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Monday, January 31, 2011


I found out today that my coveted position as an assessment therapist is being eliminated, and I am back to a normal caseload. I'm pretty bummed about this, because, although it lacked the dynamism of my previous workload, it was doable, measurable, and I felt competent at it, things I never felt with a normal caseload at our bustling clinic. I never wanted to go back to the way things were...they were so chaotic and continually infringed upon my sense of control and boundaries. I felt pushed and pulled every which way and as though I had no right to say no to any of the unreasonable demands placed on me by crazy, irrational people everyday. Even now,  I feel like going back is a route back into being put in the hands of manipulative, disrespectful, and conniving people. I used to feel so used by some of the parents of the children I worked with, that I didn't even really miss having a caseload because they really just made me feel hurt and angry. I have no ability to refuse treatment if relationships appear to be ugly and codependent, or if I feel its not in the best interest of the client or myself- its being trapped in a room with crazy people and being told that you have to see them 2x a month no matter what and if you don't fix them in a short period of time there is something wrong with you.

These are the feelings I used to have all the time...I'm afraid of going back into them. I know I need to establish boundaries, have short treatments, and practice self-care, but I question my own ability to break from the patterns of dependency that seemed to develop with so many of the families before. I am trying to believe that people can only make me feel what I let them make me feel, and that I have the personal strength to escape their mind games and their infringement on my boundaries.

This time around, I want to do things differently. I want to have faith in my abilities and believe that my client's Chronic problems are their problems and not a result of my ineffectiveness as a clinician and as a carer. I want to establish boundaries and end treatment quickly and effectively with each of the families instead of getting lost in their content. I want to leave them at work at the end of the day and not think about them at home.

If I don't learn to do these things, its going to be a long year before I am licensed. I covet your prayers now more than ever, because in my darkest thoughts I do not believe I am up for this challenge. I need confidence and self-assuredness in order to proceed from here and survive.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


That is how I get depressed.
We work hard all day,
No one's lazy,
But at the end of the month
Our bank account is hazy-
It's gone on so long I'm feeling crazy,
And I can't see the end in sight.

My friends are driving fancy cars,
And I sigh as I glance at the mileage on ours,
Some go on vacation- vacation, what's that?
It's not for people on our side of the tracks.

The live in the southwest, we leave in the east,
Their restaurants are A-rated, ours all have Bs,
and as I look into the future,
I just can't see when we'll get out of this poverty.

That is how I get depressed.
Always concerned about the bottom line,
Counting pennies every time-

And I don't understand how we can be
So high above the nation's line of poverty
And still be having trouble keeping afloat,
Treading water, we just plug the holes in our boat...

How many years of fiscal toil and strife
Will we endure to get financially upright?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

2 Year Anniversary

As luck would have it, all my anniversaries fall at the same time. I graduated with my masters degreee 2 years ago on December 1st, 2008, got married 2 years ago on December 20th, 2008, and today, Janaury 26th, marks my 2 year anniversary working at my agency as a Marriage and Family therapist Intern. And next month my husband and I will celebrate our 1 year anniversary of owning our own home, one of those unexpected blessings we never thought we could acheive so early in our marriage but due to the economic downturn and the government's incentive programs, we did.

As I look back on the last 2 years, I am aware that 2 years is the limit to any profession I have ever had. My previous job, teaching ESL to adults for the local adult school, was 2 years, the radio station before that was a year and a half, and so on. I find myself growing restless for change, restless for a new challenge, but still struggling to juggle the responsibilities inherent in my current situation. How I can be bored and too busy is a mystery to me, but there it is.

  So I am looking forward to some new challenges in my life this year. Lord willing I will have my hours by the summer time and be applying for licensure. Lord willing I will be taking my tests toward licensure shortly afterwards and then I will be able to practice without supervision (which is a scary thought! Supervision is awesome!) and go any which way without hindrance. The training wheels will come off and I will be an MFT, free and clear, at 28 or 29.  A pretty cool goal to accomplish before 30, really.

So although I am staying in the same place, I am actually moving forward in the right direction, faster than I realize. I also hope the next year will net some other opportunities to use my public speaking skills and singing talents.

So here is to year 3 as an MFT-Intern- may I be well on my way to licensure a year from now, and looking forward to a bright future.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

No One Ever Hurt a Child By Believing He/She was Capable of Great Things

Ever have one of those sessions where you are totally stoked to get to assess a family and provide them with helpful suggestions and positive predictions? I just had one of those, and it was awesome.

One of the COOL things I get to do sometimes is offer positive predictions. It is like I am a fortune teller, but all the fortunes are shadows of a possible bright future:

"You know, other kids I've talked to who have dealt with similar problems end up finding some good strategies for dealing with them by the time they become an  adult."

"You know, other kids I've met like you tend to do really well in performing arts and in creative activities where they can really express themselves."

