Featured Therapist for July, Courtney Ragin
Every month, Council for Relationships features one of our staff therapists. This month’s Featured Therapist is Courtney Ragin, MFT. Learn more about her in the below interview!
What do you consider to be the goal of therapy? How do you help your clients achieve their goals?
I believe that the goal of therapy is to help clients heal and grow so that they feel empowered in their lives and connected with others around them. I help clients achieve their goals by supporting them in exploring how the past impacts who they are today, the decisions that they make, and the level of health in relationships that they have currently. Once a client understands themself and how their relationships with others or society impacts them, I support them in understanding and responding to the current reality in ways that help them move closer towards feeling connected and confident. Everyone deserves to experience joy, ease, and connection. Past hurt, trauma, or repeated experiences of oppression can cause people to believe that they are unworthy of the joy that they desire or that change is not possible. I help clients get out of the cycle of negative thinking and disconnected relationships by helping them practice their desired change in session and outside of session so that, over time, they can see positive change and how far they’ve come because of their persistent efforts. I remind clients that they are not alone, change takes work and time, and they are deserving of the life that they want.
Describe a specific tool or exercise that you share with your clients.
A tool that I frequently use with my clients is a Feelings Wheel. I believe this tool is so important because it gives clients an opportunity to slow down and identify the emotion that they are experiencing in the moment. Naming an emotion is powerful because it allows the client to receive both internal and external validation that what they’re feeling makes sense. It also gives the client an opportunity to explore their relationship with emotions and increase insight into how their thoughts and feelings impact their behavior. This tool has been effective in family therapy to help clients communicate their experience and emotion in a way that is non-judgmental so that the family can collaborate towards a solution to the problem at hand instead of remaining in conflict over who is right. The feelings wheel provides a chance for clients to tune into what they’re feeling and how that emotion shows up in their body through physical sensations so that they can move from reacting out of emotion to responding to their emotions in effective ways.
Why did you decide to become a therapist?
I decided to become a therapist because I wanted to help people find hope amid life challenges. When I considered pursuing a degree in therapy, I knew instantly that I wanted to be a family therapist. I have always been fascinated by family dynamics and the connection between how modeled behavior in a person’s childhood impacts the way that person shows up in relationships with others. I want to help individuals see their strength and feel accepted and valued in their relationships. I also want to help families heal hurt that they have experienced and have positive interactions because family is the first place where people learn how to interact in relationship with others.
What advice would you give someone who may be struggling with the decision to start therapy, but may not feel ready?
You don’t have to be ready; you just need to be willing to try. Do it even if you must do it while afraid. Sometimes the most impactful growth is on the other side of fear. If you are considering therapy, take the first step and make the phone call to get connected to services. The more you practice taking the next step in front of you, the more confident you will feel in your ability to do hard things. You’ll be so thankful that you did!
Courtney Ragin, MFT is a Staff Therapist at our Center City and University City Offices; she currently sees clients via online therapy. To set-up an appointment, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-382-6680 ext. 7004.