Exploring Self-Deception and Fulfillment, with Dr. Cortney Warren of Choose Honesty: Ep. 29
- Episode Topic:
In this captivating episode of MasteringCounseling, we delve into the profound realm of self-deception and personal growth with Dr. Cortney Warren, a renowned Clinical Psychologist and the visionary behind Choose Honesty, LLC. Join us as we explore the role of truth in therapy and counseling, and how it can lead to more fulfilling lives.
- Lessons You’ll Learn:
Throughout this episode, you’ll gain insights into the significance of acknowledging self-deception and embracing authenticity. Dr. Warren’s journey highlights the transformative power of truth and its impact on mental health and well-being. Discover practical techniques to confront self-deception and find inspiration in her mission to help individuals lead more honest lives.
- About Our Guest:
Our esteemed guest, Dr. Cortney Warren, is a Board-Certified Clinical Psychologist known for her pioneering work at Choose Honesty, LLC. Her dedication to understanding and addressing self-deception has made her a trailblazer in the field. With a unique ability to bridge the gap between research and the public, Dr. Warren empowers individuals to embark on a journey of self-discovery.
- Topics Covered:
In this episode, we cover a wide array of topics, including the origins of Dr. Warren’s fascination with self-deception, the mission and resources of Choose Honesty, LLC, and the translation of complex psychological research into accessible knowledge. We also explore how self-deception impacts mental health and the practical strategies to confront it. Dr. Warren’s insights extend to navigating difficult relationship transitions and empowering change through honesty. Additionally, we delve into the future of counseling education and professional development, discussing how aspiring counselors can excel in this dynamic field.
Our Guest: Dr. Cortney Warren – Board Certified Psychologist, Founder and Owner of Choose Honesty LLC
Dr. Cortney Warren, a distinguished public figure and Board-Certified Clinical Psychologist, is a force to be reckoned with. Dr. Warren’s influential work spans several pivotal domains, with a strong focus on honesty, diversity, psychology, mental health, and relationships. In addition to her impressive credentials, Dr. Warren is a prolific author, captivating speaker, and a highly sought-after research and media consultant. Her expertise casts a wide net, encompassing topics such as addictive behavior, body image, cultural competency, self-honesty, and relationships.
One of her notable contributions is the book “Letting Go of Your Ex: CBT Skills to Heal the Pain of a Breakup and Overcome Love Addiction.” This publication offers invaluable guidance for individuals grappling with the intricate emotions and challenges associated with love and heartbreak. Furthermore, Dr. Warren’s TEDxUNLV talk, “Honest Liars – The Psychology of Self-Deception,” stands as a testament to her unwavering commitment to making psychology accessible to a broader audience. In her TEDx talk and book, “Lies We Tell Ourselves: The Psychology of Self-Deception,” Dr. Cortney Warren delves into the profound impact of self-deception on life fulfillment.
Dr. Cortney Warren’s remarkable contributions to the field of psychology, along with her dedication to fostering honesty and diversity, establish her as a true luminary. Her impact resonates deeply with individuals seeking self-improvement and has far-reaching implications for society as a whole.
Dr. Cortney Warren: Change is a practice. Change is a daily effort to do something differently. Even each day. If you do one small thing differently, it compounds over time to have this dramatic effect on your life and your relationships. Arguing a like specific point of view.
Becky Coplen: Welcome to Masters in Counseling, the weekly business show for counselors. I’m your host, Becky Coplen. I’ve spent 20 years working in education in the role of both teacher and school counselor. Each episode will be exploring what it takes to thrive as a counseling business owner, from interviews with successful entrepreneurial counselors to conversations with industry leaders on trends and the next generation of counseling services, to discussions with tech executives whose innovations are reshaping counseling services. If it impacts counseling, we cover it on Masters in counseling.
Becky Coplen: Welcome listeners to another captivating episode of Masters in Counseling, where we explore the world of therapy, counseling, and the businesses that shape them. I’m your host, Becky. Today, we have the privilege of hosting a true luminary in the field of psychology, Dr. Cortney Warren. She is a board-certified psychologist, founder and owner of Choose Honesty LLC, and is a passionate advocate for confronting self-deception to lead more fulfilling lives. We’re so glad to have you on the show today. Would you just like to do a little intro of yourself, Dr. Cortney?
