Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

3- Step “Super Secret” Formula to finally get your kids (and spouse) to listen

November 1st, 2011

Does your child have trouble listening to you? Are you feeling like a broken record, asking again and again for what you want, and feeling like you are being totally ignored? If you’ve asked for what you wanted and everyone in your household seems to ignore your request you’ll likely get to a point where you begin to wonder, “why isn’t this working, why aren’t they listening?”

You may begin to get to a boiling point, get mad, throw a fit,  threaten, just give in and take care of it yourself, or complain about all that you do for everyone in the house. What you’ll likely find is that when you reach your boiling point and react (or just take care of it yourself while silently resenting your family members), others may for a short period of time take notice.  Heck, you may even get your teen (or husband) to listen and pick-up their underwear off of the bedroom floor if you yell loudly enough, AND….

…you may be creating a pattern of negative behaviors to get your needs met. So your children and spouse continue to ignore your requests and pleas until you blow your top, then all of sudden they are listening,  responding quickly and wondering, “What’s up with mom ?”

We know that children model their parent’s behaviors, so the last thing you want to teach your child is that ignoring and then overreaching is a healthy way to communicate. The best way to teach your child to listen, respect your requests, and to communicate in healthy way is to learn how to communicate your wants and needs in a healthy manner first.

You can use creativity to get back into you parenting authority, and here’s a way you can do so. Create an image of something (or someone) that represent being empowered, strong, assertive, and clear. Take a minute to see what pops up for you. Now embody this! Wear it like a cloak and ground yourself in this image. When your child or spouse wants to “hook you into an argument” or they are ignoring your requests, connect with this empowering image before you respond. You’ll respond from a centered more calm place; then you can use the 3- Step “Super Secret” Formula to ask for what you need! You can take this exercise even further and create an image of this and put it in a place where you’ll see it often as visual reminder of being in your parenting power.

Drum roll please….I’m going to share with you my 3- Step “Super Secret” Formula to finally get your kids (and spouse) to listen.

  1. Validate your child’s feelings
  2. Use the assertive triangle to state how you feel and what you need. I teach that technique in the free audio-telesemiar  Secrets Your Kids Really Don’t Want You to Know: A Child Art Therapist Tells All (*except for the confidential stuff) and you can access in the box above.
  3. Be clear of consequences and follow-through

Here’s how it might sound. You come in to your teen’s room and it is a mess and you’ve ask them to clean it and they are on Facebook with their friends.

“I understand that Facebook and connecting with your friends is important to you and it’s upsetting to get off the computer when you want to be on it. When I walk into your room and it’s messy and I asked you to clean it I feel upset and disrespected. Please pick-up all the clothes off of the floor and put them in the hamper and remove the dishes from your room by 9:00 pm tonight. If you choose not to then you will not be able to use the computer tomorrow.”

DONE! This is no need to lecture, no need to yell, not need to threaten, you have clearly asserted you needs, set reasonable expectations and consequences and given your child a choice. So there is no need to go on and on and lecture them (doing so you’ll lose your parenting authority).

This must be done in a neutral tone being in your parenting authority, so your child does not hook you and get you to react! Embody that image you created and operate from this calm- empowered place and you’ll be modeling for your children and spouse how to listen respectfully.

Have you tried different ways to communicate, but your child or spouse is still not listening?  We can help!


Make Halloween Less Stressful for Children

October 31st, 2011

Halloween can be a very difficult (and scary) time for children who experience anxiety, who have been exposed to trauma, for those who have a difficult time with self-regulation, children with sensory issues, or children who are impulsive; not to mention it can be very difficult for any child who has too much sugar!

Here are some ways to help make Halloween a successful one:

1. Set the schedule- Let children know where they are going and what they will be doing there, how long they will be there, and who will be there. Children who have issues with anxiety or those who have a hard time transitioning will benefit from a schedule to help them become aware of what will happen.

2. Listen to the underlying needs of your child- Halloween, unfamiliar or scary circumstances may trigger fear and anxiety in your child (regardless of their age). Listen to the message your child may be trying to convey if they become uncomfortable. Use it as an opportunity to help them find words to identify and validate their feelings. Even older children may be triggered by something scary, try to understand what they are feeling (even if they aren’t able to express it).

