Blog : Psychologist

What do you want to be when you grow up?

What do you want to be when you grow up?


What do you want to do with your one precious life?

I came across this word while working at Toyota. The Japanese language comes from a rich tradition and has words that have a depth of meaning that we sometimes can’t capture with the English language. The word is Ikigai.

The direct translation of this word is:

A reason for being.

Ikigai. A combination of that which you are good at, that which you can be paid for, that which you love, and that which the world needs. Everyone, according to Japanese tradition, has an Ikigai.

As adults we often find ourselves in a position in life that we never expected to be in. When we’re younger we have huge plans. I recently had a 13-year-old counseling client tell me that he is going to make 60 million dollars by the time he reaches 20 years old!

Now it would have been easy for me to laugh and write him off. But I took a second to think back to when I was his age. When I was his age I was absolutely determined to be an NBA basketball player. I would get in before school every day and shoot 100 free throws before my first class. I would carry my basketball with me throughout the day, hoping to get a quick minute in between 3rd and 4th hour to shoot some hoops. You couldn’t convince me that I wasn’t going to make the NBA. I was determined.

Now if you ask some of my friends when I was that age, they may tell you that I was obsessed. And they’d be correct. But for me, making the NBA was about more than just the dollars and fame. It was also about having a platform to make a large impact on the world.

So when my client told me that he wanted to make 60 million dollars by the time he reached 20 years old, instead of laughing, I explored with him what was behind the money.

Because it’s never really about the money.

My client went on to tell me that he wants to reach the world through his music. He wants to help other kids who have struggled because he knows what it feels like to struggle, and music helped him get through it. My client wanted to have an impact on the world, doing something he loved, that he was gifted in, while also generating income.

So if you find yourself in a place in life where you’re unhappy, where you know you don’t want to be, where you are slowly dying, I have some good news for you.

Today you have an opportunity. You have the capacity to step back into your childhood self and ask a few questions;

What is it that I truly desire? What do I love, and how can I do more of it? How can I make an impact on the world while doing what I love?globe

When we’re doing what we love and others benefit at the same time, we all win. The best kinds of products and services are always mutually beneficial. They are beneficial to the consumer because they are getting a product or service that truly adds value to their life, and they are beneficial to the producer because they are tapping into their Ikigai.

So I want to challenge you today. What is it you love? What is it that you’re good at? Is this something that the world needs? I bet so! So why aren’t you making an income doing it?

Ikigai. Your reason for being.

I would love you help you on your journey toward discovering the reality of your Ikigai. Feel free to contact me!

About the author: Tim Wilkins is the owner and therapist at Identity Counseling Psychology PLLC. Tim’s counseling focus areas are anxiety, motivation, and identity issues. Tim is also an adjunct instructor at Jackson College where he teaches Intro to Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, and Intro to Counseling.


7 Areas to Practice Self-Care

7 Areas to Practice Self-Care


Self-care is a critical component for living a healthy life full of joy and fulfillment. Unfortunately, we often feel like we are just too busy to be mindful of all parts of ourselves. Practicing self-care is practicing self-love. I’ve found that living intentionally in the following 7 areas will often lead us to living a life that we love and to loving the person that we are.

Physical Self-Care

How am I caring for my physical body?

We all know it. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly will make us feel better. But for some reason we still don’t do it. It’s as if the intellectual center of our brain (our cerebral cortex, orchestrated by our frontal lobes) is in a dramatic battle with our emotional center (our limbic system). Both of these parts of the brain think that they are helping us, but the tension that they create is often enough to keep us stagnant. Learning to manage this internal tension can help free us from the blocks within our own body.

It’s also important to keep in mind that physical self-care is not just about diet and exercise. It is also about being mindful of anything that interacts with or touches our body. Any toxin, any chemical, any person…

Emotional Self-Care

How am I allowing space to process my feelings?

Sometimes we just try to power through it. Often we think that putting something on a shelf for a while, so that we don’t have to deal with it now, will be helpful.

This is a trick.

Our mind will trick us into believing that it is healthier to avoid harsh realities in life. Interestingly, sometimes it seems to work! We can temporarily free ourselves from dealing with complex feelings by simply distracting ourselves (think Netflix, video games, or whatever we use to “check out”). However, a funny thing starts to happen- the feeling starts to come out in ways that we didn’t expect. Maybe you lash out at your partner, or you get overly angry during a meeting. It will eventually come out, it’s just a matter of how it comes out. Living more intentionally and finding someone like a therapist or counselor to work with regularly can help us to live more intentionally and learn to process our emotions in a healthy way.

Intellectual Self-Care

How am I continuing to challenge my mind intellectually and creatively?

