My guest today is Anna M. Ogle. Anna is a bilingual licensed marriage and family therapist with over 20 year of mental health experience in New Jersey and New York. Anna is also an adjunct professor at the New York University, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education & Human Development within the Department of Applied Psychology.
You can find Anna at:
[Jon Dabach] 00:00
Hi, I’m super thrilled to introduce you to Anna Ogle, a licensed marriage and family therapist working out of New Jersey and New York. She’s also an adjunct professor at NYU, currently teaching a graduate course on marriage, couples and family therapy.
[Jon Dabach] 00:17
She has that kind of educator vibe, where she just wants to impart or depart with wisdom that she has kind of gleaned from years in the field. And she’s really great to talk to and has so much insight into the world of relationships. So I’m excited to share her with you. In this episode, you’re listening to the relationship revival podcast with Jon Dabach, also known as Mr. Spirituality.
[Jon Dabach] 00:44
That’s me. I’m your host giving you insights and guidance from over 10 years in the field of this amazing journey we call romance on this show, I go over everything you need to know about how to get into a relationship, how to get the most out of a relationship, and sometimes even how to gracefully end a relationship without pulling your hair out and going crazy.
[Jon Dabach] 01:05
And occasionally, I’m even joined by new and old friends who are also relationship experts to bring you guidance and wisdom with new perspectives. Thanks for stopping by. I’m with Anna Ogle. MFT. Is it? Is it LMFT? Or is it MFT? I know people use different it’s technically a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, right? Is that how it is?
[Anna Ogle] 01:27
It’s a marriage and family therapist, but it’s
[Jon Dabach] 01:31
got it. And and you are licensed in New York, correct?
[Anna Ogle] 01:36
New York and in New Jersey. At this time, there
[Jon Dabach] 01:38
are a lot of reciprocity between states with an MFT. My wife is an MFT. And I know she does Colorado and California and she’s looking into Nevada. Is there a lot of different state to state, or is it? Is it just the licensing kind of governing boards.
[Anna Ogle] 01:57
So, it’s a national exam, but every state has different like regulations and ethics that need to be followed. So you have to kind of know what the which each state requires that you can meet the requirement
[Jon Dabach] 02:10
fine that there’s much difference between New York and New Jersey?
[Anna Ogle] 02:15
Well, in terms of getting a license, it’s less clinical hours in New York, New Jersey is a lot more hours like 3000 Wow, hours. That’s a huge difference. Huge difference. Absolutely. Right. So, I ended up being licensed in New York before New Jersey just happened to be even though I live in New Jersey. And I believe the CPUs are less than New York,
[Jon Dabach] 02:39
for people who don’t know, those are continuing educational units. Right? Right. So, every year you have to kind of take courses and kind of get, you know, get reeducated essentially stay on top of things. That’s what they are.
[Anna Ogle] 02:51
Right? Yeah. Cool. Yes. Make sure you’re in the loop.
[Jon Dabach] 02:53
Absolutely. So, let me just start things off and ask you what is it that makes you so passionate about therapy and, and also couples work?
[Anna Ogle] 03:05
So, you know, this is going to sound like, wow, she just said that. But I feel like it’s my life journey. I’ve been in the mental health field for over 20 years, even when I was in high school, I did a lot of volunteering in the community. I love working with individuals and couples and families. It’s very interesting to me to learn about the family of origin to hear they’re their stories, whether it be individually or you know, as a family or as a couple, and helping them work through that to get some clarity. It’s always about the clarity,
[Jon Dabach] 03:38
clarity in what’s what exactly their problems are, say more about that.
[Anna Ogle] 03:44
So, clarity about how they want to move forward, they always come into the session, some couples have been in couples therapy, and they’re like, this is just maintenance. But for the most part, they come in with a with the issue. And they want it to be fixed and some want it to be fixed immediately. Right. And some are very patient, they understand that it took time to get there.
[Anna Ogle] 04:03
So, when I say clarity, I just we have to peel back the layers we have to I always say to my couples. Tom, tell me what brings you to couples therapy and I want to hear from both of you. And it’s always interesting because they see it from two different perspectives.
[Anna Ogle] 04:18
But I haven’t done that because that way they can hear it for each other. They can hear each other, right? We don’t often do that at home. It sounds so basic helps me understand but it helps them hear each other maybe for the first time. Yes. And clarity like how do we get here?
[Anna Ogle] 04:35
Right? Let’s bring some awareness to conversations dynamics, interactions. Things like that. Are we blaming are we criticizing? It’s like they are they’re going through the motions. They don’t even realize it?
