In my industry, many feel that we should be a blank slate, completely devoid of a life outside of the therapy room. I once had a person comment about my family portrait on my desk. “Kind of ‘out there’ to put a picture of your family where it can be seen by clients?” Hmmm………interesting concept.
Since this is a blog, and my understanding is that blogs are a bit more on the personal side, I thought I would say a bit about me. I believe that a therapist should conduct their work in a highly professional and confidential manner. Some people “connect” and feel more comfortable knowing a bit about the therapist and their life. I believe that if a person is going to divulge some of their deepest emotions and stories, the therapist should be somewhat transparent about who they are, while keeping with some clear boundaries. If someone wants to know if I am married, I shouldn’t make that a big mystery. If someone wants to know if I am a Christian, that shouldn’t be a big mystery either. Others ONLY feel comfortable doing their personal work when they know that their life is completely separate from the therapist’s life and they aren’t going to run into their therapist at parent pick-up, or the Sunday service. That needs to be thoroughly respected as well. In this latter case, someone needs to know enough about the therapist to know IF they might run into their therapist around town. Either way, the therapist needs to maintain appropriate professional boundaries AND respect the needs of the client or potential client.
I live on Cape Cod. Cape Cod is a very small place and many people know each other. I have two children, 7 and 12. This fact has me often in the community, as I am very involved in their lives. I am a Girl Scout Leader and I am very involved in our family’s church, which has me often meeting children who come for social events at our church. I have worked most of my professional career on the Cape, which means I have met a lot of families, and…Cape Cod is a small place. With all that said, I know my place and my boundaries and I should be considered like a “vault!” The things I may know are locked up tight. I hold confidentiality in the highest regard. There are cases where I find myself in need of declining a referral either because personally it is too close or professionally it is too close. There are other times when I accept the referral. I weigh the matter on a case by case basis, always putting client/potential client interest first.
Here are some things about myself, that if anyone cares to know, I am happy to share. I love my husband and our two children. We have been together for 25+ years and I cherish each additional year. Our son is an avid fisherman and our daughter is quite good artistically and currently learning to play the piano. We chose to homeschool our children 8 years ago, for a variety of reasons, and NOT because of a religious reason. Our son currently takes 3 online classes through an accredited school, and his classmates consist of other students his age that are in various parts of the world for various reasons. The other classes he receives from his father and I. Our daughter takes an 8 class curriculum all from the same company. Her teachers are real live teachers who teach from a video. Being in 2nd grade, I am side by side with her for much of it to help as needed. I am the first to admit, there are pros and cons to homeschooling. There are many benefits and rewards and also many challenges. For those who are now concerned about our children socially……rest assured, we’ve got that covered:-)
My husband and I both have lived most of our lives on Cape Cod. But surprise…we lived in the same town for years and never met, even though we knew people in common. I’m a little proud to say that his mom has been the town clerk in our town for probably 30 or more years. My family…my great grandmother was born in the town where I live now and my mom’s family owned the movie theater in Orleans (where CVS is now).
I have been passionately driven to help people, work with children, teach children, reduce suffering and counsel people since I was about 11 years old when I started as a mother’s helper. As rotten things seemed to be happening to me, I found myself feeling compassion and being introspective about what troubling things must have gone on in that person’s life that they would do such a thing to me. I know, very strange and probably not particularly helpful, to me anyway. I remember my counselor as a teen saying once, “Interesting that you are thinking about them. You’re very thoughtful. Might make a good counselor yourself.” Odd also that people often mistake me for Sara Connor (Linda Hamilton) of Terminator. I guess I’m kind of complex.
In a crisis (not one involving myself – my husband is the rock there), I am rock solid. As a trauma worker and former child protective worker, one could imagine I have seen some very serious and even dire circumstances of crisis. I am very level-headed in times like this and I feel very confident to be able to sit with/work with both the victim and the offender (although a professional almost never works with both sides in a crisis). I feel a lot of compassion for hurting people.
In my free time……..I love to garden and cook. I enjoy a lot of other things as well but I am so busy in this season of my life that I try to contain it to these two things. Otherwise, I tend to start too many things and become frustrated. I very much love preparing good home cooked meals for my family and sitting down together with lit candles at the table. My husband is the laugh machine of the family and can really get the children going. I really appreciate him for this! Dinners are always contained, pretty much…but sometimes they can get pretty crazy after the table is cleared, with dancing and laughing and a really unusual mix of tunes. Oh, and we are a dessert family…homemade when possible. We love the aroma of good food filling the house! And yes, my love for scented candles comes right after my family.
I was raised in the Methodist church, however had close ties to the Christian and Missionary Alliance. I think I always had a faith in God but without guidance or education I really didn’t know anything. And of course, without guidance, education AND a desire to seek (anything, that is), one can’t really claim it as their own. Both my husband and myself, on different journeys, not really knowing we had started on the same path, sought. We sought and we found, the saving grace of the Lord Jesus.
So, now that I have confessed that, I must add…professionally, I see many clients where the topic of religion or Christianity is never brought up, by myself or the other. I was trained as a psychotherapist, not as a Christian Counselor. For those who come wishing to make their Christian faith part of their treatment process, I am able. For those who are not, that is fine as well. I see people who are of other faiths and those who are not sure about their faith, maybe having been raised in one faith, as I was, but not really understanding what that meant or not really identifying with it. They are welcomed and free to help me understand how their faith directs their path or to seek their path during the psychotherapy process.