Joyce Marter Evanston Live Interview

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Hey, this is Malika of Evanston Live TV, and welcome to Channel Six. Today, I am honored to have with us licensed psychotherapist Joyce Marter.

Joyce Marter: Thank you so much, Malika, for having me on. I’m so honored and excited to be here.

Malika: I’m honored to have you here. I had the opportunity to share the stage with Joyce Marter at the E-Town Live show, and I didn’t really know what to expect from you. I thought, okay, she’s a licensed psychotherapist, she’s going to lay some heavy-duty stuff on us while we’re out here having a good time. But you brought it. I mean, you were awesome.

Joyce Marter: Oh, I think that was such a fun event. I really enjoyed speaking to people. It really fills my cup. I’m passionate about the work I do, about destigmatizing mental health issues, and making it fun, approachable, and even funny. It was a great night, and I was honored to be on stage with you.

Malika: Yes, you kept it light and relatable. You really captured us and got us.

Joyce Marter: Thank you. I appreciate that.

Malika: So, I know your clients must really love that about you.

Joyce Marter: Thank you so much. I truly believe we all have issues as part of the human condition. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, relationship issues, stress, work-life balance challenges, or even addiction, it’s all part of being human, and we could all use help. I remember, more than 20 years ago, I came to Evanston to attend Northwestern and get my master’s degree in counseling psychology. I was really nervous that they would see my anxiety and say I couldn’t be a therapist, which was my dream. But thankfully, they recommended that all students in training get our own therapy, and that was so helpful. We all need it at different points in our lives, and that’s why I’m so passionate about the work.

Malika: That made me feel good about you when we were on stage, when you said you go to talk to somebody. That made me feel all right with you. I think everybody in the audience was like, “Oh, I like her.”

Joyce Marter: Absolutely. I feel like that’s so important. It’s not about judgment or having everything figured out. Therapists often come into the field because we’ve had our own issues, maybe in our families of origin or earlier life experiences, that help us have compassion for others, insights, empathy, and communication skills. But we have to do our own work too. We can only guide our clients to the level of consciousness we’ve achieved ourselves. Our personal work is one side of the coin, and our professional work is the other side. We need to work on ourselves to be good clinicians.

Malika: Okay, let’s jump right in. I think everybody should have a therapist, like you have your primary physician. Everyone should have a therapist because sometimes you need “surgery on the soul” to get through rough patches.

Joyce Marter: I agree. We all have mental health just like we have physical health, and seeing a therapist should be like going to the dentist or the doctor—routine preventative health care. We all need support. It’s like having a personal trainer for your mind or relationships. It doesn’t mean you’re crazy or in crisis; it’s about health and wellness.

Malika: What are your thoughts on children? I’ve met so many children who have been diagnosed—though it’s too early for diagnoses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder—but many are already on medication. A young man told me half his class is on medication. What’s going on?

Joyce Marter: It’s definitely concerning. We are in a mental health epidemic, and more people are dealing with depression, anxiety, attention deficit issues, and addiction, which is affecting our children. I wonder if some of it is due to technology. We’re so busy, plugged in 24/7, and inundated with information, which is overwhelming. People are getting disconnected from themselves and each other, lacking meaningful conversations and connections. This leads to loneliness and isolation.

However, it’s good that kids are talking about mental health issues earlier and becoming informed. Treatment is available, and medication can be useful when used appropriately. It’s concerning when kids are overdiagnosed, like with ADHD. We should focus on whole health and wellness, including family and community health. Practices like meditation and yoga are valuable because they help us unplug and focus on the breath, which ties together the mind, body, and spirit.

Malika: How would a parent know if their child really needs medication like Adderall, rather than just a doctor trying to make money?

Joyce Marter: As a licensed professional counselor, I believe a good starting point is with a counselor or therapist for an assessment or consultation. Schools often have counselors or social workers who are great resources. Encouraging kids to talk to school counselors normalizes mental health care. A professional can determine if medication is necessary and refer to a psychiatrist if needed.

In counseling or therapy, various techniques can help change thinking patterns, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches that our thoughts create our emotions and behaviors. By turning down the volume of negative self-talk, we can reduce anxiety. Therapists can also teach tools and techniques to improve relationships, support mindfulness, and more. If medication is appropriate, a psychiatrist, who specializes in mental health, should prescribe it rather than a general practitioner, who may be less informed about alternative treatments.

Anxiety is a big one. I mean, I think everybody experiences some level of anxiety. Definitely, breathing helps. It really does. There’s also B12 and this new thing, ashwagandha. Have you heard of that?

Joyce Marter: I have not heard of that one.

Malika: I got it from Whole Foods recently. It helps with anxiety. But if someone were to come to you about severe anxiety, to the point where they can’t function or procrastinate despite being successful, how would you address that?

Joyce Marter: Well, procrastination often ties into perfectionism, which can fuel anxiety. Using cognitive behavioral therapy, we look at belief systems about self-expectations and adjust them to be more realistic. Practicing self-compassion is crucial—we all make mistakes, we’re human, and learning to forgive ourselves and not expect perfection is key.

Our egos can be challenging; they’re the masks we wear to the world. With social media, we often compare our insides to other people’s outsides, assuming everyone else’s life is perfect. But in reality, everyone has issues. One of the greatest blessings of being a therapist for twenty years is seeing that everyone has issues, regardless of who they are. Getting help can be a huge relief.

Malika: It’s interesting you mention social media because I’ve seen people get depressed watching others’ seemingly perfect lives. But then you see celebrities on TMZ facing overdoses or depression, proving that everyone has issues, no matter their fame or fortune.

