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Not your typical therapist

Posted by on Jul 1, 2016 in Featured | 0 comments

Not your typical therapist

I’m at home with young children, adult professionals, struggling couples, and angst-ridden teenagers. You can look forward to A GUIDED CONVERSATION where you never feel put on the spot.

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Why Narrative Therapy?

Posted by on Jul 1, 2016 in Featured | 0 comments

Why Narrative Therapy?

Everyone has a story. In fact, everyone has multiple stories. Narrative therapy helps us live the story we most prefer, and allows us to reach our greatest potential.

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“I loved this type of therapy…”

Posted by on Jul 1, 2016 in Featured | 0 comments

“I loved this type of therapy…”

because it was so comfortable. I didn’t feel pressured to change myself or my life, and I didn’t feel like I was being blamed for doing something wrong. ~Female, age 39

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Overcoming Tough Problems with Kids: A Narrative Therapist’s Approach

Posted by on Jun 11, 2015 in Articles | 0 comments

A few months ago, I was confronted with an issue that no parent wants to tackle. My 3-year-old daughter became constipated, was scared to go to the bathroom, and subsequently began soiling her underpants. All this was occurring shortly after I’d given birth to our second child, and life was feeling very overwhelming for both of us. It was important to me that I preserve my daughter’s sense of self confidence, refrain from doing anything that would damage her future toileting rituals, and also find a quick solution to the problem. I was changing underpants as often as I was changing diapers, and I wanted to get on with taking care of a newborn without experiencing the monotonous whining and crying associated with my daughter’s fears, discomfort, and neediness that went along with her constipated state. As a trained Narrative Therapist, I used an approach written about by fellow Narrative Therapist, David Epston. I found a moment in which we could be alone, sat down with my daughter, and in a pretty animated voice I said, "You sure have a sneaky poopy. It wants to sneak right into your underpants, doesn’t it?" At this my daughter enthusiastically said "Oh, yeah." I continued, "When you are playing and reading books, that Sneaky Poopy wants you to think that you don’t need to get up and go to the potty, right?" Again, "Oh, Yeah!" "Do you think you could outsneak that Sneaky Poopy? Do you know where it’s supposed to go?" "In the Potty." "That’s right! But the Sneaky Poopy wants us to think that you don’t know where it’s supposed to go, and it’s tricking you into letting it get into your underpants. Do you want to let Sneak Poopy do that?" "NO!" she said excitedly. She was taking a stand against the problem. "What can you say when Sneaky Poopy wants to go into your underpants instead of the potty?" "Don’t go in my underpants, Sneaky Poopy. You go in the potty!" "That’s a good idea! You aren’t going to let it sneak, are you?!" "NO!" It’s been 3 1/2 months and there has been no such problem since. The short conversation illustrated above embraces the tenets of a Narrative Approach to Therapy. The Narrative Approach is one in which problems (in this case, soiling underpants and constipation) are externalized in conversation to make them less troubling for a person to deal with and talk about. To externalize a problem is to talk about it in the third person, thereby providing distance between the person and the problem. Very often, children and families are experiencing so much pain and frustration from a problem, that they internalize it (i.e. "Joey is the problem"). Dealing with the internalized problem can seem daunting, useless, and shameful. An externalized problem is much easier to talk about and understand, creating opportunities for learning and change (i.e. "Joey is dealing with the tantrums.") In this case, the externalized problem took on a name, "Sneaky Poopy," which was age-appropriate for my 3-year-old, and helped her feel playfully involved in the solution-making process. Once her identity was removed from the problem through externalization, she was able to change her relationship with it (by outsneaking Sneaky Poopy) and feel a sense of power over it. She was able to find a solution, implement it, and find success. If she had soiled her pants again, instead of feeling shame and guilt, we could have talked together and said something like, "Boy – that Sneaky Poopy was really sneaky that time. It must not like it very much that you’ve...

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Body Image

Posted by on Jun 11, 2015 in Articles | 0 comments

We hear this pairing of words stuck together so often that I don’t always know what it means anymore. Is it about what we perceive of our own body? Is it about how others perceive us? Is it about how we compare ourselves (or others) to a certain cultural body preference or norm? My guess is that all three of these play a big role in our construct of ‘body image’. Overcoming difficulties with ‘body image’ can be intricately wrapped up in numerous experiences and understandings of ourselves in the world. I have found in working with clients and within myself on this particular issue that having negative thoughts about our body image can be particularly painful and self-sabotaging – leading to actions and decisions that stray from our preferred way of living. Sometimes our own ‘body image’ voice gets us living out stories that go against what we want in our life. For example, if a woman has a ‘body image’ story of “I’m overweight,” her actions will very often follow this storyline. She may not stick to a schedule at the gym. She may give into cravings for unhealthy food. Who wins? The voice of ‘body image.” Additionally, the voice of ‘body image’ likes to recruit its friends. People I work with often notice that when negative ‘body image’ storylines run high, so do stories of ‘depression’, ‘anxiety’, and ‘poor self-esteem’. All of these voices can be overwhelming and self-defeating. So what can we do? In order to counteract the strong effects and influences of a negative ‘body image’ voice, we need to highlight the actions, commitments, and hopes that run against it. For example, the woman whose ‘body image’ voice says that she’s "overweight" probably knows that being overweight isn’t healthy. She may be able to come up with many ways in which she chooses ‘health’ in other parts of her life. Does she go to the doctor as needed? Does she choose not to smoke? Does she sometimes actually go to the gym? To help counter the negative ‘body image’ voice, she needs to claim why she is following through with the ‘healthy’ parts of her self. Perhaps she does these things because she wants to be here for her children and partner. Maybe it’s because she likes how it feels when she does work out at the gym. Could she secretly enjoy and value these ‘health’ choices but the ‘body image’ voice tries to convince her otherwise? By making ‘health’ choices more present in our brain, the ‘body image’ voice loses much of its power, enabling us to function in ways that make us happier. Do this for yourself and see what happens. (You may want to get out a quick pencil and paper. Its fun and worth it!!) Ask yourself: Name one message that the voice of ‘body image’ likes to give you? What type of ‘health’ choices do you make in everyday life? How do these choices make you feel? How do these ‘health’ choices effect your actions and decisions? What does the voice of ‘body image’ think about your ‘health’ choices? Why? How does it try to talk you out of your ‘health’ choices? What do you think of that? When I work with clients, we use processes such as these to uncover alternative storylines and make them more present against the voice of ‘body image.’ We discuss how tough it is within our culture because of the unrealistic expectation of what is considered "beautiful." We contrast "beautiful" with other ideas such as "healthy" or "kind-hearted." There is so much to...

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