3. Act respectfully- If your older child becomes scared and worried, don’t demean them with “baby” comments or humiliate or shame them. Let  them know  it’s not to do something if they are uncomfortable, before you start the activity (this is a great skill to teach children, so they can practice saying ‘no thank you’ in other difficult situations).

4. Have some safety rules- Be clear on what’s expected, such as everyone will walk together, or we must hold a flash light when walking, and relay what will happen if they don’t listen.

5. Be clear on what will happen with the candy- Some children to know the limits on how may pieces of candy they can have and when, otherwise the whole bag could be eaten. Be clear on the rules ahead of time to prevent sugar-shock meltdowns.

6. Be okay with things not going as you expected- You get to the front of the “haunted house” line and your child has to go to the bathroom, your child is at a doorstep and starts to cry when the neighbor opens the door, you spent days sewing the costume and it feels “itchy and hot” and your child refuses to wear it. These can all be triggers that causes a child to feel and express anxiety and fear. Let go of the belief that they must do things, and understand it’s much more important to help you child learn how to positively communicate (even when it’s not at all what you expected).

Halloween can be a fun holiday and for those children who have a difficult time with fear, transition, and impulsivity, it is also a great teaching opportunity too! If you child needs more support, we can help.


Homework problems & struggles: Homework success tips

October 14th, 2011

Homework struggles?

Do you have a child who struggles with homework? Does your child have a difficult time sitting down to do their homework or organizing or remembering their assignments? You may find yourself spending lots of time trying to get them to finally attend to their homework without a daily battle, meltdown, or interruption. What’s a parent to do?

Sometimes homework struggles signify there is something more going on with your child. They may have processing or learning issues and they may become anxious or frustrated. They may have impulsivity or attention issues that make it difficult to concentrate. They may have executive functioning impairments, that may it difficult to organize, remember, or sequence information.

Every child is different, and they respond differently to the struggle they are encountering. Some children may shutdown or avoid, they may make up a bunch of excuses to delay doing homework, they may lie because they are fearful of how you may respond. They may dillydally or easily get distracted, or ask you to get them things so they can avoid doing the work. Or they may just plain forget, no matter how may times they have been told what they need to do and by when.

Here are the Creativity Queen’s recommendations to help reduce homework hassles and headaches:

1. Know your child. If you notice that your child is acting differently, struggling with academics, processing and retaining information, or organizational issues ask a professional for support. The issue may be that your child is not being disrespectful or lazy, but there is something wrong and there are underlying issues that need to be addressed. Intervention and support can help your child create academic success.

2. Set your child up for success by helping them be organized. This starts with creating systems to help your child. Start with your child’s backpack. Get colored folders to match each subject and have a place for completed homework and homework that needs to be done. Make sure your child has a calendar with all the assignments written down, and look at the calender nightly to help them breakdown larger projects into smaller action steps and add the action steps to the calendar.

3. Define where and when homework is done. Create a specific time and place each day when and where your child does their homework. Your child will know what to expect and it will reduce some of the power struggles over homework. The more responsible your child is, the less direct supervision is necessary and the more flexible you can be with time and location. Let your child know what they can do after their homework is completed, such as spend time on the computer or watch television.

4. Have a clear outline of how homework time is spent and what is expected. Some children will fly through homework so they can play video games. Or some children will be on the computer surfing the net when they say they are doing their homework. Be clear on what needs to be accomplished during that time. Some children with processing or organizational issues may need you to break it down for them, such as what subject they work on first, how many pages they need to read, and what homework they need to complete. You can write it down together and have check boxes your child checks off when each task is completed. Let your child know you will review work together before they are “done”.

4. Stay in connection with the school. If your child struggles to remember assignments or projects due and your child’s school has an online calendar of assignments print that out and use it to see if your child’s assignments match. Older children can print this for you. If your child has academic issues contact the school monthly to check on how your child is doing in school. Ask the teacher for ideas on how to best support your child.

