My ideas about what my job as a therapist is have changed over the 30+ years of clinical practice. The reason I went to graduate school was to gain the knowledge, experience and credentials that would enable me to work directly with children and their families as a therapist. I have worked in many different settings with a wide variety of clients, and over the years, I have gained so much more clarity about what my job as a therapist is, and, more importantly, what it isn’t.
I have some questions for you!
What is your job as a therapist?
In Greek mythology, Narcissus was the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph, Liriope. He was a hunter and was known for his beauty. His mother was told by a seer that he would live a long life, provided he never saw his reflection. (In ancient Greece there was a superstition that it was unlucky or fatal to see oneself.) He incurred the wrath of the gods when he rejected the love of a nymph, Echo. So, instead of living a long life, he fell in love with his own image in the waters of a spring and pined away (some stories say he killed himself). The flower that sprang up where he died has his name. Echo, who had been hopelessly in love with Narcissus, faded away until all that was left of her was her voice.
I’m doing this because I love you.
You’re making me look bad.
It’s your fault that I said what I said. You made me angry.
Why did you say ______ (when you didn’t)? That wasn’t very nice.
I care so much...
As my mom liked to tell the story … my parents were awakened one morning by howls coming from my bedroom. My mom rushed in, only to find me on the floor.
“Anzie fell off the bed-DAH,” I announced.
Indignant! Righteously indignant! With special emphasis on the second syllable of the monosyllabic word ‘bed’ … to make the point that not only was this NOT RIGHT, it was terribly WRONG .
I was two years old.
In the 3rd grade, I was sent home from school for being disrespectful to my teacher, Mrs. Griffin. She made the mistake of announcing one day that since Senator Saltonstall lived in the same town, all our parents would vote for him in the upcoming election. When I told my mom, she said, “Nonsense.” (Senator Saltonstall was a Republican, and, my parents were two of the five registered Democrats who lived in the town.) So, next day I informed Mrs. Griffin, in front of the class, that...
Twelve years ago, when I took my first Foundation class, I wasn’t looking for anything in particular. Traditionally trained as a child and family and play therapist, and at that point, with a relatively successful and fulfilling clinical practice of almost 20 years, I was always on the lookout for tools and tips I could pass along to my clients, to assist them in whatever path of change or healing they were choosing.
I had taken my first Bars class the day before, and, was resonating in the energy of how far outside the box of my traditional trainings that class was … and in the incredible changes my body experienced that day, (and was continuing to experience.)
I showed up for that first Foundation class with some trepidation, a lot of curiosity, and, a willingness to take the next step. After all, how could it get any weirder?
It shook my world. Layers and layers of beliefs I had held dear for so long began to peel off. We were presented...
We live in turbulent times.
Much of life as we knew it is no longer. What was “normal” one year ago, no longer is … no matter who you are or how you were living. Daily life has radically changed. If you worked in an office outside your home, you probably don’t. Most kids are home bound or on restricted school schedules. Local lockdowns attempt to limit your ability to spend time outside your home or to have friends and extended family in your home. Borders between many countries are shut; quarantining for 14 days is mandatory for entry to other countries. Travel has radically changed.
These days, division, exclusion, extremism, separation and righteousness seem to predominate in all forms of media. And underlying them are fierce beliefs and the accompanying emotional charges of having the right belief and needing to be right. Outrage and panic seem to rule at times, with self-proclaimed, and in some...
On an airplane a few months ago, I sat behind a Dad and his two young children … a boy aged 6-ish and a girl aged 4-ish. He was sitting on the aisle, grim faced. As people continued to board the plane, the boy, who was seated in between his father and his sister, spoke with his Mom. “Yes, Mom, we’re on the airplane … it hasn’t taken off yet … No Mom, the door is still open! … Ok Mom, I’ll have fun! … Mom, do you want to talk to Daddy? … (The dad stared straight ahead) … Ok Mom, bye Mom I love you too Mom.” As he handed the cell phone back to his dad, he sneaked a peak at him. Dad continued to stare ahead.
He then turned to his sister, who had been silent during the phone call. She began a blow-by-blow narrative of everything she was observing out the window. “Look at that red truck … there are the suitcases … why is that man standing there? Who are all those people? When is the plane...
by Anne Maxwell, LCSW
Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
~ Albert Einstein
It has become clear to me, having worked as a psychotherapist for the past 25+ years with children, families and adults of all ages and kinds, that there are particular cultures of thinking or attitude in regard to the way people, and especially kids, should function. Those that don’t function according to the rules and regulations in play around them are labeled with ‘disabilities,’ especially in educational and medical communities.
Autism is one such definition.
I have a different way of viewing people who have been labeled with autism, and, 10 years ago, when I discovered the tools of Access Consciousness®, my practice changed, as did the children and adults I was working with... more ease, longer-lasting change, happier families.
Some questions I was invited to...
“Want to go riding?”
My friend Alison and I were in Dublin with other friends, attending a class. She had found a stable just outside Dublin. The website showed spectacular views, through woods, up in the hills, looking down on the city of Dublin and the ocean … hard to resist!
On the day of the ride, the sun was shining, soft blue Irish ocean sky with puffy clouds.
We arrived at the stable and were welcomed by horses peeking out from their stalls, curious. “You picked a good day … the weather is beautiful,” the guide said, greeting us. “It doesn’t happen like this very often!” She had us fill out paperwork (the last time I rode was as a little girl, riding a large, gentle old horse named Sasha, bareback.) She and the stable hands saddled up horses and brought them out in the courtyard.
“This is Divo,” she said, as she handed the reins over to me. ...
“Can you help me? My son needs to be in some therapy, like a therapy group. Can you recommend one for him?”
I was at the bank, and my favorite banker was doing some last-minute paperwork for me, before my move to another state. She knows I have worked as a child and family therapist for years, and, was lamenting the fact that I would be moving my practice out of state.
“How old is he?” I asked.
“What’s up? What’s going on that makes you look for therapy for him?” I asked.
She looked worried and slightly embarrassed.
“He won’t sleep by himself, and I’m exhausted. I stay in his bed until he falls asleep, and usually, when I get up, he wakes up and cries. If he doesn’t wake up then, he wakes up at two in the morning, screaming and crying for me. He’s a mama’s boy and he’s mad at me a lot of the...
How many New Year’s resolutions have you made?
And how many have you kept?
Not so many?
I cannot tell you how many times I tried … and tried … for years … and I would greet each New Year with renewed seriousness and earnestness and intention and gravitas … It was exhausting!! And ultimately not very satisfying, as I observed my weight creeping back up or my continued attraction to men who preferred to be with other women or my inability to sustain a workout routine or my continued attraction to people who viewed themselves as superior to me or my earnings that never seemed to go above a ceiling … the lists went on.
So, I decided to quit with the resolutions … except I never really did … I just didn’t announce them or claim them or admit that that was what I was up to … with similar results.
And whose beliefs were those, anyway? Where did I make myself think I needed to weigh...