Episode 22: Dr Taylor Burrowes, PhD, Mental Health Coach

Owaves Team Body Clock Podcast

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Dr. Burrowes has 14 years of clinical mental health and marriage/family experience and a PhD in Marriage, Couples and Family Counseling. She was licensed in Florida as a mental health counselor and marriage and family therapist until April 2019.

She decided to officially leave health care and continue providing value through coaching for the mutual benefit of her clients and herself. In this episode we dive into what makes healthy relationships and how coaching can help with mental health.

Transcript

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Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Hey, guys. Welcome to another episode of the Body Clock podcast by Owaves. Today, we’re very fortunate to be joined by Dr. Taylor Burrows, who is joining us from Miami. So, hey, Dr. Burrows, how you doing?

Dr. Taylor Burrows: I’m doing well, thanks. Thanks for having me.

Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: No, I’m so glad you could come on. It’s so refreshing to have someone on who’s not only a mental health advocate, but such an expert as a coach. Could you go into your background for the listeners before we dive in?

Dr. Taylor Burrows: Sure. Well, I was trained as a mental health professional. I have a Ph.D. in Marriage Couples and Family Counseling. My Masters was in General Counseling. And I had two licenses in my clinical practice of 14 years. One was in mental health and one was in marriage couples and family therapy. But basically now I’ve transitioned out of the healthcare system, the formal health care system to do online coaching work using that background. So I find that to me it’s a better fit because it’s more action oriented and it puts the accountability on the client vs. almost like that perpetual enabling that kind of happens in a traditional practice I found. So this is definitely more involved for the clients to be more solution focused and action oriented.

Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Wow, so I mean, you’ve really thought things through and come up with a strategy that seems to really work with your clients. I’m following you on Twitter. I know you’re very popular with a lot of people and it seems you’ve been able to form those kind of human bonds with a lot of your clients. And you also give advice, which is not only practical, very personable, and that’s quite different in an age of machines. So that’s something you’ve been able to do really well.

I mean, that struck me and the Owaves team, because we are developing an app for students around mental health and relationships is a massive part of lifestyle medicine. And you being an expert coach, you’re having so much traction with people and helping people change behavior and kind of get to the root cause of their problems is something which I think is more and more needed today rather than, you know, downturn, people going on antidepressants and you know, how it spirals out of control. So you are working in that prevention side of things.

Dr. Taylor Burrows: Exactly. That’s what I was going to say too. It’s really, you know, transitioning out of this treatment perspective to a more prevention and wellness. And like, I like the idea of lifestyle medicine. You know, I think it starts with your relationship to yourself and being able to focus on what can you do to prevent and protect your health. And that includes everything that’s like health, wealth, relationships, all of the above.

Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So it seems to encompass a wide range of things. So what would you see in your clients? What are the causes of most people, could you say stress or breakdown in relationships? Does it vary from person to person or is there some core principles or kind of behaviors?

Dr. Taylor Burrows: Well, there are definitely some themes and I intentionally am attracting a particular type of ideal client, an audience, which is why I’m so I’m able to be so specific and demonstrative about my opinions and the way that I do things, just putting myself out there. The whole purpose of that is to attract people that need that content. So basically, my clients are seeking me out vs. in traditional therapy sitting in an office – people would come to me, not knowing my opinions, my morals, my standards, my perspectives. And then it would be a much more difficult process to find out if it was a good fit. And sometimes they just stay. But it really wasn’t necessarily the best fit for the client. So this way, you know, my social media presence draws out the best fit for my clients. And we have like a brief sort of discussion in the beginning.

I give out like a free 15 minute discovery call, I call it. And that’s kind of the basis of figuring out whether we do fit together. If they’re committed enough to take responsibility for the changes they need to make. And then we come up with a plan to work together. But basically, it is based on relationships, romantic relationships, for the most part, family relationships too. A lot of times I would say people have sick people in their families and obviously that impacts them and they need help to cope or manage with that. Learning how to respond better to that sick family member. So that’s also something that I would consider more of a consultant role that I do, because I’m not really treating the family member. We don’t necessarily have access to them, but I’m just helping support them and educate them in what they can do to just manage their own, the impact on themselves.

Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So you obviously have to cover such a wide range of people’s personal circumstances and come up with solutions. Is that something you’ve got better at with experience or is it something that you’ve learned through your training?

