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Pegasus on Pont Alexandre, Paris by Max London.

O for a horse with wings!

William Shakespeare


SO THIS IS YOUR PASSION?

I am sitting on the plane trying to whittle out the nuances of stories, looking for a way to bottle the last three days of experiences in the container of words.  It’s hard.  The woman next to me looks anxious and I brace myself for another flight next to a severe flight-o-phobe but instead she asks me why I was in Tucson while staring with curious amusement at the large and stiff ring of rope I am trying to stuff below my seat.  I say, “Horses,” but seeing that she isn’t quite satisfied and her eyes, still shifting between me and my lasso ring, are asking for a little more than a one word description.

I pause, thinking how to encapsulate what I was doing in Arizona, knowing that whatever I say could be less than enlightened.  I tell her I am a mental health therapist and I work with horses to help people through emotional problems but admit that I am trying to learn more about riding and horsemanship for my work.  She pauses and then in rich rolling espanol she says, “So this is your passion?”  Both question and answer, as if something in my eyes or the tone of my voice revealed the not-so-hidden-truth.  I smile, sigh a deep ujjayi breath, and say, “Yes.”

THE PRELUDE…

I knew in going on this journey out west and into the mountain-ridged skies of Arizona that I would be confronted with many things: emotional truths, passions envisioned, and dreams taking flight.  I set out from West Palm Beach prepared with pen in hand, yoga pants in tow, and hiking boots–yes, I still had not yet managed to get myself a good pair of riding boots.  I knew there would be yoga, creative exercises, mindfulness, and riding.  It was a yogini-equine-therapist-writer’s dream!  Although, before even landing I was already very nervous about the riding.

My riding experience was limited to the blissful summer camp experience and a variety of trail rides in a variety of countries; all with horses that were either spastic or sleepy from being over-riden by clunky tourists (like myself).  All my therapeutic “horsemanship” came from face-to-face time with my four-legged counterparts, not bottom-to-back.  I remembered the little girl who fearlessly cantered on her last day of summer camp and I hoped to rediscover some of her bliss–but I was afraid that age had only instilled skepticism and fear where imagination and bravery used to reside.  But as my stomach flopped with daydreams and fantasy I was hoping there was as much childlike excitement to outweigh the adult mind’s pesky critical thinking.

CHASING DREAMS TO THE BORDER OF MEXICO.

In the southeast corner of the southwest, an hour south of Tucson and less than an hour north of Mexico sits the unassuming town of Sonoita where the biggest restaurant is gas station adjacent and you can map out every constellation in the night sky.  I had chased my passion all the way to the Mexican border and found bliss on the first morning waking at the Xanadu Ranch, named by the owners since they had carried the sign and their horses from Ohio to New Mexico and finally settling on a large stretch of land in Sonoita.  Three black horses grazed in the tall dry grasses and the quiet of the air and the laziness of the hammock out in front of my door made me think I could spend days just hammocking my way to a higher state of being.

I had come out here to commit.  To commit to the dream of mine that included horses, yoga, and healing–something I believed in so strongly and had seen impact people so profoundly but I wanted to experience it at the other end of the lunge line and see what my clients saw.  In creating Prana Equus I knew I was giving myself over to my dreams but in coming out to Sonoita I was giving the dream wings and seeing what magic might come from seeing a space of healing outside of my own little cul-de-sac space with Angel Smile Farms and Maurette in South Florida.

I think the first morning, 9:00am, sun brightly shining through the windows of Shelley Rosenberg and Nancy Coyne’s yoga house on the property of their home and their barn, breathing in unison with my workshop-mates Deb, Cathy, and Ann at the direction of Nancy Coyne (MD, psychiatrist, and yogini-du-joir) I realized this was a special space and I was about to share a wonderful three days with a beautiful mosaic of souls.  Maybe horses can’t sprout wings like the golden Pegausus in the photo above but my dreams and my work with them felt like they were already taking flight to new and beautiful lands–in my mind and on the ground in every deep ujjayi breath.