5. Explore your options. Does your child need more support with academics at school? Consult with a professional. Your child may need to be evaluated to determine if they need an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) with specific recommendations and supports that the school provides.

6. Get creative. Your child needs to find some positive ways to express their feelings around homework and their academic struggles. Art therapy is a helpful modality to help children express their feelings so they spend less time struggling and resisting homework. They can use their creativity to develop goals for the school year or create images, such as cartoons or artwork of what annoys and frustrated them, and then create solutions.

Here’s gentle reminder: please do not punish, demean, yell at, threaten children who have organizational, impulsivity, processing or learning issues. So many of these children feel like there is “something wrong” or they are “bad”. They are fearful of being picked on or being seen as “stupid” and may use negative behaviors, manipulate, lie or avoid, so they are not seen as “dumb”.  Children fear being labeled with these words and often would rather get in trouble with negative behaviors, than to be called names by their peers. Children can learn new strategies to change their behaviors and they can find positive ways to succeed at school when properly identified and supported.

If you have a child with academic issues then child therapy can help. Child therapists can rule out if the issues your child is encountering is behavioral and help your child and your family create systems to help your child with homework success. If you live the Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton area child art therapy can help your child develop system and new coping strategies to create academic success. To learn more sign-up for your complimentary child support consultation here.


What is a child occupational therapist and what are the signs your child may need one

September 16th, 2011

What’s a child occupational therapist and what are the signs your child may need one?  An interview with Michelle Matteoli Adams, licensed
Occupational Therapist and founder of Pediatric Therapy Solutions, Inc. Bradenton and Sarasota, FL.

What’s Pediatric Occupational Therapy?

A child’s occupation is to learn, play, explore, interact, function, and communicate at an age appropriate level so they can be successful both at home and in school. An OT helps children achieve the goals of functioning appropriately at home and in school environments so children can accept and integrate new knowledge and experiences to learn and achieve.

What are the signs that your child may need to be evaluated by an Occupational Therapist?

There may be delays and the child is not meeting developmental milestones. The child may be struggling in peer groups or at school with emotional or behavioral issues, or a teacher/counselor may notice that the child has delays in development. A child may have sensory issues, they may be hypersensitive (over reactive) or hyposensitive (under reactive) to their environment  and they may react because the environment is too overwhelming.
Some of the common issues children have that suggests they should consult with an OT may include: poor handwriting, picky eaters, issues with potty training, disruptive sleep cycles or difficultly sleeping, bathing/brushing teeth issues, reactive to environment, clothing sensitivities, difficulty self-regulating behaviors and developmental delays such as rolling over, sitting, crawling, walking, bike riding, etc.

Sometimes parents think their child’s problems are just behavioral issues. How do you help them to determine if there is something more such as sensory or processing issues?

With a comprehensive evaluation it is determined and the treatment goals are developed to help best support that child. Let’s say that the issues are sensory related we teach the child and parent sensory protocols, external resources to control and regulate their body. We teach parents how to implement this in the home with what they have, so they don’t have to go out and purchase anything extra. Instead, they can use common household items to help their child calm and attend.  This is often referred to as a “sensory diet.”  A sensory diet includes various sensory protocols such as brushing programs and listening (music) programs coupled with activities that stimulate specific sensory organs that naturally can occur at home with the ultimate goal being to functional appropriately at home/school ready to accept new knowledge and attend and learn and achieve in their environment. Our Pediatric Therapy Services Include:

  • Developmental Screenings
  • Evaluations
  • Treatment Plans
  • Home Programs
  • Speech-Language Skills
  • Fine motor Skills
  • Gross Motor Skills
  • Fine motor Skills
  • Visual-Motor Skills
  • Visual Perceptual Skills
  • Handwriting Skills
  • School Readiness Skills
  • Self-Care Skills
  • Oral-Motor Skills
  • Sensory Integration
  • Self-Regulation/ Sensory Modulation
  • Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s)

What are the typical children you see in your Pediatric Occupational Therapy practice?