Dr. Cortney Warren: It’s such a pleasure to be here. I really am a passionate human who thinks that the best of psychology is when you can apply it to your own life. So I’m a clinical psychologist. As you said, I was a tenured professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I resigned from my full-time position really to have more interaction with the general public, to try to bring psychology to the mainstream person who might be able to use it to help themselves with their own struggles in life. But I still have a very academic background. I’m still in the psychiatry department adjunct at UNLV, and I do a lot of speaking and consulting.
Becky Coplen: You are specifically rooted currently in understanding self-deception. Can you share with us what initially drew you into this field and how it is shaped your journey in the world of psychology and counseling?
Dr. Cortney Warren: I became really fascinated with self-deception when I was in graduate school because as I started understanding some of the primary theories of psychological development and understanding who we are or how we think about human nature, it was blaringly obvious to me that one of the things that separates us from animals through animals, is our ability to think. And the bigger our brain, the more our capacity to lie not only to other people but to ourselves. And so when I started working with patients and when I started looking around at my own personal life and at the lives of my friends and family, I was almost shocked by how many self-deceptive tendencies we have as humans and then how those little seemingly small lies we tell ourselves actually drastically influence the quality of our lives. So self-deception really is, from my perspective, our biggest obstacle to personal growth and fulfillment. Because if you can’t tell yourself the truth, you don’t have any mechanism to change. You’re just going to stay stuck mired in your own lies. And so helping all of us see our tendencies to distort reality in ways that hurts us is really the greatest mechanism for personal development from my perspective.
Becky Coplen: Thank you. I love how it just reminds me of the route. Like you’re getting really deep into where a lot of the problems that we end up having can stem from. So thank you for explaining that introduction as an introduction. When we think about your Choose Honesty, practice, and helping individuals confront self-deception, what inspired you to create this specific part of your work, and what unique resources and connections does it provide? Who are on this path to understand themselves better?
Dr. Cortney Warren: I think that the journey of life really at its core is the journey of understanding yourself. Know thyself, know thyself, know thyself. It is a mantra that you will hear a lot of people in the mental health world say to themselves and to their patients because it’s really through this introspective observer role that you can take of yourself to try to understand who you are, why you are the way you are, how you got here, and how your way of being in the world serves you well or is actually harmful to you in some way. It’s true that journey of self honesty that you actually will become empowered. You actually will be able to stand strong in your own body no matter what horrible adverse things happen to you because they’re going to happen because life is really hard and you really can’t get out of this life unscathed. You’re going to experience something that’s profoundly difficult, painful, hard. And the more you can understand who you are and how you want to respond when those situations emerge in your life, the more power you have to craft out the outcome of your enjoyment, your fulfillment, the direction in which you spend your time and focus, your energy and your attention. And so I think self-deception is one of those constructs, one of those topics that we talk about in psychology that really transcends all humans. So when I think about patients that I might work with or people who are struggling with a mental health symptom or a mental health diagnosis, an eating disorder, an anxiety disorder, mood, depression, substance use, you name it, the gamut. At the end of the day, when you’re sitting in my office with me, the first goal that I’m always going to have as we develop a trusting, bonded, safe connection, working relationship together, is to see how much of reality can you really see about your current life situation, because that is where we have so much power to shift things that will dramatically influence the course of your life.
Becky Coplen: All right. Thank you. That reminds me so much. I work in an elementary school, and a lot of times the kids want to worry about everyone else. And you’re obviously going way deeper with it. But with the little people, it’s like you can only respond what in what you can do. We cannot make anyone do anything. So just made me think of that.Oh yeah.
Dr. Cortney Warren: So that’s such a great example because it’s something that we want control. We want to say it’s your fault that I feel this way, or you can picture the kids at school or us adults even struggling in our relationships. We get in an argument or we’re in pain and we say, It’s you, it’s you. Pause. You have no control over the other person. You do have control over your thoughts, over your behaviors, what you say back, how you respond, and in that space is where you will find your greatest power and freedom.
