Private Practice Prep

There’s a lot that goes into opening a small business as a therapist, but not nearly as much as I thought. With the exception of those few moments where I’m just completely nervous about the future and this crazy endeavor I’ve gotten myself into, it’s actually been kind of fun.

You know what’s totally weird though? Promoting yourself. If there’s one lesson I’ve had people wag their finger at me for and say, “Don’t fail to do that!” it’s been about marketing my strengths, skills, and abilities. I mean, I know I’m a great therapist and I will get the job done, but other people don’t know that. You can’t really measure if I’m the best, you just have to experience it for yourself. A lot of people have a problem with that idea because it means potentially paying for services only to be disappointed by what they paid for, plus feeling even more upset because they really needed help, took a chance, and ended up feeling likely a lot worse.

So, I’ve been placed in this interesting position where I have to step outside of myself and say, “What are my strengths? What will clients see in me that they won’t get from other therapists?” and then tell the whole world about it. So, do you want to see what I’ve been up to?

The Jen Bingaman Private Practice site

Man, Jesse definitely has a fan club and I am its president and CEO. I seriously can’t imagine my life without him as my partner, much less imagine how stupidly difficult and expensive it would be to start this business without his techspertise (I just made that word up… I like it!). I might have to give him my first born child or something…

Anyway, we still have some small tweaks here and there (pictures, glitz, header), but the site is live and all the copy is there. For those of you who are curious, have the time, the interest, or the expertise, please go to the site and poke around. Let me know if you have any suggestions based on your experience or if you see any glaring spelling or grammatical errors. I’ve looked over it so many times, my eyes are turning to mush.

If you’re feeling really wonderful and generous, especially if you live in Seattle, will you share the site with your friends and family, especially on social media? It goes a long, long way.

Jen Bingaman on Psychology Today

So for those of you who don’t know, Psychology Today is pretty much the go-to resource for people looking for therapy services. They are practically a monopoly, but they also have a pretty decent set-up for showcasing therapists and providing people with a good selection of practitioners in their area. I worked long and hard (and may continue to do so) to get my profile as accurate and authentic as possible since I know a large majority of my web referrals will come from Psychology Today.

Jen Bingaman at Seattle Direct Counseling

I’m really excited about this one. I’m a member of a group practice! I working with two other wonderful therapists, each of us with our own style and skills. I’ll be working from a downtown office one day of the week, providing eTherapy other days. If any of you out there have been interested in eTherapy in the past, the time is nigh! If you don’t live in Washington, there can be some tricky rules about state-to-state internet counseling, so look up the laws for your state before you contact me and share what you find. Man, I am so excited about all of this. It’s going to be such a fun adventure.

I’ve done tons of other less exciting things like get liability insurance, open a business checking account (OK, so that was fun until I had to put money in it… and then spend it), get a business license, and pay lots of stupid fees for all of it. Oh well, you have to spend money to make money, right?

Speaking of spending money… I’m going to need an amazing accountant. Does anyone have any recommendations here is Seattle? There’s a reason why I never majored in Finance.

Tomorrow is Friday. So many good things… including puppies!

The Case Files: Ernest Hemingway

I took requests for Case Files ideas yesterday on Facebook. Pretty awesome suggestions, I am especially excited to write a post on Elizabeth Taylor (but I feel like that one will be a beast to write, better save it for a night where I’m not feeling so lazy). Last night, I was sitting with Jesse finishing up season 3 of The Wire (finally, we’ve been so busy) and Patronus just crawled right on my lap and stretched his big paws across me. Not only did this strike me as unusual and special, it also struck me because… I haven’t written a post about Ernest Hemingway yet! Silly me.

So, let’s Case Fileize (I just made that up, so there) Mr. Hemingway.


Ernest Hemingway grew up in a nice suburban town in Illinois. His father was a physician and his mother was a musician. Ernest begrudgingly learned to play the cello as a young kid, later saying as an adult that he hated his mother. Ouch. Life wasn’t rough, as Ernest lived in a seven-bedroom home in the early 1900s.

As Hemingway got older, his love of two things emerged – writing and being active. He played football, water polo, track and field, and boxing. He also wrote for the school newspaper and yearbook, eventually graduating and working for The Kansas City Star as a reporter. Another great reason to love Hemingway – he start as a journalist!

But times being what they were, Hemingway signed on with the Red Cross to go assist as an ambulance driver in Italy with the war. He performed gloriously, eventually recieving the Itlalian Silver Medal of Bravery for carrying a man to safety while injured from shrapnel in both of his legs. He left the war effort and stayed in the hospital for the next six months, falling in love with his nurse, and making plans for marriage. She was supposed to meet him in America to finalize their marriage when she wrote to Hemingway saying she had become engaged to an Italian officer instead. Burn.