So. This is my passion.

Nancy whispered softly with a little hint of jest, “Welcome ladies to the Om Hotel…you can check out, but…well you know the rest.”  I felt like I had come home inside and out.

CHECK OUT THE NEXT POST IN THE SERIES “GREETINGS FROM THE OM HOTEL”…UPCOMING!

Brain by dierk schaefer.

“Every man can, of he so desires, become the sculptor of his own brain”
Santiago Ramon y Cajal

Santiago Ramon y Cajal was a nobel laureate and one of the greatest neurobiologists in history.  His assertion above has been proved more and more true as time has gone on and more elaborate science has been able to affirm the brain’s ability to change.  REMEMBER one of my favorite words for 2010 NEUROPLASTICITY?  I have been, as a trauma therapist, trauma survivor, and passionate advocate for people’s ability to find healing out of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, more invigorated by the day with the overwhelming new science proving that my experience and beliefs are more than just hypothesis in the mist.

I went to a lecture last Friday on “Neurobiology & Trauma” presented by the highly esteemed and eloquent Dr. Amanda Evans of Florida Gulf Coast University (and President of Florida’s National Association of Social Work).  I love a good neurobiology and trauma lecture as much as the next person–well, ok I guess I love it probably more than MOST of the people next to me–but I never know what to expect and get nervous for a 101 type generalist discussion.  I was blown away by Dr. Evans workshop–she affirmed all of what I have already learned and threw her own vantage point into the mix in a refreshing way.

One of the things she stressed, and I loved her description (I will paraphrase), was the difference between a traumatic experience, trauma survivor, and a person living with Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  I loved that she made this distinction because as a trauma therapist in a small field with this focus–most mental health professionals don’t specialize in this area–I have found there are so many perpetuated myths and misconceptions about PTSD that often get passed on as truths to clients and other professionals.  Some of the greatest myths I have heard perpetuated by other mental health professionals (well-intentioned but can be so damaging for clients and the perceptions of PTSD as a whole) are:

  • PTSD is a terminal diagnosis–You will have it forever.
  • PTSD is incurable, un-healable and can only be moderated with medication.
  • PTSD exists if you have even one or two of the symptoms and even if they go away if they return (even one symptom) then it means you have had it all along.
  • PTSD happens to anyone who has experienced trauma–if something traumatic happened you have PTSD.
  • PTSD is treated with talk therapy and medication–there are no other treatment approaches that do any good.
  • …I know there are more but these are the biggest.

Dr. Evans, in her eloquence, stated: (paraphrased)

“Having a symptom of PTSD does not make the diagnosis.  A person may have a flashback or intrusive thought at some point triggered by something that happens but that does not mean they have PTSD.  Post traumatic stress disorder is a persistent cluster of symptoms so great and overwhelming that they impact functioning and living life.  They affect a person’s ability to work, have personal relationships, and generally function in the world.  If you are not experiencing these elements in your daily life then you are having a normal response to a traumatic experience if you occasionally are reminded and it brings on a singular nightmare, thought, flashback–that is ok and does not mean that you have a disordered condition.  There is a misrepresentation of the difference between a normative response of a trauma survivor and a disordered way of being.”

Again, this is my paraphrasing of her words but the gist is what she stated.  It is always exciting for me to hear another professional, especially a well-versed specialist in the area of trauma, neurobiology, and diagnosis, describe what I know to be true as well.  Our brains can change.  The very nature of our own capacity for survival–mind,body, and spirit–that help us to SURVIVE are what can entrench that survival instinct and create a disordered response to the world–one that is all survival mode all the time.  This entrenched way of being that becomes a disordered response to the world in all aspects (mind,body, and spirit) are PTSD.  We can chip away at those responses and CHANGE our brain with the same resilience and survival capacity that brought us into a PTSD state in the first place.  The brain and our humanity are complex but also simple–we survive and hopefully through work we can do more than that and begin to THRIVE.  This is true for trauma survivors and everyone overcoming difficulties in life.

