This Is Us
I didn’t become a therapist because I felt I’d be any good, saw myself as hyper-empathic, or wiser than the next gal. Far from it! In fact, when I started grad school, I had about as much confidence in myself as a three-legged cat. There were obstacles.
I became a therapist because I knew I had too. And for some unidentified reason, I desperately wanted to. It was and is part of my calling.
I’ll never forget my very first therapist. Her name was Angie Smith and I thought she was the bee’s knees. I was 15 and losing a battle to anorexia nervosa, the presenting iteration of my chronic depression at the time. We lived in Mobile, Alabama, an unapologetically southern town dripping with Spanish moss and too many syllables. Lovely? Indeed. Progressive? Not so much. I’d never heard of “therapy” before. I also kept the fact I was in it (and taking medication for depression) on the DL. High school is brutal enough.
My work with Angie made a lasting impact on my life and work. I’d meet with her every Wednesday at 2pm, and when I left, I noticed a vague sense of hope well up inside. This wasn’t because I got to leave school early either. It ran deeper—it was a feeling I would slowly build on throughout my recovery.
Angie had also suffered from and overcome an eating disorder. Yet today, she seemed so put together—and pretty. Not to mention she was from Nashville where she’d been a singer-songwriter for many years. So she was smart, pretty, and cool...a triple threat, but in the most inviting way.
In our work together, I learned the value of having a safe space and person to tell my story to and feel unconditional love and acceptance on the other side. I was lucky enough to have this from my parents (and big sister when we weren’t fighting over clothes), yet to have a totally objective experience without emotional ties or history was something profound.
Fast forward a decade and some change. Thankfully, I’d gotten a handle on my relationship with food. However depression still clung tightly, like a red-faced, wailing toddler to his mom the first day at pre-school drop-off.
Sure, I’d been in and out of therapy the whole time, and Lord knows it had been a lifeline. Yet individual therapy didn’t fix my loneliness. Isolation was often how I’d cope with the sadness and 50 minutes of talk therapy every week or two just didn’t cut it. This wasn’t a reflection on my therapist either. In my book, I worked with some of the best.
I discovered something shocking: I’d been hiding behind therapy. Mind you, it wasn’t the worst place to hide, it just wasn’t giving me the context to practice the insight and tools I’d been gaining with other humans who might possibly relate.
Now that was a new concept, and a terrifying one at that. Yet my depression had become life-threatening once again and I didn’t have a choice.
Enter Onsite workshops, a beautiful treatment facility right outside Nashville specializing in experiential group therapy. Just like Angie, Onsite left an unforgettable imprint on me. It was the ultimate reset button I needed and showed me the vital importance of experiencing healing in community.
Make no mistake, I wholeheartedly believe in the power and necessity found in individual therapy. I'm not saying we throw the baby out with the bathwater. However, I do feel it's simply not enough to get the optimal results we're looking for in our lives. I believe we need a layered approach consisting of individual and group work.
Before you call it a day and hit the snooze button on this post, hear me out. This is all about you and me and how we work together in order to bring more wholeness and connection into our daily experience.
This year, I’m changing up the way I work so as to provide a more holistic prescription that facilitates deeper connection with self and others. This new model is based on the belief that EVERYTHING is relational—everything. From relationship with self, to others, to food, to work, to emotions, and so on.
If this is true, (and it is), we must learn to grow and heal in relationship and community, not isolation. To that end, I’m thrilled to share with you what I’ve been designing these last few years based on tons of research and inspiration from you.
Later this month, I’ll be rolling out the specifics and an opportunity for you to take part. For today’s purposes, get excited! It’s going to be loads of fun and involves three core principles I believe to be the most powerful for the journey we’re on: community, experiential therapy, and the Enneagram.
Indeed, this is your year to tell your story, be seen, be known, and be loved. But even more, it's our year...2019, this is us.
Love & Gratitude,