My name is Michael Atwood, and I have been licensed as an LPC in the State of Texas since 2016. I have worked at every level of care, including prison, hospitals, PHP, home care, and outpatient. I have worked with people aged 2 to 95 from all different walks of life and with many different needs. I feel this wide range of experience has given me insight into aspects of mental health that others who specialize in only one area may miss out on. On the side, I enjoy time with my family as well as games of all kinds. I have loved video games, board games, and card games since childhood and have seen their usefulness in identifying and solving problems. If you bring up games, be ready to spend a bit of time talking about them because I love to, both for recreation and as insight into my clients. I have been known to spend half a session discussing the similarities between a client's selected Dungeons and Dragons character and parts of themselves.
In therapy, I work to identify and build on skills that clients already possess. I primarily do this through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Rational Emotive Behavioral therapy, but I frequently adapt modalities to fit clients' situations and needs.
I most often work with clients looking to understand better why there are stuck in particular behavioral or thinking patterns. This often presents as forms of anxiety or depression but can span into almost any diagnosis. If you are wanting to understand yourself more and improve your ability to cope and adapt, then I am willing to help.
My communication style
I am often lighthearted in sessions and enjoy times when I can be the cheerleader for my client. My specific language and demeanor shift to meet client needs, so some people see me as more serious, while others receive a counselor with a little more sass. While I understand the need for levity in difficult situations, I also have no problem being direct or even blunt when I feel it is needed. I feel my job is to challenge incontinent thoughts and behaviors when spotted so that you can learn to do the same.
My journey to therapy
I began my journey to becoming a therapist after I found out how hard calculus was in college. I initially planned on going into engineering due to my interest in understanding how things work and how they could be improved. Unfortunately, I had a lot of difficulties during my freshman year, which led me back into therapy for myself and a change of colleges. After finally having a counselor that seemed to be speaking my language, I decided to look into psychology in school and fell in love with it. I was always the friend that people would spend hours talking to about issues because I gave nonjudgmental feedback. Still, my psychology courses gave me the tools to better understand why people were making the choices they were in the first place and, more importantly, how to stop the pattern. I earned my bachelor's and master's from East Texas Baptist University and got to work. I have worked under counselors and psychologists who specialized in cognitive behavior therapies, solution-focused therapy, and family systems. Although CBT will always fit best for me, I understand the value of other approaches and incorporate them as needed.
My goals for you
I do not plan to see clients for years and years. My goal is to build clients' insight into themselves so that they can better apply their existing and new skills in more effective ways. Some clients leave feeling like their initial problem is completely alleviated due to the nature of the. Still, my goal is more to show clients that they can make lasting improvements and maintain them on their own so that they no longer feel unable to cope without therapy. Some clients are more resistant to discharge than others, and it is a personal decision, but I am constantly working on teaching clients the skills and information that they need not to need me anymore. I am always willing to see clients again if maintenance is not as successful as desired, but I prefer getting to a point where we can agree on the attempt vs. staying in therapy forever "just in case."
My first session with you
My first session is always basic information gathering. Even as intake forms improve, I have found it important to ask about basic demographic information and history data for myself. This gives a better opportunity for clarification or for me to see that someone is resistant regarding certain topics. Although that is not true for every client, it is a practice that I employ due to the potential benefit. I never know what a client may be coming in with and what may need to wait until more rapport has been built for them to be comfortable discussing. Going through the basic questions helps resolve that potential gap in knowledge and awareness.