This also relates so much to MIND, BODY, and SPIRIT WELLNESS in that it gives hope and the potential for hope and change in ourselves and our lives grounding in reality and science!  Whether you are dealing with traumatic issues, stress, anxiety, or any emotionally distressing experience you can know that there is hope in our world and in our own BRAINS for CHANGE.  Neuroscientists are saying it, therapists are saying it, and the illusions and myths are being dispelled to make way for the truths of hard science and soft science.  I have known my own truth in my life, PTSD, and recovery journey in a visceral way…these new facts only help me to depict this truth concretely for others and be able to be an instiller of hope in my clients lives rather than handing out terminal diagnosis of disorder with no end.

APRIL is the beginning of Sexual Assault Awareness month and in the honor of that I wanted to discuss the exciting world of hope in recovery and healing from traumatic experience.  I hope more people can believe in themselves, their brains, their spirits, their bodies and the ability to find healing from a variety of sources!  I discovered yoga as an avenue to my own wellness and found, through neurobiology and the roots of trauma and trouble with speech in trauma, that movement can often be a great outlet for emotional pain when talk cannot.  I hope everyone, trauma survivor, and just those surviving their own issues of life, takes the time to search for their own avenues to wellness!  What do you love? What brings you comfort? Start there and reach out for professional help if you need it–there are ways to healing and there are people who can help!

All my thoughts and blessings to those suffering from emotional pains today and every day.


“Taking one breath after another with my horses–and you must breathe with them if you want to understand their rhythms and emotions–I can settle myself, become calm, take stock of my surroundings.”


“I have spent my life with horses, eventually becoming a horse trainer and riding instructor.  Horses were my true teachers so I tell my story through them.  They are why I stand and speak.  They are my touchstone and bridge to my own kind.  They help me heal myself and go into human relationships a little stronger. “

Excerpted from MY HORSES, MY HEALERS by Shelley Rosenberg

Shelley Rosenberg is a courageous and impassioned woman.  Wounded by the trauma of childhood abuses she was not broken.  Her relationship with horses over the course of her life helped her to bolster her own inner strength and eventually write her memoir, My Horses, My Healers, which explores horse-human bond, her personal intimate experience with horses, and how the bond between horse and human can create healing out of traumatic experience.  She has collaborated with Dr. Nancy Coyne, MD (whose interview was posted earlier this week) to create a workshop entitled “Horses as Healers” which incorporates mind/body techniques, yoga, guided visualization, and horse-human relational experiences to facilitate healing experiences in trauma survivors.

Shelley is an Epona Advanced Approved Instructor working out of Arizona ( at the Epona Center) and Maine in facilitating growth, healing, and wellness through the horse-human relationship.  I am always profoundly impacted by the universal elements of traumatic experience and healing catharsis.  Shelley references multiple times in the interview below the process of going from “surviving to thriving” which I also discuss in my website http://www.embodymentalhealth.com as my credo: “Life: Don’t just survive, thrive.”  I think it shows a like ambition in those who have healed from trauma and search for ways to help others find healing and wellness from their traumatic experience.  Shelley’s book is a story of strength, courage, and discovery through intimate experience and exploration of horses as healers.

I hope you take the time to look into her work with Nancy Coyne and her memoir which is beautifully written.  I am in admiration of her voice as a survivor of traumatic experience.  I believe strongly that the more survivors who have learned to thrive can speak out the more they can inspire others to work towards their own recovery and healing–and give courage to people who need it.  I thank Shelley, as a fellow survivor, for her courage in telling her story and taking the time to do so again on this blog.

Q:  Why did you decide to write out your traumatic experience and healing journey in your book “My Horses, My Healers”?  Did you have any trepidations or concerns about opening up so much of your inner journey in writing for others to see?  What did you hope would come out of telling your story?

