Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘psychotherapy’ Category

earth connected

As we approach 2014 I wanted to share our five most viewed posts in 2013.  Here they are (drum roll)

 

Poem for a New Beginning  (perfect for a new year)

The Secret Life of Bees and the Black Madonna (ultimately about love, hope and the transformative power of grief)

Therapy Worksheets (points to some wonderful resources for therapy clients)

David Whyte, Brother David Steindl-Rast , and the Antidote to Exhaustion (a story that helps locate the way forward)

I Love Your Story Still…. (an open letter to someone who needed desperately to know about the beauty of his story)

If you have a favorite, I’d love to hear about it.

Warmly,

Tammie

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

“There are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them.”
Author Unknown

Being a proponent for strength based therapies for the past twenty years, I was extremely receptive when positive psychology was first introduced to the world. Like so many therapists, I’d experienced that terrible sense of hopelessness that periodically emerged during my early years as a therapist as I and my client become entrenched in the muck of pain and pathology. There in my light filled office, muscles tensed and heart heavy, gazing into the eyes of someone whom I had come to care deeply about, I all too often came perilously close to developing tunnel vision. I had witnessed the pain, listened compassionately, and carefully gathered up the shattered pieces of a broken story, while failing to truly see the
epic tale before me

I had come close enough to not only touch the wounds, but to hold them closely, and yet I had allowed precious and essential aspects of my client to move beyond my immediate reach – all of those experiences, lessons, wisdom, and unique strengths and gifts that my client possessed which absolutely guaranteed a successful (though never without risk or pain)passage.

When I learned to adapt my lens so that I could readily shift my focus back and forth between pain and possibility, pathology and promise, I not only improved my effectiveness and enhanced my vision – I discovered an inner voice. This voice has sustained me through many difficult, frightening and even heart breaking journeys with clients, and while this voice still expresses self-doubt and even despair, it is never without hope. And with hope in tact, we can go on. I can go on.

Read Full Post »

Photo by Guy Mayer

In a thought provoking paper entitled, Reflections on Sacred Experience and Sacred Science, Peter Reason wrote, “…I heard for the first time the challenge that we in the West had lost the feeling for sacredness, the ability to notice the sacredness of our world, and that we need to discover this anew if we are to learn from the traditions of Native Americans. One is entering a different world, a world that is again alive and enchanted, a world in which all sentient beings bring their gifts of teachings, and are thus worthy of honour. Such an animate world is akin to that inhabited by the alchemists, and can only be comprehended fully through a participatory consciousness.”

In this same paper Reason quotes the following from Morris Berman’s book, “The Re-enchantmant of the World:”

“The view of nature which predominated in the West down to the eve of the Scientific Revolution was that of an enchanted world. Rocks, trees, rivers, and clouds were all seen as wondrous, alive, and human beings felt at home in this environment. The cosmos, in short, was a place of belonging. A member of this cosmos was not an alienated observer of it but a direct participant in its drama….The story of the modern epoch, at least on the level of mind, is one of progressive disenchantment. From the sixteenth century on, mind has been progressively expunged from the phenomenal world… At least in theory…the “mechanical philosophy”… (is) the dominant mode of thinking. That mode can best be described as disenchantment, nonparticipation, for it insists on a rigid distinction between observer and observed. Scientific consciousness is alienated consciousness: there is no ecstatic merger with nature, but rather total separation from it…”

Reason points out that our disenchantment and disconnection from the natural world and from our own experience has led us to a kind of soul sickness and calls for a “re-sacralization of the world.” One way to do this, he suggests, is to follow theologian Matthew Fox’s advice to “…fall in love at least three times a day.”

And so today I fell in love with a puppy I met on my walk, rubbing my cheek against her silky soft fur, and laughing fully from my belly as she wiggled wildly and covered my face with kisses.

Later I witness the anguish and sorrow of a couple desperately attempting to find their way across a chasm that seems to grow wider and more dangerous with each moment – with each jagged heartbeat – and with each accusation. Finally, as they sit rigid and exhausted, I ask them to take just a few moments to listen for what else might lie silently beneath their fears, anger, frustration and betrayals. Softly at first, barely perceptible even, their breathing steadies and something indescribable begins to happen as the energy in the room shifts and remarkably (you would have had to have been there) and seemingly as if by magic we are each touched and even (I think) for a moment transfixed by the undeniable presence of a battered and weary but still living love.

After work I spoke with a friend whom I’ve known for over thirty years and as she shared with me a simple and yet oh so sweet story about her day, I allowed myself to savor her voice, her laughter, and her unique and wildly optimistic perspective, and I felt my love for her warm my heart and gentle my spirit.

And so, I have fallen in love at least three times today and I resolve to fall in love at least three times tomorrow as well. In doing so, I allow myself to be enchanted and to more fully embrace the sacred.

Read Full Post »

In “Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal,” Rachel Naomi Remen wrote of a workshop she attended that was facilitated by the late Carl Rogers, creator of Client Centered Therapy.” Rogers shared the following with Remen’s group:

“Before every session I take a moment to remember my humanity. There is no experience that this man has that I cannot share with him, no fear that I cannot understand, no suffering that I cannot care about, because I too am human. No matter how deep his wound, he does not need to be ashamed in front of me. I too am vulnerable. And because of this, I am enough. Whatever his story, he no longer needs to be alone with it. This is what will allow his healing to begin.”

Of all the wisdom that has been shared with me over my many years of training and experience as a therapist, Rogers words reflect the true essence of healing.

Read Full Post »

In an article entitled, “Only in America Could Misery be Turned into a Commodity”, author, Joe Bageant (in spite of his obscenities) makes some very thought provoking points (although I certainly don’t agree with all of them) including:

That America has become a “Darwinian workhouse”

That our current mental health system “refuses to acknowledge that our aggregate society holds any responsibility for the conditions it produces in our fellow individual members.” (ouch…)

That Psychological Institutions and practices perpetuate the alienation so many of us feel by responding to us as if our lives were lived in a vacuum, and that “our loneliness and despair are entirely our own, as if there were no such thing as context, much less American society’s corrosive and toxic environment in which so many of us live out our lives.” (Hmmm…)

As a mental health professional I have been repeatedly frustrated with the tendency of my profession to pathologize the legitimate pain of those sensitive enough or aware enough or brave enough to confront what so many choose not to fully acknowledge — the destruction of our natural world, the tragic cost to individuals, families, and entire communities of our consumer society, the perpetuation of greed, emptiness, and meaninglessness, and the all too prevalent devaluation in our culture of commitment and service and even love.

My frustration with the mental health system ultimately led me to leave it and much later to begin making plans to open Sageplace. I believe that mental health professionals can offer so much more through facilitating and supporting the creation of healthy communities where pain and hope and truth can be shared and transformed vs. working with and diagnosing individuals.

In the above mentioned article Bageant asks, “Might not America’s psychological malaise be the result of knowing deep inside that life can hold more meaning — be more joyful? More emotionally rewarding and fulfilling? In a word, healthier?” My own response to this question is that yes, I believe that our malaise is in many cases linked to what we know deep down inside about our lives, about our country, and about our world; truths that so many of us bare alone instead of share.

Note: The address to Bageant’s article is: http://www.alternet.org/healthwellness/126345/

Read Full Post »