Dr. Taylor Burrows: Yeah, I mean, you learn a lot in generalized practice, like the mental health component of being a mental health counselor is more like being a GP, right. A general practitioner in medicine. And then the PhD in marriage and family work is more specified to couples, marriage, relationships. I don’t specialize that much in young children. I am a sexual trauma recovery specialist. So I worked for, in the whole time that I was in practice in face to face traditional practice. I worked with trauma survivors and I ran groups for adult survivors, children. So that’s definitely a strong focus of mine to one that I am not doing that much of anymore because it’s hard to do intensive trauma work.

You can’t really do that online, but I do have clients that have had trauma and obviously that specialty is going to be informing the work that I do with them as well. But I know I’m very clear that, you know, this is online coaching, its specific to non, you know, psychological treatment. But, yeah, a lot of people do tend to have issues around trust, I would say that’s a main one. And it’s also sort of embedded in their relationship with themselves. You know, if you’re not able to really feel authentic and comfortable being who you are or not really knowing what you stand for, then it’s really hard to develop healthy and successful relationships as an adult.

Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So you’re saying it’s a lot easier to develop relationships if you have a sense of purpose? Would that be something like groups of people or tribes or even in jobs or things like this what drives successful relationships or is it just generally having some kind of aim in life?

Well, I wouldn’t necessarily say purpose, but I mean, that’s definitely essential to feel like you have value in this world. But one, I talk a lot about gender differences, gender roles and how that influences relationships. So people are very aware that, you know, my opinions are based on more traditional guidelines of what men and women do in relationships that are the most successful. So, you know, it’s obviously not going to be suitable for people who are vehemently against that. And they feel like they’re anything goes philosophy to life. And no one has the right to have an opinion or a judgment or a moral standard of right and wrong, then that’s not going to be a good fit.

So knowing that, you have to know where you stand on things. And so if people don’t know where they stand on things, I help them develop what those are, what their value systems are. And basically deconstructing whatever I was informing them before that maybe wasn’t. It was like a conflict. It wasn’t really what they believed. So they have to shed those predisposing beliefs and limiting beliefs in order to create the preferred identity of the self that they want to live their life through and then that person is going to be attracting the ideal partner that they spend their life with, and then that’s how you also create your ideal life altogether.

Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Oh wow, that was really insightful, so you almost have to have a plan of putting yourself in the right position or developing the right traits and the right mindset for you to kind of also have a successful relationship and attract to be with someone of a similar mindset as well.

Dr. Taylor Burrows: Absolutely. Because a lot of people do it backwards. A lot of people project like some image of what they’re looking for. But it has nothing to do with who they are. So first you have to figure out who you want to be and become that person. And that should be some good fit. Like you’re not going to pretend to be something that really doesn’t work for you. right? And if you are, it’s not going to work. So we’d have to sort through that disconnect. But then once you’re able to say, OK, I’m not perfect, I don’t need to be some sort of elusive idea of ideal.

Not a destination, but it’s a journey. And so as long as you’re on that path of doing your best every day to become or be, I wouldn’t say become, but just to be that ideal version of yourself, always constantly learning, growing and improving – then you are going to attract someone who shares the important values, but also complements in ways that create that complexity and dynamic harmony so that not that you complete each other in a cliche kind of way, but you have that complementarity that creates a nice system that works together really well.

Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So all in all, would you say that I, a young person looking for a successful relationship, should they be working on themselves probably more than they are searching for that perfect match?

Dr. Taylor Burrows: Absolutely, yes! This is so important. And the thing is that in like, if you want to call it the Western sort of world and philosophy is to sort of experience and explore things in your 20s. And that really takes you off course of that because it’s more of an escapist mentality than really trying to discover what your value systems are, what matters to you, how to establish that baseline of your own self care and health and wealth and quality relationships. And so that’s to me where we’ve gone wrong. So people are basically losing a decade to, you know, more frivolous, impulsive, escapist behaviors.

Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So do you think social media is really exacerbating this for young people?

Dr. Taylor Burrows: I definitely think that it’s being used by a lot of people, but it has the capacity to do the opposite. So you can a. learn and develop skills using social media, the internet, technology. You can meet people that may not be in your local community, that share your values. You can explore that with people remotely through that means as well. But a lot of people are not using it in those productive ways. And so we’re seeing a lot of the weaknesses of it or the cons of the misuse of social media and technology.

Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So recently as Dr. Cameron Sepah, he’s in Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and he does a bit of venture capital, but he also is an executive psychologist and coach as well. And he did an article recently on I think it was this week where he talked about Silicon Valley’s new trend of almost dopamine fasting because we’re doing things so instantaneously, getting instant gratification. So he was talking about how, you know, avoiding behaviors that bring this pleasure all the time, and that’s not healthy. So it’s almost a way of kind of getting on with the mundane and, you know, getting more committed to things. We do have thoughts on that, be that in relationships, it’s important to kind of go in knowing that things aren’t going to be always so rosy. And you have to adapt to compromise because that’s the right mindset.

