Couples Therapy with Joslyn Justi
Listen in on Episode 3 featuring Joslyn Justi, LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist), and co-hosts Kira Yakubov, LMFT (Founder and Lead Therapist), and Daniela Galdi (Health & Wellness Professional and HYR Podcast Producer). PART 1 -Getting to know Heal Your Roots Wellness therapist, Joslyn Justi, LMFT. What to expect through the Methods and approaches Joslyn implements to her work.
PART 2 – Decreasing intensity of relationship and addressing relationship scenarios like infidelity, communication, past experiences, trust, emotional growth, accountability, commitment, values, ideologies, etc.
PART 3 – Understanding Mental Disorders, such as ADHD, in Relationships and Family Dynamics
Some episode highlights include…
Building foundations of communications with couples: Self-Awareness and managing Emotions, coping more effectively in relationships, and coping with stressors in relationships.
Joslyn’s Why: “I began an interest in psychology when I was about 16 and watched a documentary about the girl genie who could not learn proper language due to abuse and surpass the critical point of language learning.”
Working together as friends – role playing class, boundaries in communication, foundations for trust, insider look of their time in grad school and clinical practices, and maintaining separation of their own fears and doubts when working with individuals, couples, or families.
An Explanation of Impostor Syndrome.
An Explanation of Family Origin or Family Dynamics in regards to relationships.
ADHD and other Mental Disorders and Health Themes in regards to relationships.
SOURCES REFERENCED IN THIS EPISODE:
ADHD Book Recommendation: ADHD & Us, Couples’ Guide to Loving and Living with ADHD
Getting to know Heal Your Roots Wellness therapist, Joslyn Justi, LMFT. What to expect through the Methods and approaches Joslyn implements to her work. Decreasing intensity of relationship and addressing relationship scenarios like infidelity, communication, past experiences, trust, emotional growth, accountability, commitment, values, ideologies, etc. Understanding Mental Disorders, such as ADHD, in Relationships and Family Dynamics
Expand for Podcast Transcript
Joslyn’s journey into marriage and family therapy
Joslyn Justi 0:02
I really hope that when people hear that, they can just kind of take that sigh of relief and be like, oh, there is a way to get through this there is a way to talk with each other.
Daniela Galdi 0:17
Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us again on episode three of Heal Your Roots Podcast. I’m your co host, Daniela and I’m here sitting with our other co host, Kira, who is the founder of Heal Your Roots Kira, give him a little hello today.
Kira Yakubov 0:33
Hey, how’s everyone doing co host Kira Yakubov. Lead therapist and founder of Heal Your Roots Wellness. For the next few episodes or the few episodes that we’re going to have, we’re going to take a little bit of time to chat and get to know the therapists at Heal Your Roots Wellness. And then future episodes, we’ll be featuring other colleagues in the community and therapists that we know. But for today, I’m super excited to invite Joslyn Justi, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at the practice and also a really great friend of mine. So Joslyn, thank you so much for being here with us today.
Joslyn Justi 1:06
Hi, Kira, thank you so much for having me. I’m super excited to be here.
Daniela Galdi 1:08
That’s awesome. I am happy to be sitting with both of you two friends that I love that get to work together. And I can’t wait to learn more about how that journey started. But first, let’s talk about how it started for you, Joslyn. What’s your why when it comes to working within the mental health industry.
Joslyn Justi 1:30
So I’m very big on full disclosure and authenticity in my session. So I like to share this aspect. When I was younger, I saw a mental health professional around the age of 1516. And she was wonderful. She listened to me, she understood what I was going through. And ever since then I just kind of wanted to give back and do the same for somebody else. And that was the catalyst to I want to get into psychology more and I want to study this. And I really want to kind of help people cope through everyday life stressors.
Kira Yakubov 2:01
So what made you kind of go into this specific Marriage and Family Therapy? Because I know we were in grad school together. So we got to learn and do some role plays and laugh together. But what kind of made you want to go into that?
Joslyn Justi 2:17
Yeah, I think I was I got interested in couples specifically after I graduated college. I really enjoyed my human sexuality class in school. And I thought couples therapy would be very fun, very challenging, entertaining, educational, you know it, you know, it is at the end of the day, you’re never bored with what we do. We’re constantly on the go. And couples therapy is just so interesting, because every relationship is so unique, yet has a lot of similar themes. So I really enjoy talking with couples from walks of life, every walk of life, and helping them strengthen their marriage or relationship and, you know, cope as effectively as possible with stressors.
Daniela Galdi 3:03
Do you notice a common theme within it? Like I know you two are friends. Right? So I want to ask kind of a two part question, which is when it comes down to the relationship part, what elements does friendship play with that? And then after that, I definitely want to hear about how you two became friends and what it’s like to be, you know, have this friendship going, especially from working remotely, and having a friendship that’s remote.
Joslyn Justi 3:35
I think it’s pretty unique. I think here and I have a very unique and special friendship. You know, we bonded in school right away. While I’m under no care, maybe not right away. I think we had a class together. We were kind of acquaintances, see in the hallway, hey, how you doing? And then once we got into our marriage and family therapy course, that’s where her and I really started to bond and see that we had similar personalities, we had similar styles and we had so much fun together. I can remember laughing so hard in our roleplay sessions in school. But I think her and I do a very good job at maintaining a professional relationship and a genuine friendship and I think those boundaries are so important to have in order to kind of maintain the friendship so I think we do a great job as hey, we’re talking as professionals versus her and I talking is just friends and knock on wood so far. It’s been awesome.
