Megan Bayles Bartley is a mental health and relationship expert. Over the last twenty years, she has honed her unique skills as a therapist and now shares her knowledge with you on her podcast – Shifting Our Shit. In Part 1 of this episode, she talks about her past and how she ended up becoming a therapist. Listen further to Episode 1, Part 2 where she talks about her own experience with therapy over the last 30-plus year.
In this episode, Megan addresses the common feeling of being stuck in a routine, like a hamster on a hamster wheel, and not making any progress. She acknowledges the midlife stage as a time for reassessment and reflect on whether if she has accomplished all that she has set out to do in life and if she feels fulfilled. It is normal to question what is working and what is not during this phase.
Megan emphasizes the importance of reclaiming one’s time, energy, and joy in order to make the most out of the second half of life. She invites listeners who resonate with these feelings to join her on this podcast journey. She introduces herself as Megan Bayles Bartley and expresses her excitement about hosting the podcast solo, though she will be accompanied by the therapy dog, Lemon Drop.
Megan shares her background, starting with growing up in Seattle, Washington, and attending the University of Washington. She initially wanted to become a naturopathic physician and created her own major called Community Health Management. However, after struggling with hard science classes, she switched gears and explored art as a potential career path. Eventually, her interest in wellness versus illness led her to pursue a degree in marriage and family therapy at the Presbyterian seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
During her time in Tucson, Arizona, working for the Presbyterian Church, Megan discovered her passion for listening, talking, and counseling while interacting with students at the University of Arizona. This experience prompted her to pursue a career as a therapist. With the church’s support, she applied to a seminary program that offered a degree in marriage and family therapy. This field aligned with her systemic approach, focusing on understanding individuals within the context of her various systems and influences.
Megan moved to Louisville, Kentucky, to pursue her master’s degree and had a great experience. She met her husband while in Louisville but eventually moved to Austin, Texas, where she practiced as a therapist for 11 years. Nine years ago, they returned to Louisville and started her solo therapy practice.
The podcast episode ends with Megan’s introduction to the upcoming season, where she will explore mindfulness and the Mindfulness team. However, the overarching theme of reassessing and reclaiming one’s life remains prevalent throughout the episode.
Finding peace in midlife.
After three years of starting a solo therapy practice in Louisville, Megan decided to expand and create the Mindfulness Center, a space for therapists to practice and develop their own practice within.
The goal of the Mindfulness Center is to help people find peace, joy, and a sense of calm in their lives.
- Megan shares that her own experience of being a fairly anxious person in her younger years, growing up in an emotionally unstable household, led her to become controlling and perfectionistic. She emphasizes the importance of therapy in her own life and how it has shaped her as the founding director of the Mindfulness Center.
- Megan also discusses the challenges that many high-functioning individuals face as they reach their 40s and 50s. She refers to this stage as the “fuck it 40s,” where individuals may feel overwhelmed, tired, and worn out. It is a time of redefining one’s life and asking important questions about what they want out of life and how they want to live the second half of their life.
- Megan acknowledges that many high achievers find it difficult to give themselves permission to not constantly achieve and to simply enjoy where they have gotten to. High achievers explore the idea of finding fulfillment in relaxation and enjoying the present moment, which can be challenging for those who are type A personalities.
- The episode also touches on the idea of preparing for the future, such as when children leave the house and exploring new opportunities for travel or personal growth. Megan discusses her own mindset of always looking for the next challenge and how she enjoys taking on home improvement projects.
Prioritize self-awareness as a therapist.
Therapists play a crucial role in helping individuals navigate through their emotional and mental struggles. They provide support, guidance, and tools for personal growth and healing. However, it is essential for therapists to prioritize self-awareness in their own lives. This podcast episode emphasizes the significance of therapists seeking their own therapy and being self-aware in their practice.
- One of the main reasons therapists could prioritize self-awareness is to ensure they are providing the best possible care to their clients. By engaging in therapy themselves, therapists gain insight into their own emotions, triggers, and biases. This self-reflection allows them to better understand their clients’ experiences and offer more empathetic and effective treatment. It also helps therapists recognize and address any personal issues that may interfere with their ability to provide unbiased and objective support.
- Moreover, therapists who prioritize self-awareness are more likely to be high-functioning professionals. Megan mentions that clients may not go further than their therapists have gone, suggesting that therapists need to continuously challenge themselves and strive for personal growth. Being aware of their own emotional state and personal limitations allows therapists to better manage their own well-being and prevent burnout. It also enables them to model healthy coping mechanisms and resilience for their clients.
- Furthermore, self-aware therapists are better equipped to handle the complexities and nuances of therapy. As Megan suggests, therapists who are emotionally aware can adapt to the ever-changing dynamics of each session. They can respond appropriately to their clients’ needs and emotions, creating a safe and supportive environment for healing. By being self-aware, therapists can also recognize when they need to seek consultation or refer clients to other professionals who may be better suited to address specific issues.