"Based on ______(insert strengths here), I am pretty confident you guys will be able to beat this problem and you are going to do really well in therapy."

Because I am "THE THERAPIST" my opinion carries more weight than, say, their mom, who may have told them the same thing a hundred times. I tell girls they are smart and beautiful, and the boys that they are strong and capable, and I gasp over the successes of the kids that come to see me, and I love watching their eyes light up as they receive the affirmation they so desperately need to keep going. I like to imagine that my words of encouragement and optimism stay with them and they actually become those positive things the more they identify with them.

In the same way, I could work the opposite magic. I could discourage them or tear them down with labels and stigmas. I could tell their parents there isn't much hope or that their kid is going to be permanently disabled, and because I am "THE THERAPIST" my words might go way further than they should. This is a responsibilty I take very seriously.

It's pretty cool to be able to help shape people's futures in a positive way. I am so glad I get to be the one to hear what they say, accept them despite their faults, and push them toward a bright future. Remember in your own life, that no one ever hurt a child by believing that he or she was capable of great things!!!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Profound Impact of Departed Family Members and Family History on Children

I often ask in my office if anyone in the family has passed away recently. The parents often say, “No,” and their child will pipe in, “my uncle.” Their parents will look confused and say, “you were only 2…you didn’t really know your uncle.” The child will sit silent, or sometimes she will give me a whole list of family members, close or not, who have passed away during their lifetime or a little before, as their parents look on, surprised at how much information their children have gleaned about the members of the family who are not around anymore. Is it possible that this is a testimony to how often children are listening and paying attention to the talk of adults in their family who did know the deceased, and so they ascribe major importance to that person?
Another interesting response I have noticed is the quiet, non-sound of ears perking up when a child’s earliest years are discussed. A boy may be playing with Legos on the ground, but his hands becomes still and his face turns toward his mother as she tells about his delivery, his walking, and talking, and potty-training. Sometimes I think it may be the first time he has heard this information, or he is enamored with his mother’s remembrances of him as a baby. I hear the same interesting silence when family history from years gone by is mentioned, about aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents who are connected with the child, especially if the story reveals something about how that child ended up living with whom he is living with, and having the life that he has. Children instinctively seem to know that this kind of history is important, and many parents have, whether due to discomfort, poor engagement with the child, or lack of understanding of its importance, neglected to share these stories.

What are your thoughts on the importance of legacy to the next generation?

Monday, January 3, 2011


If you have been around ministers of the gospel for any period of time, you may have picked up on a belief in a "calling" to a certain profession. A pastor, for example, could not be satisfied if he was a plumber, because that is not his calling. If you are called to perform a certain job and you do not do it, you will find yourself perpetually dissatisfied, and probably not very pleasant to be around. This is why pastors stay pastors, even though the pay is bad and the job is hard. They believe they are living God's will for them, and that the rewards in heaven will highly outweigh the stressors of this present age.

But what about the rest of us?
Last night, I spoke in front of my church reporting back, along with the youth who went and my husband (who is a youth pastor and definitely feels called to this) about our sojourn to the state youth conference last week. I wanted to tell them about how God is allowing me to do public speaking for the first time, a desire of my heart long pondered over and finally granted. Yet I hesitated to call it a calling, as I had thought of it. I hesitated and said something flimsy like, "I have always wanted to do public speaking" instead of using the emphatic language of a call. I considered this later. First I thought I was just nervous because it was my own church, but then I realized there was more to it than that. I don't have a "calling" in the sense that pastors and preachers and understand a calling, because in that definition, if you are doing anything else, you are out of line. God is not (sometimes I wish He would!!!!) calling me to stop working at a clinic and spend life on the road speaking to different groups of people. Rather, He has given me an innate enjoyment of public speaking and sharing inspirational words with large groups of people (unlike some folks this doesn't make me nervous, at least, not as much!) and is slowly providing me with more opportunities to do these things. In the meantime, I am called to support my husband and minister beside him, to work full time as a therapist, and to strengthen and encourage my church. That is my calling. Public speaking and singing are the icing on the cake. I know in my heart that I will get more opportunities to do these things because they are God-given desires and gifts.

So the next time I talk to my church family about speaking arrangements, more of which I believe are coming, I think I will say something more like this: "God has given me a heart for speaking to people about Him, and I am so glad He is giving me opportunities to do just that." I hope they can understand how I am both called, and not called, to a unique sort of ministry.

Some Days

Some days,

I want to be seen.

I write, I proclaim, I stand up and speak so I can be noticed.

Like a peacock strutting his stuff,  I want to be ...remarkable...

stirring up the waters of the world as I rush through them.

But some days,

I want to curl up like a walnut in its shell

as the world goes by,

unseen, unnoticed, and have nothing demanded or sought. Simply to be...unremarkable...

allowing life to pull me along with its unrelenting tide.