Publication: Waukesha Freeman (Conley);Date: May 2, 2012;Section: Local;Page: 3A
THERAPY LITE Shrink ‘n’ Drink offers free advice in a relaxed environment
By Jamie Trudell Special To The Freeman
WAUKESHA – A few dozen people turned out to Key Westconsin Tuesday night, some regulars and some firsttimers, for Shrink ‘n’ Drink.
The event started at 7 p.m., but most of the attendees, who had made advance reservations because of the popularity of Shrink ‘n’ Drink, arrived by 6:30 and grabbed a drink before it all got started.
Dr. Julie Helmrich, the resident “shrink,” boasts a PhD in clinical psychology and has been working in the field for over 30 years. She started Shrink ‘n’ Drink five years ago as a way to bring scientific psychology to the average person via a free Q&A session that allows participants to ask questions that have been plaguing them in a fun, casual environment.
Since its inception, more than 2,000 people have attended the events, which also take place in Bay View at Hamburger Mary’s and Wauwatosa at Cranky Al’s each month. The latter is where Shrink ‘n’ Drink first started after a brief conversation with the restaurant’s owner.
Key Westconsin hosts the event the first Tuesday of each month. Tuesday’s was the fourth time the tropicalthemed bar and restaurant hosted Helmrich and her questioners.
Helmrich’s favorite part of the events is “seeing what’s on people’s minds and hopefully giving them some better advice than they’d get sitting at the bar talking with their friends.”
Terry and Becky Starns have attended the past two Shrink ‘n’ Drinks. They started coming because of their love for Key Westconsin. When they heard about the event, they thought it sounded like fun and decided to check it out. Helmrich is the reason they keep coming back.
“She’s spontaneous. She’s practical, yet she can be really funny,” said Terry Starns. “If you ask a goofy question, you’ll get a goofy answer. If you ask a straight question, you’ll get a straight answer.”
The questions indeed ranged from straight, practical queries: “How do you calm the mind and react logically, not emotionally?” to goofy: “What should I do on my wedding night?”
The answer to the latter, according to Helmrich, is “something you’ve never done before.”
Helmrich is always quick with a retort and then a thoughtful, scientific explanation, if the question deserves it. One participant asked how many drinks per week qualifies someone to be an alcoholic, to which Helmrich wryly responded, “In Waukesha, there’s no limit.”
She then seriously answered that, if drinking interferes with two of the three important areas of your life: health, work or relationships, then you do, in fact, have a problem.
Helmrich’s practice is largely focused on interpersonal relationships. She said it is extremely important to understand the emotions behind what is verbally and nonverbally communicated between people. Many of the night’s questions dealt with interpersonal issues.
“How do you truly forgive someone who has hurt you?” read one of the more thoughtprovoking questions of the evening.
Helmrich responded by listing three steps to forgiveness: uncover anger, make a decision to forgive, and then actually do the forgiving, something that can take years to do.
“As Americans, we’re not good at this. If we’re not good at forgiveness, we have lousy mental health,” she said.
Participants cheered, interjected their own answers and chowed down as the event continued, everyone clearly enjoying themselves. To learn more about Helmrich and Shrink ‘n’ Drink, visit www.juliehelmrich.com.