[Jon Dabach] 04:47
Yeah, yeah. It’s so helpful to get them to just talk in a respectful way where there’s some active listening going on I find as well. What is your Do you have specific approach; do you have a specific style or modality of practice that you find works best? Or at this point in your career? Is it almost second nature?
[Anna Ogle] 05:13
I wouldn’t say that it’s second nature, because then I would, I feel like I would fall back into this relaxed kind of like, you know, very comfortable and I understand doing with this work for so long. It’s been over 10 years, like every couple is unique, whether it be culturally religion wise, where they grew up family of origin, so I try to be very respectful of that.
[Anna Ogle] 05:35
And I try to go when really not knowing I want them to tell me, but in terms of approaches, I tend to gravitate towards Emotionally Focused couples therapy with Sue Johnson. It’s a little bit eclectic. So, a lot of EFT because I want to slow it down. And I really want to get down to the feelings, right? Like what are the feelings when your partner does X? Y & Z? What kind of feelings come up for you?
[Anna Ogle] 05:58
Because I feel like that’s how we build safety and vulnerability. And I always say that, like, in order for us to make progress, right, we need to have safety in this room. So, I want you to be honest, and want yet please don’t come in here and sugarcoat it. We’re going to have some uncomfortable conversations. But wouldn’t you rather do that here in a neutral space, say that saved?
[Anna Ogle] 06:18
Then go home? Yell, blame, criticize, and then shut down? Right? So EFT for sure, but also some Gottman? Because that the four horsemen of the apocalypse Sure, sure. very real,
[Jon Dabach] 06:35
very real. Yeah, I’m a big I’m a big Gottman fan. And I whenever I have a couple of myself that is hostile, detached, I’m always like, we got some work to do. Absolutely. I hear you. When you say safety, I actually get this question a lot where my clients say, what does that mean? So how would you define safe, like a safe environment for them?
[Anna Ogle] 07:03
You know, it’s an interesting question, because how do you gauge safety? I feel like I just intuitively and this sounds odd, but intuitively, I could read the energy in the room, I can feel it the tension, right?
[Anna Ogle] 07:14
I can see if somebody’s hesitating, I can see the body language, I can see if the arms are crossed. Or if somebody just if one of the partners says, okay, whatever you say, right, and they just want to go along with it. Like the sense of dread as they’re walking in, or maybe not. Right? Some couples, just some people don’t want to be there.
[Anna Ogle] 07:35
Absolutely. They don’t see. I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t see what the problem is.
[Jon Dabach] 07:39
That’s part of the problem. That’s a big part of the problem. Sure.
[Anna Ogle] 07:43
So safely, I just I can tell like if people were leaning in, I tell them, let’s turn your body. So you’re facing each other, go off and talk to me, like the other person is not in the room. Very cool. I’ll say okay, well, why don’t we take this opportunity? I want you to start, you know, face each other, make eye contact?
[Anna Ogle] 08:01
And just say what, what you just told me? Can you repeat that to your partner, I almost feel like and that’s part of the EFT like I need to slow it down, right? I need to slow it down. We need to tune into the feelings. Because when people are vulnerable, and they feel a safety, they’re, they’re honest.
[Anna Ogle] 08:17
And it helps the other person better understand where they’re coming from. So, your partner doesn’t hate you. Because you left the lettuce on the counter. They feel unheard. They don’t feel like they’re heard. And you’re not validating their feelings. So, they start yelling.
[Jon Dabach] 08:33
Absolutely. Very good. So, you talk about reading a lot of body language. Are you seeing clients virtually these days? Or is it still all in person for you?
[Anna Ogle] 08:45
So, both definitely in person, and virtually. And that’s, that’s always I used to think that that was not possible. A virtual part, especially right out of like graduate school, I felt that in person is best. And I still believe that it is for the most part. But for some reason some couples are able to navigate the couple therapy progress or the process.
[Anna Ogle] 09:09
Virtually. It depends on the level. I feel like it’s you know; you have to gauge your couple. Obviously, if there’s a safety issue, I always assess for safety as anybody suicidal any substance abuse and domestic violence. And if I can kind of like, gauge that it’s okay. You know, somehow it’s there’s enough safety there. I’ll do the work. Right.
[Jon Dabach] 09:30
Right. That makes sense. What do you miss the most when you’re doing virtual sessions,
[Anna Ogle] 09:37
more of the body language and just being there in person, but I still tell them, they’re probably a lot of them laugh and it’s okay, that’s we can laugh and therapy. I’ve learned that over the years, but like, I’ll say I want you to turn to your partner and it sounds a little odd because I’m in the screen.
