When The Cycle of Pain is Not Broken

I recognized her face on the news report and my emotions began to spin. I scrambled to find her name and sure enough it was her. I felt sick to my stomach.

That is how I learned this week some difficult news about a foster care youth I had the privilege to meet about 9 years ago. She was a very troubled young lady. She is apparently a mother now and, tragically, according to the news, her baby has experienced trauma and abandonment and will likely enter the nightmare of the foster care system.

While many of the young people who find support in the foster care system find some inner peace and belonging in this world, it is most true that the cycle of trauma continues and that is my definition of failure.

I hope the young lady and her child get very good care so that the child gets a chance to get the tools of security and love to stop the cycle some day.

Please note that many children experience abuse and/or neglect and never make it into the foster care system. They are still the same children. It is still the same cycle. It leads to trust issues, insecurities, self-injurious/high risk behavior, as well as a lack of healthy boundaries and support systems.

A fascinating read is "Parenting from the Inside Out" by Daniel Siegel. If you are a foster care youth, check out a program called A Home Within that provides free counseling for as long as you need it.

While my goal is always to help my clients heal, it is driven by the desire to break the cycles and give more hope to the next generation.

For all of you out there trying to break your own cycles of pain, keep up the fight. For those of you helping others, keep your eyes on the prize.

There Is No Magic Behind Psychotherapy

At least not the way I do it....

It's scary to think or much less believe that you are in charge in your session. Not the person you think of as the expert. Get this: Every single thing that happens comes from you. Your counselor gets credit for nothing.

If they are good...they have spent years understanding themselves and understanding the human condition. They will have done this through books and conferences and clinical supervision but mostly through real life exposure to the experiences you are having.

And then, they simply don't get in your way. They give you space to be. They give you space to express. They give you the "I hear you. I see you" we all need to connect to our genuine self that is not afraid to explore our greatest fears. They introduce curiosity to you about you.

It is in that space of human connection, without judgement or consequence for trying out different ways to figure out "who am I?", that the non-magic occurs. It brings me chills every time I get to be in a room, or a nature walk, or a video conference with a person determined to keep trying. To change the trajectory of their existence.

Your courage and effort brings the change. There is no magic. Keep it up!

Learning: Try To Make New Mistakes!

In this stage of my life and career I feel like I'm learning MOST of the time.  Whether it's reading between client sessions about a new app that can help regulate emotions or learning how to use social media to promote my practice or studying books on therapy, philosophy, business, marketing, parenting (nothing better for learning how to guide people through their inner-child work)'s a non-stop attempt to get a handle on an ever-changing world.

Don't stay still.  I always love to ask "WHAT DID YOU LEARN TODAY?"  You could be learning something new everyday.  It keeps you ALIVE...while you're alive.

When I worked with foster care children I used many mantras with them. One of my favorites was "Make new mistakes!"  Sounds strange at first, right?  

Making mistakes in inevitable.  And wonderful.  A mentor once told me that messing up is a percentage.  The more you do with your life, the more it will appear you are messing up. So keep doing new things, learning new things, and messing up.

Just make new mistakes.  Learn.

Can You Do It Walking? - "Walk and Talk" Sessions

Therapeutically speaking, movement releases trauma. Movement triggers a surge of endorphins. And movement gets your brain working in ways that can facilitate creativity and reflection.

Clients connecting to their thoughts and emotions is the name of the game.  So whether it's in-office, videoconferencing, phone sessions or even the "Walk and Talk" session, I am open to whatever works and is clinically relevant for each client's individual journey of self-growth.

I believe, the "Walk and Talk" is a fun twist on the Freudian/psychoanalytic technique of expressing yourself without having to look at the therapist.  So you aren't searching for reactions, just emoting.  

After an initial in-office session, we start thinking outside the box. 

Check out this TED talk.