Depending on your day job, many of us can walk through a lot of life mindlessly and uninspired. After doing the same thing for a long time, our tasks move from our conscious (where we have to think about it and process the pros and cons of decisions) to our unconscious (where it becomes a habitual mindless activity). Caring for our intellectual self keeps our mind fresh and our life inspired. What is something creative that you used to love to do but just don’t have time for anymore? Do it today! Process how you feel before and after doing it.

Relational Self-Care

How am I cultivating my closest relationships?

In life, we have 3 sets of friendships: Primary relationships, Secondary relationships, and Tertiary relationships. Primary relationships are those that are closest to us. These are the people who truly know us. If I asked one of these people about you, they would be able to tell me a bit about your insecurities, the things that you care most about, and some of the most impactful things that you have been through. Most of us only have a few primary relationships, and it is important to cultivate them. As we age, it becomes harder and harder to maintain relationships. But these are the people who we know are worth keeping in our lives. Relational self-care is an active process. If we aren’t intentional about cultivating these relationships, they will inevitably fade.

Social Self-Care

How am I spending time with community (outside of my immediate family/circle)?

But what about those Secondary and Tertiary relationships? Secondary relationships are the people in our lives who we spend time with regularly. They’re our friends, we go out on the weekends with them, we enjoy each spending time with them, but maybe they’re not quite as close as our Primary relationships. Tertiary relationships are those on the periphery. These are our Facebook friends that we don’t see often but still enjoy keeping in touch with.

Social self-care is all about the extent to which we feel connected and invested in a community (beyond our closest friends and family). When we feel connected and engaged, we feel like we have more meaning and purpose in life. This brings us to the next area of self-care…

Spiritual Self-Care

How am I managing the ongoing search for purpose and meaning?

I’m not talking about religion. Religion can be part of this, but that’s not my focus here. I’m referring to our internal sense of self and what we bring to the world. Do I feel like I am connected with the deepest parts of myself? Am I aware of how I’m living, feeling, and being in the present moment? What do I want to contribute to the world? Our Spiritual self is the part of ourself that asks the deepest questions. Maybe I’ve been hiding from who I truly am for too long…

Suffering Self-Care

What methods am I using to cope with suffering?

As we journey through life, we all suffer. Suffering is a part of living and an important part of growing. We all may suffer in different ways, and it is important to find healthy mechanisms for coping with suffering. Though suffering is often unavoidable, we can work to employ mindful coping methods that help us emerge from the suffering a more hopeful and aware human. We may walk through life with a limp, but we are still walking and we’re going to carry on.

Are you interested in beginning therapy? Do you have questions? Contact Tim

About the author: Tim Wilkins is the owner and therapist at Identity Counseling Psychology PLLC. Tim’s counseling focus areas are anxiety, motivation, and identity issues. Tim is also an adjunct instructor at Jackson College where he teaches Intro to Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, and Intro to Counseling.



How to cope with anxiety

How to cope with anxiety

What is anxiety?

On some level, anxiety is a good thing. Anxiety has allowed humans to survive this long. Our body has a natural alarm system which lets us know if something is going wrong or if something doesn’t feel right. If there is a real threat present, anxiety enters in order to prepare your body for fight or flight. Think of how your body would respond if you were walking alone in the woods and encountered a grizzly bear…

In a certain sense, anxiety is a gift.

But sometimes, our body’s alarm system goes off at all the wrong times. Our body tells us, “You can’t sleep right now, you have to worry about what is going to happen tomorrow,” or, “Just think about how the world is going to come crashing down when people find out about who I really am,” or even, “How could you work right now when this is going on inside?”

Anxiety can overtake us.

It can prevent us from sleeping, from working, and can really start to take a toll on our relationships. Anxiety will try to convince us that we have serious health conditions, that we aren’t capable of handling this. Anxiety seems to flow through the fabric of our being.

Anxiety can be paralyzing.

It can prevent us from doing the simplest of tasks. Maybe you had one thing that you really wanted to get done today, but somehow before you knew it, it was 2AM and you felt like you hadn’t done anything.

Anxiety can trick us.

It can make us believe that all threats will happen, or it can make things seem threatening that truly pose no real threat. Anxiety tells us, “Don’t put yourself out there, it’s not worth it.” Anxiety tricks us into living a life filled with a false sense of protection.

How can therapy help me deal with anxiety?

We will begin by diving into the question of, “What is this anxiety doing FOR you?” Your body responds in certain ways for a reason. Maybe it’s our intuition that is telling us that something feels off. If so, there is a reason why our intuition is communicating with us. There is a reason why our body works the way that it works. It thinks that it is protecting us, but in reality it is sometimes hurting us.

tree_picThe process of discovering the various answers to this question will lead us on a deep exploration into the fabric of your soul. What makes you, you? What drives you? How have relationships in your life played into the person you are today, and how have they influenced how your body communicates to you?

The journey of therapy is a process of listening to yourself.

