Saturday, 19 August 2017

An Anthem for the Non-Haters by India Arie

An anthem for these days: 





This performance speaks to me on so many levels in the face of what feels like helpless.

Breath is the centre of my work.

And one little line in there made me think a certain someone put this song in front of me.

Take a moment to turn it up.

Listen.

And breathe. 

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Human seeking Human



Flashback to nursing school in 1981.

The near elderly nursing instructor, with her pillbox white hat pinned to her short hair, purses her painted red lips, eyes narrow to a "don't mess with me" gaze, "Don't ever, I mean ever, let me hear of you crying or becoming emotional in front of a patient."

Fast forward to therapy training where we were made to unpack every bit of our historical baggage, analyse it (or have it analysed) and neatly re-stack it onto the moving train called "Life," done and dusted, never to need to be re-opened as you received your ordination as the great Oz.

And the great Oz we all were.

Standing behind the heavy, dank drape, puppeting what we'd been taught to approach a patient with, in any given situation, as if it was a game of Battleship. Patient has moved to F5 (turbulent waters of heightened anxiety) return hit with D2 (3 sessions focussing on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).

Don't let them see you sweat.

Never risk countertransference.
Don't talk about yourself.
Never show that you've had your own issues.

Watch your body language; stiff and professional but open.

And many of my colleagues did not need these reminders: They felt so full of their own damn selves, after becoming credentialed, that they swore off ever having to see a practitioner in their own field. As if it was a sign of weakness.

After all, they were the expert now.

Fully realising that much of that training was put into place to help contain the renegades that had primarily gone into the field to heal their own battle scars, the training in non-humanness (of superiority) certainly has had a lasting effect on some of those in the helping field.  Psychotherapists, counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers-- any type of helper or "healer."

Supervision frequently is spent ticking off a list of "cases"(excuse me, but those are people)  rather than discussing any emotional upheaval you are having in your own life.


Groundbreaking research by Scott Miller et al. was responsible for the first crack in my already gaping armour. Their research showed that it wasn't the modality of therapy that warranted a positive outcome; it was the client's perception of the relationship with their therapist that correlated with optimal outcomes.

I loved it.

All the experts that hid behind further labels and initials of the particular type of specialty therapy had their cover blown.

And really no mystery at all, it answered the question of why some of the most brilliant practitioners, who had the information down like the back of their hand, couldn't manage to hold a client list and had to venture out into some other derivative that had not been in their initial plan.(people want their information to be held and honoured by other people-- not robotic knowledge-holders)

With further years under my belt, 22 as a psychotherapist and 35 total in mental health/human services, life has happened. 
With a capital L. 

I won't list it all here to spare you the shock but (gasp), me and the members of my family and social (whanau) network are totally human, therefore there has been trauma and crisis and relationship issues and all sorts of big and juicy ingredients of life.
I'm not writing this as a pubic service announcement for myself, I'm writing this for the consumer; the person that might be looking for a therapist and for the wounded therapists out there.  

The same as I really don't want to speak with someone about my parenting angst if they have never had children (seriously, you will totally get this once you have kids people)– do I want to speak with someone that hasn't peered into life's abyss when I am feeling shattered?
For all of you helpers out there– if you are holding up a facade of everything is always peachy in my life: Let it down.

Do your work so that you may do more effective work with your clientele.
If you are seeking help?

It's okay to ask your potential therapist if they have had any personal experience in this particular terrain.
And if the response is, "We are here to talk about you, not me?"

Run like hell.