[Anna Ogle] 09:56
But I still say I want you to turn to your partner and just tell Then what you just told me because they’re still talking to this? Believe it or
[Jon Dabach] 10:04
not, what’s natural, I think you know, you’re having a conversation, you want to make some eye contact. And then when you’re doing zoom or whatever platform you’re using, you know, your eyes go to the screen. So it’s not really eye contact, because it’s not in the mirror.
[Jon Dabach] 10:17
It’s it’s so funny it is, it’s a whole new language we have to learn when dealing with people. Right, let me ask you, do you see, in terms of patterns? What do you see being some of the most common things that come up in couples? And and how do you deal like, do you?
[Jon Dabach] 10:39
Do you recognize the pattern and say, This? Is every couple goes through this? Or do you kind of take it on an individual level? Like how much do you defuse it? By letting them know it’s a common problem? You know? And or do you find that there are no patterns? And that every really is unique?
[Anna Ogle] 10:56
You know, every couple is unique, but it is universal. I feel like I said this to somebody recently. And maybe it’s because I’ve been doing it so long. I’m like, wow, they’re really like, independent of where they come from language, culture, anything.
[Anna Ogle] 11:10
Yes. What I find is lack of self-awareness of how you’re showing up in the relationship, what energy you’re bringing into the relationship for sure. A pattern there to communication. Inevitably, I feel like I see that word so many times. In sessions, like I feel like I have to, I tell them, it’s like couples therapy one on one, we have to go back to the basics, especially when it gets like they one of them gets worked up, or they start really criticizing each other.
[Anna Ogle] 11:38
I’m like, all right, we need to slow this down. We need to go back to like active listening. Right? So issues with communication, people not being present emotionally available. Um, the blaming and the criticism, Gottman has that that is universal. And once they start stonewalling, it’s like, I call it the disconnect. There’s a disconnect there.
[Jon Dabach] 12:01
What do you do? What do you personally do when you have a client who starts stonewalling, right in the middle of a session, they just decide to completely detach? What’s the what’s the best way to get them to reengage?
[Anna Ogle] 12:14
I tried to say, hold on one second, I need to I want to highlight something. I’m highlighting it, but I’ll say that because if not, they’ll think I’m just interrupting.
[Anna Ogle] 12:23
And I’ll say, all right, I want to point something out. And I want to know, is this what happens at home? When when your partner says X, Y, and Z? Is this what happens to you just because what I just observed here in session is that you shut down.
[Anna Ogle] 12:37
And then I’ll go to the other partner and says, when your partner does that, and says, whatever, okay? Or folds his arms and turns his body? How does that make you feel? What kind of feelings come up for you? And most times, the partner says, you know, I feel hurt. I feel that that person doesn’t care.
[Jon Dabach] 12:55
Yeah, that’s a huge part. And like you mentioned before that when they leave the lettuce on the counter, it’s not about the frickin lettuce. It’s the fact that they feel unappreciated on heard whatever it is, yeah, it’s a bigger, it’s a bigger problem underneath the surface.
[Anna Ogle] 13:11
They feel dismissed. All of it. My opinion doesn’t count. Right? Absolutely.
[Jon Dabach] 13:17
Have you had you had a particular case or a particular client that was especially difficult?
[Anna Ogle] 13:27
Like in a couple or individually,
[Jon Dabach] 13:29
well, we’ll get into individuals in a second because I definitely want to learn more about what kind of individuals, you’re you’re you’re seeing and kind of what your therapy tends to attract, but in the couples world first.
[Anna Ogle] 13:39
So, couples, I think the hardest challenge for me, has been and and I need, you know, it’s part of the process. But when one of the couples has untreated mental illness now, I’m not talking depression.
[Anna Ogle] 13:54
I’m not talking anxiety. I’m not talking ADHD. I’m talking like bipolar, borderline, narcissistic. That kind of thing. Yeah, it becomes a challenge because they they’re not willing to let their guard down. They’re not open to feedback. They’re still willing to call the partner and barrister.
[Jon Dabach] 14:14
Are you being you saying when it’s untreated? Is it also undiagnosed?
[Anna Ogle] 14:19
Yes, like they denial. Like when I think when you ask before one of the challenges. One of the couples that might be the hardest work with is like people who are in denial.
[Anna Ogle] 14:29
They don’t want to acknowledge that that that takes two to tango, Sue Johnson calls it the dance. But if you’re in denial, and you think it’s just your partner, we need to go to school we need to go back to the beginning and talk about how it’s to have you here
[Jon Dabach] 14:42
Yeah, that’s the most difficult thing I’ve dealt with. I did have one client who I was convinced with sociopathic I’m not a I’m not a clinician. So, I’m I can’t diagnose but I you know, that had all the symptoms. So that was difficult, but that was only once and over 10 years, but narcissism is incredibly difficult.