Becky Coplen: All right. Good things. Let’s a lot of these things you’re telling us, I’m sure, have been in your peer reviewed articles. You’ve done many professional presentations. You’ve written books on self-deception. How do you bridge the gap between rigorous psychological research and making this knowledge accessible for the general public?
Dr. Cortney Warren: I think it’s such a difficult thing to do, actually. But maybe the most important thing that we can do as mental health professionals, because on the one hand, we need solid empirical research, we need data, we need to understand people by having large samples of diverse populations and being able to make some conclusions about what’s helpful and what’s harmful in a therapeutic process. And you do that in a research setting. But the flip side of that is most of what we do as academics who work in university settings or as researchers, we write for other professors or other doctors. It’s very hard to trickle that down to actually the people that were doing the research for. Right. The whole reason we do research is so that hopefully it improves the lived experiences of people. And so that is something that I care very much about. And in the interest of doing more for the public, I started writing a blog which a lot of professionals are starting to do, and some social media accounts, which is a very touchy subject really in psychology, ethically, because we have to be very careful that we don’t have a doctor patient relationship, that people don’t misperceive what we’re doing as an intervention, that it’s really clear that we’re trying to give information in a way that’s relatable and digestible. So I think that it’s a difficult thing to do to have an academic background where you’re really pumping out journal articles and writing books and really try to reach the public. But both of my books were actually written for the public. The most recent is a self-help book on breakups and how to use cognitive behavioral techniques to help yourself overcome some of the primary symptoms that people go through when they’re really struggling with the end of a romantic relationship. So there are ways to do it. It just takes a different skill set than most of us are trained in.
Becky Coplen: Yeah. So many things you said there. I connected with the first being. Some people could read the book. I know the one I looked at last night was it’s not even that long. Anyone can read it and that might be enough to get them through. Or I liked how you shared and we talk about the business side of things as well on here in that you are not their therapist by your postings. So what you write and what you do could possibly help people know, do I need to get myself a therapist? So thank you for making that point because it’s something very valid as we have people wanting. People are followed on TikTok often before they even possibly Google official professional therapists. So that’s a really good point to make. Going to your TEDx Talks and your book lies we tell ourselves the psychology of self deception. You discussed self deception as a significant obstacle to life fulfillment. Could you share some practical examples or technique from your work that listeners can apply to their daily life?
Dr. Cortney Warren: Absolutely. So just to be clear that we’re all on the same page, self-deception is really this very normal, natural human tendency to believe something that’s false. You absolutely, with all of your being, believe this thing that is not true or refusing to believe something that’s true. Right. And so you get in this position where you’re sure of something that’s wrong or you’re not sure of something that actually is right. And when it comes to noticing self-deception, it is very easy for us to see it in other people once we get attuned to what it looks like. Right? So if I say denial, most of you know what that is. That’s I just refuse to believe the truth. Even though the data are blaring in my face right now, you can probably see your friends and family denying things like, Oh, no, I’m not a liar. Oh, no, I’m not jealous, I’m not petty, I’m not angry right now. And you’re looking at them going, Yes, you are. Yes, you are. Yes, you are. I can give you all these examples. Seeing it in yourself is so much harder. And the reason is that self-deception is a very protective process. It’s there so that you don’t have to acknowledge things as that really hurts your ego. That really hurt that core part of you where if you admit it, it’s like an Ouch. That is true. I am really jealous right now. I am really angry right now. I totally have a tendency to be impatient and insensitive and I’m yelling at my kids.
Dr. Cortney Warren: I don’t want to admit that because it hurts me too much. But as you do now, you have the opportunity to change. So what I would say to anyone who’s interested in self-honesty is what I would call it. The first step is really developing awareness, a non-judgmental self awareness where instead of being reactive. You pause and any time you notice yourself having a flare or having a moment where you’re really mad or you’re really upset, before you react, pause and say, okay, I’m going to pause and I’m going to ask myself. What is my reaction? Say about me right now? Do I know part of this is true and I just don’t want to admit it? Is there an aspect that is accurate here that I actually have to consider before I just fundamentally deny that this could possibly be reality? And as you develop this almost observer perspective of yourself, where it doesn’t hurt you as much to admit it, where you say, Oh, yeah, I did that. I did that again. I yelled at my kid and I keep saying I’m not going to, but I did it again. You are now able to consciously make a different choice. So you might pause and say, I have a tendency to get really angry. And when I’m angry, I raise my voice and it’s a problem. Now, what am I going to do with that information? Well, first, maybe I’m going to apologize to my child.