Dr. Taylor Burrows: I mean, that’s so true. We are overstimulating ourselves. We just don’t know how to stop, be mindful, be present, deal with or manage less but higher quality connections or just activities in general, being connected to self. The people or the majority of people are really disconnected from self. They are afraid of being alone. They don’t know how to, you know, like keep themselves company, basically. So being able to learn that is so important. Obviously, you need to have relationships, but that needs to be in addition to you being able to sit with your own thoughts in quiet. Whether it’s reading, whether it’s meditating, whether it’s doing exercise, going for walks, I mean, really just the simple things in life have been replaced with overstimulation. And that has segwayed into the breakdown of a lot of relationships, because you’re right.

I mean, it’s about just that getting that fix, having that validation, being in that mindset where, yeah, you can’t have the lulls. Everything has to be exciting. You don’t know how to manage conflict, to resolve problems. And so there is no longevity. There’s no commitment really. It’s almost like those things, those values, they’re almost objective truths. It’s like people the modern society is really redefining some basic objective truths with all of the modernization that’s happened. So you don’t just commit to something for now. You commit to something for the foreseeable future, right? I think a lot of people have become very selfish. And yeah, like they’re driven by how things can benefit them and not how they can serve other people or contribute to the betterment of other people’s lives.

Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: And I think that’s what’s causing all these rises of these rates of anxiety and depression. I mean, you do feel anxious when you get so used to some behaviors and, you know, always having relationships with so many different people and friendships, etc. which are always changing and dynamic. And then all of a sudden you have to say something happens in your life where you have to move to a new place and you’re just not used to being alone. And that can really affect people’s mental health.

And you’re right. I think it does build resilience – being comfortable being by yourself, being present and not always having to compare to other people or looking for the next high. And you’ve really summarized that really, really well. But that also brings me on to the point that do you think the fact that at medical school we were taught that you can only have a certain number of successful relationships or, you know, your closest five friends shape your behaviours to now in this digital world we are exposed to so much. From your experience, do you think we can maintain many friendships or, you know, a lot of long distance networks as well?

Dr. Taylor Burrows: There’s got to be light layers to it. You know, you have your your intimate relationships, which are going to be like a handful of priority relationships, but then you’re going to have, you know, the lesser close ties that maybe your friends and your colleagues that you speak to or whether it’s remotely online or whether it’s in person. But yeah, I mean to have to prioritize many quality relationships – that’s unlikely going to last very long. You have to kind of pick and choose and it may fluctuate. And that’s the thing is we have to have more dynamic thinking about things when people do talk to me about conflict in friendships, right, doesn’t have to be romantic relationships.

It’s almost like they’ve never considered that it doesn’t have to have a finite conclusion. You don’t have to break up with your friends because there’s a conflict or difference of value systems, right? You can just say I’m not going to attend to this relationship right now because there’s too much friction. I can just let it go. Like just not do anything. You don’t have to determine it’s over and make some statements and be all dramatic. You just stop talking to them for now and then see how it goes. Give it time. Time and space to let things grow and mature the way that they’re meant to is undervalued. People aren’t implementing that strategy and they’re just trying too hard to do something in order to interfere with the process of things.

Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: That’s some very good advice because I mean, you’re saying that there is middle ground to most things and you don’t have to make such close cut decisions in the moment, kind of weigh things up and you don’t have to act straight away. And so it seems like obviously you coach people to be more mindful and develop ways of thinking which are more pragmatic and in line with things that are, you can say, more sensible rather than more dramatic, would you say?

Dr. Taylor Burrows: I call it logic, just a common sense of things. Getting back to that, it’s a formula that I use. And it’s funny because people see some of the content that I put out there and they assume that I’m highly rigid, but I’m not. It’s just that you can’t lack structure altogether. There has to be certain structure that then allows solidity and the freedom within it, right? So those expectations, which are the structures, are what keeps everything safe. And that’s you as an individual, the relationship is safe because it has certain parameters. But then once those are agreed upon or understood, then you’re able to move fluidly and flexibly within it. But the formula that I use is its logic plus desire plus love equals an ideal relationship, or I call it a partnership. Just to kind of drive home the point that you have different roles, perhaps, but you are partners like a team and you have to work together and you’re only as strong as your weakest link.

