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Showing posts from 2014

What Happens Next? Understanding Trauma

I am writing this in support of the many families and employers putting the pieces back together after a shooting in a high school.
It has been two weeks since the shooting, and the last child in critical care, passed away last night. Every child passing away, has torn our hearts open with grief. The grief is enormous. This is a time for tears.
And each time we grieve, we need to again find some way to hold ourselves together when we aren’t sure we can.
Our previous traumas may reopen and we seem to be lost in an old, but familiar place. A place that we thought had passed. It did pass, we did heal, but then we aren’t sure. The grief and sorrow can only be felt. That is all we can do with it. Feel it. It is like the weather. You can’t go outside and make it stop raining. You can’t ‘control” the grief. You just feel it. It holds on until is ready to let go. You can’t make it pass.
Sometimes people want to make the grief pass quicker or just go away. Getting angry or frustrated at grief…

Finding Words to Talk about This

This is written for my friends at Tulalip, in support and love. It is also written for everyone touched deeply by the tragic shooting.
As we read brief public statements about Jaylen, a young 14 year old, who was beloved in his community and family and by all accounts a leader and rising star, we are struggling to understand what could trigger such an episode. As an entire community struggles through this with two teens dead and several critically wounded, we are all going to need to find the words to talk about this.
Our own struggle to find words is exactly what happens inside of a child or teen who is struggling with an emotion. They often can’t find the words.
Most of us can recognize very obvious clear signs of depression. But the truth is that depression in children and teens is completely different looking than in adults. It can be extremely hard to recognize. It can also take a long time for a child or teen to give us the words for what is going on inside.
Depression is even h…

What if someone has a psychotic break from reality?

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Every now and then I receive a call from someone who has had a significant break in their mind- it is like a bone breaking, except it takes place in the mind.
It is called a psychotic episode, or having a "breakdown", or going over the deep end.
Whatever you call it, when you see it or experience it, it is very serious and very scary.

How to recognize it:
1- The person is repeating a thought, over and over. It is like their mind is stuck going in a circle. They are repeating one or two sentences again and again.
2- The person is not making sense. The things they say are not logical. The things they say are bizarre in a way that people listening would be very concerned.
3- The person strongly believes their bizarre thoughts.
4. THIS IS NOT NORMAL FOR THEM.
5. The person can't do life tasks. Things they used to do, they can't do.
6. You are worried they are so depressed they could kill themselves.

You don't need to see all 6 of the ways to recognize it.  Any of th…

People always ask me this, especially other therapists

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People always ask me, "what is like to be a therapist in a small community?"
I received a phone call today from someone seeking counseling for their 18 year old. The mom of the 18 year old left me a message and I called her back, knowing my practice is full and I will need to refer her to someone else.
When I spoke to mom she said, " I live about an hour away from you, but when I was 17, you were my counselor."  (Oh my god!- How cool is that?!)
 "I remember how much I learned from you and wondered if you could see my 18 year old daughter?"
When she told me her  maiden name of course I remembered her. I also worked with her parents a long time ago, who are now the grandparents of the 18 year old.
She then went on to tell me exactly what she gained from therapy 25 years ago. Here is what I learned in therapy..... Believe me, I am always amazed when people report back decades later and tell me how much the work sticks with them.
We both knew it was 25 year…