a Resource for Clients & Therapists
2019 Tidbits & to-Do's - morsels to spark curiosity
As therapists, how do we take care of ourselves when dealing with our client’s tragedies and our own at the same time? As our world continues to experience both natural and man-inflicted disasters, taking care of us as service providers is even more challenging than ever. Aren’t we, too, struggling with these same experiences?
Today is the 10th anniversary of the devastating hurricane, Katrina. I have the honor of working with a number of colleagues in the New Orleans, Metairie, Lafayette, and Baton Rouge areas of Louisiana. As I consider this 10-year marker for their region, I am wondering about how to support them, and be a safe place for their own struggles and challenges as they support their clients and communities through the memories, loss, and grief.
While in New Orleans the last few years, I have seen the continued struggle of a community trying to rebuild. People living under highways, stories of children growing up on their own, and so many more pains that my privileged life sees none of. What my colleagues in LA are working with is devastating and tragic. My experience of Superstorm Sandy here on the east coast pales in comparison. I, personally, was on the outskirts of her wrath, and had only a few clients impacted by the storm in a life-altering way.
And as I watch the horror of the Virginia shooting of news reporters, the bizarre experience of Ashley Madison, the movie theater shooting a few weeks ago in Lafayette, I am feeling confused and dumbfounded by these acts of violence. I am trying to fathom how incredibly pained these human beings must be. Even right now, I am trying to find the words to put into print…
And so, when with my clients and colleagues, can I give myself permission to be a human being, too? Can I honor that as a human being, I have experienced and am impacted by these tragedies? That I struggle, too, to make sense of a world that is suffering so much?
Most often, as I share my feelings with others and they experience my humanity, we join in the pain and grief, confusion and despair, and through doing so, we join on a path of healing.
I have learned over the 15 years of being a therapist, and more so with my training in Emotionally Focused Therapy, we humans are not meant to be alone in our pain. We are meant to support each other, to grieve, to be angry, to be human, to be together.
As my colleagues are dealing with the 10 years since Katrina, and we are all dealing with the horrors in VA and other parts of the world, I hope we share our struggles with each other, to lean together, as we support ourselves as a community of human beings doing our best to get through these tragedies.
And I pray for peace for our world … a world whose heart is desperately hurting.
Many renowned therapists have referenced the value of therapists exploring their inner self in the context of our work:
“To attain greater mastery of self, therapists need to know themselves, have access to their memories, emotions, and values, and gain in the ability to selectively and actively draw from past and present experiences in relating, assessing and intervening with clients.” Dr. Harry J. Aponte, www.harryjaponte.com
“Can we accept as a given that the self of the therapist is an essential factor in the therapeutic process? If this turns out to be true, it will alter our way of teaching therapists as well as treating patients.” ~ Virginia Satir, The Use of Self in Therapy (1987)
“Presence, attunement and resonance within our self will lead to greater presence, attunement and resonance with our clients.” ~ Daniel Siegel, The Mindful Therapist (2010)
“The most important tool is the therapist’s use of self in guiding the process of change.” Salvador Minuchin, The Craft of Family Therapy: Challenging Certainties (2013)
Also referred to as Use of Self of Therapist, Person of the Therapist, or countertransference, what is being referred to is the natural process within the therapist that occurs in the context of our work. Historically, this has been seen as a problematic experience within the therapist, blocking their ability to attune and work with a client. “Countertransference” seems to have a negative connotation that warrants a therapist doing their own deep intra-psychic work, which definitely has merit. However, I will suggest, along with these leaders, that Self of the Therapist work is so much more, and is an invaluable and essential exploration that will reap great benefit to our work with clients. The icing on the cake is that we, ourselves, benefit with greater understanding and access to our inner self, as well as potential healing of our own wounds.
Prior to delving in to describe further, as noted, my work around Self of the Therapist has been informed by many very renowned practitioners. In addition to the above leaders, I have explored and studied the works of Buddhist Psychotherapists, Tara Brach and Jack Kornfeld, spiritual leader, Joyce Meyer, and shame researcher, Brené Brown. These resources, in addition to my EFT and EMDR training with many colleagues, supervisors, and clients, have helped me develop and refine a framework for self of therapist mentoring. I am grateful to everyone who has contributed to my journey in some way.
Future blogs will bring this framework to life, however, first, we will explore the foundations of SOT more thoroughly. In my next posts, I will provide the foundational aspects, as well as the barriers and obstacles, boundary issues, and clarity needed to insure a meaningful and safe exploration of your self in the context of your work.
Hi and welcome to my blog! I am excited to have this endeavor underway. It has been many years in the making.