So, you know, that’s a really important way to view the system of a romantic relationship. And so the logic component, it’s not to say that you should have this sort of harsh or staunch business like mentality or approach to relationships, but you have to make sense. You can’t just leverage the infatuation, the desire part, the sexual connection and the emotional attachment, the love. You have to also add in or make sure that you assess for that logical match. You know, you have to share those values. You have to want the same things out of life. You have to be compatible and all of that. So that’s usually the piece that’s missing for most people when there is an unsuccessful result in their marriage or relationship.

Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: I really liked that description, that explanation makes things a lot clearer. So are you also saying that we are more likely to have a successful relationship or friendship with people we have more in common with or more common interests and ambitions. Is that something we should be seeking in our friendships and relationships?

Dr. Taylor Burrows: Absolutely. You know, I think all of them are going to have a lot of similarities. All of our significant relationships are going to have similarities. We can’t choose our family. That’s going to be the only one that has variation in it. But you can sort of highlight the strengths in regards to those relationships with family members and reduce the time that you spend with certain family members that don’t share those values that are important to you. So, you know, you kind of have to be proactive, more proactive with family in response. So it’s more you know, you deal with what you have the best that you can. If you have a bad hand in regards to a sick family member or a chaotic family member or a loose cannon or someone who just is diametrically opposed to your views, then you do the best that you can. It should still be important to you every once in a while, you know, yes, you have to write somebody off. But if it’s a parent or a sibling, obviously that’s going to be very difficult. And that, you know, like I said before, I wouldn’t necessarily promote the idea of cutting people off that are primary in your life. I think it’s more evaluating whether someone is important or whether someone isn’t important and attending to that relationship. A lot of people prioritize people.

Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Oh, yes, exactly. I mean, it’s just so interesting what you’re talking about because you talk about prioritizing. That’s always been asked about, since nowadays we are being pulled in so many different directions. I mean, physically or time wise, Owaves being based on time being the most important factor, we are limited. So we have to prioritize our life. So now how do you say no to sudden friendships or relationships or going out? Because I mean, work ultimately brings us wealth in one way or the other or purpose in your family. You know, people have kids or students have exams and you’re trying to kind of juggle all these things. Like you said, your primary network should always be prioritized. How do you establish that? What’s the best way of keeping a relationship and not maybe having to invest that much in it? Or do you have to invest in all relationships?

Dr. Taylor Burrows: No. No, you don’t have to invest in all relationships. And the best thing to do is to behave the way that you would regardless. Like give someone trust, give someone reasonable doubt, be selfless and compromise if that’s what you expect from your relationships and your friendships. Right. Like you don’t just expect people to treat you those ways, but you don’t give it. And so the only way to really cultivate that in your relationships is to embody it. So you do it unconditionally. I mean, at first. Right. Like you do it at first and then you observe their responses and how they behave and react and if it’s reciprocal. And then once you know, wow they’re contributing back to this relationship, then you can continue to invest in it. But if they don’t and they take advantage of you, they take you for granted, it’s transactional or they’re just they’re non-responsive and they’re flaky or conflictual, they’ve got drama going on in their lives. Whatever the case may be, whatever that negativity is or neglect, then you’re going to just make those calls on your own and say, you know what?

I’m not going to put any more energy into initiating things. I’m just going to, like really I’m going to redirect my attention to other things that are bringing more productive and positive energy or outcomes into my life. So that’s how you kind of just switch gears and then it should taper off. Like it shouldn’t be something that bothers you. That’s when, you know, if something lingers emotionally and it brings up a sense of loss or grief or anger or resentment, then you should talk to someone about that. You know, that would be important to resolve. That’s almost like the baggage that people bring into romantic relationships. Right. You have to process that so that you don’t then take that into the next relationship and punish basically someone who’s innocent, with the sins of the past right.

Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: So with your advice, would you say so when you see a coach such as yourself, I mean, it seems invaluable, anyone going through this would definitely benefit from having you talk through things with them. I mean, I’ve already learnt so much. Would you say so digital coaching – Do you think that is the future of coaching? Can you help people through their difficult times, through the new media of this digital medium?

Dr. Taylor Burrows: Absolutely. And you know what, I also like to clarify, someone reached out to me the other day and said, what is it? Explain to me the coaching field. And I’m like, I know nothing about the coaching field, because I am a mental health professional by training. I’m calling myself a coach because I left that as a formal field of industry and now I’m working in effect as a coach. So I really can’t speak to the coaching field overall. But basically what I have seen and what fits for me is standing for what matters and being authentic and using a blend of formal academic and clinical training with a life sort of common sense and judgment that I’ve picked up along the way, being more of an autodidact and then integrating a lot of the knowledge that I’ve gained through other successful people and just content that’s accessible online anyway. And so I think the world is moving in that direction. And it’s very fascinating. And it’s great to know that people don’t have to go through a formal education system. I mean, obviously, medicine is going to be one of those things that will have to have some kind of formal element to it. But in general, there’s so many different ways of making money and having a purpose that can exist online. And so that is and I know there’s a lot happening, obviously with your app and everything.

