MMN 041: Women in Transition – II – with Tamara Suttle

On this episode of the Make a Mental Note podcast, Tamara Suttle, a licensed professional counselor, discusses the issues with which women in transition contend and how they can successfully deal with those transitions. Give it a listen and find out why this episode is worthy of a mental note!

Tamara Suttle interview (click on Tamara’s name to listen to interview)

Mental Notes:

* Adlerian therapy concepts – people can look at the rules and lessons they were intentionally (or not intentionally) taught as children and how they serve them well now or perhaps get in the way of achieving whatever it is they want to be doing. The rules with which people took with them into adulthood may no longer fit them so well.

* Women deal with many type of issues and the rules they learned when they were younger impacts how they function as adults (e.g., “We help people who are less fortunate than us” may make it difficult for a women psychologist to be assertive about asking clients for payment.).

* Countetransference – when counselors respond in ways that they responded to significant others from their pasts (e.g., family-of-origin, etc.) – usually triggered by a particular verbal or non-verbal response on the part of the client. It’s important for counselors to be aware of these tendencies/reactions on their parts.

* It is important for women who are considering transitions to explore the reasons for transitions. In addition, exploring options and how different paths may intersect could also be part of the process.

* There are many “right ways” that women can go when considering transitions.

* Women can feel overwhelmed and scared by the number of options when contemplating transitions.

* In some cases, change is thrust upon women and so there’s no choice in making transitions.

* Themes of transitions – even though some transitions may be positive, the common thread is endings – sometimes by choice and sometimes it’s thrust upon people.

* Helping clients frame transitions: “As the mud starts to settle and the clarity starts to come you end up with a new beginning.”

* Too many therapists think that clients who are unwilling to buy in or make the next step to change make them resistant clients. It is Tamara’s belief that there is no such thing as resistant clients. She contends that when clients are not buying in to what a therapist is selling (e.g., taking that next step in change; taking ownership of a problem) it’s because the therapist is not selling the right thing at the right time at the right pace. In these cases, therapists need to consider whether they are truly hearing what their clients are saying and going at their pace and truly understand what their clients need and want. Helping clients take small steps will make it easier for women to make changes.

* Transitions among men vs. women – the life themes that bring about transitions may be different. For men, transitions may be work-related or spouse imposed. Men are often more comfortable expressing anger and less comfortable expressing fear. Women are more comfortable expressing sadness or fear and less comfortable expressing anger. This may be related to what parents teach their children about what is appropriate and inappropriate for their children to express, which may be gender-based.

* Important part of therapy/learning about dealing with transitions: Helping women identify rules and patterns that used to work and kept them sane and safe as a kid, but how they’re keeping them stuck/working against them currently and how they might want to change them (which may include William Bridge’s work) and give them space to make choices. No longer hang on to childhood rules, but instead and make more conscious/intentional choices as an adult.

* Using genograms and analyzing life stories helps counselors identify rules that clients developed early on in life pertaining to various issues (e.g., relationships, finances). Discussing family stories and experiences helps rules and beliefs rise to the surface and serve as a source of discussion in the counseling process. Things that may have made sense for clients as children do not necessarily fit for them as adults, which can pose challenges when it comes to making transitions.

* Challenges – women giving themselves permission to take time to look at their “stuff” – their stories and experiences and how this impacts decisions regarding transitions.

* Oftentimes, change takes times and making transitions is a process.

* Women who seek quick solutions to problems and do not take the time to truly resolve their issues will likely encounter those issues/problems somewhere down the road.

* In some cases, women are not ready to change and so counselors “plant seeds” that – when they start growing – make them more amenable to change at a later time.

* Women and professional caregivers are not always good about reaching out and getting the care they need for themselves. There’s a tendency to put aside their own needs to care for the needs of others, which means that they might not deal with their own “stuff.” It is important to reach out for support and not ignore what is needed and learn how to take care of oneself to experience joy and satisfaction in personal and professional lives. Focusing too much on caring for/pleasing others increases the likelihood of missing out on opportunities that were meant just for the person.

Mental Notes Takeaway:

* A key to making transitions is identifying rules and patterns that were developed during childhood and may have served a useful purpose at that time, but interfere with decisions to make changes that lead to happiness and satisfaction in life as an adult.

Check It Out:

* Tamara Suttle’s website:

* Tamara’s blog: Private Practice from the Inside Out –

William Bridges book: Making Transitions: Making the Most of Change (



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