Let’s talk about Post Traumatic Growth. This phrase has been popping up in the media over the past few years. This topic has come up while attending  various trauma conferences. How trauma or tragedy can make us stronger and help create a more meaningful life? What? What does this even mean? Post Traumatic Growth has been defined as the psychological phenomena of people becoming stronger, experience a positive psychological change as a result of the adversity and other challenges. This creates a rise to a higher level of functioning. Psychological shifts occur. The way we think, feel and relate to the world changes through this process. It is important to remember that perceived growth and actual growth are two very different things.

As a trauma therapist, I have always been intrigued about our resilience, our ability to adapt and change to meet the current needs in our environment and relationships. As a trauma therapist I also know that no one I have ever met or counseled has said I am glad that I went through that tragedy, experience or assault. I do know that through healing we can be re-attached to our strength. I do know that through the process of therapy and recovery we can change the way we think and feel about ourselves and the world. Being a survivor can become a source of power versus a badge of victim hood. The way that we think about ourselves is very important.  It affects everything we do. In the room with clients we often dialogue about “who they were before” and “what it is like to walk in their shoes now”.

Someone must believe that there can be a positive side effect of trauma in order for someone to believe in the phenomenon of post traumatic growth, Right? I would imagine someone has to come to the conclusion that there were both negative and positive consequences to their experience for this to be true. Right? How does the diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder fit in with the psychological phenomenon of Post Traumatic Growth? How can clinicians foster or encourage post traumatic growth? What could hasten this growth?

What are your thoughts?  I look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

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As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I am often asked what are the key ingredients of a successful relationship. Trust is usually high on my list when I respond. Trust is one of the  essential ingredient to a loving relationship. Trust can be defined as the firm belief in the ability. reliability, and the strength of someone or something.  “Trust is earned”.  “Trust your gut”. What does this mean? What does that look like? How do the dynamics of trust play out in your relationship. For many people relationships can be reparative and can assist in re-writing your story. What are the barriers to trust? The constructs connected to trust include control, risk, confidence, power and meaning. How does this play out in your relationship with your spouse, partner, children or friends.  What are you sensitive to due to your past, the family you grew up in or an unhealed wound from a past relationship? What happens when trust is broken? Does it matter if it was due to competence verses benevolence? How would the repair within the relationship look different?

Trust requires a leap of faith. It requires hope. Hope for change. Hope that you WILL get through this. Trust requires a leap of faith that the person who makes your heart flutter will be there for you during the ups, as well as, the more difficult times. Trust in others comes through a trust in yourself. Trust that you will not let yourself down. Trusting that you will make decisions that are healthy for you and your relationship.  Trust that when “something comes up” in your relationship with yourself or others you will take the time to “figure out what’s there”. Trust that you will follow your bliss. Seek your happy.

You’ve got this. You can do this!

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
Maya Angelou

 

 

Hope. Before we dive in we should define it. Hope has been defined as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Hope can be a thing that may help or a person that can save someone. Hope can also be defined as the grounds for believing that something good may happen. Hope has also been defined as a feeling of trust.

As a therapist,  I often hold hope for people, family and organizations until they can take it on, wear it and own it. Often I receive calls from individuals hoping that I can help them achieve a particular goal or make a specific change in their family, career or personal life. Sometimes, I meet people who have come to the conclusion that they have found hope but are unsure of how to keep hold of it and what to do with their morsel of hope.

Ambitions. Day Dreams. Pipe Dreams. Wishes. Faith. Possibility. Optimism. These are the words of hope. The color green is often used to indicate growth and hope.

What does your hope look, feel, smell and taste like? What are you hoping for? Will something be created? Does anything need to be replaced or eliminated? If yes; what will go in it’s place?

Own your hope. Make it yours. Shout it. Write it. Dance it. Sing it. Paint it. Draw it. Live it. Run with it. Believe in it. You can do this. You are worth it. You do deserve it. You’ve got this. Hope is the fuel. You are the driver.  You are also the vehicle of change.

You can do this!!!

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We text emoji’s to our friends, family members and co-workers. Emotion, a noun, is defined as a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others. Emotional Intelligence, a noun, is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.  We all identify, manage and express our emotions differently. We all use different words to define our experiences, thoughts and emotions.  Is there a right answer? Is there one emoji for happiness? Can a picture accurately describe a natural and instinctive state of mind? Should we share all of our emotions? Is there such a thing as being too emotional? Are you emotionally compatible with your partner? How do you know? Wait a minute, let’s back up. How do you even know what you are feeling? If we are unable to identify our emotions it will not matter if, when or with whom we share our emotions. Do we censor ourselves due to stigma, prior experience, grief or trauma? What is your feeling story?

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The country is focusing on candidates for the office of the President of the United States of America. Watching debates, googling the issues that matter to us as individuals, families and communities and voting in the primary election. My mind turns to our sense of power. Do we think that our voice will be heard? Does my one vote matter? Does my opinion matter? What is you have already been victimized? Your voice was taken from you when you were silenced, violated, abused, isolated, bullied and victimized.

How do you reclaim your voice? I listen to the candidates speak and think about their voice; their story. What words do they use? What story are they trying to tell us. How do we re-write our story? How do we move from silence to singing our praises and standing up for ourselves? What gets in our way? Who gets in our way?