Dr. Cortney Warren: Then maybe I’m going to say, okay, the next time I notice I’m angry, I’m going to excuse myself so that I can move over away somewhere else. Think about what is going on in my body, in my brain, in my thinking, and then actively practice doing something differently. And it is actually that process. All of those seemingly small steps that you have to take to change. You probably hear this a lot, but so often people think therapy or self-help is they’re going to tell me the answer and it’s going to get better really quickly and you’re going to know what’s wrong. And it’s going to be fixed. Change is a practice. Change is a daily effort to do something differently. Even each day. If you do one small thing differently, it compounds over time to have this dramatic effect on your life and your relationships. So if I practice my not yelling at my kid even the first day, I not only proved to myself that I can do it differently, I probably heal my relationship with my child at some level, especially if I acknowledge that I don’t like that I yelled at them and apologize for it, and it becomes easier and easier over time because you understand what it is you’re reacting to and you choose how you’re going to respond in a way hopefully that helps you and your relationships and doesn’t hurt you and other people.
Becky Coplen: This episode is brought to you by mastersincounseling.org. If you’re considering enrolling in a master’s level counseling program to further your career, visit mastersincounseling.org to compare school options via our search tool that allows you to sort by specific degree types tuition, our costs, online flexibility and more.
Becky Coplen: Thank you for the very valid real life examples. That was super helpful of getting understanding your book. And if I were to put it in one lump sum, I’d say if everyone could just give themselves like a little time out personally to themselves and that pause. I love how you said that. That pause is so key and it would save everyone a lot of heartache, even just a ten second walking away. So all really good things. Let’s shift a little bit because there’s so many things to share on here. But your new book, Letting Go of Your Ex, addresses, breakups and moving on. How does this work tie into your broader mission of helping individuals become more honest with themselves? And what specific advice would you offer to those who are navigating difficult relationship breakups or moving on to a new relationship? We’ll get into the dating and breakup side of your work.
Dr. Cortney Warren: Self-deception affects all areas of our lives, but one area that I see it most obviously, is in our romantic relationships. The more intimate you try to be with someone, the more you are likely to experience insecurity. And that is really that dialectic between closeness and fear or closeness and vulnerability. When I think about self-deception and in my TEDx Talks, I used myself as an example because it’s really helpful to have concrete examples of how self-deception actually plays out in people’s lives. And I used myself in romantic relationships because I struggled so much early in my life and at the time, I’ll give you a very concrete example. The first time I fell in love, I was madly in love. I was 18 years old and I told myself a host of lies that are probably going to sound very familiar to anyone who’s fallen in love. This is the best person in the world I’ve found my mate. They complete me. My life is going to be wonderful from here on out to become one. I feel elated, euphoric, excited. I want to spend all my time with this person. And so when that happens, falling in love, which is a very natural, wonderful, euphoric, addictive experience for humans, you actually will create a whole host of lies about your mate, because the reality is you don’t actually know them very well yet, and they don’t probably know you very well yet. And so these narratives that we create about our romantic partners often come crashing down over time as we realize that they aren’t who we decided they were in our own minds. And so in this latest book, the way that I integrated self-deception is really by highlighting a lot of those lies that we tend to believe when we fall in love and in our romantic relationships and how to challenge your thinking.
Dr. Cortney Warren: You’re really flawed, unhelpful thinking, particularly when you’re going through a divorce or a really bad breakup where you fell madly in love with someone probably made a host of untrue conclusions about them, and now they’re no longer in your life or they’re no longer in your life the way that they used to be or even the way that you wanted them to be. And so how can you actually confront those thoughts such that, you know, your value is the same with or without them, You know, that they aren’t actually the perfect person for you because you’re broken up. So clearly something is not working. You know, that you can’t actually change them. That’s a common lie in people. Oh, they’ll change or I can change them. The reality is that people change when they want to and are willing to do the work to make it happen. And unless you have that belief about your ex, assume they’re going to stay the same. So that really is the framework of the latest book that I wrote, which very much was written for the public. It was written for anyone out there who has fallen in love and broken up and finds themselves lost or unsure of how to move on experiencing symptoms like obsessive thinking or intense emotional reactions. Maybe you’re really angry or really depressed or really sad. Identity crisis. What’s next? Who am I now? Cravings for them, wanting answers, wanting information. Those are some Hallmark symptoms that people feel when they go through a bad breakup. And the really good news is that. As you become honest with yourself about what symptoms you’re having and how you’re fueling them, there are lots of psychological strategies that you can use to overcome them.
