Meet Buddy

 Meet Buddy.

 Buddy is my dog. Well, technically he is the family's dog. These are puppy shots of buddy, but he is over 3 years old now. Let's face it, there isn't a lot of opportunity to take pictures of your dog- so these are still my favorite.

I always say, if incarnation is real- I want to come back as Buddy in another life.

This is Buddy's favorite past time (yes, those are my legs). No matter what is happening, or where we are... Buddy is content as long as some part of him is touching some part of you. It makes him happy. He sighs with contentment and then falls asleep.

Buddy reminds me that we're all kind of this way. We all want to feel connected, safe, warm. We all want someone beside us after we're done with our adventures.

Wishing you connectedness,


In Case Anyone Wonders

If you ever wonder whether therapists lead a perfect life... let me put your questions to rest right now.

In a word? Nope.

I see this as a good thing. How good would a therapist be if they had never experienced loss, hurt, rejection, fear, anger, anxiety? How meaningful would their empathy be if it had to be faked, because they never felt anything like you? How useful would their advice be if it's never been battle tested?

Every now and then, I run across people who scoff at therapists they know who are imperfect. They tell me stories like they expect me to agree and laugh with them. Therapists have all the answers, right? So shouldn't their lives be perfect bliss?

In a word? Nope.

Therapy isn't about one perfect person telling an imperfect person how they can be perfect too. (Even writing that sentence makes my skin crawl a little!) Therapy is far more sacred, and far more messy than that. It is about humanness. It is about empathy and connection. It is about weathering storms with someone at your side.

Now, that someone at your side happens to have years (if not decades) of education and experience doing the same. They are an experienced co-pilot who can delicately tease out what is healthful and productive, and what is self-limiting. Their years of experience lets them pinpoint the heart of the matter, distinguish cause from effect, highlight destructive patterns. And all of that is wonderful and helpful.

But how empty would it be if the therapist wasn't fully aware of their own frailty and humanity?

I'm fortunate that I have a daily reminder of my own imperfections. It happens to come in a 3-foot-tall package with the most beautiful blue eyes. A two year old is the best reminder that education and training only means so much. If you can't connect, they're not interested. If you can't roll up your sleeves and dig in the dirt with them... they have no use for you. And regardless of your years of experience and education... they are unimpressed.

I am so thankful for my daily reminder. What a gift.


Can This Marriage Be Saved?

One of my favorite quotes: "Hope begins in the dark"


In my opinion, hope is one of the most significant things that a therapist can offer. Nowhere is this more obvious than in couples' counseling. By the time a couple has come in my door, they have been locked in a painful dance for a long time. Each interaction taking its toll, chipping away at their marriage and their selves.

It's been my experience, that couples know very well what is wrong with their marriage and their partner. They (better than anyone) know the ways in which they hurt one another. They know all the reasons their marriage is "doomed". They can give a detailed account in fact.

And yes, that is valuable information. And yes, it is important for a therapist to know all of it. How do you cure an illness you don't yet understand? So I see value in learning the ins and outs of the couple's past experiences. Their tally of hurts. The many ways that they each have wounded the other.

But then what?

What comes next?

I dare say, that is what couples come to counseling for. They are stuck on the "now what" part. The painful dance keeps playing over and over and they can't seem to get over, under or around it. To me, that is what hope is about.

Hope isn't a trite word... a ridiculous idealized version of reality. Hope doesn't substitute for the here and now. Hope doesn't undo the pain, or fix the problem. But (in a word) hope is fuel. Without hope, there is no motivation to try. No motivation to "show up" emotionally or otherwise.

Hope is the idea that things can be different. Not the guarantee that they will.

But what a powerful substance it is: hope.

In favor of hope,


My Apologies

I know, I know. I've really not been here much lately. What's even sadder? I have had a dozen million-dollar-blog ideas. And now I can't remember one. Does that ever happen to you? (Well okay, let's be honest. At least I can tell myself they were million-dollar-ideas. We'll never really know and it makes me feel happy to think they were ever in there ;) )

Here's the good news- I've been busy doing good things!

Here's the bad news- part of that includes... gulp... accounting and bookkeeping.

Chalk this up to one of the many things they never teach you in grad school: "how to RUN a successful business". It's all trial and error. And I know this is going to shock you... but us therapisty types are NOT excellent at administrative tasks. (Yes, I made up a word, but I like it.) I like to think that we're more "people-people" and less "paper-people". So, as my practice has grown, so has my need for good administrative systems.

For example, it would be ideal if I could give my accountant some kind of records at the end of the year. Even more so if the records made sense.

So my work hours have been full lately, but I will be back soon. I see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I like to think that experiences like this are important. They're humbling at least.

Mathematically Challenged,


When You Keep Doing "That Thing" That Ruins Everything

First off, what is trauma? The word might conjure images of busy emergency rooms, prime time dramas, or a devastating and dramatic accident. And yes, "trauma" might fit all of these scenarios. But for the purposes of this posting, trauma shall be defined as:

" An emotional wound leading to psychological injury"

... because I said so. And also, Wiktionary says so. Who can argue with a source so authoritative?

Okay, all joking aside- let's get back to the point: While emotional wounds happen to everyone in life, not all emotional wounds are traumatic. The difference: Does the wound lead to a deeper injury that lasts long after the traumatic experience is over?

For some, childhood is fraught with traumatic experiences. For others, they had a relatively happy and safe childhood that was disrupted by one particularly traumatic experience. Trauma is really in the eye of the sufferer... but a few examples might include: loss, death, divorce, abuse, neglect, bullying, serious illness, a parent who's an addict, a parent with mental illness....

Why do I bring this up? I'm glad you asked! I bring it up because it is my personal (and professional) belief that untreated childhood trauma gets in the way of you living your best life! The ways trauma can affect us are truly countless. To name a few: addiction, eating disorders (including overeating), unhealthy relationship patterns, self-sabotage, difficulty attaching to others, struggles in your own parenting, anxiety, depression.... The list could go on and on.

Why do some experiences shape us to our core, while others seem to roll off our backs? If I knew the answer to that, I'm certain I'd be rich! :) We don't know why particular experiences are traumatic (causing long-term suffering) and others aren't. In my professional experience, there are specific characteristics of experiences that become traumatic later. Some of those characteristics include:
  • involvement of a loved one,
  • involvement of someone who was supposed to be trustworthy or protect you,
  • an experience that caused you to change or question your concept of self,
  • an experience that made you feel unsafe or afraid.
  • an experience that dramatically or abruptly changed your family or your place in it
I'm going to be real with you: we all have key patterns and behaviors that we dislike about ourselves. Whether for habit or for comfort, they just seem to stick around. I'm not talking about those. I'm referring to pervasive patterns of behavior that get in the way of your relationships or personal goals. The ones that cause suffering in your life. Those are often caused by untreated trauma.

Let me put it to you another way. If you suffer from anxiety (for example), well you didn't come out of the womb anxious! Something occurred between birth and now that influenced your level of anxiety. And once you can understand that "something" you can begin to pinpoint it's effects on your life. You can begin to weed out the past that is influencing your today. Only when you can see the problem clearly can you begin to change it.

Wishing you true freedom from your trauma,