Telehealth is a huge shift happening. And I know self directed treatment and patient directed treatment and all that sort of stuff. It’s all very fascinating. So it’s definitely shifting as well in medicine and health care from what I’ve heard and my sort of dealings. But for me, I think people, one, they get so much out of all the free content that I provide. Like you don’t even have to be a client of mine to be experiencing the outcomes of being a client of mine. I get messages all the time from people on my newsletter, for people watching my videos, from people reading my tweets. They’ve reached out to me. I have testimonials from people who just read my tweets and say, you know, yeah, I implemented what you said and it sorted my marriage out. I’m like, wow, that’s amazing.

Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: You’re helping a lot of people. You have a very good form of how you logically state everything in it. And it can really be something that most people might not think about. So, I mean, well done, helping so many people. And finally, I’d like to ask you, how do you live your day? How do you stay healthy? I saw a tweet by you where you advised sitting in the indirect sun for 30 minutes, 10 minutes of meditation, going for a walk, lifting weights, trying to go to sleep early with magnesium and take epsom salt baths. So how do you live your, how do you plan your day? What’s your routine?

Dr. Taylor Burrows: Yes, I have. I have a basic sort of daily plan and then something shifts, something I can’t do everything daily, obviously, but I do my meditation first thing in the morning. I actually took an epsom salt bath last night before going to bed. And I’ve been taking CBD oil or I take my magnesium. That’s true. I love to daily go into the sun for a little bit at least. And if I’m going for a walk, then that’s two things at once. And I like my neighborhood walkabouts, I call them. I’ve been really trying to get people to promote walkability in their communities. So instead of driving vehicles from point A to point B, actually, you know, I mean, if you can’t avoid it, at least drive into a city center and then spend a couple hours just walking around, going into stores, going into restaurants, cafes, interacting with people, people are so disconnected and then they wonder why they can’t meet anyone, you know, to have a relationship with or friendships. So that’s one of the things I think is a problem. And obviously one of the weaknesses of just being online is being disconnected.

So you have to balance that with an analogue lifestyle. And you know, kind of what I do is I make that a tradition of at least every couple of days going on a little walk about. But yeah, I mean, eating healthy is really important. Getting your sleep in is really important. Writing, journaling, all these things need to become sort of a rote activity. Like you don’t have to think about them. They become so internalized. And reaching out to the people that you care about. Right. Like checking in with your significant other. Well, for me, I have a long distance relationship for now, but I’m going to be seeing him in a couple of weeks. But, you know, if you check in with your family, your friends or whatever, like that can also be something that enriches your day. So very important to have those quality relationships.

Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Thanks for establishing such a good balance with a healthy life. And that’s what we’re pushing at Owaves. And it’s so good to have a mental health expert who’s kind of giving a whistle stop tour through some very important points of relationships and how you can kind of nurture them, but also take care of your mental health and this will be very useful for a lot of our clients and students. And to sign off, I would just like to ask where can people follow you for Consultation?

Dr. Taylor Burrows: Absolutely. My website does give a little bit more background and you can request that free 15 minute discovery call. So that’s been useful to, gosh, a lot of people. So feel free to go to Dr. Taylor Burrows dot com and you’ll be able to fill out the contact form there to request that or book a first session, if you want to just go ahead and get a proper session and see how we fit together. But Twitter, if your on social media, Instagram, Facebook, they’re all basically the same handle. But my YouTube channel is now pretty populated with videos and I do live videos every Monday evening. So, yeah, you can reach out to me there as well. Lots of ways to get in touch.

Dr. Sohaib Imtiaz: Thank you for being on the podcast, Dr. Taylor Burrows. You’re someone who’s quite compassionate and caring. You’re helping a lot of people through their troubled times. And it’s something which we’re pushing at Owaves with coaching. So, so lucky to have you on. Thank you for being on the podcast.

Dr. Taylor Burrows: You’re welcome and thank you.

Dr. Haroon Kazem: Thanks for listening to another episode of the Body Clock podcast by Owaves. If you enjoyed the show, please leave us a five star rating on your podcast app. Please also remember to download the Free Owaves app on the Apple App Store. Please tell your friends and your family. It’s a great tool to help you optimize your life into effectively planning your day. Thanks as always for listening and I hope you join us again next time.