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Letting Go of Outcomes

I’ve learned, mostly the hard way, that I don’t know what the best outcome is for another person. That probably sounds weird for a therapist to say. There is a general sense that you go to therapy for someone to tell or “guide” you to a particular outcome. But that’s not really the best use of therapy. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that it is not what the outcome is that matters, it’s how people get there and how they ultimately feel about it. Does it fit into some unhelpful old framework or does it represent a new and stronger narrative? I don’t know if you should stay married or get divorced. I don’t know if you should major in neuroscience or engineering. But I do know that what you tell yourself about this decision and what it means     . . . read more

Very Curious

I know the saying about the cat, but really I’m interested in who killed curiosity. I could probably blame standardized testing or the ability to know all instantly with the internet. Regardless of the suspect(s), I would like to advocate for regaining some respect for this concept. For me, curiosity is a way of approaching the world. I believe it in our nature. We spend the first many years of life constantly wondering about the world, testing our theories, making careful observations. We drop food off of the high chair and observe the splatter. We figure out just the right ways to get our parents to react to us. Play is the primary way in which we find out about the world. Experimenting with everything and anything, we learn very quickly. Also noteworthy: play and curiosity are FUN. I regained     . . . read more

(Not So) Great Expectations

I was invited to do my very first guest post on the fabulous another jennifer blog. Here it is: My daughter is a young toddler now. On a recent family outing around town, she decided to keep in her hand, through a few stores and the intervening car rides, an oversized red fork from a toy picnic set. Sometime after this outing, I got her a set of sand toys. She loved this set, but not for the reasons I’d imagined. She had a particular fondness for a small blue sand shovel. That night, she brought it with her to her highchair, right along with the big red fork. Suddenly, my perspective changed. That was not a sand shovel, it was the big fork’s long-lost spoon friend. What I love the most about children is how uniquely they see and     . . . read more

Down with Deprivation

I will admit, as I am often forced to do (particularly when confronted with pop culture references), that I shelter myself a bit. The truth is that I can easily lose my footing and own sense of self when I consume too much media. It is hard to distinguish what I want versus what I’m being told to want. It gets confusing and overwhelming. I have to hide, under a rock preferably. There are some disadvantages to this strategy, namely that I stare blankly when people refer to something of which everybody else in the world is aware. I watch TV shows about four years after everybody else. There are also a number of advantages. I have started to look at certain situations from well outside of the popular conception. Sometimes I forget how far out there I am. Health     . . . read more

I Do What I Say, And I Say What I Mean…As Much As Possible

In a memorable moment in graduate school, my professor said, “A good social worker needs to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.” I knew instantly that it was true. It is helpful and necessary in my job to say things, make suggestions, offer observations, provide encouragement, and form recommendations. However, it’s not enough. I believe that a really great therapist needs to be willing to do the very things he or she endorses. It’s a worthwhile endeavor that I’m trying for, and maybe sometimes achieving. While I certainly do not want to dominate therapy with talking about myself, I do want to at least acknowledge that I’m a human too. I have things I work on in life. I’m a fellow traveler in this journey through a complicated human existence. As much as possible, I’m trying to do     . . . read more

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