Therapeutic relationships have the potential to create change. Change? What does that look like? Recovery? What does that look like? Getting some help. What does that look like?

Creating change. What exactly does that mean? Is it the same for everyone? Is there a quick fix?

Creating an atmosphere in which growth and change can occur? What does that mean? How exactly does that work?

Who creates these definitions? Who defines what heals?

If I stop ____________; am I healed?

How do I know what a healthy therapeutic relationship looks like?

Do I risk exposing myself?

Am I broken?

Am I perfect just the way I am?

Who creates these definitions?

Who defines what heals?

Does it occur in a therapy office? A gym? A spa? While meditating? In the midst of being mindful? While sitting in my therapist’s office? While taking a walk? In the moments before I fall asleep?

Who defines what heals?

How powerful are relationships?

How connected are you?

How in touch are you?

Do you need to be broken to be healed?

Can you find happiness?

Will it get better?

Will they finally understand?

Who creates these definitions?

Who?

You?

Storytelling. It is therapeutic. It’s that simple. Tell your story, a story, any story. In the space between the telling and the witnessing is a land of transformation, rejuvenation, creation an event! There may be pain that is unleashed or tapped into.  There may be moments when the pull to become silent is very loud. We hold within us the ability to heal. We do not need to see ourselves as broken to find happiness. The same stories that bind us can set us free. We can change the story we told ourselves. We can enliven a new way of being. Write another chapter. Heck, we can even revise a previously held notion about ourselves, others and even the world at large. If we open ourselves up to possibility we must be gentle and welcoming to what is revealed. A traumatic story may feel like the last chapter of your book or maybe even the title of a complete anthology. This can change. We can heal. We can overcome. We can work through it. We can be comfortable with being uncomfortable. We can push through. We can have hope for ourselves even when we feel so disconnected from who we are. Our stories.

I encourage you to tell your story. Pick one. Anyone and begin. Your first audience can be a piece of paper. A blank word document. In our head as we are showering. Tell it. Feel it. Hear it. Heal it!!

Honor.
For those before us. Those we once knew. We heard about them from our family.
For us. For who we hope to be. In inspiration. For ourselves. Because we deserve it. If not us; then who?
How shall we take a realistic view?
Must we?
Can honoring another person change us?
Are there different rules when speaking of honoring ourselves?
Could the journeys inform one another?
Effect one another?
Deepen the impact both personally and inter-personally?
It is the space between the questions and the quest for an answer where honor is found, earned, strived after, witnessed…..

There are many types of adventures we can embark upon.

Some are chosen.

Others are given.

Some we stumble upon.

Others call to us until we answer.

This word can mean different things to different people. Does an adventure have to push your limits? Are challenges necessary? Is the unknown the exciting part? Is it the journey? The destination? Adventure. Can it occur within our own psyche? While dreaming? While making love? Does it involve a backpack? What must be added to constitute an adventure? Does something need to be set aside? Do you need to laugh along the way? Is the itinerary set? Remember; not all who wander are lost.  Have you ever had the experience of a good story being an adventure? Ever get lost in a book? Have you ever been carried away? What role does fear play? Does a past experience come into play? Adventure. This is different for everyone. How does it change when others are involved? Do you need a sidekick? An entourage? Where does your source of comfort, strength, and encouragement come from? How do you replenish when your reserves are low?

This writing exercise, this exploration could also be seen as an adventure.

The word means different things to different people.

What will your next adventure be?

I would love to hear about it.

There are many types of adventures we can embark upon.

Some are chosen.

Others are given.

Some we stumble upon.

Others call to us until we answer.

This word can mean different things to different people. Does an adventure have to push your limits? Are challenges necessary? Is the unknown the exciting part? Is it the journey? The destination? Adventure. Can it occur within our own psyche? While dreaming? While making love? Does it involve a backpack? What must be added to constitute an adventure? Does something need to be set aside? Do you need to laugh along the way? Is the itinerary set? Remember; not all who wander are lost.  Have you ever had the experience of a good story being an adventure? Ever get lost in a book? Have you ever been carried away? What role does fear play? Does a past experience come into play? Adventure. This is different for everyone. How does it change when others are involved? Do you need a sidekick? An entourage? Where does your source of comfort, strength, and encouragement come from? How do you replenish when your reserves are low?

This writing exercise, this exploration could also be seen as an adventure.

The word means different things to different people.

What will your next adventure be?

I would love to hear about it.

There are many types of adventures we can embark upon.

Some are chosen.

Others are given.

Some we stumble upon.

Others call to us until we answer.

