Thursday, August 11, 2011

Appropriate Intimacy...

I've been fortunate enough in my career to be sought out and successful with providing therapy to others. My colleagues often ask what is it that I do to have clients come back time after time, making sure that I don't miss our appointments, etc.


The answer that keeps coming up is that I'm able to create appropriate intimacy with the client, so much so that the client is able to open up freely, feeling comfortable and trusting of the relationship we have established. I interact with others from a place of complete trust in the process, in taking care of myself, and in the fundamental truth that I believe is at the core of who I am and who all human beings are - worthwhile.

Saying to someone, "You matter", has created a whole host of responses from my clients. Most of the responses center around the inability of the person to allow this statement to be true for him or her. He looks away quickly when I say these words, unable to let it be true.

But it is true. It's true for each and every one of us funny, unique creatures. Allowing it to be true, considering it to be true, working on letting our inner truth change or alter to have it be true (for us) is what I work on with my clients. "You matter" is the foundation from which all the other work gets created.

When Melinda first heard these words she looked away quicker than I had ever seen anyone look away from my eyes before. She was sure that this was not true, that God (or some force she had no control over) had let her go through so many horrible experiences that she was sure she didn't matter anymore...or, better yet, that she never did matter. My introduction to her that she indeed did matter sent her in a direction she had never considered, and, at first, flat-out rejected.

It took time, but slowly, ever so gently, she came around. Now, with little prompting, she can say it back to me. She has begun her path toward validating how she feels, what she thinks, and understanding that although she cannot control others, and sometimes things happen out of our control, she can control how she responds to it, and she can take care of matter what.

With appropriate intimacy we work on these matters...plunging through the negative self-doubt and reproaching tendencies, all the way to the place of feeling better about ones-self...feeling good about who you are...and finally embracing that you, you are worth taking care of...and with some work and a little know how to do just that...because you're beginning to see that you really are worthwhile.

What do you need to do to feel good about YOU? I'm not talking about seeking pleasure...those are usually only distractions from the shameful feeling that you are not worthwhile. Instead, what can you say, do, or think that will make you feel good about YOU?

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Well, life has once again become so busy that other things have taken precedence over the writer's moments. So, now with a post...finally.

Boldness. Fearlessness. Courage in the face of fear. However you put it, the outcome is the same, action where others may choose not to act. My family has all agreed that I seem to exhibit this quality of being fearless. The story is that as a child I showed these signs early on. While taking a hike in the forest, I had run ahead, and as mom caught up to me around the bend she saw my little two-year old body up on top of a water fountain built for an adult, bent over so I could both turn on the water to get a drink and place my mouth to the cold water. She was mystified about how I had actually accomplished this feat.

Dad's version is similar, though in different circumstances. He recalls working on the third floor of my childhood home and after a few moments something caught his eye. Looking up he saw my head pop up over the roof-edge as I had climbed all the way up the ladder showing no fear at age five. He freaked, of course, and I wondered what was wrong. I had been about to put my feet on the roof and climb up with him, but stopped short when he yelled at me telling me to stay still so he could get to me. He ushered me down the ladder and quickly chastised me for my poor choice of placing myself in such a precarious position of harm. I didn't climb the ladder (while he was looking) but I did climb trees and anything else I could find.

This sense of fearlessness has also shown up in my unwillingness to give up on fulfilling my dreams. I have become an art therapist and Licensed Professional Counselor because of my unwillingness to give up.

There is, of course, a balance to these things. Instead of trying to push or "make" something happen (especially where relationships are concerned) I have had to learn how to back off and "allow" things to unfold as they naturally will. So many times people must take things slowly or at their own pace instead of getting caught in the possibilities and excitement of the moment.

As a therapist, I have been willing to go with clients in to the depths of their despair and hopelessness, meeting them where they are at. Instead of shying away from the depths of those emotions, I have been able to work with them to stay there and experience the pain so they can then release it, letting it go so that it is experienced in a healthy way. If I were not fearless I would not be able to stay there with them and see them through to the other side. Being "stuck" would be something I could do nothing about.

It has been a rewarding asset to have and a challenging process when others are not comfortable with intimacy. I work with clients to first establish trust, taking time to do this. Then, processing and opening up to the emotions slowly rather than all at once, pacing things so that overwhelm and then shut down do not occur.

Life takes time to unfold sometimes, and so does healing. So do relationships. They must go at a pace that works for those involved. So, allowing the client to set the pace has been important. Also, working with clients to not try to please me, but instead listen to themselves and get clear on what they need to do to take care of themselves, so that breakdowns are avoided and breakthroughs are maximized.

Being fearless has its perks. Knowing how to use it in healthy ways is also part the continual process toward being a successful therapist, friend, partner...