Our member spotlight this month is on Alex Barnette, LMFT-A, Supervised by Blake Howard Norton, LMFT-S. Learn more about Alex below:
What are your favorite books of all-time?
The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner is kind of my go-to when I’m feeling confused about a client or when I need to get more systemic in my view. There are a few pages I can flip to and instantly feel more clearheaded.
When I need inspiration or confidence I revisit anything by Brene Brown, usually I Thought It was Just Me (But it Isn’t) Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I am Enough”. As a therapist I am so much more comfortable being human and connected to my clients thanks to her work.
My favorite non-therapy book that is actually kind of a therapy book is Furiously Happy byJenny Lawson. Some of her tangents are a bit much, but my husband has caught me belly laughing to this book multiple times.
By the way I think all of these authors endorse each other’s work.
What is your niche? What types of clients do you like to see?
My passion is working with couples that feel stuck or are struggling to connect—primarily couples transitioning into marriage or considering divorce. I also really enjoy working with individuals looking to empower themselves in relationships or create resilience to feelings of shame and loneliness.
What has been a private practice success for you so far?
Canva and Unsplash are amazing. I could easily spend far too much time on these apps.
What is a private practice goal you hope to achieve in 1 year? 5 years?
I'm committed to continuing to strengthen my “therapist tribe”. We’ve got a great group started at Austin STRONG: Relationship Building Center, and I’m looking forward to developing our presence and connections in the community.
What’s something you commonly say to your clients?
Hmm two of my favorite questions are “When you observe ___ what’s the story you tell yourself about it?” and “How do you notice yourself responding to that emotion?”.
I tend to do a lot of clarifying boundaries with clients so maybe “You are not responsible for _____’s feelings or reaction”.
How would your clients describe you in 3 words? What about your closest friends?
I think clients would describe me as warm, logical, and a little goofy. My closest friends would probably describe me as hard-working, quirky, and genuine. I used to hear cute, sweet, and high strung a lot more often.
What’s a song lyric or quote that you find meaningful?
The first ones that come to mind are “Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen” from Brene Brown and “Substantive change does not occur in one hit-and-run conversation" from Harriet Lerner. Actually, this about sums up what I ask of clients—a willingness to show up and understand that change is a process.
What’s something you feel passionate about?
The importance of connection. In my personal life that means connecting with my close friends and family through quality time, connecting with myself through self-care (running, reading, being mindful and mindless), and connecting to the God/spiritual world through meditation and prayer. When I neglect any one of these areas, I always feel the difference.
Who’s in your fur tribe? Are you a crazy cat lady or one of “those” dog moms? Or are you more of a reptile or rabbit person?
I have two rabbits that I’m pretty obsessed with, Dutchess and Dexter. They’re litter trained and roam freely. They’re the most innocent creatures and they’re silent observers like me (a lot of the time). Most people don’t get it so it’s ok if you don’t either ;-)
Alex's contact information:
Mastermind Groups are everywhere you look.
There's a good reason for it, too.
A mastermind group takes the energy, knowledge and support from a group of people working towards a common goal and harnesses it to help members take action. When a mastermind group has a leader, that person is tasked with keeping the group focused, providing them clarity, and facilitating conversations and relationships.
The power of the group is in the people.
With correctly chosen members, and the right leader, the group is a powerhouse.
For therapists, a mastermind group can be an amazing way to find out more about how to run a business, learn a therapy technique, or work on a project. Sociologists know the power of a well-functioning group. This is an amazing way to get tasks done.
What differentiates one mastermind group from another are several things:
- the qualities of the leader of the group
- the experience of the members
- the personalities and values of the members
- the goals of the group
Finding a group to fit you means making sure you jive with these aspects.
When I lead mastermind groups I am very clear on the values and characteristics of my group. I lead groups that are:
- depth oriented
- business focused
My groups start and end with self-care practices to provide a solid foundation for the work we do in between. These activities are life-long practices that benefit the members' businesses time after time.
What kind of mastermind group are you looking for?
This is one of my favorite posts... a throwback from 11/2/2016 on how to manage your energy for your peak performance. This is one of the principles that helps me the most when planning my week, month and schedule.
Hope you love it as much as I do!
I recently told our mailing list this amazing secret: Your energy is finite.
I know, I didn't believe it either. A teacher of mine, the amazing Renee Trudeau, broke this news to me a few weeks ago. It was hard to take in. She has this idea that I might not be able to do it all...
Lover of self-care and boundaries that I am, I did have a sense this might be true. I have done things to protect my time and my family life: change my work schedule, charge more and take fewer clients, change the clientele I take so that I am working more daytime hours... but this discussion brought up a whole new way of thinking about my energy.
Imagine your energy is an object. Something you can hold, trade, earn, give, and store. Every thing you do, all day and night, either takes energy from your store or gives you energy.
Common things can give you energy: sleep, healthy food, receiving love from certain people. Likewise, common things can take energy: being sick, being injured, being around certain other people...
Our job doesn't fall simply into one category or the other. We can't just say "My job gives me energy" or "My job takes energy" because it is composed of so many parts. Instead, aspects of our job take energy, and aspects of our job give energy.
To make it more confusing, sometimes things we enjoy and value take energy.
And, all of this is dynamic! So what gives you energy today might be an energy taker in another season of life! Geesh.
So, here's the cruz of it... Without being mindful of what we choose to do, we can easily end up spending all of our energy on things that we don't really want to prioritize and end up depleted by noon!
To solve this conundrum, I created this handy dandy grid. Think of the aspects of your job as falling into one of the boxes on the grid below: Things That Make Money but Take Energy, Things That Make Money that Give Energy, Things That Make Money and Take Energy, Things That Make Money and Give Energy.
This was when my mind was blown.
As I started filling out this chart, I started realizing some of the things that make me the most money are also currently the most draining.
This was a new revelation for me. See, usually psychological testing brings me joy, and I really find it energy giving. This year though, a lot has happened in my personal life that has been very draining. I have two sick family members I have been caring for in addition to my "normal life" tasks. Testing hasn't felt as good as it had before, and I hadn't really noticed that and given it my full attention.
I was in autopilot: I was doing what worked before.
But there it was! Right in the "Take Energy and Make Money" column. It wasn't working anymore. Now, the real question was, "Is the money worth it?" and "Can I 'earn' the energy elsewhere else to spend on testing if the money is worth it,"
After a lot of thought, and a lot of soul searching, I decided to take a hiatus from testing until after the holidays when I anticipated that some family things would shift that would allow me to have more resources available.
I also realized that I needed to hire someone to cover my phones. I'd always been VERY reluctant to do that. I had prided myself on the personal touch of getting to talk to me. People even told me how grateful they were that they could talk to me directly.
After really digging in, I realized that this value that I held -- the personal touch -- was getting eaten alive by the time I was spending on the task. I was growing resentful. Other things that I valued much more like family time and supporting my staff were getting short-shift. I had to make some changes. So, I hired someone to cover my phones. Now I have two extra hours a week -- I kid you not!! -- to spend on whatever I desire!
Clearly there are other factors at play besides energy and money -- I've alluded to another earlier when I spoke of my personal values. That said, we tend as a culture to prioritize what we do based on money. We connect everything from success to happiness to worth to money. I felt because of this it was the most important aspect to consider when contrasting against Energy. But, you might play around with your own grid to personalize it in a way that appeals to you.
However you approach it, just make sure you carve out the time to notice what happens throughout your day. Too many of us get home to the people that matter the most -- our family -- with our energy depleted.
Sending love and energy your way. :)