This word can mean different things to different people. Does an adventure have to push your limits? Are challenges necessary? Is the unknown the exciting part? Is it the journey? The destination? Adventure. Can it occur within our own psyche? While dreaming? While making love? Does it involve a backpack? What must be added to constitute an adventure? Does something need to be set aside? Do you need to laugh along the way? Is the itinerary set? Remember; not all who wander are lost.  Have you ever had the experience of a good story being an adventure? Ever get lost in a book? Have you ever been carried away? What role does fear play? Does a past experience come into play? Adventure. This is different for everyone. How does it change when others are involved? Do you need a sidekick? An entourage? Where does your source of comfort, strength, and encouragement come from? How do you replenish when your reserves are low?

This writing exercise, this exploration could also be seen as an adventure.

The word means different things to different people.

What will your next adventure be?

I would love to hear about it.

 

Today, I attended day two of the Illinois Marriage and Family Therapy (IAMFT) Conference at NIU, Naperville Campus. The speaker was Mary Jo Barrett. We began the day with an acknowledgement of holding a trauma focused systemic conference where there was a traumatic experience. Mary Jo Barrett was also one of the volunteer therapist who assisted following the tragedy. A member of IAMFT is a parent of one of the deceased students. That set the stage for a day filled with collaboration, intention, a quest for change, a focus on what we will bring to the experience, as well as, what we hope to gain from the day. The day illustrated the collaborative change model beautifully. I always enjoy trainings with Mary Jo or at the CCC. I am inspired to be both a better woman, partner, mother, daughter, sister, friend. I am also reminded to add intention to my “knowing” and work towards change. She talked about the natural tendency toward change. It is so true. Following my clients lead, setting the stage, teaching skills and making changes. Did I know what I was doing when I allowed myself to follow an instinct with a client, ask a few questions, stop to grow a moment and bam…we were suddenly in the depth of the issues. Creating a treatment plan is creating intention. Setting the stage for change. Having a focused goal in mind. Transparency is key. I always explained why I asked a client to revisit something they just said or when I shared a musing with a client. I say why I am asking a client to explore an avenue of understanding.I did this because I attempt to manage the hierarchy by eliciting involvement. I had no idea that I was “intervening”. That wasn’t the main attraction. It was just what “I do with clients”.

What has helped you when seeing a therapist?

Who was in the room?

Who wasn’t in the room?

What is your intention for the day?

How will you make that happen?

I would love to hear from you.

Collaboration within the therapeutic relationship is a key ingredient for creating a change of context.

 

Today, I attended day one of the Illinois Marriage and Family Therapy Conference. Year after year, I enjoy learning, engaging, being inspired while inspiring one another. It is also nice to speak the same language. We may have different words to describe our art but the systemic and culturally sensitive foundation is systemic. The keynote  speaker was Dr. Mona Fishbane. Her cutting edge couple work and intergenerational therapy continues to set the healing stage for change. Families, couples and individuals all over Chicago are changed as a result. What has changed? They have. Literally, their brain has changed. We can change. We can grow. The couples dance can now be seen as the “dance of the amygdala.” A variety of lenses are useful as we are all unique. The couple system is also unique. Family of Origin work is still cool. Thanks for allowing that to be true Mona! Remembering my family therapy roots, learning about cutting edge scientific thought. Back to basics while upgrading to newer versions. Bugs get fixed. New solutions are created. I had a “star” today that signifies “new thoughts that will inform my practice of psychotherapy”. How exciting it is to be inspired. Both professionally and personally. Chicago has become a hotbed of innovative, health producing couple work. I am so lucky to be a part of it. As a person who is a member of many relationships. I cannot learn about ways to improve relational satisfaction without absorbing new skills which can improve my relationships. My brain can change. I can have an empathic connection with a story of healing and apply the lesson to my own relationship with my husband. Allow myself to delve deeper as we practice innovative interventions. My job is to intervene as a therapist. Not power over. But power with. Collaboration.

Whew…that was just day one. It feels enlivening to be inspired. I invite you to be inspired. Fall in love all over again. Create a new trust; a more complicated trust. Take the leap. Face the fear.Be vulnerable. Grow. Change.

I will be there right beside you.