Kira Yakubov 4:34
Yeah, I remember those Saturday morning classes for marriage in therapy, specifically once we started getting into like the nitty gritty of learning about couples and how to work with them. And so if anyone’s in grad school or is thinking about it, we do a lot of roleplay where we pretend to either be the client or the therapist and then we have them recorded and then our class watches them and get gives us feedback.
Daniela Galdi 5:01
The importance of a judgement free zone
Kira Yakubov 5:02
Which sounds terrifying. But it was actually so much fun because the teacher laid down such a wonderful foundation for like trust and safety and like just being goofy.
Joslyn Justi 5:14
She was awesome. She really made it a judge free zone, because it was very terrifying going into oh my gosh, I’m being recorded. I have all these classmates watching me, what are they going to say? How am I going to look and I can even remember being the therapist sitting there. And my stomach was in knots. Because I had this one person who was being very, not aggressive, but pretty intense. And I think everyone could tell and I was kind of freaking out on the inside. But then when I got the feedback, you know, people were like, wow, you seemed very calm. Like, you knew what you were doing. I was like, wow. Okay, so it was a great example of, even if I feel a certain type of way, it might not be coming off that way, which is a huge part of our job, right? We we can’t be emotionally reactive, we have to, even if we feel a certain type of way, inside it, anxiety, stress, whatever, we have to maintain that, you know, professional, calm demeanor. So it was extremely helpful. And it was great. Having classmates like Kira, we had another friend who was very close with us. And it just I think helped our not only just build a friendship, but our clinical practice as well.
Kira Yakubov 6:26
And I think it helped us get all the giggles out and like the discomfort and normalize. not being judged, but like being perceived and having and giving feedback. Because you you do feel nervous, like we’re still people, they’re still impostor syndrome. And like, we might see a certain issue over and over and we feel like we’re really good at it. But then something new will come up and you feel like oh my god, I don’t know what I’m doing. And those internal doubts, but being able to, like, maintain, like, the separation, like this is me and my stuff. And this is a separate person coming in with something. And I think that class really helped us get vulnerable about our own biases, and like our own family dynamics and growing up. So I thought that that was awesome as like, grad school is you basically go through like a therapy course of yourself in front of all your other classmates.
Joslyn Justi 7:18
Absolutely. It’s very raw.
Daniela Galdi 7:21
Yeah, I actually someone who’s not a therapist, I’ve actually always wondered that, like, how much of yourselves? Are you going through the training to help other people? But then what’s it doing for you both? Like, what did it do for you both on a personal level,
Joslyn Justi 7:39
I think it really opened my eyes, you know, like Kara, and I come from very different backgrounds. You know, I grew up in a very small town, countryside, you know, we had our milk and eggs delivered to our house. You know, I didn’t even know what a row house was until I moved to Philadelphia. And I think that really opened my eyes to see different perspectives, other than kind of what I was, what I saw what I was taught growing up, you know, it really opened my eyes, it diversified my mindset, my perspective, and really made me grow. And I love being able to meet here and hear her background. And it’s awesome, because it’s so different yet, we just clicked, you know, it was just one of those friendships where you’re like, Yep, I’m gonna be friends with you forever. That’s awesome. And just, it’s great, though, because then if I have a question, I am not hesitant to reach out if I have like a supervision question. Like, as Kara mentioned earlier, you know, sometimes stuff gets brought up for us a lot. And it’s great to have that outlet to be like, hey, is this okay? What I did, I was feeling a certain type of way, I’m not really sure how to respond to this person. So as she was stating the imposter syndrome that kicks in, but having that supervision and having that friendship with her really helps to reset that.
Daniela Galdi 9:00
And for anyone listening can can hear that, Kira can you share what impostor syndrome syndrome is?
Kira Yakubov 9:04
Sure. So it is having this typically an inaccurate belief of your own abilities, or your competencies. So even though you might have actual evidence of you know, I’ve had these achievements, I’ve overcome these things. There’s this doubt and voice in our mind that says, Well, it’s because you got lucky. Well, you don’t really deserve it. Well, they’re gonna find out that you’re pretending. And that’s the terrifying part is that it feels like you’re pretending to put on a show like you know what you’re doing, and you’re constantly scared, someone’s going to find out that it’s not real. Which is like a horrible feeling. Right? Like someone’s watching over your shoulder. You feel like at any moment, like the charade is going to drop, but you’re not actually putting on a charade. It just feels like you are.
Joslyn Justi 9:58
Absolutely. that thought comes across my mind a lot. is, you know, sometimes even with couples, they want this, sometimes they want this instant gratification or the solution to their problems or this fix right away. And in the back of my head, I’ll think, do I know what I’m doing? Am I capable of helping this couple. But just like Kira said, it’s just those anxiety thoughts, because we have physical evidence to back up, why we’re doing what we’re doing. And we put in a ton of work and ton of studying, you know, a lot of research, a lot of supervision to get here.
Kira Yakubov 10:34
Have you found there’s a certain kind of presenting issues within couples that you feel more confident versus like other ones were some of that not even imposter syndrome? But just like, when we come across something new, that we haven’t had as much experience with that comes up?