[Jon Dabach] 14:58
Because because it’s it’s Like they take and take, and then just don’t expect that anything is needed in return. And it’s, it’s difficult. What do you how do you approach that? What’s kind of you, you know? Do you kind of break the news to the partner that they’re married to a narcissist? Or do you? I mean, how do you kind of broach it?
[Anna Ogle] 15:18
You know, it’s interesting question because you don’t want to be offensive, you don’t want to you don’t want to give feedback that they didn’t ask for.
[Anna Ogle] 15:24
They didn’t come in for that, right. But I tried to just help the the couple, but the individual with this partner, I just tried to bring awareness to the dynamic tones in the in the session and how that person might refer to their partner in session, just keeping it bigger picture, I try to keep it bigger picture and just highlighting interactions and dynamics, just an urge. They might be unhealthy.
[Jon Dabach] 15:50
They got to work with unfortunately, sometimes. Right. Right. Right. So, what’s your what’s your current practice made up of? I
[Jon Dabach] 15:58
know, I want to talk also about your you’re also an adjunct professor at NYU, is that correct? So, I’m really fascinated in your approach to teaching as well. But before we get there, what what’s your current practice made up of? Is it mostly couples? I know you see individuals as well as that a 5050 split or is it kind of all over the map depending on the week?
[Anna Ogle] 16:18
So, it’s mostly couples, I do some family work as well. And I have some individuals I love my individuals you build a rapport there, you see them for years, like and I work but I have an office by the NYU campus. So, like everybody’s young, and like, I love to hear a lot of international students that’s always interesting. But a little bit of everything right now I don’t work with children I have in the past but currently,
[Jon Dabach] 16:43
what would you say on an individual level your specialties are?
[Anna Ogle] 16:49
What with couples, or individuals General? Oh, depression, anxiety and ADHD, a lot of ADHD?
[Jon Dabach] 17:00
Have you had couples where ADHD has kind of been a factor in the relationship? Absolutely. So, what’s that, like, tell me more about that?
[Anna Ogle] 17:11
challenges within the relationship with one of the partners not like being able to function independently or being a little codependent in terms of their day to day and getting things done and one of the partners being frustrated and helping them navigate that while also educating the individual partner O’Malley both of them but
[Jon Dabach] 17:32
and the Educate the hopes with the education is to bring acceptance or bring kind of a plan of how they can approach the relationship differently. What’s the what’s the goal there?
[Anna Ogle] 17:44
I think it’s both acceptance of this normalizing it, it’s very common, and also like helping them develop their coping skills individually. And as a couple, right? Absolutely. Yeah, for sure. Navigating.
[Jon Dabach] 17:59
Tell me about what being an NYU professor like.
[Anna Ogle] 18:03
I have to say it was my first semester teaching there. I’m teaching in the spring, it was fun. Again, I love my students. Like, I feel like I was learning from them. Like I love to hear their stories, like we would do the lectures, which was on the theories for marriage and family therapy.
[Anna Ogle] 18:20
Right. But then it was about hearing them how they’re applying it in session or me sharing like my experiences. I really, I really enjoyed that. When you say it brought
[Jon Dabach] 18:29
me back when you say you’re learning from your students, what’s Can you share what what some of those lessons are some of the things you learned was?
[Anna Ogle] 18:38
So, their experiences and when they talk about their challenges, whether it be an internship or at their clinical sites, it brings me back to like my own experience. And it out. I also helped them like all normalized and say, You know what, it’s okay. Like, this is normal. But I feel like it keeps me on my toes as well.
[Jon Dabach] 18:57
Yeah, for sure. challenging questions. Right. There’s a way we grow first. Absolutely. It’s like getting a challenging client. It’s like, Ooh, what do I do here?
[Anna Ogle] 19:07
[Jon Dabach] 19:08
How big was the class size? Was it an intimate group or more of like a seminar type thing?
[Anna Ogle] 19:14
Those 13 students,
[Jon Dabach] 19:15
it’s nice, kind of small enough to be intimate. Yeah.
[Anna Ogle] 19:19
It was pretty intimate. I feel like we really get our discussions were lively for sure. Like, never a dull moment. And I’m teaching in the spring again, can you wait?
[Jon Dabach] 19:30
Well, that’s a good sign means you really liked it if you’re teaching again.
[Anna Ogle] 19:34
I liked it. I don’t know Fingers crossed.
[Jon Dabach] 19:37
I didn’t find the time with a practice to also become an adjunct professor. I mean, it seems like a heck of a commitment.