“What would it take for me to make a change?”  This is a question many of us forget to ask ourselves when we decide to start eating better, start exercising more, stop yelling at the kids as much, quit smoking, stop drinking soda, face an addictive element in our life. We tend to dive in. We all know that with a little planning, forethought and determination we can do anything right? We might make a few plans in our head, sometimes share it with a friend, partner or sibling or even declare in on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  “What would it take for me to make a change?” Did we include this in the planning and preparation phase? Money? A prize? A vacation? Recognition from family, friends and many likes on your new profile picture on Facebook? Is it a feeling inside of you? Is it something you can see when you look in the mirror? Are the rewards external? Are the rewards internal? “What would it take for me to make a change?”  Would a close friend have to fight cancer for you to decide to make a change because life is precious; you are precious? Do friends influence your motivation? Is it an inner drive to overcome? Are you sick and tired of being overwhelmed, ashamed, hidden, locked away from your own happiness? Do you keep going and wonder when you will find the time? What matters is a spark. A wish to be different. To be differently in the world. A desire to change. Grow. Develop. Deepen. Dig in. Risk. Be willing to want. “What would it take for me to make a change?”

Do you feel less like the person you used to be? Do you find yourself wishing that things could go back to the way they were? Have you noticed that you are not as confident as you used to be? Is there less time for self care?

For many people they do not realize that something is out of whack.  Sometimes taking time off from work during the holidays reminds us just out of whack we have become.  Going on a vacation can remind us of who we used to be before kids, before the big promotion, back when things were more simple.

Reclaiming yourself through connection to others.

What does that mean?

Sometimes spending time with friends can remind us who we are. What we enjoy. What makes us laugh.

Volunteering and helping others can remind us of what is really important in our lives. The little dramas do not matter.

What matters is our connection to others.  Our family. Our friends.

It is not about how much money we make. It is not about what car we drive. It is not about the designer watch or purse that we covet.

It is about our connection to ourselves and each other.

I invite you to reclaim your relationship to yourself and those you care about in an authentic and meaningful way.

As a trauma therapist, a concerned citizen, a fan of SVU and a human being, I have witnessed traumatic events. I understand that there is suffering. I understand that we cannot control everything and everyone. That includes who battles cancer, whose house is destroyed by a tornado, whose village is washed away, whose husband, child, father, or mother dies while serving this country. We can’t even choose our parents. I also know that I live in a world of hope, healing, peace, love, understanding, beauty, music, dance, art, scientific discoveries and amazing human beings.

I live in a world in which the day can change in an instant. Hearing that your son’s cancer will no longer respond to treatments, saying goodbye to their loved one as they die, being in a horrific car crash, hearing the tornado siren go off.

The weather over the past 15 days in a variety of places in the world has been traumatic. People are dead. People are missing. People are injured. Injuries we can see and others which are invisible at first glance. Homes are gone. Whole towns, villages, communities are destroyed, in chaos, grief and fear.

How do people cope?

How to people heal?

What kind of physical, emotional, relational, spiritual repair is required?

You may know someone personally who has been affected. You may be affected as you hear the stories, talk to people who are/have experienced it. Your child(ren) may be experiencing nightmares. They may have to talk to you about it in order to work through it.  Art is a great way of allowing oneself to feel, cope, work through something and heal.

I invite others to comment. What are your thoughts, feelings, reactions, stories.

Thank you in advance for your willingness to share and heal.

The art of staying connected to your sensual self. An art form? Staying connected to my sensual self? Some days I have trouble finding my kids shoes before school. Sometimes I wonder how to get in quality mommy and me time within a 2 hour time span between morning nap and momma needs to abandon the children and go to work to help “help people with their feelings” as my son puts it.

Staying connected?

To my self?

 My sensual what? 

When I see couples in therapy, I tend to avoid advice. They can get that from Dr. Phil. I try to let people arrive at their own life decisions. I am careful to not take away someone’s power to manage their own life and make heartfelt and thoughtful decisions.

That being said; I do advise couples to “get it on” more often. I don’t mean the quickie, no foreplay, straight up, vanilla sex. When I say “get it on more” I mean break out the sexual being that is trying to make out like you were in college.  I mean make foreplay the main event not the meager appetizer you wish there was more of. I mean spend time enjoying each other. I mean take a moment to tune into your sensual vibrations. Guide your partner in order to increase your pleasure. Try a new position or one that you haven’t tried in a while. Don’t make a grocery list while you are receiving oral sex. Try not to hurry and get it done before the kids hear you. 

Another great way to stay connected to your sensual self is to think of yourself as a sexual being. What does that mean to you? How is that expressed? What gets in the way of letting it out? 

What do you fantasize about?

Have you ever read Erotica?

Fifty Shades of Grey is still a buzz everywhere…..have you read it? 

What baggage is keeping you from enjoying your sexual self?

I often counsel sexual abuse survivors and help them find a way back to themselves.

It is possible. 

You can reclaim it.

You can give birth to it.

You can do it….literally!

 

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