But love wasn’t too far off for Ernest. He returned home and after some recuperation, bounced around Canada and the U.S., finally landing in Chicago and working for the Toronto Star. It was there he met his future wife, Hadley Richardson. It’s important to note that she was a redhead. They fell in love, got married, and moved to Paris once Hemingway was hired as a foreign correspondent through the Toronto Star. Things were pretty peachy.


Oh, but not so fast. Hemingway was a member of the Lost Generation! He had to act as such. I could sit here and go over all the things he did in Paris, like meet F. Scott Fitzgerald and rub elbows with Pablo Picasso, but that’s not what this is about. It’s about Hemingway’s mind. So, the short of it is that Hemingway became insanely successful while in Paris, had a child with Hadley, began an affair with another woman, Hadley left him, and he married his mistress (Pauline) shortly after. This would be a lifetime pattern for Hemingway. Pauline got pregnant and wanted to return to America. They left for Key West.


Hemingway returned to America and welcomed his second son, Patrick, into the world. Shortly after, Hemingway found out his father had committed suicide, with Hemingway remarking “I’ll probably go the same way.” That’s ominous.

Hemingway’s drinking had been of note in Paris – he regularly went out with the Irish writer James Joyce – but it picked up at this time in his life. His third son was born, he had suffered a severe head injury right before leaving Paris, he broke his arm so badly it took him a full year for it to heal properly, and he began to regularly frequent the bar Sloppy Joe’s in Key West. Oh did I also mention he got anthrax (on his honeymoon with Pauline) and contracted dysentery (on safari with Pauline – this woman is bad news) and had to be evacuated from Africa for a prolapsed intestine.

But Pauline (and her bad luck) didn’t stick around for long. Hemingway fell in love with a woman working alongside him as a reporter in the Spanish Civil War. The romance happened slowly, but by the time Hemingway returned to America, his relationship with Pauline was over and she left him. He moved his residences from Key West and Wyoming, to Cuba and Idaho. It was during this time he also began his love affair with kitties, especially ones with more than four toes.

Oh but wait, this new lady (named Martha) did not last long. Hemingway went to Europe to write, report, and galivant through WWII terrain – even picking himself up a group of resistance fighters and leading them through battle. Are you shaking your head? He was brought up on formal charges for violating the Geneva Convention, but he escaped any punishment. Martha was reporting abroad, and returned to London, and a concussed Hemingway – to discover he had fallen in love with and proposed to a woman named Mary.

The End

Hemingway, who I will argue had some seriously bad luck with injury and health, just deteriorated after his marriage to Mary. He got pneumonia and Mary had an ectopic pregnancy. Then she broke both her ankles and Hemingway got in a car accident crushing his knee and providing another nasty head wound. His son, Patrick, got in a car accident and became severely ill. Then all his friends started dying – Fitzgerald, Joyce, Yeats, Stein, and finally his longtime friend and editor, Max Perkins. Ernest’s health rapidly deteriorated with chronic headaches, high blood pressure, and weight fluctuations leading to diabetes. Don’t forget all that drinking, either.

Things just got worse. Mary and Ernest visited Africa where they got in two back-to-back plane crashes, one so bad reporters arrived on the scene to report the death of Hemingway. Alas, it was not yet meant to be, and Hemingway shushed them before returning to lick his wounds, which tallied in at second degree burns on his legs, front torso, lips, left hand and right forearm, along with two cracked discs, a kidney and liver rupture, a dislocated shoulder and a broken skull. Joy. This where Hemingway’s drinking really picked up as he began to use alcohol to numb his physical pain.

Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature, but was so ill he could not visit Stockholm to accept his prize. He suspected he had been awarded the prize as a consolation gift for his near-death experiences over the year. What a crappy way to think about such a wonderful honor. His drinking continued in spite of his doctor’s orders to cut that stuff out.

He continued to work, finishing three different works during this time, but he became depressed. He left Cuba permanently and moved with Mary to Idaho. His work was fragmented and unorganized, like it had never been before. Hemingway became incredibly ill while in Spain for a TIME magazine piece, taking to his bed for days and barely speaking. He returned to Idaho, but things just got worse. Not only was he depressed, but he became paranoid, too – insisting the FBI was watching him. He was admitted to the Mayo Clinic and treated with electroconvulsive therapy (ahhhh!) and released. It became clear what was on his mind when Mary found him at the kitchen table one morning just holding his shotgun. He was placed back In treatment and received more shock therapy.

Two days later, Hemingway shot himself in the head with his shotgun.

