Dear Therapists, have you found yourself in loops like these? How do I work with couples when I am experiencing disharmony at home? I feel like a fraud! I need to figure out how to be in a perfect relationship before I can counsel people in relationships.
Being Seen is a practice of holding yourself accountable. Accountable to your shadows, your secrets, the shame you are accustomed to. The stories that make up how you relate with others and how others see you. In order to see these stories, you need a safe space to hold you...so that you can dive in and practice being seen.
I can say that with absolute certainty even if we’ve never met. It’s not because I know you’re a dedicated, curious therapist dedicated to the growth of your clients, your practice, and yourself. It’s not because I want to flatter you. It’s not because I like to throw around big, loaded words like “expert.” You’re a relationship expert because everyone is a relationship expert. Or at least everyone has the potential to be one.
Whenever we share this quote with therapists in our community, the thread lights up. We tend to call on Brené's wisdom when we're talking about what details to share on your About page or in a blog post. It's also an important bit of wisdom when you're were deep into our exploration of what makes stories work and what makes them fall flat.
Healing begins when you’re seen. Healing deepens when you see yourself. It’s not easy for me to open up and it takes a lot for me to let down my guard - to be vulnerable, to trust, to be me. So much of that comes back to my childhood. The physical and emotional symptoms that I described didn’t just crop up one day.
This election rattled me more than I’d like to admit. But I got up the next day and went to work, because what else was there to do? Since November, I have felt it in waves, in small moments, in seismic shifts. I’ve paid close attention to others’ reactions too. It only makes sense that the impact of this inauguration will touch us all, in a myriad of deeply personal ways. Ultimately, I can only speak for myself and my growing sense that the shifting political and social tides influence the way I see myself and the ways I wish to be seen.
Usually, my brain does not slow enough to focus on feelings. How sad is that? I am a psychotherapist. A relationship and lifestyle coach. “The Happy Couple Expert” for God’s sake! And yet, I don’t often slow down enough to FEEL or even acknowledge my own feelings. Makes me a bit human, I suppose. Right? “Nobody's got time for feelings - fuck ‘em!” was my first thought when typing this out. Jokingly of course. But, sort of not. More like, “Nobody MAKES time for feelings.”
We all live in fear of the broken spaces - especially the interior broken spaces. We accept the myth that those spaces keep us from being enough. I used to fear that if I still had broken spaces it would make me less effective as a therapist. That it was necessary for me to be perfected before I tried to help others heal. If my clients knew I sometimes still hear the voice of my father questioning my value and ability, would it make my training and ability as a therapist less valuable? How would they react if they knew I sometimes question whether I am worth the fees I charge? Would they question who they were seeing for help if they knew I sometimes feel like an imposter who managed to b.s. his way through a master’s degree, how would it affect their belief in me?
As an art therapist I see the world, my clients, and their healing through an artist’s lens and use art with the creative process to help clients reconnect with parts of themselves previously disowned, forgotten, or undiscovered. Just the basic element of color can help me connect to my clients and their creative choices. When they pass me a sheet of watercolor paper, so weighted by materials, I can physically feel the load they have been carrying. I can see how trapped they might feel when they bind found objects. Even when words are too tangled to share, the materials speak.
All too often, sadness is confused with depression. But, what most don't realize is that sadness is actually the opposite of depression. In fact, sadness -- I mean true sadness, the experience of bringing loss into your conscious awareness -- is the remedy for depression.I'm quite familiar with both depression and sadness, from both sides of the therapeutic relationship. Though as a child and young adult, I suffered from depression, depression saved my life. It buffered my childhood trauma until I was able to find sadness.
Intimacy is a delicate and powerful force in all aspects of our lives - not just in the bedroom and not just with your romantic partner. Intimacy can be experienced in all relationships - even with your in-laws! Intimacy is knowing we will be seen, heard, and accepted exactly as we are. It’s about trusting that you can show up - vulnerably, authentically, and wholeheartedly. And yet, it can be terrifying.
It was a Thursday morning. I was in my sweaty yoga clothes, finishing up some business at my bank and heading home to walk the dog and get into my work. It was one of those days —I was holding back tears. Emotion was welling up inside, but I was pushing through because so often that’s just what you do — or what I do. Chug through. As I reflect now, I had been chugging for a bit too long. Not slowing down to listen within and feel all the feelings. Just chugging. I teach my clients to pause and reflect and sit with their feelings — and yet here I was (again I’m seeing this only in retrospect) chugging through my feelings and keeping a tad too busy. The “too busy” allowed me to avoid tuning in.