I spoke on the San Diego country radio station KSON this morning about the recent shooting in San Diego and how best to help those who were affected and dealing with the aftermath. You find the full interview here.
In this blog post I address my psychotherapist colleagues, though I believe it would also be beneficial for clients and others to take a look at and learn from as well.
I've seen discussions in online psychotherapist groups recently about current events like the Charlottesville rally and the presidential pardon of Joe Arpaio. In these groups, some therapists have encouraged their colleagues to specifically check in with clients who are people of color (POC) about these issues. This seems appropriate to me because part of our responsibility as clinicians is to broach difficult subjects, and race is certainly one of them. It doesn't matter what our particular political views are, but it does matter what our clients think, feel, and experience. White therapists in particular have a responsibility to create an environment where POC clients feel safe to open up.
I was surprised to find some other therapists in these groups disagree with the need to check in with POC clients and/or derail the focus away from race. (I was even more surprised when the administrators of one group deleted a black therapist’s thread and removed her from the group). It seems clear to me there is work to be done in our profession about how to initiate conversations on race because this is a real issue that affects many of our clients directly. The personal is political.
Recently I checked out a pop-up art installation in San Diego called Wonderspaces. One of the exhibits was Not Myself Today. It consisted of a wall of buttons with emotions written on them. The instructions invited participants to choose a button that showed how they felt at the moment. (I picked the "Awkward" button and wore it upside down, just to be cheeky.)
It got me thinking, what would it be like if we literally wore our feelings on our sleeves (or lapels)? How would we treat one another if we knew the other person was feeling sensitive or stressed that day? Would we be curious if we saw they were feeling proud? Would we be envious if they displayed their Zen status every day?
If you're someone who doesn't usually pay attention to or understand your own feelings (or even if you do), try this as an experiment: Each morning when you wake up, write down what you're feeling. You can use a journal or your phone or even a scrap of paper. If you want to, write more about what your feeling looks like, tastes like, sounds like. Get to know it and understand it.
There's no guarantee your feeling will change if you want it to, or that it will remain the same if you so desire. What you might discover, though, is you may have some feelings about your feelings. Maybe you judge them as good or bad. Maybe you judge yourself as good or bad for having certain emotions. Just notice this. Think about how you would treat someone who was wearing that particular feelings button. Would you judge them or want to help them? Perhaps you would seek to understand and connect with that person. Or maybe you'd want to give them some space. What would happen if you took this same approach with yourself? Try it and see...
To request a free, 15-minute consultation with Rachel Moore, LMFT, and find out how she might be of help, please click here.
Canadian artist Janelle Hardy interviewed me for her podcast, Wild Elixir, awhile back. The episode was posted over the weekend, and it was a lot of fun to revisit our conversation. Our chat included musings on creativity (music in particular) and an in-depth discussion of my favorite fairytale, Beauty and the Beast. Enjoy the listen!
You can find out this and more by reading my latest blog post for the Therapeutic Center for Anxiety and Trauma — Dumplings, Parrots, and EMDR: What Do These Things Have in Common? Here's an excerpt:
"When I was growing up there was a crow in our neighborhood named Jake. Jake would occasionally chase around kids on their bikes and squawk loudly at them. Luckily for me, I was never one of those kids. But let’s say an adult former victim of Jake decided to seek out EMDR therapy to reprocess the trauma and reduce her current level of distress. How might that work? ...
"EMDR can help the different parts of the brain talk to one another through the creation of new neural pathways. The executive part of the brain, for example, can connect with the other more reactive parts and in essence reassure them that the client is an adult now and has many more resources to take care of herself. Through this process, Jake the crow, who had dominion over the neighborhood way back when, no longer terrorizes the grown-up client now."
Check out the rest here. And be careful around those crows. ;-)
Six years ago I was making art with a group of people. Toward the end of our time together one of them asked how I'd decided on the colors for my mandala. I said I didn't know and it was pretty much random. The inquirer was skeptical of my choices: "Do those colors really go together?" When she said this I felt self-doubt and then justified it by remembering I've never really identified as a visual artist, anyway. So there.
Then the person next to me said, "Wait a minute," and pulled out a catalog she'd brought with her. She turned to a page with a colorful shawl displayed on it. The shawl for sale contained the same "random" color scheme as my mandala. Everyone at the table was now impressed by my artistic brilliance.
What happened there? The same colors on shiny magazine paper and worn by a stunning model instantly gave validity to my amateur crayon scratchings. Nothing had changed about my mandala, but now people liked it.
I was recently preparing for an uncomfortable conversation when a spontaneous thought came to mind: How old do I want to be in this discussion? It hadn't occurred to me before that rather than reacting out of fear and from an adolescent (or earlier) instinct, I could choose to use every year of my well-earned experience. And it WAS a choice. If I wanted to speak from a child's perspective I could do that. I also had the option of approaching the situation with the wisdom of an adult. In this particular case I chose the latter. And that, as they say, made all the difference.
Are you ready to take a look at your habits and how they may or may not be serving you? Contact Rachel Moore, LMFT, for a free 15-minute chat to see how I can best help you.
I recently wrote a guest blog post for the Therapeutic Center for Anxiety and Trauma, where I work in private practice. It's about a time in my life when being creative taught me about what it means to be authentic. You can find the post here, and I hope you enjoy it: Your Voice Is Waiting For You
P.S. Please contact me if you are interested in being added to the mailing list for information about our next Artist's Way Workshop therapy group, which begins February 2017.
My dear clients,
I hope this letter finds you well. This is an open letter because I also want to address those who are considering therapy or are already involved in it. My message is simple: It’s OK to talk about religion, sex, and politics in session. Really, it is. We are taught in our culture to avoid these particular topics in polite company. In general, this is probably good practice. In therapy, however, everything is on the table, polite or no.
There also seems to be a perception therapy is only about one’s inner experience or interactions with close family or friends. Anything that affects you affects you, however, whether it comes from your mother or a member of congress. We live in an expansive world with a lot of input from many different sources. All of this is valid to discuss in therapy.
Another misconception about therapy is therapists are only interested in things that happened in the past. It’s true a client’s growing-up experience is often a good place to start. It’s not the only place that deserves attention, however. In EMDR, the modality I use most often, we are trained to work with the past, the present, and the future. What happened to you in the past? What is occurring in your inner or outer world right now that bothers you? How would you like to handle it differently in the future? Focusing on each of these areas is important to good mental and emotional health.
When you come to session I hope to foster a safe and open atmosphere where you can feel free to talk about anything. If I fail to do this, I apologize and will seek to do better. My intention is to meet you wherever your heart and mind are in the moment.
Take good care and please let me know if you have any questions. I’m available to listen to what you have to say.
Rachel Moore, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapy in San Diego, CA. Rachel helps writers, artists, musicians, and other creative types overcome anxiety and trauma. She is certified in EMDR therapy and also trained in Brainspotting.