Get to know Deva Murphy MSW, LCSW, an eating disorder specialist. Deva also works with Trauma, Grief, Depression, and Life Transitions.
- Share a little of your background? I’m always interested in hearing why you decided to become a therapist.
- What types of clients would be a good fit for you?
- What does a typical session look like? What is your typical approach?
- What are your strengths as a therapist?
- What is something you would like your prospective clients to know about you?
Ready to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation?
Deva Murphy, MSW, LCSW
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Laurie: All right. Hi, my name is Laurie Groh, I'm co-owner at Shoreside Therapies. Today we have Deva Murphy, our new therapist at Shoreside Therapies. Not new to the field, of course, but new to us. And so excited to have you on board. So excited to talk with you today. So welcome, welcome.
Deva: Thank you, Laurie. I appreciate it. I'm really happy to be here, and I can say this is the first time I've ever done a Facebook live so I can kind of check that off of my social media bucket list.
Laurie: Yeah, yeah. I'm sure that was the top one, that was the top one on the list.
Deva: It was, yep.
Laurie: So Deva, why don't you start by sharing a little bit about your background and then I want to hear a little bit about why you decided to start getting into therapy. I always find that to be an interesting place to go. So could you tell us a little bit about your background first?
Deva: Absolutely. So I am a licensed clinical social worker and I have been practicing here in Milwaukee for about seven, eight years at this point, and I kind of live in the greater Milwaukee area, so this is kind of like my hometown. And I would say there are probably two main things that really kind of propelled me to be a therapist and felt really important for me. So I would say the first thing is I grew up with my parents who were both in helping professions. So my mom was and still is a psychotherapist and my father was a first responder for his entire career. So from an early age, I had two pivotal people in my life whose careers were helping people. So, I mean, of course, that just kind of became a part of who I was. And, you know, it's just been awesome having two people that are so important to me, also being kind of mentors of how to help people and how to embody just being a person that can kind of be caring, yet empowering for people.
Laurie: Yeah, that's really cool. So you're like the Tiger Woods of therapy, right?
Laurie: You started off right at like four or five years old, you're like, 'I know what I'm doing here, that's awesome. So cool.
Deva: Yes, it's just kind of ingrained in me. So I would say that and also the other member of my family, my brother, he is another reason why I really wanted to help people. He is about two years younger than me. And so we were very close growing up. And in his teenage years and young adult years, he really struggled with some significant mental health and addiction issues. So seeing him struggle with that and also kind of being impacted by his struggles again was, I think, just another major thing in my life that made me want to learn how to help those people and to empower people to help themselves.
Laurie: Yeah, yeah. What a powerful experience and how that would shape how we see people and how we see difficulties even, you know. Yes. So tell me a little bit about the types of clients you work with, who is a good fit for you, like who would be your ideal person walking in the door?
Deva: And I think that's a great question, because not only when you're looking for a therapist, you want to feel like... you want to feel like you have a good connection with that person, but you also want to know that that person can help you with whatever it is that you're specifically coming to therapy for. So I would say I have kind of like three specialties and then I work with kind of a number of other things below that. So my first specialty would be working with eating disorders. And under that kind of bucket would also just be people who want to work on improving their body image, you know, how they view themselves, how they talk to themselves, improving self-esteem and confidence and improving just, I think your relationship with food and weight and movement and exercise. So that would probably be like my first bucket.
Laurie: Yeah, and that that is really, to pause you on that for a second. That's a very, very needed area, especially at Shoreside. I mean, we've been looking for someone that specializes in it and eating disorders and not just eating disorders because it doesn't have to be in that realm. Sometimes it can be body image or that somebody wants to just have a better relationship with food and exercise and some of those thoughts that get in the way and it's all linked together and self-esteem becomes a part of that. And I think the majority of us in this world or in our culture, at least in the American culture, we relate to how we feel about ourselves, with how... how we look or how others see how we look so, it's so important to start to have a healthier, more realistic vision of what we want for ourselves.
Deva: Yeah, I completely agree. Now, we have a lot of we have a lot of diet culture and we have, you know, just I think social media in general can oftentimes portray an unrealistic image of what we as people need to be like. And I think especially sometimes as women, what we're supposed to quote-unquote, look like. So that's a huge focus of my practice. And I think that it's just an increasing struggle that so many people, unfortunately, deal with.