Joyce Marter: Yes, absolutely. When celebrities talk about their mental health or addiction issues, it normalizes and validates that even those who seem perfect struggle too. This helps destigmatize mental health. We must remember that social media is often filtered and photoshopped. My husband loves a picture he took of me and my daughters at dinner. I’m smiling, but my daughters are rolling their eyes. I didn’t post that one on social media, but it’s the more normal one.

Malika: You have a lot of followers and appear perfect online, but sharing stories like that makes you relatable. People appreciate your authenticity and vulnerability. On stage, people saw that you weren’t trying to be perfect.

Joyce Marter: Thank you. I believe in authenticity and vulnerability. Being our true selves, flaws and all, makes us more lovable and relatable. When I started doing radio and TV, I tried to be perfect and came off robotic. Recently on WGN, Jane Monzures said I’ve changed. Even though I flubbed over my words, I was happier and more relaxed. This shift to being myself is something therapy, meditation, and yoga can help with.

Malika: That’s great advice. There are many adults experiencing depression and coping challenges. What’s your advice to them?

Joyce Marter: I think everyone should have therapy. It helps everyone get through rough patches. At work, dealing with someone who clearly needs therapy but refuses to get it, like a narcissist, can be tough.

Malika: Do people come to you just for work issues?

Joyce Marter: Absolutely, all the time. I give a presentation on dealing with difficult people, including narcissists. A narcissist’s ego is prominent; they’re arrogant and grandiose, lacking empathy. They see everything through their own lens and often don’t recognize their faults. They might react negatively if you don’t give them enough attention, blaming you when they feel inadequate inside.

Malika: How do you deal with a narcissist?

Joyce Marter: It’s about self-care. If you choose to stay in a job or relationship with a narcissist, you need to think about how to take care of yourself. Ground yourself, know you are enough, and put on emotional Teflon to let their negativity bounce off you. Adjust your expectations—they may never have insight into their behavior. Recognizing their need for validation can sometimes help, as can having compassion for their loneliness. Detach from their distortions and protect yourself emotionally.

Malika: What about other common workplace issues? Many people deal with abusive bosses or being expected to work 24/7.

Joyce Marter: Yes, workplace abuse is challenging. I help clients build self-esteem, confidence, and boundary-setting skills. The expectation to work constantly can harm wellness, so learning to set healthy limits at work is essential. This issue is prevalent, as I mentioned in Financial Management magazine.

Malika: What other common issues do people face that might make them feel alone?

Joyce Marter: Our feelings are natural responses to our experiences and upbringing. Maybe we’ve been through trauma, loss, or lacked support. Therapy helps honor your journey and understand how it shaped you. We unconsciously recreate familiar roles until we choose something better. For example, 80% of nurses are adult children of alcoholics, likely because caregiving was a familiar role. Therapy can make these patterns conscious, empowering you to practice self-love and live a greater life.

Malika: So, a person’s family dynamic often influences their workplace behavior or roles?

Joyce Marter: Yes, we learn roles in our families and recreate them in workplace groups. This can be positive or negative. Therapy helps us become aware of these patterns in personal and professional relationships. As caretakers, for instance, we must ensure we don’t neglect ourselves while caring for others.

I was neglecting my own self-care and really had to learn that it’s like the oxygen mask analogy: you have to take care of yourself first so that you can assist other people. Learning how to do that for yourself is a really important skill. Empowering yourself to create the life you want is crucial. If you don’t like your job, relationships, or roles in your relationships, I believe that we each have the power within us to change that, and we can access support to do so. I love encouraging people to live a greater life. It’s such a blessing to work with so many different people, to get to know them, and to support them in blossoming into their fullest selves.

Malika: That’s beautiful. I was told therapists aren’t supposed to tell you what to do. They kind of work with you so you can figure it out, giving you a little map to help you get there. But what if a person is just not figuring it out? Like, you’re laying it out for them and helping them work through the mud and blockages, but they just can’t see clearly where they want to go or be. Have you ever had anyone who just couldn’t figure it out?

Joyce Marter: Certainly, we all get stuck at different points in our lives. You hit the nail on the head when you talked about blockages. Sometimes, there are belief systems within us that make us feel undeserving, and we have to clear those out. We need to understand what’s preventing us from having the love, relationships, or careers we want. There can be grief and loss associated with not having those things yet, so honoring and clearing that out is important.

You’re right, therapists don’t usually give direct advice. However, I tend to be somewhat directive. I am empathic, warm, and validating of other people’s feelings and experiences, but I also challenge my clients. I ask, “What’s up with this? Why do you keep making these decisions?” We laugh a lot too, which is important because life can be crazy and funny. Having a sense of humor helps get through it.

Malika: Wow, thank you so much, Joyce. What’s next for you? I just saw you on WGN, and you’ve been in the Wall Street Journal.

Joyce Marter: My favorite experience was being the therapist on “The Real World” when they were in Chicago on MTV. One of the girls in the house said at the end of the session that everyone could benefit from therapy, and she wanted to start. I enjoy speaking, writing, blogging, and being on media, sharing my passion for this work. I think it’s important for all of us to get this type of help and support.

Malika: One more question: What does it say about a person who gets involved in reality TV? Some shows are good and healthy, but it’s worrisome when people share everything, including their dirty laundry.

Joyce Marter: We live in a social media world where people want to be famous and gain Instagram followers, sometimes at any cost. It’s an interesting time we live in.

Malika: Yes, it is. I admit I’m a reality TV junkie. What’s your favorite?

Joyce Marter: I really like “Below Deck.” It’s about a yachting crew and their ridiculous, wealthy guests. The dynamics with the crew are entertaining.

Malika: Alright, thank you so much.

Joyce Marter: Thank you. It was a pleasure.

Malika: This has been Evanston Live TV Channel 6. Stay tuned for more!

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