The ages range from 0-18 years of age. We treat children with Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, genetic disorders, children on the autism spectrum (ASD) including those with Asperger’s, children with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  Also, children with learning disabilities, developmental delays, auditory processing issues, sensory integration dysfunctions, and behavior and self-regulation issues.

What are some of the results parents can expect when working with a Pediatric Occupational Therapist?

Children who attend Pediatric Occupational Therapy often feel better about themselves and their bodies. They are happier and there is an increase in positive affect because their body is able to move in a more controlled fashion. The families learn how to support their child and help them be successful in multiple environments, they function better in school and there is an increase in academic success, better grades, improved attention, and improved sleep patterns and diet.

What other services do you offer?

We also provide speech and language therapy and Interactive Metronome which is an assessment and treatment tool to improve neurological processing, motor planning and sequencing beneficial for those children with ADD/ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, non-verbal learning disorders, and auditory processing delays.

Our treatment modalities also include:

  • Therapeutic Listening Program ®
  • Oral Tactile Technique
  • Wilbarger Deep Pressure Protocol
  • Handwriting Without Tears ®
  • How Does Your Engine Run? ®

If a parent has a concern about their child what’s the best way to learn more?

You can go to  http://www.pediatrictherapysolution.com/home.html and download the Free Developmental Checklists. You’ll find Checklists for Fine and Gross Motor Skills & Visual Motor Skills, Self-Care Skills, Speech & Articulation, and Language Skills. You can also contact me at or 941.360.0200 or michelle@pediatrictherapysolution.com to schedule an initial phone consultation.

I appreciate all of your generous information Michelle! Over the years we’ve had the opportunity to collaborate together and help children by coordinating our services. Children who come to occupational therapy often benefit from art therapy to reinforce positive expression of their feelings and learn creative ways to manage their behaviors to get their needs met. Many of the children in Art Therapy can benefit from the skills taught in Occupational Therapy. It’s amazing to watch the children and families make remarkable gains when occupational therapy and art therapy are used in tandem!

Thanks again Michelle!!


What Kind of Parent Are You and What to Do if Your Partner Doesn’t Parent Like You Do?

September 6th, 2011

Okay, if we are really, really honest with ourselves we realize that at some point in our adult lives we start to take on the characteristics of our parents in our relationships. You may begin to notice you are sounding like your mother or you’re acting like your father (the good, the bad, and the ugly). We are all influenced by our upbringing and experiences, and even if you vowed to yourself that you would never be like your parents you may find yourself acting in the extreme opposite way, still influenced by your upbringing. Egads!

Here’s the good news, you get to choose how you parent. Regardless of your upbringing or circumstances, you can consciously decide how you want to respond to your child’s behaviors.

Read more on how you can choose to be a parent that best helps your child grow into being a responsible and respectful adult without having to resort to acting like your parents.

Parenting camps believe there are three general parenting styles:

  • Authoritarian Parenting: This style of parenting is “old-school” meaning the adult sets the rules and consequences, and the child is expected to obey these rules. This is a restrictive punitive parenting style without discussion and compromise, which may lead to physical punishment as a way for children to obey the rules. Children with Authoritarian parents may develop “learned helplessness”, may act aggressively to get their needs met, or may act out, shutdown or run away.
  • Permissive or Indulgent Parenting: This style of parenting often leads to allowing children to do what they want with minimal consequences and expectations. These parents may be nurturing and accepting and are often hands-off and allow children to behave as they desire. Children with permissive or indulgent parents may develop spoiled behaviors and may engage in risk-taking behaviors.
  • Authoritative or Democratic Parenting: This style of parenting encourages children to be independent and holds children accountable for their behaviors. Authoritative parents hold their children accountable, yet also are warm and nurturing and teach children how to solve their problem rather than rescuing or telling the child what to do. They encourage resourceful creative problem solving and prefer to teach children how to make positive decisions with corrective feedback and consequences when necessary.  Children with Authoritative or Democratic parents tend are believe to have higher self-esteem and are better able to regulate their emotions and behaviors when they encounter problems.

Which parenting style sounds like you and your child’s mother/father? If you are not parenting on the same page take the time to talk with your partner/spouse/ex and decide how you both can change your behaviors to best support your child.