Joslyn Justi 10:50
Sure, yes, I find myself being receptive and understanding when it comes to communication issues. Or, you know, we my brain runs on this systemic theory, right, kind of like all these connections in our brains, this A means B, B means C, C leads to D, for example. So if couples are arguing, and it’s intense, and they’re triggering each other, I can pick that apart and create this cycle for them and come in and be like, Okay, here’s where we’re going to disrupt that cycle. Right? Let’s focus on that. So that part I feel extremely knowledgeable about and very confident and helping decrease the intensity or frequency of these arguments. When it comes to infidelity. That can be a very tricky approach because every infidelity can look different. You know, there’s, nowadays there’s online infidelity, you know, might not be a physical infidelity, but it’s an emotional one. And that can be a little difficult to navigate sometimes, because a spouse might feel well, you I wasn’t good enough for you. And you were sending your pictures online, why weren’t you sending your pictures to me, for example. And that can get a little muddy, because people will respond? Well, it was just a fantasy, it wasn’t really real. At the end of the day, it was real, right. But in their mind, it could be them just playing out this fantasy which escapism can be a great coping skill. However, there’s a very fine line also. So there’s where those waters can get a little muddy for me at times,
The most difficult part of dealing with infidelity
Kira Yakubov 12:29
for sure. And I actually like I, this is why I think we vibe so well on the same page, and being able to identify, because we’re still people, we’re experts in certain areas, but not all the areas and infidelity is tough for me to work through. And it’s not the actual piece, it’s the rebuilding of the trust, right, like, that’s what takes the longest. And that’s the most painful part, I think, for a lot of this is deciding, versus like deciding if you’re even going to go down that route of rebuilding trust with your partner and what that’s gonna look like. But also there’s like a certain point where it’s like, okay, like, I have to trust them. Now. That’s the whole concept of trust. And for me, knowing my own my own personal stuff, and biases, and like, you know, I’ve had a lot of things happen in my life where I have some trust issues. I don’t know if I would be able to do that. Who knows, right? You never know, unless you’re under the circumstances. But I don’t feel confident helping a couple lead them down a path that I don’t feel confident or sure about. So I think in the same way, that’s something that I don’t necessarily specialize in or advertised, but we as we know, in couples therapy, things will come off, regardless of what they say they’re coming in with.
Joslyn Justi 13:48
Oh, absolutely. You know, they can present with something. But in the first session, there can be 10 other different things that pop up. That trust building, reestablishing that trust is probably one of the most difficult tasks that I’ve come across. Because like you said, you have to decide whether or not you’re going to open yourself up and be in this vulnerable space to trust that person again. And that can be very difficult because I’ve had couples come into sessions, where they’re like, Well, how long is this gonna take? Like, what am I expected to do? I just say, look for any opportunity to start trusting again, let’s say if one spouse had to go away for the weekend, that would be a great opportunity to say, Okay, I’m trusting you saying you’re going here with this person for this objective. And then they come back and then we’ll talk about what did that feel like? What did that feel like trusting them to go away for this weekend? Do you feel they were truthful, and we will spend an entire session on that, but it is, it is very tough, but once people can work through those muddy waters, I’ve seen couples come out even stronger before the infidelity hit even occurred. Sometimes people have to hit rock bottom to start rebuilding and develop a new loving relationship?
Daniela Galdi 15:06
And it’s interesting, you mentioned that perspective of hitting rock bottom in order to really prevail in situations because it’s similar I feel for individuals and then with couples. My question to you both is, how do you distinguish what to tackle first, infidelity to me sounds like the first thing a biggie. But again, you mentioned about not allowing your own bias to come in, in terms of what you feel is the most important. So from a professional standpoint, what is the first way to distinguish how you’ll tackle situations when there’s multiple issues at hand?
Joslyn Justi 15:53
For me, it’s getting it’s first joining with a couple seeing if I’m a good fit for them. The second it is assessing whether or not they are willing to genuinely work on the relationship, because if one person has one foot out the door, it makes treatment more difficult that you know, they’re on shore, and I can’t be that person who’s like, yes, let’s work on this because it has to come from them. You know. So I think that’s kind of the first step making sure each party is willing to take accountability, they have a willingness to change, and they just genuinely want to work on the relationship.
Deciding whether or not to stay in therapy
Kira Yakubov 16:28
Absolutely. And I think that’s where it was, that deciding piece, right? Like therapy is not a passive method of working on yourself there. It’s not passive, right, like you show up because you decided, something is either going on or I want to learn more, or grow in some area. And that’s gonna take time and commitment and practice. But that’s emotional practice, or setting boundaries, or whatever that looks like externally. So I agree like choosing and deciding I’m willing to work through this, I don’t know what the outcome is going to be, I’m hoping that it will be this, but I’m putting in the work now hoping that this will be worthwhile, and it will end up the way it needs to sometimes couples stay together, sometimes they break apart. Because we’re also not here to make sure everyone stays together, right? Like, we want to do what’s best for each person individually. And sometimes that means the relationship will work. And sometimes that means like this is not healthy for one or both of the partners. And that will eventually come through based on, you know, exploring their values, the level of commitment they have in the relationship, or just a misalignment of what they’re capable of giving each other even if they really really love one another.
Joslyn Justi 17:50
And that is a tricky part for me, is when I have couples come into therapy, and they’re like, you know, we’re doing this because we’re trying to figure out whether we should stay together or not. And so I take a step back and ask myself, Okay, so what’s my role in that situation, specifically? Because it’s not my job to say, You know what, I think you guys should really work on this. You’re a great couple, you should stay together. You know what, I don’t think you guys are good together. I think you should both go your separate ways to write it’s not my job. But it does get tricky, like, what questions do I ask, you know, what makes the relationship Great? What are you concerned about? How can I help with the process, because it’s not a quick fix. It is just I tell people, it’s such a process, right? Like, the brain, the body, it’s not like when we get a little cut, we can put some Neosporin on that, and it’ll heal up real quick. The brain just does not operate that way. And it’s a lot more of a dirty, messy pathway to get to this really healthy, relaxing place on the other side, if that makes sense. Yeah, getting back to the couples aspect, though, that is probably something I do find pretty tricky is what is my role in helping these couples decide whether or not they want to stay together?