Laurie: Right, right. And we were kind of joking prior about the filters, but that's another piece of like it used to be just famous people have when they were on covers of magazines, it was, you know, you kind of knew there were some touch-ups. Now everybody has that capability. And it's kind of a nice thing, but not a nice thing in other areas. You know, it's hard to know what's real and what's not real.
Deva: I think that's a really good point. So I think that would probably be one of my specialties. And my other two specialties would be trauma as well as loss and grief. So those would probably be my specialties that I would love to work with. If you are looking for a therapist and I also work with anxiety, depression, just wanting to improve maybe your relationships and your life. And I think the other important thing to note, though, is that you don't have to have a huge, major, significant issue going on in your life to benefit from therapy. You know, it could be something that might seem to be a little smaller, such as, you know, I want to improve how I communicate with people or I want to have better boundaries in my life and learn to feel like I can protect those a little bit better. Um, so I would say those would probably be the people that I would really be looking for to work with. And I want to help.
Laurie: Yeah. Yeah. And those areas are so, so needed right now as well. I'm curious a little bit about your work with trauma. Are there specific, I guess, theories or techniques that you tend to gravitate towards?
Deva: Yeah, absolutely. So I would say probably the number one thing that I have been trained in and I practice is cognitive processing therapy. So that is kind of a little offshoot of CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy and CPT, cognitive processing therapy, is really focused on those what I call stuck points that occur after a trauma. And those stuck points are how a person just processes their trauma and oftentimes a stuck point could be no one is safe or everyone is going to hurt me. And so it allows you to kind of balance out the stuck points and learn to be able to not only heal, but be able to just have a more balanced viewpoint of your trauma and how it's impacted you.
Laurie: Right. And have some more discernment on some of those things. Yeah, that's really cool. Really cool. Would you mind me asking a little bit about grief work? Because, to me that's one of the hardest areas. Just because of.. there's not necessarily this big solution to that, right? Where in couples where if you can say, hey, you know, do X, Y and Z and let's see how that works. Grief work is a different ballgame, I feel like. Would you mind sharing a little bit about that?
Deva: Yeah, absolutely. And I think why it's also so challenging is grief is like a fingerprint where we all grieve in a different way. And if one person has had multiple losses in their life, they might even grieve those losses in a different way. And so I would say probably the biggest piece, though, that I do with grief work is just understanding what grief is in those stages of grief, because oftentimes I think people can feel like they're doing something wrong with their grief, especially if they see their friend or their family member or somebody else grieving in a different way. It's really common of us as humans to want to compare ourselves to other people. And so the grief, I think it really is all about me helping my client to understand. What does your grief look like and why is that OK? And learning to, this is the hard part with grief, is to step into those emotions and really allow yourself to feel those, because the only way through grief is through it. And that is a feeling, those feelings and learning to take care of yourself.
Laurie: That's so beautifully spoken. Yes. That is the way. There's no other way you can step around it. You can't step over it, you know. Yes. Very, very cool. Very cool. So tell me a little bit about like a typical session, because I know a lot of times when someone comes in and it's maybe their first time in therapy, definitely if they're coming in or it'll be their first time with you. And what does that look like to so somebody has an idea before they walk in.
Deva: No. And I think that part of what an initial session can look like, too, is not only my client letting me know what is bringing them to therapy, but I think also having them communicate to me like what they're looking for in a therapist, you know, and I think that many therapists have any different styles. And so what I would say about myself is that I'm pretty laid back. I use humor a lot of times, and especially in the beginning, because coming to see a therapist can feel really vulnerable and it can feel sometimes very anxiety provoking. So I want to hear what's bringing you, and I will do that in just a very nonjudgmental way. You know, I would say that because of some of the things that I have experienced in my life, I not only can help you as a therapist, guide you through that. But depending on the thing, I might also have some experience in knowing what that feels like to struggle with that or to go through that specific with loss and grief and trauma. So I would say the first session is just.. let's get to know each other a little bit. Let me hear what's going on that's bringing you to therapy at this point in your life. And I also really want to hear what you might need from a therapist. You know, and sometimes I think people are looking for a person who is just there to listen and not judge them. And other times a person might be looking for someone who's a little more direct that can kind of help hold them accountable a little bit.