Children are masterful at figuring out at a young age how to get what they want; so if one parent is a Authoritarian and other is Permissive your child will quickly learn that if one parent says “no” the can go to the other parent and get want they want. This creates splitting in the household and teaches your child dysfunctional ways to get their needs met (and causes lots of arguments between parents).

If this is happening in your home it’s time to commit to a change.  If you need help for you and your parenting partner to get on the same page we can help. Schedule a complimentary Support Consultation by clicking here!


Back to school: How to help your child be successful

August 26th, 2011

Your child is heading back to school and for those of you in the Sarasota, Bradenton, and Lakewood Ranch areas in Florida, your child has just completed their first week back to school. How do you help your child have a great first week so that you set the tone for a successful school year? If your child is worried about heading back to school, or you are concerned that the first morning out the door will lead to fighting and arguments; here are some back to school success tips to help your child have a great first day and week back at school! Click the link below to watch these back to school success tips!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYfxaC9hamY


3 tips to help your children when their lives are in upheaval: Lessons learned from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver to help your family in difficult times

May 19th, 2011

What happens when you tell your spouse, “Oh, by the way honey I had an extra-marital affair and did I mention I had a child too”. It leads to some difficult dinner conversations to say the least. As a creative parenting expert my concern is how to help children cope with such a family bombshell of betrayal or infidelity.

This story resonates with so many, as it is likely you have experienced someone you loved sharing a betrayal or you have revealed a family secret to your loved ones. Regardless if you are the one betrayed or the betrayer, breaking someone’s trust or having your trust broken often stirs up feelings of shame, guilt, anger, sadness and blame.

Arnold, Maria, and Arnold’s mistress are all impacted by this public revelation, and as adults they have the opportunity to make decisions and communicate what they feel, but what happens to their children? How will they process this monumental moment when their lives have dramatically shifted and they have little control over the circumstances?

Here are 3 tips to help your children when their lives are in upheaval because of a betrayal or infidelity

  1. Communicate as a couple with your children and let them know what is happening and why. Children will intuitively pick-up on when there is a problem in your relationship, and it does not help your child to perpetuate a lie or secret. Share with your children what is happening in a neutral way, without yelling blaming or shaming the other person. Be aware of your child’s developmental age and how much information is too much. If it is possible, have both parents present when you are sharing information and allow your children an opportunity to ask questions. It may be difficult to share information when you are feeling angry and hurt, so ask for support from a therapist to help you share information that will in the best interest of your children. Here’s my advice for Maria and Arnold: sit the children down and calmly share what has happened and allow the children to ask questions.
  2. If you are the one who has been betrayed it is essential that you seek out support and allow yourself sometime to process your experience. Your family will be impacted by this information and it’s helpful for children to know what will happen next. If you are still reeling from emotions it will be difficult to make a rational decision that best serves you and your children. Children desire to feel safe and secure and when a betrayal occurs they may become anxious and easily overwhelmed. They will likely want to know what’s next, so be prepared to talk with them about what will happen next when you and your partner discuss the situation. Here’s my advice for Maria and Arnold: be clear on what will happen next and relay this to the children. Be concrete if at all possible, such as where they would be moving to, when, if it is permanent, what will happen with their schooling, would they have their own bedrooms, and when they would be able to see their mother or father. The more information your provide the more you can introduce a sense of control and normalcy into this time of transition.
  3. Provide your child with outlets for self-expression outside of your relationship. At times they may want to talk with you and ask you questions, and other times they may seem like they don’t care at all. Children will often mask their feelings, especially if they are worried about upsetting their parents or they feel like when they talk you put their other parent down. Every child is different, and if you notice changes in their behaviors or grades then it is time to seek out additional support. In the meantime, tell them you are willing to talk and listen to whatever they have to say. Allow your child an opportunity to talk without interrupting and take time to actively listen by stopping what you are doing and giving them your full attention. During this time it may be helpful to encourage your child to express themselves through art, play or sports- these are natural ways children process emotions and experiences. My advice to Maria and Arnold: no matter where they are living, ensure that their children are able to attend their regularly scheduled activities, even if it means driving them across town; while you are driving your children turn off the radio and listen to them instead.