I truly had only one reason to write my story, to help others use there voice. to give words to there story, and be deeply heard.

Q:  What do you think, at the root, is so healing about horses and the horse human relationship?  What for you was the cathartic element of your experience with horses?

Horses were my ears  to the little girl who heard “if you tell you will die”. They can listen, react, and go back to grazing. Something I was not able to do. How the horse knows by nature after a trauma peace move on, life is no longer in danger.

My cathartic experience as you ask was breaking my arm so I did not have to go to Grandpa’s house. My learning to use my voice was what set me free to move through the past and like the horses go back to a full life.

Q:  You describe your experience with horses as “self-healing”; what do you mean by that?  Do you feel “healed” from you traumatic experience?  What were the essential elements of your healing process?  What do you think got you to the place, emotionally, that you are today?

Horses mirror the authentic self, I was living a life from horses accident to horse accident. Each fall was a way to get out of the inner pain I was in. Each injury was worse then the next, until I got that I was the cause of these falls. I found one therapist after another until I found someone who deeply listened to the pain in my soul. I still am doing my own work I believe we are never done learning. It is my job as a healer to keep up on my own personal work.

Q:  What attracted you to horses as a child?  Why did you follow the equestrian path professionally?

My very best friend had horses, I have Joanne Clark to be thankful for leading me to them. As I started to learn more and more about horses, spending every minute I could with them.   I knew I wanted to be a horse professional at a very young age.

Q:  When did you begin to explore using your professional horsemanship capacities to help others heal from their emotional issues of trauma and the traumatic experience?

I think as a riding instructor we all listen to stories of the clients’ accidents. If we ask questions and offer our own truth we can help anyone. I am more careful now and work on deep issues with Dr. Nancy Coyne a trauma specialist. We work directly with the horses as co-facilitators.  Riding and ground work are incorporated in all of our workshops.

Q:  You have created a program called “Horses as Healers” at the Epona Center in Arizona.  What led to the creation of this program with your co-facilitator Nancy Coyne, MD?  What led you to create the program in the format you did–with the incorporation of creative arts, yoga, and other methods of complementary therapies?

We started this work first in a Horses As Healers workshop in Bath, Maine. I was working for the Epona Center so our next full workshop was at Apache Springs ranch. The creations propose was to give a safe space for the participants to be deeply heard. and given tools to help change the patterns they are in. To go from surviving to thriving, the arts and yoga and body work are all incorporated to move the process along in a new pathway for radical self care.

Q:  What kind of riding and horsemanship techniques have you implimented to facilitate a psychotherapeutic experience for participants in your group?

We do so many different mind body connections, like feeling the movement of the horse while mounted, reflective grooming, and connected round pen where four people go into the round pen with one horse. They must speak to each other before any movement takes place. Like asking the horse to walk they need to all agree to do this action before the person who they decide will ask the horse to move. So they ask if everything they do is okay before they move ahead. If someone’s arousal level goes up the group stops or time out, and they come together in the pen to speak the fear. Most of the time the horse will come in and listen to what is going on. Then they go back to what ever goal they set for themselves. The object is communication, and being heard.

Q:  How is it, as a dressage trained professional, to work in a mental health capacity with a psychiatrist?  How do you both balance your professional backgrounds and goals for clients (re: learning horsemanship skills and creating therapeutic experiences) to create a cohesive psychotherapeutic experience for your clients?

Dr. Nancy Coyne is the mental health professional, I am the trained horse professional, we must be open to what ever takes place with the clients. We have now been doing this work for four years and are very good at speaking our own truth in the moment. We respect each others decisions and always have the clients best interest and safety first.

Q: On your Epona website biographic information it discusses your work with “reflective riding”?  What is this technique and how is it therapeutically effective for clients?  What is “passive roundpenning” and how is that different from “active roundpenning”?  What are “Journey Rides”?