Laurie: Yeah. Yes. I think that flexibility is really important and it's a strength. You have to have a strength there with that, because a lot of times we... I guess almost like the old school way where it was like either you're a direct therapist or you're an indirect therapist and which are you? And that's the way you roll. And I think now it makes it just makes a lot of sense to think about, this person actually needs something different. You know, you might normally be an indirect therapist. I tend to be more of an indirect therapist, but somebody comes in and they say, actually, I just want you to tell me exactly everything you are seeing. Don't hold back, you know, and that's an important thing because that's what that client needs in that moment. You can't get stuck into that, 'well, I'm more this way, though,' finding that out, too, at the beginning, because if it's so far reaching in one direction.. Being able to figure that out in that first session is essential.
Deva: And I think too, another part of what I really like to hone in on in a first session is if my client has seen other therapists in the past, because I think it's also helpful to hear from them. Like what was helpful about your past therapy experience and what maybe wasn't so helpful, just so I have an idea of what their past experiences have been, so I can maybe better tweak my approach and whatever my client is looking for in that moment.
Laurie: Yes, such useful information, right. I mean, even that question of what went well, you know. Yeah. Gives you a good... a good guide for that.
Deva: Absolutely. Yes.
Laurie: So, you know, we talked a little bit about something I pointed out as a strength I saw. And I want to hear a little bit about that. I heard a little bit, too, on some of those strengths of just experiencing some things yourself. And I would imagine that being a huge strength as a therapist. Are there other strengths or did you want to talk a little bit more about that?
Deva: Yeah, I would say probably another strength of mine, something that I really like to focus on.. and this doesn't need to be for every single client. But I really like to give my clients something tangible to work on, focus on, have as a goal for in between sessions because, yes, when you're in session with your therapist, that's when you're doing great work and you're stepping into things. But that may be forty-five minutes to an hour, once a week, once every other week. And so you're left then with all of this other time. And so I really like to utilize homework. And I know sometimes it sounds like ugh, homework, I don't want to do that. But worksheets or assignments or just like a prompt to think about or certain goals to really focus on, because oftentimes I've gotten feedback from clients who have seen previous therapists in the past where it's great in session, but I don't really know what to do then outside of session. So I really play that up a lot and I like to give them tangible things to focus on, to think on and to practice so that they're also being able to practice and use the things that we're talking about in session, too.
Laurie: Yeah, yeah. And that is very cool, that transition of to the work you're doing here. Well, it can be amazing and wonderful, but if it's not transferring outside of the room, it might not be really making too much of an impact and they're not going to see the full benefits of it all. So I like that. I like that. And even if it's a small, like, seemingly small activity, but something that brings a piece of therapy into the outside world, you know, let's explore this week or just notice how you feel this week. That's awesome. That's awesome. So is there anything you think you would want your potential clients to know about you? Anything that you think, OK, this is one thing they should know or I would want them to know.
Deva: You know, I think just the one thing is that, yes, I'm a therapist, but I'm also a human being. And so I think being a human being is something that we oftentimes forget about when we are in therapy. And so me being a human being, again, I have these experiences. I have this life that I can kind of utilize to my benefit in order to help my clients figure out what their goals are and what they want their path to be. So me as a human being, again, I'm really laid back. I oftentimes use humor in a lot of ways. And that's just kind of, I think my approach and something I would really like a person to know about me when they're looking for a therapist.
Laurie: Yeah. Yeah. That's so important, I feel like is that understanding of like we're human and we're in that room with you and we are working on stuff. We are using the same skills. Not all the time is it going to match up and it probably won't all the time match up, but that we've tried some of these things. This is what works for us. This is what works for our other clients. And I think that adds in this additional layer of this actually works when you are doing these things, you know, here are some examples, and I think that's one of the benefits of therapy. Now, it used to be so, so strict on what we did in those sessions, like do not self-disclose at all. And now I think the majority of us are starting to really recognize the importance and value of that, you know, of OK, well, this is a similar scenario. This is how I got through this. And not all the time. We're not, we're not talking about us all the time, but when it's needed, it is a very, very useful tool.
Deva: I wholeheartedly agree with that.
Laurie: Yeah. So thank you again for meeting with me today. And let's talk a little bit about how someone can reach you so you can go to Deva's profile page and Deva's information is all up there so you can reach out to her. That way you can schedule easily online and you can reach out to her as well if you want to schedule something, she has openings right away this week. So that's even better. So if you want to talk with Deva, go ahead and reach out to her. It was a pleasure talking with you today and we'll talk soon.
Deva: Sounds good. Thank you, Laurie.
Laurie: All right. Bye.