In life there are moments when your life as you know it shifts completely, and what you once believed to be true changes dramatically. During this most difficult experience there is an opportunity to help your children learn to cope with change and upheaval. These 3 tips will help your child when your lives are turned upside-down by betrayal and infidelity.

If you are looking to support your child, we can help. Click here to schedule a complimentary Child Support Consultation and learn how you can help your child.


Follow your bliss and help more clients

April 20th, 2011

I have a friend who has a million dollar therapy practice. Yup- a million dollar practice. Take a minute and soak that in and listen to what comes up for you. Just check-inside and take a minute on what beliefs and thoughts that statement may have triggered for you. Allow yourself to sit with that without any self-judgment, just pure awareness.

Now let me tell you some things about this friend- she is very humble and very giving. She doesn’t work more hours than a therapist making six-figure (maybe even less). She does not market- she never needed to. She is extraordinarily gifted at what she does and helps people heal. She’s likely no different than you or I, but she does one thing wholeheartedly, and that is she follows her bliss and every step was shown to her so she could help support her clients and create income flowing into her life.

What does it mean to follow your bliss? Here’s an excerpt from The Power of Myth:

“BILL MOYERS: Do you ever have the sense of… being helped by hidden hands?

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: “All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time – namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”

So how can you follow your bliss and help more clients?

Here are a few tips to help you connect to the flow of bliss and start to tune into those invisible helping hands, so you can help more clients.

  1. Find out which of clients you work with leaves you feeling in alignment with bliss. Check-in with your energy after sessions and see which clients you feel a sense of uplifting connection with. These are the ones that you get excited about seeing when they are on your schedule. Start to see if there are similar qualities with those people whom you are seeing. For example, you notice that when you work with women who are healing from divorce and reclaiming their lives you feel a greater sense of fulfillment. This is an invisible hand pointing the way towards your bliss.
  2. If there are certain clients you enjoy supporting, then start to let others know. You may be a bit hesitant to claim a “specialization or niche” with a specific population, however, you can let people know you have a growing specialization with a specific population. For instance, “I help adults cope with change and anxiety, and I have a growing specialization with women who are recently divorced”. Follow your bliss and let others know whom you work with and how you can support them.
  3. Be curious and explore what expands your energy and contracts your energy, this will be the best barometer to help guide you on your blissful path.  If speaking to groups feels expansive, get the word out to your friends, network, and community groups that you’d like to speak. If it feels constrictive then explore what’s right for you- perhaps 1:1 lunch with a referral resource.
  4. If what you are doing is “sucking your joy”, then it’s time to do something different. We had some interesting conversations during one of the programs I was hosting about filing insurance claims.  The participants explored the costs of time and emotional energy involved; and they explored ways to let go of this task and move back into the blissful work they so enjoyed. Remember the solution focused tenant “once you know what works, do more of it: if it doesn’t work, do something different”. Where can you apply this in your business to help more clients?

Yet it is important to note that following one’s bliss, as Campbell saw it, isn’t merely a matter of doing whatever you like, and certainly not doing simply as you are told. It is a matter of identifying that pursuit which you are truly passionate about and attempting to give yourself absolutely to it. In so doing, you will find your fullest potential and serve your community to the greatest possible extent.

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: “If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are — if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.”(Joseph Campbell Foundation)

Ready to follow your creative bliss and get back in touch with your inner guidance (in your work and in your life)? Join me live at the 2-day Creative Alchemy Retreat where you’ll discover:

  • What your soul longs to express in your life and in your work, and how you can honor yourself by deeply listening to your intuition
  • How you currently sabotage yourself and stay in a state of confusion, exhaustion, and overwhelm, and how you can reclaim peace, joy and compassion in your life
  • How to discern your choices and decide if it’s your wants and desires, or someone else’s ‘shoulds’ or expectations
  • How to access the knowledge you hold within to guide you on your journey of becoming more of who you are
  • A process to map out exactly how you desire to show up fully in your life and express yourself and use as a reference guide when life hands you some obstacles
  • How to maintain your retreat knowing and yummy vibe, when you return back to your daily life

How do you demystify the therapy process for clients?