Becky Coplen: So interesting, the self-deception, of course, of ourselves. But then when we’re so in love, how we will lie. And I have heard that so many times from different people and breakups and even divorces, like they could not see it until they stepped out. So yeah, this is all so interesting and helpful and I hope that that book can help a lot of people. Let’s shift a little bit into some advice maybe you’d have for people who are newer in these roles of counseling and therapy or even possibly considering this work. How would you say some of this could be used in their practices, even if they don’t have as specific of a business as you have? What are some of the ways you could see them using this or delving into your work?
Dr. Cortney Warren: So for people who are interested in going into the mental health sector, is that really what you’re who you’re targeting?
Becky Coplen: Yes, definitely.
Dr. Cortney Warren: Yeah. I have such a profound love of this work. And I think that. It can be a bit daunting because very few people are going to come into your office who are doing very well. Usually people come to therapy because they’re really in a lot of pain. They’re really struggling with some symptoms. They’re in a transition time in life that’s very difficult. So. Knowing that as you build a trusting relationship, you actually have this profound potential influence on someone’s life that can really, really heal and help them as they move forward and that. Settling into your own skin, I think is a psychologist or as a mental health professional is difficult. Oftentimes when you’re a new therapist, you’re focused on what should I say, How should I be? What am I going to wear? How do I do this? And I think that the more authentic you can be as yourself, an ethical self who’s coming in with the best interest of your client at heart. Understanding self-deception will not only help you personally as a person and professional, but it will help you see areas in your clients that they are trying to avoid. And avoidance, behavior and thinking is very characteristic of self-deception because it’s something that you don’t want to see. And even being able to point that out to them, even being able to say something like, I can see that this is really hard for you to even consider the possibility that it’s true. I can see that thinking about yourself as a parent or thinking about your early childhood experiences or thinking about how your own insecurities are influencing your relationship or the situation in your life is so scary. Opens the door for them to consider what’s true that they can’t accept yet. And over time, your ability to form a safe, confidential relationship with them to explore those things is a profound gift.
Becky Coplen: Thank you. That’s very encouraging. And I like how you pointed out that at first they may be so worried about themselves and the start of the practice. And really, as long as you are authentic, it will just come together when you’re really hearing your client. And we definitely, of course, have to have them in the forefront. It’s not the same as a business, even though we talk about the business side. So let’s talk about we may come back to the advancement of the future therapists and counselors, but what do you have on the horizon? Any exciting projects or special research? I know maybe you don’t even want to share it if it’s not fully unfolded, but what are you working on right now.
Dr. Cortney Warren: Since the book just came out this year, I’m giving a number of talks. I’m actually giving a continuing education talk on self-deception in October, which you would be welcome to sign up for. It’s aimed at mental health professionals and you get continuing education credits, but you could certainly register even if you’re just interested in the topic. And I am still doing a lot of academic research that I am putting into blogs and into really writings for the public, exploring how self-deception and how our insecurities influence all of our relationships, including our romantic relationships. So if people are interested in hearing me speak or in following me on social media, they’re welcome to look for links. We try to post them anytime there is a speaking engagement coming up.
Becky Coplen: Yes, there already is so much on there. When I went to your website drcortney.com. You can easily find the blog on there and there were many entries. I feel like you write at least monthly maybe weakly.
Dr. Cortney Warren: Yes, at least monthly.
Becky Coplen: Okay. Yeah. Lots of good. And some of it I found so entertaining. I feel like in the dating world and all that, people are like, Oh, this is even more exciting to explore. So yeah, we look forward to hearing what you have new to share in October.
Dr. Cortney Warren: Fantastic.