The Case File

So, I didn’t know this until researching Hemingway, but he had a condition known as hemochromatosis, which causes iron build-up in the body, causing mental and physical impairment. His father had it and behaved similarly to Hemingway before his suicide. His siblings also committed suicide. I don’t know what to think of this discovery, so I’ll just do my best with the information I have.

Ernest Hemingway had some clear mental health issues. It was obvious he was an alcoholic, whose behavior and out-of-control drinking was over looked because he was a writer. Writers and alcohol are kindred spirits. It’s rare to have one without the other. Couple that with Ernest’s clear wounds from being left by his Spanish nurse in WWI, and you’ve got a guy who really didn’t think much of himself.

Think about it, he treated his body horribly, regularly injured it taking great physical risks (how do you get injured that many times without some ownership of it all – tell me, please), he probably kept all of his female companions at arm’s length, making it that much easier to leave them when they became disposable, much like he had been. To top it all off, Hemingway believed he didn’t deserve the Nobel. He didn’t believe he deserved good things. Most writers don’t and the ones who do either worked very hard to believe they did, or they aren’t good writers. Right? I don’t know. That just seems to be the case.

Either way, Hemingway was a great dude. He’s provided me with some of my favorite writing rules, ever:

1. Write drunk, edit sober.

2. The first draft of anything is shit.

Thanks, Hemingway. If you felt the way I feel about my writing, then maybe I’ll write a book one day after all.

I’m also in love with him because he was in Paris during that seemingly perfect time, a time I’d kill to be a part of. He was also a great writer, with a distinct style, and he lived a really cool life. Paris and Key West! Plus, he’s responsible for the cat I have today, I’m sure of it.

Sources (1, 2)

Share Your Story: Sarah

Sarah’s story was the first of the Share Your Story requests I received and it rocked me. It’s so powerful, it kind of takes the wind right out of you. What’s even more amazing is the grace in which Sarah owns her past, her vulnerability, and the person she has become through her ups and downs. I won’t say anymore because Sarah will say it better.

My personal story is quite a whirl-wind of events.

My parents divorced when I was about 2 years old, and I never knew my dad growing up. All I knew was what my mom told me, and she never told me “bad” things, most everything was good, but I never really asked too many questions because I did not understand the concept of a dad. I think it goes along with the whole thing of ‘you can’t miss what you never had’. They divorced because my dad was an alcoholic who was emotionally (never physically) abusive to my mom.

My grandparents partially raised me since my mom was a school teacher and a single mom. I give my mom so much credit because she managed to let me do everything from dance and gymnastics, to acting, to many vacations to visit family. When my grandparents died in 2002, I was about to start high school and it was like my world came crashing down on me. They died within 6 months of each other, and my mom who had battled depression since the divorce from my dad probably did not handle it well. I do not remember exactly how she handled it, but I do remember how I felt. When my Grandma died in February, I remember being in the room after she had passed and not even crying because I knew I had to hold it together for my grandpa and mom. I remember the nurse telling me how “strong” I was being, and how she was telling me, at 13 years old, the next steps of how to get the body to the funeral home and what to do. Inside I was broken, my nanny and I were one in the same and she had just been taken from me. But I knew I had to hold that inside. We ended up moving in with my grandpa to help take care of him but he died in July, a day after my birthday – to this day I am pretty sure he died of a broken heart.

In high school I began drinking around 14 years old. The first time I got drunk, I blacked out, threw up, and to make matters worse – I was at school. I got suspended for 5 days, but it did not stop me from my partying ways. My mom never really punished me for it either, I think that I was just too much to handle and she did not know what to do with me. After all, it was just her and I all my life and now my Grandparents were not there and so she really was just as lost as I was, I think. I ended up switching schools to try to get back on track, but it didn’t really work. I continued to party and drink, but in my mind everyone was doing it. I had no self-respect, was dating the wrong people, almost got pregnant at 16, and throughout it all my mom thought I was doing just fine. I think because my grades weren’t suffering she was not worried. I was almost raped (got away somehow), but that did not stop me.

By my senior year of high school I was out of control. I also stopped eating. So, if you’re keeping track I am now drinking and not eating…great combo right? I am not really sure why I stopped eating. I was working at a clothing store that put a lot of value on body image, so I wanted to fit in. I was going to clubs and bars and drinking 4 or 5 nights a week. I was rarely home, and if I was it was just to sleep before another night of partying. Again, I do not know what my mom thought I was doing. At this point I was noticing a change in my body, I knew I wasn’t eating, but Mary Kate Olsen was not eating either and it seemed like she was getting attention for it.

