Our clients come to us feeling broken…wondering how on earth they are ever going to be whole. Heck, most of us have had times like that. Or, we’ve at least had moments and days when our state was shattered by some wound or unmet need….
My heart has joined the millions of others who have been swimming through outrage, anguish, fear, and distress as the unfolding humanitarian crisis at our southern borders is becoming crystal clear. We KNOW the damage this is causing and it is heartbreaking.
Yesterday, I opened the back door to the porch and this guy was RIGHT THERE! With his head in the air. Yikes. I closed the door. QUICKLY.
As I caught my breath, I realized how quickly the thought, “there’s a snake on the porch,” became a story. For those few moments, that story felt REAL!
Many if not most therapists, coaches, spiritual directors would disagree on the value of the narrative in helping our clients.
Cognitive distortions may be the clearest view we can get on just how tangled up in a narrative we can all get. For those who journey with some variant of a mood disorder, these distortions can be debilitating.
The one thing most practitioners might disagree with about Acceptance and Integration Training (AAIT) is the value of our clients’ narrative. With AAIT, the narrative doesn’t serve as the primary filter, this principle does:
Therapeutic failures. Ugh. Rarely do we discuss them openly. Yet our failures can be one big playground on which we can discover and fortify leaps in skill.
I recently hit a therapeutic failure with a client. I don’t want to write about it. Sharing failure seems counterintuitive and oh, so wrong. Yet oh so right at the same time.
We all have our challenges with empathy. There are a variety of emotional states we inhabit that inhibit our capacity to empathize with someone. Anything on the mad, sad, glad or scared continuum can stop us from pausing and reflecting on what it’s like to be that PERSON at that TIME going through that SITUATION.
Empathy has long been recognized as an essential element to providing proper service to our clients. To make sure we are on the same page, let’s start with this basic definition of empathy: the ability to share and understand the feelings of another.
Last year was my first year going to Isla Mujeres, Mexico. I was invited to join this group of amazing seasoned psychotherapists from around the world. Mary Goulding (one of my teachers) started this group more than 25 years ago. The warmth and care that has gone into keeping this group going is inspiring. And, it took boldness, as several people told me.
It’s not generally easy for us human beings to adopt new habits. One thing that helps is to make them easy. Noticing is a habit made easy by my seventh grade teacher and Dick Olney.
Living in Turkey, it was natural to hear the call to worship several times a day. A teacher at the time invited our class to pause whenever we heard it, be quiet, still our bodies and notice. That stuck. When I moved back to the states, sirens and red lights and now the sound of an airplane overhead invites that same pause –modern mindfulness bells.