The first steps to communication with couples
Kira Yakubov 19:12
And I want to touch back to Danielle’s question about it in terms of like the first steps and so obviously, it’s joining, seeing if they’re committed, they’re into it. And then once we get past that part of like, alright, we’re all on the same page. Typically, what I like to do is, start at the basics, like how are you even communicating any of these thoughts and feelings to each other? Because being so raw and vulnerable at that point, if we can’t even have a conversation, we’re not going to be able to build off of that. So taking that time to really build the foundations of that communication with couples. So Joslyn, I’m curious of what does that process look like for you or what’s kind of like your your methods or theories of helping couples with communication?
Joslyn Justi 19:58
Well, first, I tried to kind of assess their communication style? Are they assertive? Are they passive? Are they hostile? So once I kind of established that, then I kind of create that circular pattern, as I mentioned earlier, okay? When you’re a passive what happens when this person is aggressive? You know, is somebody that distance or someone the pursuer? What does that look like? You know, so we have to identify their communication patterns first. So once we do that, I think it’s more, I think it’s helpful that I know that they know that. So they’re more self aware, which which I had mentioned, in past self awareness, to me is that catalyst to change. So it’s helped with communication, if you’re not self aware, your communication style, whether it’s maladaptive or helpful, there’s nothing I can do until you’re self aware of your contribution to that communication cycle. So that’s where I like to start there.
Daniela Galdi 21:00
Do either of you suggest individual sessions?
Joslyn Justi 21:05
Kira Yakubov 21:06
Yeah. So that’s actually part of our intake process is, when we meet with a couple, the first session will be with both of them, we take that time to learn about the relationship history, what’s kind of going on right now a little bit of their background and their life. And then the next two sessions, we see each of them individually once. And for me, I really love to dig into that family background, that upbringing, the relational dynamics, they experience, like throughout their life, different relationships, whether it’s friendships romantic, what was school, like what your career like, because we’re whole beings, we’re not here to like surgically remove one part of you to make your relationship better. It’s how is all of your life experiences informing who you are, how you interact with other people and see the world. And then at that point, once we have a full picture, then like, our brains start turning like, okay, like, now I understand why they might be speaking to their partner this way, they remind them of their dad or mom or whoever in their life, this is a reminder. And so we get this full picture that then moving forward, we see the couples like, okay, like, this is the game plan, this is what I’m seeing.
Joslyn Justi 22:16
I was just gonna say I’ve, I’ve received a lot of great feedback from couples that they really appreciate that individual time that they get, because they feel that they can just kind of say whatever they want, without judgment or apprehension with their spouse being there. And I think it’s just such a great insight into that family of origin that Kira was talking about to get like the full picture.
Daniela Galdi 22:40
And it sounds like everything that is learned through having that joint, the joint sessions also reflects to how individuals can work on themselves, as well. So it goes into ties into their own personal journey with their mental health. And to stay on topic of the relationship aspect. Do you see families together, like, for instance, on a personal note, my mom and I had done therapy together, we did three sessions and and I laugh about it, because it was actually about, we received money for it. It was like a trial. And I feel like I needed it. And I want it to like welcome my mom into this world of having therapy. But for me, it’s easy to confront things. And I am I safely assume for her, it might be a little bit more difficult. It ended up being a really eye opening experience for both of us. And when we made a little money when we just fun. But do you see families as well, in that sense?
The difference between family therapy and couples therapy
Joslyn Justi 23:45
So I don’t do as much family therapy. As I do couples, I think my my interest got more into couples therapy specifically, I did see some families sporadically. And it’s very interesting with families, I think that a therapist needs to be very passionate about that. I think families need to be a therapist need to be very specialized with families because it takes a lot and you really have to have the adequate background to do family therapy successfully because you’d have about 5 6 7 people in a room sometimes to like I’ve done moms and daughters, you know, dads and sons before. However, I think just personally for me, my passion, my area of expertise gravitates more towards couples.
Kira Yakubov 24:32
Yeah, I agree. So we were trained in it, right. We were trained in marriage and family therapy and, you know, in my internships and like starting out I would see families and it’s hard. Like all therapy is hard, but it’s really hard managing and maintaining non bias and also making sure that you’re balancing the level of have communication and respect and consideration for every single person in the room. And they go through different age groups and generations, which means you’re meeting people at different lifespans in one room. And that’s a lot of emotions to manage, because one person might be vulnerable and sharing something really important. And that’s going to trigger Mom and Dad, and they’re going to have their own reaction. And then you’re going to respond to that. And then now someone else might not feel safe, because we have to shift gears into being very attentive to one person at a time or two together. So when you incorporate even more people, it just becomes tougher. So it wasn’t something I was passionate about in terms of in the room, but having that family theory, and knowing those family dynamics from us learning about and even having some experience and being in our own families, I think is super helpful and necessary for couples therapy. And so I know, Joslyn, you love to talk about like family of origin stuff. So I was curious if you had anything for the listeners so that they can understand when we say like family of origin or family dynamics, a lot of what that would mean for you.