All I wanted was the attention from my mom. I wanted her to notice that I was in need of her, I wanted her to take care of me for a change rather than me taking care of her. She always said that we were roommates, for as long as I can remember she referred to us as that. It was funny at first, but then I think she really believed it. I remember being 8 years old and waking her up for school, I would make breakfast, and ever since I got my license I have driven every time we are in the car together. I was 5’7 and had gone from about 140 lbs to 91 pounds in about 4 months. My mom finally took me to a doctor for my weight loss.

They thought I had a thyroid problem, and I let them think that. Eventually, the doctors caught up and advised I start treatment for an eating disorder. I wanted to go away for treatment, I wanted to escape, but that wasn’t an option. They signed me up for a nutritionist, which to me was a joke. I also started seeing a therapist. I tried going to 3 different therapists when my grandparents died, but neither of them were the right fit for me — so I did not have high hopes about finding a therapist again. A little foreshadowing, but I would prove myself wrong on this point about therapy. I loved seeing my therapist, but I certainly was not an easy client. I did not talk sometimes, other times I would tell her anything she wanted to hear. I had started dating a new guy, but of course with a life like I was leading, we were rocky and when he broke up with me, I tried to kill myself and ended up in the hospital for 3 days. Now, I had recovered from my eating issue, I had gained back weight, but emotionally I was still fragile. I think that boyfriend and I probably got back together, a time or two, but I kept seeing my therapist. I started noticing changes.

The summer between high school and college I really began partying, but emotionally I seemed to be doing so much better. I had learned so much from my therapist. I realized that I had always been afraid to make my mom upset, and she made me realize that it is okay to say ‘no’ to someone, or it is okay if someone is upset with me. It is part of life. I credit my life to this therapist. If it was not for her, I think I would be a very troubled person right now, or dead. During my first semester of college she told me she thought I could stop seeing her, but that was not what I wanted. I liked going to her every week. I liked that she listened and helped me. But, she made me realize I have the tools to do this on my own, and if I need someone she will always be there. I became okay with the idea of stopping counseling every week.

Within about a week or 2 of discussing the fact that I was going to stop seeing her, I got news that would forever change my life. My dad, who I had never met, never talked to, always tried to find him on Google, had died. Worse than that, he had been homeless for about the past 10 years, he drank himself to death, he was only about an hour and a half away from where I lived, and I would never get to meet him. I always wondered what he was doing, if he remembered me, if he had a new family, what his job was – I never thought he would be homeless. The people who he was around said that he did love me and that he knew one day I would find him. It was comforting to know that he did not forget about me. But one thing that stuck out in my mind – he died from alcohol. The path I was on was ruining my life. I needed a change.

As you can guess, I continued to see my counselor for a few more months, but this was where I really got my act together. I decided I wanted to be a counselor and work with people who have substance abuse problems. My dad felt ashamed of who he was; everyone was shocked that a homeless man had a family who loved him and cared about him. I wanted to change that stigma.

I stopped drinking, my body was healthy again, and I was thriving in school. I ended up graduating with my BA in psychology, but thought I wanted to go into forensic psychology. Doctoral programs in Psych are so competitive, I wanted to get a master’s in criminology first and maybe just join the FBI or CIA. I began my M.A. program immediately after my undergrad and quickly realized my heart was in psychology. I finished my M.A.. in criminology and I am currently in a master’s program for Psych with plans to get a Ph.D. in Clinical Psych when I finish here. My mentor for my Crim M.A. changed my life, introduced me to so many opportunities and now I do research studying alcohol. I do not want to practice full time anymore – I want to teach at a university, mentor students, and be able to practice on the side. I do not believe that my dad is the reason I am doing alcohol research, but I do think it guided me to where I am at.

Overall, I had lots of bumps in the road. Well actually, just one really LONGGGGG bump, but I came out of it alive and successful. My relationship with my mom is better than ever now. I do not dwell on my past. What I went through may be a lot to some people, but to others it may be nothing. I feel that we are each faced with different obstacles, and we each can handle different things in life. What may be a big deal to one person may be a minor hiccup for another — who am I to judge another persons’ struggle? The stereotype around homeless people drives me nuts. No one looks at me and thinks, “Oh, her dad was homeless, so I hear all of their stories”. I understand that they are just naive to the situation, and I just listen. I sometimes tell them that part of my life and they often are in disbelief, but that is why I am all for the Affordable Health Care Act. My dad had lots of medical problems, he was hit by cars several times, but never could get adequate treatment because he obviously could not afford insurance.

I hope that people realize it is possible to come out of the hole they may feel like they are so deep in. Find one thing that motivates you, and use it daily to succeed.

Thank you for your story, Sarah. If anyone out there would like to share their stories, please contact me at jen [at] thepursuitofsassiness [dot] com.