Becky Coplen: In thinking about the Masters in Counseling programs, you talked a little bit about what they would need, but thinking about maybe on the academic side in what do you think they would be seeing? And personally, a lot of times we have a very general degree. But if someone was interested in your specific line of work, how would you advise their course loads and maybe their minors as they go through these programs?
Dr. Cortney Warren: I think it really depends on your area of expertise, what you really want to be a specialist in and maybe you don’t know, and that’s perfectly okay. I always would encourage people to take a broad course on therapeutic orientations. So to study everything from Freud with psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic theory all the way through the existential thought bases and the humanistic traditions, including Gestalt through to CBT and now the third wave of CBT DBT ACT. Because I think really the crux of becoming a great therapist is starting with what are your beliefs about human nature. Because the more you have a conceptualization of people, the more you will be able to create techniques or strategies to work with people from that theoretical framework. And that’s really, really important. Understanding culture, understanding diversity and understanding how sociocultural factors influence our development as humans is essential. So even if you don’t want to work with children taking a developmental course that is focused on sociocultural learning I think is essential for anyone who wants to be a therapist. Ethics is a massive topic for us as well. So understanding. How to create an ethical practice not only in person with people but in terms of marketing and in terms of running your practice. Definitely a skill that you want to have if you’re taking private clients. And then I would say go with your passion. What are you most interested in? Are you interested in human sexuality? Are you interested in adolescents? Are you interested in a certain disorder? So my background is mostly in body image and eating disorders, research and addictions, behavioral addictions like gambling or love internet use. So study what you love, because if it’s something that you’re really interested in, it will not feel so much like work and you will attract clients, then who will be right in your wheelhouse of what you really find compelling?
Becky Coplen: Excellent advice. I love how you started with the more general ideas and then help people to map out a more specific interest. Very helpful. I know we could probably talk for three days about all of your work and I encourage anyone who’s listening to explore her website and blog. You can go on YouTube and put Dr. Cortney in and you will find all sorts of things. Is there anything else that you feel like aspiring counselors or therapists should know as they consider a Masters in Counseling? Anything that you feel like we didn’t cover or you definitely wanted us to know about?
Dr. Cortney Warren: I think it is an amazing profession to go into. I also think that we are particularly prone to burnout. So I’ve done some burnout research too, which is also related to self-deception because most of us who enter into the mental health field do so because we really care about people. We really care about giving people a platform to heal and to live a fulfilling life. And that’s an amazing characteristic. But it comes with it a tremendous amount of empathy that can make it very hard for us to leave work at work. And so I think if I could give one piece of advice or recommendation to anyone who is newer to the field or thinking about becoming a counselor of some kind, it is I would highly recommend you find a good therapist because I think there are many reasons that that is useful for you personally and professionally. As you start out in this field, you’re going to have countertransference, you’re going to have reactions to your patients. You’re going to have those situations where you leave the office and you bring everything home with you and you’re thinking about them and you’re worried about them and you’re trying to figure out what to do with them, and having another trained professional who is there to help you work through that in a confidential way is priceless. So find a good therapist and don’t forget about your own self-care. It will be very important for you to learn skills over time so that you don’t get burned out.
Becky Coplen: Completely agree. Yeah, the burnout is in this line of work, and in working in schools, you have to have that time for yourself and to be able to rational detachment, right? Like you have to have joy in some other things or you really won’t ever sleep at night. So I hear you on that very personally, for sure. Good. We have had such a fast time in hearing all about Dr. Cortney. I encourage you to look at her books, especially in the areas of self-deception and in relationships. You can get more information about her Choose Honesty LLC. And just thank you for encouraging us to live a more authentic and fulfilling life. And we are really grateful for your time today. As we know, you have many things going on. Totally different time zone. I think you’re still in the middle of your day over there. But everyone who’s listening, we appreciate you spending time with us. And please leave us reviews, ask questions, and continue the conversation of Masters in counseling and we will say goodbye for now until the next episode. Have a wonderful day.
Dr. Cortney Warren: Thank you.
Becky Coplen: You’ve been listening to the Masters in Counseling podcast by mastersincounseling.org. Join us again next episode as we explore what it takes to be a business success in the counseling industry.