April 6th, 2011

By Christine Smith

Guest Feature Article Author: Christine Smith, LICSW, is a clinical social worker in private practice since 1990 and currently works with families in Nantucket MA, specializing in martial and couple issues, family stress, struggling teens, child behavioral problems. With her extensive psychiatric experience she is currently on-call at the Nantucket Cottage Hospital for psychiatric emergencies. http://nantucketfamilycounseling.com/

It seems that everyone wants to know what goes on inside the therapist’s office. People secretly wonder if a session resembles a chapter from Sybil, untamed and insane. Movies, television and reality series often try to depict the scene, with an awkward resemblance of accuracy, but somehow always missing the mark.  Dr. Phil and Dr. Drew attract a huge audience; even I am drawn to the drama as they delve into families’ lives inside the screen in my living room, rushing through treatment with five commercial interruptions.

People nervously crack a joke if I am introduced at a party as a “therapist”, quick to point to their friend standing next to them stating, “This guy really needs your help”. Men in white coats, Prozac moments, loony tunes; all flip verbiage said with an uncertain tone by people who secretly wonder if they too are a little crazy. Like I am a clairvoyant that can see right through them . . .  analyze this. And although I am one of the silliest girls around, I never can quite bring myself to laugh. I guess one doesn’t laugh at their passions.

I have been in therapy for over thirty years now. I do this for a living, everyday, hour after hour. To me, it is serious business. Taking a stranger in, staying right there with them, as they take the first incredible step to put their crumbling life back together. It’s hard to describe what happens on the proverbial couch, every person so different, some situations tragic, others not so much.

People do not come to therapy when things are going well. Usually, the person feels as if it’s pretty much the end of their world. Hopeless, helpless, in unbearable pain, a bottomless pit . . . the term “depressed” falls short of an adequate description. Discovery of a spouses’ infidelity, a child’s drug addiction, cancer, a friend’s betrayal, alcohol or drug abuse, loss of a job, financial worries, death, and a hundred other scenarios, lead them to me. None of the stories or the feelings are ever quite the same.

As a therapist, I spend countless hours sitting with my patients, listening, talking, reflecting and just being. Sometimes I touch their shoulder, their hand, pass them the box of tissues or make them a cup of tea. In the sanctity of my office, we talk about what it feels like to live, what it would feel like to die and what it would feel like to make a dartboard out of their nemesis’ face. We talk about who would attend their funeral, who they are going to call today when they need a friend and why their ex-husband never really looked good with gray hair. I have painted little girls’ nails, put hair spray on a chemo wig and scrubbed makeup off a gothic teenager. Some bring in their dogs, their kids, their parents, while others have only their plain loneliness to offer. I have sat in silence, in tears or in laughter. It’s all a little crazy. Hour upon hour, as the healing process for those most wounded is indeed the slowest. It sometimes drags and it can be dark. Indeed a black hole. I can’t leave that space they are in, because I have signed on to hang in with them. A lot of people in their lives have bailed because of it. It’s a fine line between helping someone with toxicity and absorbing it yourself.  I think, “Is this person ever going to get better?”

And the answer is, yes, they invariably do. Not with all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, but by the will to survive and an inner strength that therapy helped them access. When the bleakness lifts, it’s as if they bring in a little more light each time they walk into my office and sit on that couch. I slowly begin to see a twinkle in their eye, a glow, a spark, although fragile and tenuous, emerging.

This, for me, is the magic of therapy. It saves people’s lives. All of the conversations that we have had, most with no immediate results, begin to add up and overtake the faulty oppressive thoughts that first brought them into my office. They begin to make sense, notice other people, and look forward again. They can now laugh at situations as well as themselves. Truthfully, life can be ridiculously funny. They no longer think about dying, because they have too much living to do.

