to feel. They want to feel like, I'm not going to scare you, I'm not going to burden you, I'm not going to war, I'm going to be okay for you. And you can help me, you can see.
PATRICK CASALE: Absolutely, absolutely.
NICOLE ARTZ: Yeah, and I think when I was writing my book, that was one of the driving forces of the title. Like, sometimes therapy is awkward. I mean, not as a title that makes you kind of think like, okay, yeah, it is awkward, now that you [INDISCERNIBLE 00:37:50]. It is a little weird. And so, there's something to be said about just kind of having like a boldness to what you put out there in the world, and just people tend to respond better than I think we think they will.
PATRICK CASALE: That's a great, great ending point for this, because I think that's the takeaway, is like people do respond to boldness, and it's okay to be yourself. And it is scary. And both can be true. That's one of my favorite therapist lines, by the way. Like, I say that way too fucking much. But yes, you can be bold, you can be scared, and both can be true.
And I just want to applaud you for what you're doing. I mean, I think that we just need more and more voices out there that are willing to take risks, and willing to be bold, and willing to just say what's on their mind, because we need to be able to not only destigmatize mental health but normalize the fact that it is cool to go to therapy and therapists also struggle and have these experiences too. And they can all exist together. I do have a real quick question for you though. How many hours a week do you spend making memes?
NICOLE ARTZ: Believe it or not, and I don't know if I've ever admitted this to someone, I don't like do any prep for them like beyond literally that moment. Like, it comes to me and I make it. I don't like preset, I should, that would make my life probably easier. I don't preset them. So, they come to me when I sit down and I'm like okay time to make a meme, like, [INDISCERNIBLE 00:39:13] one and people ask me like, "Well, how do you get inspiration?" I don't know where the inspiration comes, I don't have a great answer.
I think being in the work [INDISCERNIBLE 00:39:22] in the work there's no shortage of inspiration of, like, just bullshit that comes up, and that fears that [INDISCERNIBLE 00:39:28] up. So, I don't know, if I were to tally it all it's probably a couple hours a week, but some more some weeks, some less, so, I don't know. I probably should figure out a system henceforth. [INDISCERNIBLE 00:39:42] systems and optimization. It's like one area where, like, I don't do it, but it's one of the things that it seems to be working, so I haven't had much of a need to audit it just yet.
PATRICK CASALE: I was going to say if it's not broke, don't fix it. And for some of us, like, that's how my writing is the most authentic is when it hits me. And I'm like, yep, got to write about that, yep, got to put that out to the world. So, I think, if it's working, who the hell cares how it's working. So very, very cool. And I'm really happy that you made the time to be here and that we connected and just please tell the audience where they can find more of what you offer, your book, everything you've got going on.
NICOLE ARTZ: Yeah, absolutely. So, I can be found a couple of different places. The best one page to memes is on Instagram @psychotherapymemes. Also, on Twitter and Facebook, [INDISCERNIBLE 00:40:26] but who's using Twitter and Facebook anyway? Instagram is [INDISCERNIBLE 00:40:30]. You can buy my book pretty much anywhere books are sold, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Audible, all those good places. Just Google it, it'll come up.
You can find me at nicoleartz.com. And from there, all my writing, podcasts, and video [INDISCERNIBLE 00:40:52] should be on there. Contact information, if you're interested in collaborating, or hiring out for any project that suits your fancy or just connecting. So, those are the main sites I can be found
PATRICK CASALE: Fantastic, and we will put all of that in the show notes so you have easy access to find out more about Nicole and what she offers. Just want to thank you, again, for coming on. I really love your stuff. And I've been a big fan. So, it's cool to connect like this. And you know, that's a good lesson for people too. Sometimes you just have to put yourself out there. If you want to collaborate, if you want to connect with people just be genuine about it. And sometimes it works out really well.
And for everyone listening to the All Things Private Practice Podcast, there are new episodes coming out every Sunday morning on all major platforms, like, download, subscribe and share. If you want to find more about me, you can go to allthingspractice.com for coaching, retreats that are coming up, one in Ireland, one in Barcelona, and all of our podcast episodes. So, we will see you next week. Doubt yourself, do it anyway. Thanks, Nicole.
NICOLE ARTZ: Thanks, Patrick
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