The reflective ride has evolved in many ways it can and usually is a profound experience. The rider reflects what is going while they are lead by a trained staff employee. If they are having an issue with a fall or a body sensation we can ask all kinds of questions to have them reflect on what happened frame by frame.

Passive round pen is a more private time the client has with the horse they choose alone in the pen. Active round pen is where we teach the client how to move the horse safely. The journey ride is a guided meditation on horseback. With a story I have created to fit the group.

Q:  What have you discovered in creating and implementing this program?  What did you expect?  What were the results?  What has surprised you?

I have discovered the voice is one of the tools to set us free from our well used pathways that have not been helping us move on. I have learned I have great joy in helping others. I wanted to help others speak and we have done this many, many times. The results  truly  take my breath away. People come now ready to do the work they came for. I am not surprised I am truly grateful for the gifts i have been given.

Q:  What do you envision in the future of Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy and other Equine Assisted Activities?  What do you hope to see moving forward in your own practice and programming in the field?

I see the future being more guided by rules from EFFMA or NARAH. I hope people take this work as serious as it is. I am writing another book accessing your intuition I will be telling the stories of what has evolved in my own work with others.

Q:  What would you like to say to other trauma survivors struggling on their own journey of healing?  What would you like to say to other professionals looking to explore alternative ways to trauma and mental health treatment outside of traditional talk therapy?

To trauma survivors I hope they find someone to listen to them in a way they have there process deeply heard. Do not stop looking until you find this human. If you can find a therapist who has access and has worked with horses as healers.

To traditional talk therapists please take a step out of the office with a horse professional and try this very powerful work for yourself.

Q:  Any words of inspiration, wisdom, or anything else you would like to leave the readers with.

This is the way to help the clients move from surviving to thriving, the way of the horse.

Thank you for letting me speak.

Ever since the accident the other day I find myself whirring and dizzy with so many thoughts and emotions they are so hard to compartmentalize in any way. They bleed together, overlap, & come out like a Pollack painting–splotchy colors that appear random and haphazard until you stand back and stare from a distance.

I find myself thinking about the woman I met wailing over her husband’s body, blood soaking into her jeans, not knowing what her life was anymore, not prepared to define herself without her life partner.

I found myself, in that moment, thinking “That’s it,”. In a family of two when one is gone and one remains that family ceases to be–there is no legacy of that love beyond the memory of it.

This led me back to my own continued dilemma of babies, thinking in a new light of the preciousness of creating life anew in a family of two–something to be shared in love and partnership, something that extends beyond two people and beyond death.

A coworker of mine, a therapist equally bogged down by her own internal snags and hesitations over procreation told me once,”The one thing I do know is that of all the elderly people I’ve worked with, the ones with children are undeniably the happiest at the end of their lives.”. That has to stand for a level of significance whatever the source of this phenomenon.

Maybe, for some unscientific, unquantifiable, unsubscribable, purposeful reason, having a family is not about all those things I feared they might be–relegating oneself and being relegated to some stereotypical stepford female experience, or a frustrating impediment to professional growth, or a narcissistic ego boost in creating ones own replica, and it might even be something more than biological necessity for maintaining the species. It might, in fact, have something to do with LOVE.

Again, per usual, I know, big “duh” moment. I had always known this idea in some peripheral theoretical way but I had neve before gotten out of my own head long enough to get into my own heart on the matter. Until Saturday night when in a flash of shock and grief and a wave of feeling so close to another’s experience (seeing the potential for me in tha widow) I saw the purpose for having children just purely because of and for love.

“Love has no desire but to fulfill itself. To melt and be like a running brook that sings it’s melody to the night. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving.”

Kahlil Gibran

 

Yoga 49 by jf on flickr

               

                  Yoga is difficult for the one whose mind is not subdued.