Believing that we have the power to change originates in a fundamental belief that we matter. What we say, think and the actions we take matter. Upon that foundation our story is written, re-written and re-authored. We have the ability to heal. To rise again. To actually flourish not just exist. What will you do to make sure your voice is heard?

Bring a change of clothes. You may get messy along the way. Please remember this.

YOU ARE WORTH IT. YOU MATTER. I MATTER. WE ALL MATTER. STAND TALL.

BREATHE DEEP.

YOU GOT THIS.

Last week I attended the Illinois Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (IAMFT) Annual Conference. A conversation that I was engaged in has remained on my mind. I want to share it with you to keep this exploration going. I want to talk about using the word “Wellness” instead of “Self-Care”. I want to talk about what this means to me. I want to hear about what it means to you. I look forward to hearing your comments and engaging in a collaborative dialogue which focuses on wellness as a lifelong love affair.  While researching this topic I came across a definition of wellness that jumped out at me. Wellness (a noun) can be defined as the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.  Just let that soak in for a moment. Breathe it in as you digest these highly intentional words. Read it again if necessary. Say it out loud if you feel like it.  Is there a particular word or string of words that makes something stir?

A quality or state of being healthy in body and mind. A state of being. A lifelong relationship with yourself. A lifelong engaged way of relating to the world you live in. Awareness of your presence. A commitment to continually seeking balance. A desire to attend to self as needed to heal, move through, let go, deepen and grow. What I tell myself about myself is important.  A result of deliberate effort.  Intentional. Directed. Loving. An embodied focus on wholeness while knowing that it will never be perfect. It will be fluid, real, alive and active. Wellness is a lifelong love affair with yourself. This relationship is with yourself and the dynamic world you life in. Maybe next Valentine’s Day you will take yourself on a Wellness inspired date with yourself.

Remember, I can’t wait to hear from you. Let’s keep this going.

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A journey. The act of traveling from one place to another. Passage from one place to another. Adventure.  Odyssey.  Sojourn. Your journey awaits you. Therapy can be one mode of transportation as you seek, revive, grow and discover. That thought you had about creating change or wishing things were different. The energy that is growing within you to attempt something new. Your journey awaits you. It is often helpful to enlist a co-pilot, navigator, trusted partner as you travel from one place to another. The destination is called Change. Creating anew. Reducing something. Transforming another. Awakening something within. Feeding your spirit. You are worth it. You are capable of happiness. You deserve it. Your journey awaits you.

  • tree and snow image for blog post 1 26 16Therapy is a process. Change takes time. Trust, relationship building and skill acquisition. These three components help to create a healing environment in which connection, growth, healing and change can occur. There may be stuck moments, repair and reconnection may occur and at times it may feel like things won’t get better. It is at these times when a person must practice self-care, stay in connection and have hope in the process. Trust. Trust in yourself. Trust in your ability to heal. Trust in someone else despite a past filled with hurt and abandonment. Trust that the process of therapy and your desire to create change can and will create help you fulfill your goals. Expressive arts are often a constructive avenue to explore themes such as trust between sessions. What has “come up” for you as you read this post? Where will you let it take you? I look forward to hearing from you.
   CHANGE IS NOT  JUST FOR THE LEAVES

 CHANGING.                                    It’s not just for the leaves.               

We have all heard that change is inevitable. We know that we are told that the only thing certain is change. We have also heard that change is good. “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” What does change really look like? Are we always certain that we have the ability to change? Ability to change? Are these skills innate, learned or more like a combination, mixture or hodgepodge of experiences that we breathe, live and absorb? What will my relationship look like if I change? What if I don’t change?  Will they change too? Kindness, patience, skill building, communication, the dance of disconnection and repair, believing in ourselves, believing in the resilience of our relationships are all essential ingredients when contemplating or taking action to make a change.

Some questions to help you explore your relationship with change:

Q: What did you learn about yourself the last time you were faced with making a change?

Q: What happened the last time you were faced with a change you had no control over?

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What we tell ourselves about ourselves is critical to the way that we are in the world. Our self concept, our self-esteem; that Mojo we talk about is the byproduct of a cultivated bed of thoughts, belief systems and stories. Who we tell ourselves we are helps to determine what we grow into. Our inner dialogue can vary and it has most likely evolved as you have grown up, experienced life and engaged in relationships. Our storybook begins with the seeds of thought planted by our caregivers and the environment we live in. Some are familiar flowers we replant year after year. Some become outdated and we update our self concept as we phase out a certain belief or thought about ourselves. Usually this occurs when we are provided with conflicting information and we begin to see ourselves a bit differently. A new varietal can emerge. Hopefully one that can help us to continue to grow, weather the storms that come our way and adapt to our changing needs. At times we also need to tend to our garden. We must weed out, transplant, nurture and feed our inner landscape.

I welcome you to take a stroll through your inner world. For today, pay attention to the words you tell yourself as you move through out your day. Try to view yourself through a lens that is non-judgmental so you are able to examine, explore and make changes from a place of love. Many flowers rely on the sun to open. Be your own sun!

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