Monthly Archives: August 2015

Your Childhood Does Not Define You!

Your Childhood Does Not Define You.

Some allow whom they were pigeonholed with as an identity when they were children in their family to define their entire lives.

Witness a middle aged man I know, who has built a successful career as a behavioral health professional, but who as a child, had to deal with a family where put downs and being told “You don’t have what it takes” were often heard, What these adults told him did resonate in his head for a long time.  As a young man going through college, he stopped and almost didn’t complete his degree, thinking to himself “What would it matter anyway”, and hearing his family’s voices in his head, thinking he would just be another overeducated professional with no skills to find a job.  But what got him beyond this to build a successful career as a behavioral health professional that he has today?

All it took was one person.

Yes, you heard me right, one person.  This person believed in him, saw talent and potential based on his gifts and gave him through positive statements and other support the strength to move ahead towards his goals by finishing his education, finishing his internships and eventually getting hired at one of his internship sites at his first job.  He is now using his experience to help others move ahead with their lives.

We tend to think that we need a multitude of resources to get “past our past” but the opposite is true.  There have been cases of children who have lived through abuse, neglect and other horrible childhood circumstances that had one person, yes one person, a friend, a neighbor, a particularly sensitive relative, who saw what was going on in a dysfunctional family and was able to reach out and help that child enough so that they would have the confidence to move forward.

I could list here many resources, particularly in the Internet age, of support groups, organizations, etc. that help adults who have lived through horrible circumstances be able to succeed.  There are many out there and they aren’t hard to find.  But all it really takes is one person, one spark of confidence, a few genuine positive remarks…to give someone going through either a tormented present or thinking about their traumatic past to move ahead, and the confidence to achieve their goals.  It is like being given a thin lifeline, when someone is overboard and drifting in the ocean, you grab onto it, and it pulls you back up on the boat and gets you to your destination.

So we don’t really need a multitude of resources.  The resiliency within us wants us to heal and be strong.  Just like a cut of our skin has a scab grow over it to aid it’s healing, we have the inner resources in each one of us that with at least one positive person in our lives, can pull us through.  Of course resources such as online in real-time support groups as well as our own personal therapy can strengthen us and aid us in this quest, and should be used to help us go further down the line of emotional recovery.

Neuroscience is proving how our brains, like the rest of our bodies, are largely programmed for self-healing.  Expressing ourselves through our own creativity aids this tremendously, and allows us to put our past out there in a non-verbal manner, which allows us to digest whatever painful past we are dealing with and be able to integrate it and allow distance ourselves from it.  Are you dealing with some sort of pain in your life?  Find your own creative way to express it, this will not only allow you to put out there whatever happened and move on, but you shouldn’t be surprised to see that others will see or hear what you have created and be able to relate, so it is a way of joining a community out there of other people who have experienced similar issues in their own childhoods.  Find a mentor or therapist who supports your creative expression, in whatever form it takes, art, blogging, music, or anything where you feel you are expressing yourself in your truest form.  You can be proactive and be a partner in your own self-healing,



Healthy Boundaries and Social Media in The Therapy Room

IMG_0541Recently, at a national conference I attended, I went to an excellent presentation on social media and its impact on clients and their course of psychotherapy.  In my practice, I have seen this related to issues my clients face with  break-ups, and relationship ups and downs, as well as conflict between family members, as communicated through social media in all of its forms.

Often, after a break up, clients need space and distance from their “ex’s” in order to heal fully.  I encourage people to allow time for distance through either using “not following” features on Facebook, for example, or blocking if necessary.  Also editing “friends lists” to those who you truly communicate with, had a relationship with in “real” life at one time or another.  With art work done in sessions, with me as an art therapist, I tell clients not to share at all, as this is a part of their treatment record, exactly like a therapist’s note would be.

While the open communication of social media definitely has its upsides, the downsides and risk to confidentiality are great.  Also, outside of the therapy room, clients need to set boundaries and not leave themselves open to hurt and pain that can be gained from seeing the wrong post at the wrong time.  Starting to doing this online can be a good beginning for clients who also need to do this in “real-time” in their “offline” world with face to face interactions.

In short, having respect for oneself, allowing time for healing by limiting or removing visual stimuli or interaction that can be exacerbation of pain, excessive and disturbing, and concentrating on elements that can enhance your life for the positive, be calming, and allow you to focus on the here and now instead of having your head in what others may or may not be doing or saying,  are essential to healing.  This issue is becoming a growing problem.  Please give yourself the gift of healthy internet boundaries, which will translate into healthy boundaries in your day-to-day life.