                                                  Bhagavad Gita

 

Since moving to Florida I have been feeling like a bit of a faux-gini.  Literally translated this would be a Faux Yogini.  I have been so scattered, life has been so chaotic and bipolar with moments of high stress followed by solitary lulls and isolation that I have been feeling off my game in, well, life.  I haven’t managed to cultivate any sort of a routine or rhythm for my life down here barring the waking, work, home, dogs, blog, sleep.  This seems like a short-sighted and short shelf life kind of life plan. 

 

Part of this is due to the fact that I feel like life is sort of in a state of limbo; partially on pause.  With my husband not down here right now I feel like our Florida life is just maintaining on life support until full measures of resuscitation are activated.  But, in truth, I am the only force that can activate these measures and I can’t wait around indefinitely to do so. 

 

I can only spend so long staring at the walls of our new house, writing and researching all night with a background of Law & Order, NCIS, or Bones humming in my ear, and finding peaks of adrenaline with the moments I have to kill, shoo, or bury one manner of critter or another.  Last night it was a dragonfly.  I don’t even want to talk about the scene that was my livingroom during that five minute drama–dogs, wings, and a yellow broom.

 

In this life-support limbo I have been living in I have neglected all manner of healthy eating habits that I had cultivated, choosing instead to the easier route of whatever take out is most accessible and quickly edible.  I have abandoned all and any yogic routine that I might have cultivated using excuses (some real, others weak) including physical pain, exhaustion, and disorientation to the local yoga studios and classes. 

 

Well this is the week of life resuscitation–begun yesterday with my assertion to create healthy sleeping habits.  It is time to form this Florida life beyond insect slaughters and amphibian burials. 

 

As of this upcoming weekend I will have been in Florida for a month.  This is my deadline.  I am on the brink of making a life of my own in a house, while not literally my own, rented for a year to be my own–I have to Virginia Woolf this sucker and find a metaphorical room of “one’s”/my own. 

By Any Other Name by drp on flickr

 Sometimes the hardest, the scariest thing is moving forward and effecting change in our own lives.  Consistency becomes comforting.  Stagnation starts to feel cozy.  The idea of thrusting ourselves out of the norm and what we know–intentional inertia–seems like unnecessary extra trouble and work.  Sometimes, however, doing that work is what is necessary for real growth; to create a challenge we may need in our life and then force ourselves to rise up and meet it. 

 

Some might look at my life and say I did the hard part–change states, change jobs, change out homes and climates but in truth I have yet to make the real stretch or do anything much that requires a real shift.  I have yet to shift the practices and core focuses of my life.  A job goes from 9-5 or 8-4:30 in my case and so my routine, although locationally different, remains in the same sequence.  The scenery of my home and state may have exchanged palms for firs but I still drive down highways, sit at desks, eat at restaurants, and shop at stores that are similar. 

 

The changes we make that are really core shaking are, well, in the core.  That is the scary stuff: Soul shifting, heart opening, emotionally rattling core changes.  I know, in some fearfully intuitive way, that my yoga training will be such a shift.  And like an athlete preparing for a triathlon I know I have to prepare myself: mind, body, and soul.  I have to eat better, move more intentionally, sit more calmly, and be working towards the shift I am about to make. 

 

With a vegan, yogic, monastic lifestyle ahead on my horizon I have to start living intentionally and finding the yoga in every moment. 

 

How would you create a more intentional life with just one shift in your daily living?  That is a very weighty question but one I have been trying to sort for myself.  I believe I am going to start with mindful eating–eating more consciously, healthfully, and with more the pace of a gazelle rather than a sloppy, ravenous vulture (this would be my old method).  While this may be a small piece I have a tendency for impulsive craving satiation so this is probably one of my biggest hurdles of all. 

 

Starting with Saturday’s yoga at the beach class, which was postponed last time due to weather and abdominal pain, I will try to incorporate intentional movement into the mix.  Piece by piece, bit by bit…I am working my way to a shift in my core.

