The F-Word

I’d like to begin this blog post by letting you know that I am extremely grateful for friends, family, and my wonderful clients, and I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your support, words of encouragement, gratitude, and suggestions for improvement.

The end of this year, and the beginning of next, gives us an opportunity to reflect on what has happened, and what our hopes are for the future. This year I decided to get in touch with my inner hippie and let my hair grow longer. I chopped it off when my first-born was in the hair-grabbing stage, nearly 35 years ago! I plan on updating my profile photo soon so that I no longer scare new clients! Here's a preview :)

On a professional level, I was thankful for the opportunity last year to work with Martha Kauppi of The Institute for Relational Intimacy and I continue to put into practice what I learned. Martha teaches therapists how to do a brief assessment that can pinpoint areas of concern in their sex lives. It’s an art form to talk to people about something so personal. Many clients recognize the need to talk about this area of their lives, and have gone through therapy previously without ever having spoken about sex. I am indebted to Martha, as well as Emily Nagoski, the author of Come As You Are, for introducing me to concepts like Circular Sex, the Dual Control Model, Emotional and Sexual Safety, and Sex in Context. This learning enables me to better work with concerns like desire discrepancy, diminishing desire, and sexual health.

This year I earned a Certificate in the San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training delivered by the Provincial Health Services Authority of British Columbia. It was invaluable, and added greatly to my understanding of the obstacles faced by Indigenous people, as well as their resiliency. I continue to look forward to welcoming Indigenous clients, and to securing funding for their counselling sessions (individual or relationship). Currently people have the potential to obtain 15 to 25 sessions through First Nations Health Authority or Inter Tribal Health Authority.

My plans for the future include training in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) – a useful, and clinically proven tool for dealing with trauma. So much has been learned about trauma in the last five years – the field is exploding with new insights!

In the end, in spite of the tools and training there are always times when therapist and client don’t mesh. I remember one client who likened her sessions to open heart surgery! We humans are likely to “stay in our heads”, that is, try to think our way out of a situation. One of the things I frequently encourage people to do is get in touch with the F-word – feelings, and to centre ourselves in our bodies. The basis of the relationship work I do is called Intimacy Though Tension – in other words, we learn how to stay with the difficult feelings and conversations, and not run away from them. It takes great courage to step outside of our comfort zones and to learn new ways of tackling our stuff!

Again, I’d like to thank all of the people who risked, laughed, cried, and shared with me. Some may think it trite, or even untrue, but I really believe that I gain just as much from our sessions as you do – we are learning together.

Happy New Year!