[Anna Ogle] 19:44
It is a commitment, paperwork, paperwork, and it’s actually not as hard as it sounds, right. Because I know the theories because I have the degree in marriage and family therapy and I practice it, but it’s, it’s like it takes time. Well, hours a week just to prep the lecture, and really you can’t prep for discussion. As long as you set it up. You’re all you’re in. Right?
[Jon Dabach] 20:07
Nice. That’s a good outlook. I like that. Yeah, um, do you have a particular outlook on life that you that you kind of live by that, that helps you kind of get through it sometimes as therapists, the hardest thing is to kind of keep your own mental health in check when you’re listening to everything. What’s an approach you have to kind of keep yourself stable and just your general outlook on life.
[Anna Ogle] 20:34
So, my general outlook on life, I try to be positive. I’m always grateful. I wake up, I’m grateful. I’ll get coffee and I’ll look up and I’m grateful. I’ll literally sit there and be like, I’m grateful for this. So a lot of gratitude. I work out I love to work out because if I don’t work out, that’s my therapy.
[Anna Ogle] 20:52
I also have my own therapist. But the gym is the therapy for me. I used to be a runner did the New York City Marathon. Wow, not necessarily my thing right now. I’m more into lifting weights. But
[Jon Dabach] 21:05
that’s impressive. I can’t I can’t even imagine. I think if I run a block and a half, I feel horrible. So it’s, it’s something I have to work back up to actually getting a healthy jog up. But ya know, I always, I always admire people who run marathons. I have a few friends who have run like several every year, and I’m just I have no idea how you do it. Your machines.
[Anna Ogle] 21:27
It’s a lot. I don’t even consider myself a runner. So that’s not my thing. Right. Wow. But mindfulness mindful
[Jon Dabach] 21:33
and the gym you find just helps you diffuse and Zen out and kind of
[Anna Ogle] 21:40
Yeah, it’s amazing. Like if I don’t I need it every day. It’s habit. And it’s the weights. It’s the endorphins. That’s what it is. Right? Endorphins make people happy. So, mindfulness working out,
[Jon Dabach] 21:54
yeah. Gratitude, working out mindfulness. That’s, I mean, if you have all three of those things constantly, I think you’re, you’re on a on a good on a good path there.
[Anna Ogle] 22:04
It’s a journey.
[Jon Dabach] 22:05
Is that what you like to do in your free time to just kind of go to the gym? Do you have any other hobbies or any other interests outside of the practice?
[Anna Ogle] 22:13
I love to travel, although COVID kind of ruin that. But um, I’m getting there, again, between paperwork and COVID. But so, I love to travel. I like to go to the local museums in New York. I like a little bit of dancing, not so much kind of dancing. Like salsa dancing. It’s a great workout. Yeah, it’s a great workout. But COVID Yeah, no, I got to get.
[Jon Dabach] 22:40
Well, let’s, you know, you’ve been amazing to talk to you. Thanks so much for your time. I do have I do have a question for you that I try to ask of, of the therapists that come on. And that is, if you had one piece of advice that you could give to every single couple knowing that if they actually followed through on it, it would make a drastic change in their romantic relationships. What is that one piece of advice?
[Anna Ogle] 23:07
Piece of advice. Wow. I feel like there’s so many parts to it. But
[Jon Dabach] 23:11
you can take as much time as you want. There’s no There’s no limit. If you if the piece of advice is 10 minutes, it’s fine with me.
[Anna Ogle] 23:17
I don’t even know how long it would be. But I would say you know, continue to lean into your relationship. And be mindful of how you’re showing up in your relationship have self-awareness. I always say this to my couples on the way out, I said be good to yourself and kind to each other, which sounds so cliche, but be good to yourself can mean so many things, right?
[Anna Ogle] 23:38
Whether it be self-care, taking care of yourself mentally, spiritually, physically, and kind to each other because you can, you can have a disagreement, and I say this to my couples, you can have an argument you don’t have, you’re not going to see things the same way. You’re two individuals from two different family of origins with two different life experiences. You don’t have to tear each other down every time you have a disagreement. So be kind. Great advice. Because
[Jon Dabach] 24:04
right advice. Absolutely. Great advice. I love it. I love it. I love it. Anna, you are you’re an amazing, amazing, wise therapists and I’m sure you help your clients unbelievably well. I hope so. No, it’s clear that you really care and and you were born for this.
[Jon Dabach] 24:25
You were like you said, you know, you were just inclination to help and that’s, I find that to be a common a common thread amongst most practitioners.
[Jon Dabach] 24:34
So, it’s always nice to see and calling. Yeah, thank you so much for being here. And you and I and I look forward to keeping the relationship and hearing what’s next from you