Joslyn Justi 26:12
Right? Yeah, I like talking to couples, especially with family of origin. That’s when I start asking them, you know, how did you grow up? Where did you grow up? You know, what, what was your background? Like? What what did you learn about relationships? Or who did you learn relationships from? Was it your mom and dad? Did they get a divorce? Did they stay together? Were you raised by your grandparents were you raised by your aunt, uncle godparents that, it’s just it’s so important to understand that and for spouses to explore that with each other, because someone might be raised extremely conservative, and someone might be raised extremely liberal, for example. And when you put those two ideologies together, sometimes you could find yourself disagreeing a lot, or not having the tools to communicate based on your differences. So I asked, okay, what was it like being raised by your mom and dad? What did how did you learn to express emotions? Or did you learn that you, you know, did your parents make you suppress them? For example, you know, again, depending on like, the generations that we were raised in, and, you know, I guess how old our parents are, what they learned from their parents, it’s, it’s like a generational domino effect, right? We learn all these our parents learned from their parents, their parents, learn from their parents, and so on, and so forth. So I think once people get that understanding, it creates this insight, it creates this openness like this, I’ve seen a lot of the aha moments in couples before it’s like, oh, I never really thought about that, that I didn’t really learn to express my emotions, because dad said, suck it up. You know, it’s just a cliche example. But, you know, it just gives them great insight. So I hope listeners can really take a look into, you know, what did they learn growing up in their families?
Kira Yakubov 27:54
Yeah, I love that. And to add, and to piggyback onto that is thinking about, you know, we developed particular coping skills based on our environment, right. So whatever was going on around us, we adapted and we molded ourselves around that. And so when we leave that environment and our families and whatever the dynamic was there, we carry that we take that into the next relationship, because why would we not like, we have no idea that we’re even doing it until we step out and be like, Oh, other people don’t act like this, like, your parents don’t see things like this for them or treat them this way. And I think going back to what you said is that self awareness is so key to know that like, and to not feel shameful about it, like, Hey, maybe I get defensive and arguments. And I know now why I do that, and where that came from, and why that was necessary. And now I’m recognizing that that’s no longer necessary, and is a detriment to my relationship, my romantic relationship. So now I don’t have to carry it. Like it’s this shameful part of me. It’s a behavior that I had to learn to survive where I was. So I think that’s also part of this family dynamics is like, when people say like, well, that’s just how I am or that’s how I grew up. It’s like, yeah, that is, and you can change it, or you can modify it if you want to own
What happens when one person isn’t self-aware
Daniela Galdi 29:17
That actually, I’m glad you added on that last part that if you want to, because I’m curious to know, what happens when there’s one person in a relationship who has that self awareness is making efforts for those changes, and what happens when the other isn’t? And, you know, for example, I know in my past relationships, that’s definitely been a situation where I’ve recognized I come from an Italian family and this was going to be very stereotypical when I say this, but we’re very loud at times. I feel like I’m very quiet. But with that said, you know, I never realized that we Yes, we would, we would talk things out and I’m err, quoting talk, because really, it was very reactionary, it would be like zero to 100. Right quickly and lose our patience, right. And so for me, considering myself as a very patient person, normally I would find when I would feel attacked, I would drink, go to that reactionary, raise my voice, snap, you know, and lose that control. But it was called to my attention, that I do that and it made the other person shut down. So, you know, my efforts have been there for myself realizing that like, that was something I never noticed for myself until it’s called to my attention. So what happens if there is a relationship where only one it’s kind of one sided? Like, what do you what do you recommend for people? How do you How do they keep going?
Joslyn Justi 30:52
Well, I think it boils down to a person’s willingness to take that accountability, you know, like you mentioned, when you were aware of it, okay, this happened now, what can I do to like here was mentioned earlier, modify it, you know, or maybe cope more effectively, or, you know, think about my emotion before I react, you know, because you’re kind of describing that dis pursuer distance or relationship, right? So the more you would pursue something or react, the further it would drive the other person away, the more they would withdraw. So in theory, once that pursuer stops pursuing and reacting, the distance or should start to come back to the pursuer. If that makes sense.
Daniela Galdi 31:33
It does make sense. And you mentioned going back and our conversation you two brought up when you were in school doing roleplay. With that situation you just explained more on do you use role playing for the couples?
Kira Yakubov 31:49
Joslyn Justi 31:49
sometimes a lot of role reversal. Actually, that’s been super helpful.
what are you hearing your partner say?
Kira Yakubov 31:52
Yeah, or even just modeling, how to rephrase something, a lot of times with couples, right, there will be a theme or something that is typical throughout other couples, right. So what I’ll see is, one person might be a little bit more logical and rational and their expression thoughts and way of going about life. And they’re with someone who is more emotional. And so that’s super common, because we’re attracted to like someone that’s complimentary to us, or whatever we grew up with. And while that has a lot of pros and is helpful in balancing each other, it does have cons because you’re going to run into speaking to each other with the same words, but talking in a different language. And so when I think when we see resistance with couples, when one person might be a little bit more willing to be aware and try things versus the other, it’s sometimes they really don’t understand what the other person is trying to say, or what they mean by the words they’re using. So we literally have to slow down and be like, can you actually explain to me like, this might sound silly, but what do you mean, when you say this word? Like, what is actually coming up for your what’s your interpretation of what you’re hearing them say? And that even within itself as an intervention, right, like will ask, what are you hearing your partner say? And they’ll say something and the partner is like, that is not what I said at all, like, what do you mean?
Joslyn Justi 33:16
all the time,
Kira Yakubov 33:17
all the time, and
Joslyn Justi 33:18
it’s all the time
Kira Yakubov 33:19
Well, that’s what I’m hearing. And that’s what our brain is interpreting based on our own emotions and past stuff. So I think it is if we see the only one person is making progress or doing things differently, it might mean slowing down and like really taking apart certain parts like the basic pieces, and or it might mean that this person’s not ready yet to confront whatever is going on for them. And that could mean having them do their own individual therapy to get a deeper insight into themselves.
