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New Perspectives Make a Difference

Recently I heard a talk radio program where the host said (in reference to what, I cannot remember), “This is not like psychotherapy where they are trying to fix you…” I couldn’t hear the rest because I was in total shock. I knew this point of view existed, but I had never heard it said so succinctly: psychotherapists try to fix people. I could only think in little sound bites: Wait. Time out. FALSE. It took me a couple of weeks to recover and process. So now let me say in response that I’m not interested in fixing anyone. I don’t believe anyone is broken. At the heart of it, I actually think most people fear they are broken, but are not. It’s this fear that creates a lot of problems. As a therapist, I do not try to fix     . . . read more

Holding Shadows: Forgiveness and Acceptance of the Past

I’m pleased to offer this piece by guest writer, James Day Leavitt. (photo credit: Siobhán Butler) I imagine my past as a long hallway, with doors along each side of the corridor. Behind some doors are my difficult experiences. Things I don’t want to see anymore.  Regrets, mistakes, animosities, hostilities, hurts and lost loves. I don’t want to replay these things. They are uncomfortable to see. I am embarrassed and would like to start fresh, new, and unencumbered by the past. That’s why re-birth, and absolution of ones sins is so popular a concept. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy (memory energy) going back and checking the doors to make sure they are secure, locked, or at least mostly closed. I get scared they may come out and poison what I have made or are about to make     . . . read more

Perfection: The Really Cute, Organized, Put-Together BULLY

This is not my laundry closet. I believe what I have is more appropriately called a laundry dungeon. Still, I do love pictures of tidy, sparkling cupboards, “mud” rooms, and, of course, closets. My house doesn’t look like one of these very lovely Pinterest images and that’s okay. Other people do have houses like this, and that’s okay too. I admire and applaud their dedication to beautifying and organizing their homes. However, I think we need to be careful not to be too seduced by the idea of having everything be just so. We can’t expect to have every aspect of our life look like it should be documented in a magazine. There is no such thing as perfect. Everyone intellectually knows this. Yet, somehow the striving for perfection is a big part of our lives. Well-meaning people everywhere are     . . . 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