In therapy, we learn to listen to our body, to listen to what it is communicating, and to dive into why it is telling us what it is telling us. Your life is a narrative. The story has a plot, major themes, and major characters. Coming to understand all of these things is important in the journey of doing the “inner work.” Through self-discovery, we can begin to understand this anxiety from the perspective of your life. It has a role, but it does not have to be the star in the plot.

img_2327About the author: Tim Wilkins is the owner and therapist at Identity Counseling Psychology PLLC. Tim is passionate about working with people to help them better manage their anxiety. Tim is also an Adjunct Faculty member at Jackson College.


5 ways to find a therapist

5 ways to find a therapist

How do I find a therapist? That, is the question. Think about the following situation:

It’s late at night, and once again you can’t sleep.

Your thoughts are starting to get away from you again. Maybe it’s that thing that happened at work today, maybe it’s that person in your life who you just can’t seem to free yourself from, or maybe you’re thinking about something that’s looming and it seems to be holding your thoughts captive.

In this space, where many feel they don’t know where else to go, some people decide that they want to seek out a therapist. The decision to begin therapy is a hard decision, and often comes from a place of deep darkness and hopelessness. So once people make this incredibly hard decision, they often have no idea where to start looking for a great therapist. You’re already in a tough place, but now you have to sift through the countless number of therapists in your area, trying to decide who could truly help you.

How do I find a great counselor? How do I find a therapist that can actually help me?

As a therapist, my belief is that the most important component in finding a therapist is finding someone who you can truly connect with. Without this critical component, it may be very difficult to make real progress.

  1. Start by asking friends and family about counselors

The first place I recommend to start is with asking friends or family. Most of us have only a few people in our lives who truly know us. I’m talking about the people who know us to our core. Maybe these are the only people in your life that you feel comfortable talking to about deeply personal things. These people are who I call your “inner circle.” So I would begin by asking the few people in your inner circle, “Hey, I am considering starting therapy. Do you know of any great therapists?”

But maybe you don’t feel comfortable telling anyone about this. Maybe this issue is something that you hold closely. Not even your inner circle can know about this. If this is the case, I would recommend doing a quick Google search using the issue you’re dealing with and your area.

  1. Search “your issue” + “counseling” + “your location” in Google.

For example, if someone were looking for a counselor like me, they may type, “Counselor in Ann Arbor MI anxiety,” or, “motivation issues therapist Ann Arbor Michigan.” This will give you a good general idea of some of the most common resources in your area. Therapists who rank higher in Google are often the most established or currently active therapists in your community. Therapists websites will hopefully give you important information like which issues they typically work with, what their theoretical framework is, and what types of outcomes their clients can expect. Usually the first page to pop up on Google is Psychology Today. This is the number 1 referral source for counselors, therapists, and psychologists.

  1. Check online networks for counselors – Psychology Today or GoodTherapy

Here is a link to my Psychology Today profile. Psychology Today is a great resource because it allows you to get a quick snapshot of several people all on one website. Each therapist has a brief description which highlights how they work and their focus areas. For example, here is something my profile says:

My passion is to help you manage your anxiety, discover or rediscover your true identity, and find your inner motivation again so you can live a more meaningful, fulfilling, and inspired life.

Psychology Today profiles just give you a taste of what each therapist may be like. From there, I recommend going to their practice’s website (if they have one). Usually you can find more information about the therapist there. There are similar resources to Psychology Today, such as GoodTherapy (here is a link to my profile on GoodTherapy).

  1. Ask your county’s Community Mental Health (CMH) agency for counselor referrals

Most states have a Community Mental Health agency in each county. These agencies should have a referral list for therapists. Try giving them a call and asking if they have any recommendations for therapist who specialize in anxiety, or relationship issues, or motivation issues, etc.

  1. Ask your primary care physician about therapists

This option is listed last for a reason. For some reason, the physical health field seems to distance itself from the mental health field, so physicians won’t always readily recommend therapy. This isn’t always the case- I know some doctors who totally recommend evidence based approaches to psychotherapy. Regardless, each medical clinic should have referral recommendations for counselors, therapists, and psychologists. In addition to this, your primary care physician is (hopefully) a medical professional that you have built a trusting relationship with. Since they know your physical body and your personality well, they may be able to at least recommend a therapy style that they think would work best for you (such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Existential Therapy, Person Centered Therapy, etc.).

There you have it! Also if you find yourself in the Ann Arbor area, and are looking for a therapist, feel free to contact me. I’d love to help you find someone who you’ll be a great fit with, even if it’s not me!

About the author: Tim Wilkins is the owner and therapist at Identity Counseling Psychology PLLC. Tim’s counseling focus areas are anxiety, motivation, and identity issues. Tim is also an adjunct instructor at Jackson College where he teaches Intro to Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, and Intro to Counseling.