HOW DO I CHOOSE A THERAPIST? Credentials vs Chemistry

You know you need support but have no idea how to find it or how to choose the right therapist for you?

There’s a lot of options out there, so it’s understandable why most people don’t know who to go to and how to decide. 

Do credentials matter?  And what do all those letters mean?

Different credentials involve different types of training, varying across many dimensions including, but not limited to: 
– length of training
– types of client populations to work with
– amount and type of research that must be conducted
– strategies learned to help clients.

Even more confusing is that a lot of this is very dependent on school and country a therapists or Psychologist has been trained. 

Clinical Psychologist is protected title in the US and many western countries.  This means that a certain level of training is required- and almost universally training to be a Clinical Psychologist is the longest, includes the most hours of clinical experience in different settings and integrates research. In addition, Psychologists have to complete additional training, typically 1-2 years of clinical work AFTER completing their PhD to get licensed. 

 So for me as a PhD level Clinical Psychologist, all in I went to school for 7 years after undergrad and completed a 2 years postdoctoral fellowship to specialize further.

Chemistry IS Important! 

Now some research has shown that outcomes in therapy aren’t correlated or predicted by the level of training a therapist has, but that it’s the strength of the therapeutic relationship that’s most important.  This means, it’s all about the chemistry and rapport you have with your therapist that predicts how beneficial therapy can be for you.

So while I am highly trained PhD Clinical Psychologist, I want you to find the right fit FOR YOU.  This is why I’m giving you lots of info and resources about me and how I work, so that YOU feel confident about choosing me as your therapist.  Feel free to sign up to receive more info from my library of resources or give me a call for a FREE consultation, so we can talk about how we can work together.  Cheers!


Have you just been diagnosed with cancer?
Are you feeling overwhelmed, confused,
lost and scared?



Most individuals newly diagnosed with cancer feel this way, so it’s important for you to know that how you might be feeling   is common. 

For most individuals, cancer may be their first major life stressor and with no prior experience handling a serious threat, it’s understandable why many feel overwhelmed and end up feeling distressed. 

Having difficulty falling asleep because of worry, feeling more irritable, isolating or withdrawing from others, having a hard time getting things done at work and at home  – are all signs that you may be having difficulty adjusting to your cancer diagnosis.

 For most cancer patients this distress tends to decrease as treatment progresses over time, but for about 25% of cancer patients this distress continues and can get worse over time.  Therefore, it’s important to know the warning signs and get support early on in treatment to figure out how to cope effectively and avoid long-lasting negative effects on your mood and quality of life.

3  tips on managing these overwhelmed feelings when first diagnosed with cancer:   

1. Acknowledge that this is a scary, uncertain process and expect that this year may be more challenging.  Cancer treatment is long, even amongst patients diagnosed at early stages.  Having tests done, waiting for results, undergoing surgery, chemotherapy or radiation – all take time to complete and recover from.  Therefore, no matter what stage patients are diagnosed, I encourage them to prepare their expectations for the upcoming year, to appreciate the length of the interruption cancer causes while allowing space for some ups and downs

2. Create time and space in your schedule to allow you to process whatever feelings you may have on your own.   It’s natural to feel like you’re on an emotional rollercoaster once your diagnosed with cancer, and if this is a new ride for you, schedule time for you to express yourself and feel however you may feel, without any judgement.  Anger, sadness, fear are all common and natural feelings after being diagnosed.  It’s important give yourself time to feel these feelings on your own without worrying about how other’s may react.  So ,try sitting in a park for half an hour or waiting just an extra 10 minutes in the car listening to your favorite songs before you go into your home after work – whatever you need to MAKE TIME for your feelings about your cancer.

3. Identify your support team.  Going through cancer treatment is tough and a healthy support system is critical for getting through treatment.  Identify who in your network you can go to for what types of support.  For example, who do you want to listen to you –  to just listen and not give advice?  Who can join you for appointments and help you ask questions?  Who can help you with household chores when you’re feeling a bit tired?  It’s important to identify who can help you with what, so that you get the support you need and your team can help you in the best way they can. 

These are just a few tips for how to cope once diagnosed.  There are numerous strategies that have been researched to help patients manage distress and make treatment decisions.  Take your time in learning these and if you need more individualized support, all you have to do is ask. 

Catalina Lawsin, PhD

Being diagnosed with cancer is life-changing and can be overwhelming.

You can choose HOW you want to get through your treatment and LIVE FULLY after cancer

Sex and Cancer | The Unspoken Side Effect

Sex and cancer

We rarely hear these two words together, and that’s a problem because up to 70% of breast cancer patients and almost all gynecological cancer patients experience physical and emotional changes that impact their ability and desire to engage in sexual activity.

Side effects from treatment including pain, fatigue and emotional distress all impact sexual wellbeing.  Over time, the complex interplay between physical and emotional concerns can leave long-lasting changes to cancer survivor’s sexual wellbeing.

Common sexual changes amongst woman affected by cancer include:

– vaginal dryness, tightness and shrinkage
– decreased libido
– pain during or after sex
– changes to orgasm

If you have experienced any of these sexual changes,

Unfortunately, many cancer patients are not informed of these sexual side effects of cancer treatment, therefore many don’t expect these changes and don’t know how to manage them.  Fortunately, WITH SUPPORT up to 70 percent of cancer survivors CAN improve their sexual wellbeing.

There are several medical and psychological strategies that can help manage these side effects to improve your sexual wellbeing.

I’m going to share a few effective strategies to address sexual changes, specifically to manage vaginal dryness as it’s one of the most common sexual side effects after cancer.

Here are 3 effective strategies to manage vaginal changes after cancer:

Vaginal Dilators
Vaginal dilators can help stretch, lengthen and strengthen the vagina while also helping women gradually reconnect with their bodies

Vaginal moisturizers
Vaginal moisturizers can help stabilize PH levels to reduce dryness and pain.  These are very effective and need to be used daily for long-term results

Lubricants can help in the moment during sexual activity to improve moisture and reduce pain.  Venture out to a local sex shop to test a few different ones in the store to see which you like best.

There are several strategies out there to manage vaginal dryness.  I always recommend patients to try one at a time to see what works best for them.  Keep in mind that many of these strategies must be practiced and maintained for long-term benefit.  This can be hard, so if you feel a bit tired of trying these strategies, keep in mind that while it may be annoying at first, taking a few minutes each day can have a lasting impact on your sexual wellbeing.

If you would like additional support to manage sexual changes after cancer, schedule an appointment with me to take the first step!

Cancer takes away a lot, it doesn’t have to take away your sexual wellbeing.