Mantra by jf on flickr

 

Yoga heals, nourishes, and challenges us.  The practice infiltrates every corner of our lives.

Valerie Jeremijenko

New Banksy Rat Mural in New York by caruba on flickrNew Banksy Rat Mural in New York by caruba on flickr

 

In case you are trying to discern if you heard me correctly, you did.  I did say ROOF RATS.  Along with various discoveries by land and by sea I have been making in my new home and various acquiescence to local wildlife in my shower, in my guestroom, and elsewhere I do not think I properly equipped myself emotionally for roof rats.  And I am not sure that one can. 

 

I am in a bit of a city rat, country rat dilemma–of my own creation.  I expect to see rats in downtown Manhattan.  I did not plan on finding them hopping and tight rope walking from fruit-filled palms to electrical wires like very large very ratty-type squirrels in my backyard. 

 

I called my husband in a bit of a panic last night to relay my crisis, after reviewing the nature of the Floridian roof rat to shack up in fruit trees (yeah in my backyard) and then use electrical wiring to get into homes’ crawl spaces and such.  He began to tell me a story about a possum in his grandparents pool–he has a tendency to try to trump my issue of vermin with larger vermin stories to normalize a place that is rife with vermin.  I know his intentions are good but the results are always inducing a double shot of chills and paranoia into my system. 

 

Last night I spent jumping at every scuffle on the roof or scratchy noise above, certain with every fiber of my irrational being that roof rats were clawing their way through my roof, about to fall on my face at any moment.  I was also fairly certain that my tiny dog, who had been playing in the brush below the fruit tree that evening, had contracted some form of roof rat rabies when she began acting spastically before bedtime. 

 

These are the things that happen these days.  Induced by spending too much time in a house alone, down a dirt road, in a sort of isolation in the middle of suburbia, surrounded by nothing but amphibians, roof rats, various bugs of varying sizes, and dogs.  And lots of mysterious noises.

 

I am a therapist but this by no means makes me immune to human fallibility, human weakness, human fear, and sometimes even a tinge of solo living paranoia.  I say this although it may seem (especially after reading this blog) like a kind of “duh” statement, but often I have experienced in the therapist’s chair this sense from my clients that I am mental health perfection, somehow by profession carrying some kind of automatic immunity to any life issues, emotional struggles, or points of imperfection. 

 

In the earlier moments of my career I felt that I had to be all of those things as some sort of indebtedness to all of the people who seek my help:  I had to be above reproach, emotionally.  I quickly learned that not only is that an impossibility but it is also a disservice to my clients to attempt that or attempt to convey that to them.  I am human and the humanity and the similarities we all have with each other due to our humanness is what bonds us and allows us to work together–in life and in therapy. 

 

I will be someone who panics at the sight of roof rats and dwell on it far too long into the night.  Even if I can dissect my emotions in the morning and rationalize myself out of complete and utter rodent-induced insomnia it does not mean it won’t be a weak point.  I mean, ROOF RATS, really?  Can you blame me?

 

Occasionally I envy the relationship that is easily attained between yoga teacher or yoga therapist and client.  It lacks the barriers of formalities and often overly restrictive professionality of a psychotherapeutic relationship and allows the relationship to build from the start as one of equality, humanity, and trust.  And through the body-oriented nature of the work allows an innate ability to tap into emotion without worrying about 5 page assessments and protocols that often get in the way of the point of things–which is helping people to feel and heal. 

 

So,a big thank you to this time of humbleness and humility that reminds me of how truly human I am.  Thank you to roof rats and lizards and palmetto bugs.  Although I will continue to scour the electrical wires at sunset for the silhouettes of roof rats attempting to launch a full-house assault.  I’m no city rat fool.

 

Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real.

Thomas Merton (Trappist Monk)

 

Bansky Rat Mural on Canal Street by caruba on flickr

 

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