Acacia Spotlight looks to highlight the clinicians, staff, and programs that make Acacia what it is today. January’s clinician is Micah Caldwell, LPCC.
This Milwaukee, Wisconsin native joined Acacia when our La Jolla office opened in January 2019. We love his innovative approaches to therapy, and you will too!
What do you enjoy most about being a clinician?
Micah: Probably my favorite part of being a clinician is having the opportunity to introduce someone to therapy for the first time. Therapy can be an uneasy experience for a lot of folks. It takes a lot of courage to walk into a strange place to talk to a strange person to spill your guts about everything going on in your life. So I really enjoy the challenge of making each person feel comfortable and safe. I also love being an “agent of change”. You know those intense, late-night conversations you have with your friends? I don’t know what it is about that environment, but it becomes this breeding ground for deeply revealing, life changing moments. Therapy sometimes feels like that and there are few experiences that compare to sitting in session with someone and seeing the light bulb go off.
How would someone know if they could use therapy?
Micah: Well personally, I think everyone could use a little therapy. I’m a big believer in preventative mental health care. In the same way that you go to your doctor for an annual checkup, I think folks should visit a therapist for their mental checkup. To stretch this analogy a bit further, I think mental health care can reflect physical health care in other areas as well. If you have an acute mental health situation, we can equate that to an infection. Maybe you just need a few appointments to stop the spread, get it under control, and fully heal. And likewise, if there are chronic mental health issues that require ongoing care, such as recurrent depression or anxiety, then a longer-term therapeutic relationship might be the right fit. But at a minimum, I’d say someone could use therapy if they are experiencing an emotional or psychological issue that is impacting their ability to adequately function daily.
You know those intense, late-night conversations you have with your friends? I don’t know what it is about that environment, but it becomes this breeding ground for deeply revealing, life changing moments. Therapy sometimes feels like that.
How do you balance being a full time clinician with your personal life?
Micah: I often extol the virtues of having a good life-work balance to clients, so I try to practice what I preach. Historically, I’ve struggled with this because I prioritized the job over my own well-being. But now, I work like a “professional athlete”. Whether it’s an Olympic marathon runner or a football star, athletes need to train and work hard in order to grow and hone their skills. But just as importantly, those athletes require rest and relaxation. If they push themselves too hard and don’t give themselves the time to recover, they’re going to injure themselves and then they’re totally useless! How can they perform that way? They can’t. Same thing for me. I take my work very seriously and dedicate myself when I’m there. And once my work is done, I genuinely relax and leave my clinical work at work. That way, I can actually enjoy both aspects of my life.
You’re a pretty creative person, do you utilize creativity with the therapy space?
Micah: I do! I like to give clients a lot of creative homework because I think it inspires people to explore new dimensions of life that perhaps they’ve forgotten about or have never considered. So, for example, that might involve encouraging a client to play an instrument they haven’t touched in years or to pick up painting because they’ve always wanted to try it. I will also be starting my first therapeutic Dungeons & Dragons RPG group in the next month, which I’m really thrilled about. It is pretty much impossible to play the game without being creative, so I’m excited to weave play therapy, communication skills, and adventure all into one cohesive experience. I find that I can never have enough creativity and I want to incorporate it even more into therapy, particularly in-session, but it often requires time for development, so it’s an ongoing endeavor.
I like to give clients a lot of creative homework because I think it inspires people to explore new dimensions of life that perhaps they’ve forgotten about or have never considered.
If you could only recommend one life change to every client who walked in the door, what would it be?
Micah: Eat well, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly. It’s amazing how much taking care of your physical health can impact your mental health. If you take care of those basics, you are laying a good foundation for yourself.
Micah’s dedication to living a balanced life inspires all those around him. His playful approach to traditional therapy encourages clients to tap into their creativity both in and out of session. We can’t wait to see what he does next!
Stay tuned for more Acacia Clinician Spotlights! And check out Micah’s bio on the La Jolla page!
Authored (a lot) by Micah Caldwell and (a little) by Danielle Sharkey.