Should you pause couples therapy?
Joslyn Justi 33:57
Absolutely, I would, I would recommend pausing couples therapy, sometimes even, you know, if we’re at what we call sometimes an impasse in couples work, you know, I might say, Okay, why don’t we pause for a little bit, let’s do some your own individual work, self reflect. And then let’s follow up in a few weeks to see if this is something you both are ready for, you know, because sometimes couples just aren’t, they’re not in a space where they’re ready, but they might be ready in a month or two, you know, you just you just never know,
Kira Yakubov 34:25
Yea. And so I know we see a lot of couples but I know you also see individuals. is there anything in particular that you like to work with individuals or that you feel like has been whether a strong suit or something you really enjoy specializing in
Joslyn Justi 34:40
you know, it might sound funny but COVID in the pandemic actually did help me find more of a specialty and and what I enjoy working with and I have found I love working with people who are undergoing major life transitions, major life adjustments, anxiety disorders, stress management, And, you know, coming of age also, you know, helping college students because I feel like they were kind of hit the hardest. They didn’t get the normal college experience that we did. And everything went online, they didn’t get the socialization that we did, they didn’t hit some of those major milestones. And they were some of the most stressed out people I have I found during the pandemic. But it did really help, you know, to find what I enjoyed working with and just trying to help people cope as effectively as they can, you know, through fear of the unknown and things that are just so out of their control.
Daniela Galdi 35:35
And Joslyn, do you have any favorite go to tools that you use in those situations?
Joslyn Justi 35:44
Oh, boy,good. Ah, you know, I really appreciate humor, I try to bring a lot of humor into my sessions and a lot of authenticity and say, you know, and to normalize and validate people that comes to mind the most is when because people will think, Oh, am I here that Am I crazy? Am I going insane? I don’t think this is right, and really just trying to normalize what they’re going through and validate and reassure them, it’s okay for you to feel this way. Because of all of these changing circumstances surrounding you right now, it’s only normal for us to respond in a variety of ways, right? As long as you’re not a danger to yourself or others. For the record, you’re not partaking in dangerous behaviors, you’re okay. You know, we can work through this. So I think just reassuring individuals, and just validating anything, and everything they feel, really helps them to feel heard. And when you create that safe space for somebody, even when it’s an hour, a month, an hour a week, it doesn’t matter, they get that full hour to say and do whatever they feel like they need to in order to cope with the rest of the week.
Daniela Galdi 36:59
I can 100% attest to asking my therapist million times am I crazy? Do I have this and that and I just self diagnosed? And she’s like, No, no. And so I can completely attest to that. And I love that that’s something that you’ve been able to find a silver lining of with everything with the pandemic is helping people in those transitions. And so do you find that there is a similar thread, aside from COVID, that has happened for them that has initiated their own therapy?
Joslyn Justi 37:43
Oh, I would say fear of the unknown. Being being out of control with certain issues, it’s always been a major theme. I think it was just exasperated by the pandemic, a lot more. However, I think major life transitions such as having a new baby, you know, incorporating that into the family system and a couple system. You know, starting college, going to school, these developmental or life stages that we go through, certainly have been a major theme theme throughout my career. And I think Kira you can, you know, share with that those major transitions. I think we all see people who go through them.
Couples with ADHD
Kira Yakubov 38:17
Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I mean, this was a transition for us to write like, Yeah, this is the first time where it’s like, oh, I’m going through the same stuff, because this is happening to all of us at once. And the major theme that I found, and I don’t know if it’s just coincidence, or if my interests became more obvious to me, but I found that either it was within couples or one partner, it was these new diagnoses for ADHD. And when I mean new, it doesn’t mean they just develop it just means that it was so exacerbated. And because it became so difficult to cope with that they actually seek out therapy, and were diagnosed for the first time in adulthood for having ADHD. And for me, it was like easy to see from a mile away because I have ADHD and so it’s helpful for me to identify seeing couples whether it’s like the common themes of what they’re arguing about or individually when they’re coming in with such difficulty in these areas that they said they’ve always struggled with, but right now it’s gotten so much worse. So that’s a big theme I’ve seen throughout all this and because now that you’re home with each other all the time, right like
Joslyn Justi 39:31
something I hear all the time I see my spouse every day oh my god. Yeah, actually, I was wondering if I could recommend books to our listeners for ADHD because with piggybacking off what Kara said, ADHD and couples was one of the major things that I have seen so much over the past two years. It’s it’s been wild, to be honest with you. And like you mentioned, right a lot of adults went undiagnosed because of the generations, they grew up in, in my opinion, but there’s this great book called ADHD and us. It’s a couple’s guide to loving and living with adult ADHD. And it’s by Anita Robertson. And you can find it on Amazon, you know, Google, but it’s a really great book for couples, because it really helps the other person who doesn’t have ADHD, learn how to talk with their partner or engage with their partner who does have the ADHD.
Daniela Galdi 40:27
We’ll make sure to add that information too in the show notes. Now, would you recommend both reading it? one person?
Joslyn Justi 40:36
Kira Yakubov 40:38
Joslyn Justi 40:38
Yep, I’ve given homework assignments. I’m like, Okay, I want both you to read chapter two together and talk about it, you know, or I might have, okay, this person you read chapter three, and the other read chapter five, for example. But yeah, it’s a, I like them both doing it. Because when both people have all the information they possibly can, they can help positively reinforce the behaviors that we’re looking for, or the communication styles that we’re looking for. So yes, I definitely think both people should read the book.
Kira Yakubov 41:08
Yeah, I love that. I love that you have that workbook, too, because it’s so important for both people to know. And I think this is important for people who are considering couples therapy is that you’re not coming in, because one of you has a problem, or one of you is the issue, right? Like whatever is happening within the relationship outside of it being abusive, is that this is created in a cycle between two people, it is continuing and is maintained by both people contributing. And so I think that accountability piece you were talking about earlier, so important. And with ADHD, specifically, within couples, there are other issues or other mental health things that might come up because of it, or in tangent with it, for example, anxiety, or depression or eating disorders, substance abuse, because if we haven’t been diagnosed, or even if you have as a child, there’s this level of feeling like you don’t fit in, or there’s something wrong with you, or, you know, you have a lot of potential, but you’re lazy, or you procrastinate. It’s like these messages we receive over and over again, even if they’re not meant to hurt our feelings, and it’s a playful way they build and build. Like, I remember my dad used to say, if my head wasn’t screwed onto my body, I will lose it. And he said it as a joke, but it was for real, like I probably would lose it. And so what do you think has been helpful? Or what do you think some of the common arguments or issues within couples who come in with that, that you’ve seen,
Joslyn Justi 42:43
I think like you said one partner might feel the other is lazy, they don’t contribute. Or they will say one thing but forget to do it, they’ll, you know, have do a chore and then forget about it, right? They’ll start washing a dish, put it down and go do something else because they get distracted right away. And then the spouse gets upset and yells at them. And then the other partner feels that shame. And then it negatively reinforces Well, if I’m a piece of crap, I can’t do anything, right. So why bother? Right? I hear that a lot. So what I say is like, be mindful of how you’re talking to your spouse, or your partner, whomever you know, even your child, right. Because if you create that shame for them, that hit that hurts their confidence that hurts their self esteem. So I recommend being mindful. And you know, taking a pause for a minute and saying, Hey, I noticed you got a little distracted today, would you mind maybe finishing that, or I suggest using timers a lot and like a nice noise so that you’re kind of combining that condition, that classical conditioning a little bit, and that positive reinforcement. And that can go a long way. If you’re your spouse is your cheerleader, at the end of the day. That’s what I like to say, you know, so cheer them on.
Kira Yakubov 43:57
Yeah, I love that.
Daniela Galdi 43:58
I love that too. We want to remember that for each other.
Kira Yakubov 44:03
One more. So I thought of this while I was doing my own supervision because we always need mentorship. And we were talking about a couple that I have one partner who has ADHD. And you know I can relate to this to the being adhd with the inattentive type, is that information will just literally leave your brain. Like if it’s not front and center or you don’t have a reminder, it’ll just leave and it’s not because you don’t care. I want to I want to highlight that if you forget or you weren’t able to follow through majority of the time it’s not because you don’t care about the other person is because your working memory your ability to hold information for a long time is not as developed or it’s not working as properly as, I don’t know, a neurotypical brain one. And so my mentor helped me with this couple it was a great example of what they can do is if you are requesting something from your partner, instead of just saying, or yelling it through the room, it’s literally looking at them facing them making eye contact, touching their hand and asking for it. Because we will remember by feeling and the emotion of things, like I know it’s something annoys my partner, that really bothers him, I have to have it as a huge alert in my brain like do not do because this feels horrible. And that remember through the feeling of it, and the experience in my body versus like, Oh, crap, it’s on my to do list to do. So I think that’s a good thing for couples, or even just anyone who may or may not have ADHD, who has it in their life is to know that there’s other ways to communicate it as well.
Boundaries in the workplace and boundaries in relationships
Joslyn Justi 45:41
Oh, my gosh, we need to make a huge poster board or billboard of that, because I have couples all the time. Like, my spouse doesn’t listen to me, they just don’t care. It’s a huge theme I hear a lot. And I’m so happy that you brought that up. Because I really hope that when people hear that, they can just kind of take that sigh of relief and be like, oh, there is a way to get through this, there is a way to talk with each other. So everyone who’s listening, please, please, please take Kira’s advice on that. Because honestly, that is going to go such a long way for everybody, especially with couples with the inattentive type.
Daniela Galdi 46:23
Both things that you both said, on that was so perfect, and so ideal because it answered both questions that were in my mind, one was explaining what it is and two was actionable steps to help people who are listening to get themselves to a place where they can communicate with one another. With that said, I’m curious to know, does it help to find when that person takes us up when they put the hand on the person when they look them in the eye when they’re making that note? You know, this is what that feeling feels like? Does that build the support within and safety within the relationship?
Joslyn Justi 47:04
I think so like Kira said, Right? When you feel when you have that touch, and it’s associated with something gentle, you know, it stimulates the brain and it can it releases those good chemicals that we want, right? The endorphins, the dopamine, the serotonin. And, you know, I suggest a couple sometimes when you’re maybe talking about something a little confrontational, I like to put my hand on my chest to indicate Hey, I’m coming from a really good genuine place right now. But I need you to hear this. It’s not because I’m being mean, it’s not because I’m being, you know, rude or ignorant. I just want you to know, this is how I feel. And I in people have been so receptive to that, because again, I think those hand gestures and body language can just say so much, and indicate that we’re coming from a gentle place as opposed to a hostile or confrontational
Kira Yakubov 47:51
Daniela Galdi 47:52
So switching gears a little bit, because we are coming towards the end of our chat, which are our listeners, don’t you worry, because Joslyn will be back for many other episodes, because
Joslyn Justi 48:05
I can’t believe it’s been an hour already. Oh, my gosh.
Daniela Galdi 48:10
And one of the important things that I know you shared with us were boundaries, but boundaries in the workplace. And so since that is along the lines of relationships, and you know, two or more people having to deal with different types of anxieties and their own different illnesses and things like that, or difficulties. How do you apply what you work with, with couples, when it’s a workplace situation?
Joslyn Justi 48:38
Well, I think it takes a lot of practice and a lot of years of experience to say, Okay, where’s my place that and then what happens when I’m done with work? You know, so I, like I have practiced over the years to try to just mentally shut down or decompress after, like, my sessions, because it can be really tough to not let some of those couple sessions follow you or like, make comparisons to my own relationship. You know, if a couple brings something up, like, oh, maybe that’s what’s going on, you know, with me and my partner, but it’s not, you know, it’s just it’s not, it’s just one of those things that happens, but honestly, I can’t stress enough, the importance of that decompression time after work, and a strict boundary for myself. Like, once I’m done with work, I am done with work, I’m not going to answer emails and lock in answer texts. I’m not going to do any of that. And that took a really long time for me to come to a comfortable space like that to be kind of strict with myself and setting that boundary. So I hope that answers that question.
Daniela Galdi 49:40
It absolutely does. And it resonates with me. I remember talking to care about something similar and she said something I’m paraphrasing she said it much more profoundly, but basically along the lines of like, expressing that boundary doesn’t make you a bad person. Right. So So I do that as well where I stop right And that’s going to help me to work with my clients. Right? For the next day even, you know, making that boundary where I have to shut things down. And I have to stick by that. And at times, I had to explain that to the person if they’re not necessarily getting it. And I remember Kira, you know, helping me in that situation where she did mention, that doesn’t make you a bad person.
The importance of setting boundaries
Joslyn Justi 50:24
Absolutely. That’s I agree with that wholeheartedly. It’s okay to say, No, it’s okay to draw that line. Because I think society has told us a lot that, you know, we can’t say no, we got to work, we got to work. And it’s not the case anymore. You know, we have to be able to decompress, we need to have fun and take care of ourselves and just shut that working brain off. There’s just so much more to life than work, you know, as we all have pets, and it’s summertime. So everyone, I’m hope everyone’s out having a great time. And I know I like to decompress and have a good time after work. So I just can’t stress that self care enough.
Kira Yakubov 51:00
Absolutely. And I think that people learn how to treat us and what to expect from us by what we tolerate. Tolerate and so it’s actually a gesture of love and care by setting a boundary because people will know like, this is what this person needs in order to fully show up or be present or be able to answer my question or whatever it is based on what they need. And so I know you mentioned like the decompressing and back into our personal life because we are still humans we’re not robots. And so I was curious if you wanted to share anything about yourself outside of the therapy world that you enjoy doing or that you really care about. Yeah,
Joslyn Justi 51:46
I will come to mind for me is I love to garden so after I’m done with work, like I will literally just talk to my plants outside. I know it sounds silly, but like I have the best tomato plants going right now. And like all kinds of just like herbs and peppers. But I also love just being outside this past weekend I went to Harrisburg and my my dad kind of that was his first job out of college. So he met all these people in Harrisburg. They’re like my second family. And we went on a canoe trip all day Saturday, you know, I was with my brother and a canoe on the river, saw bald eagles saw great blue harrons and it was just gorgeous. And it’s just such a nice reset. For me personally, nature is my reset button. And I could go for a walk in the woods, I could just look at my flowers and I’m like, Alright, I’m cool. I’m present and mindful. Nothing else is coming to my mind. So I really do like to do a lot of stuff outside. And you know when I’ve come to Philly, you know, I would hang out with Kira, I would hang out with a bunch of other friends and it’s nice to like go out to old pubs or bars that I used to like in Philly. Or just like hang out, you know, sit on the back porch bullshit. hang out and have a nice time. Lots of laughs laughing is just I love it laughing so hard where your stomach hurts.
Kira Yakubov 53:06
And I think that’s why we really vibe and always did is we really enjoyed that nature aspect. And I remember we went camping together.
Daniela Galdi 53:13
I have to hear about this. Oh my god.
Kira Yakubov 53:16
Yeah, there’s nature. Nevermind, I won’t share that story.
Daniela Galdi 53:23
Alright we can keep that private.
Joslyn Justi 53:23
I know what she’s talking about.
Daniela Galdi 53:27
Alright, we’ll just leave that at it’s a time when you go camping with these two.
Joslyn Justi 53:32
Always good times.
Daniela Galdi 53:34
Well, this has been an awesome time. And so Jocelyn, just share with everybody how they can keep in touch with you.
Joslyn Justi 53:41
Sure, so I am my email address is Joslyn – [email protected]. You can also find me on Psychology Today. And Kira is awesome at getting people set up and she’s very, very fast and is just such so good at getting people matched up, you know, and she knows my style, and she’ll match me up with someone and it’s great. You know, she has been so helpful through this process. So, yes, if anyone needs to PsychToday and Heal Your Roots Wellness website, you can find me and my bio on there.
Kira Yakubov 54:21
Awesome. Thanks, Joslyn. You are a phenomenal person and therapist and human being thank you so much for being on today. And I’m really looking forward to some more episodes with you we can dive into some other things.
Joslyn Justi 54:34
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely, Kira. Thank you. It was a privilege to be here today. I really appreciate it and I can’t wait to have more conversations
Kira Yakubov 54:42
I’m making a little heart on the other end