Their need for time with me begins to dwindle and they are able to connect with me now only every other week, every month, and finally, “I’ll call you if I need you”. Said hesitantly at first, most are somewhat sad to say goodbye.  Occasionally, sometimes years later, I do run into someone at the store or on the street. The most common reaction is a big hug, smile and a “great to see you”. I can barely remember the shadow of that soul that I first encountered in my office. But it is the same person. Just whole again. It is amazing.

This is therapy.


Here’s how you can attract ideal private pay clients

March 23rd, 2011

Over the years of being in business I found that this is the essential ingredient to welcoming in ideal clients to your practice and to be quite honest, it’s fairly simple and extremely profound. I’ve seen this in my business, and learned this from other therapists making 6 and 7-figures, and when I am aligned with this core element my business flourishes.

It’s Love.

When love is at the core all things flow with ease and grace supporting you so you can support others. Let me show you exactly how love helps you to flourish in your business and welcome in ideal clients too.

Your business is a reflection of you, so when you are honored, loved and supported, your business reflects that as well. Here’s how you can lavish yourself with love: ask for and be willing to receive support. How does that look for you? Does that mean you let go of tasks that do not serve you, transition to private pay clients and let go of, or outsource insurance reimbursements, create systems and delegate out what is not your brilliance work? This frees up time for you to renew yourself, work on what gives you pleasure and be present with your needs. Nourishing your heart and soul creates a feeling of expansions and a softened presence reflected in all of your interactions.

Being centered and grounded in love, you can let go of things that do not honor you, lovingly releasing thoughts, ‘to-do’s’, expectations, ‘shoulds’ and anything else that does not serve you. You become more committed to honoring your precious time and release what drains your time, and you hold others in a place of accountability. Watch how, as you embrace self-love, others will respect your time and boundaries. You will notice how your clients shift, and you’ll attract new clients whom respect your time and gifts (reducing no-shows, cancellations, or late payments). You’ll find it is easier to say, “no thank you”, to what does not serve you, and “yes” to what feels self-honoring.

When you are nourished and come from a place of love when you’re asked about your business you naturally shine your enthusiasm and passion.  You share what you do, knowing that your gifts help others. You release all beliefs about not knowing enough, not having enough education, experience, etc and instead fully embrace yourself with love and compassion for the healing gifts you innately possess.

From this place of love you share the work you do and how you can help others. You release any limiting beliefs that keep you focused on your ‘stuff’ and instead you are able to be fully present and open when others ask you about what you do. Operating from a place of love, you are clear which clients you work best with; and you share this with those you meet, so they can pass on your name and information to those ideal clients you can best serve. All of your marketing materials reflect this, as your words are client-centered and deeply resonate with those ideal people you are meant to serve.

Here’s the final element of how love impacts your work. When your clients are in your presence they feel your love and compassion. I remember years ago hearing Bill O’Hanlon speak to my class on loving your clients. At the time I thought, well that’s really inappropriate. I’ve now come to a deeper awareness that loving your clients is fundamental in the work we do as healers. As we help people move on their own journey of compassion and self-love and letting go of beliefs and behaviors that no longer serve them, we must be fully present with love.  This loving presence is the balm for the pain and suffering of those we work with. They may not be ready to move into love for themselves, and they many not have ever experienced a compassionate and understanding presence. Your holding the space with love allows your clients to do the same.

How does this impact your business you may wonder? For your clients being held in a place of love and compassion is a powerful feeling and this creates deep relationships with clients who are committed to their personal work. You’ll find your clients more invested in their sessions and themselves, and as they fully embrace their own self-love they become joyous “fans” spreading the message of what you do to their friends and family.

For those of you who are feeling a pull between feeling like you need to do more, and embracing compassion and self-love (and you want some very practical creative strategies to keep you grounded) then I invite you to the Creative Alchemy Retreat.

Creative Alchemy happens when you open to the possibilities and declare that you are the authority in your life.

Listening and following your heart leads you to more joy, abundance and authenticity in your life, and when you are feeling expansive and excited more juicy joyous things show up in your life to support you- like meeting the right people to support your vision, like joyously sharing your work and new clients saying yes, like feeling that delicious buzz that you are honoring your soul’s purpose.

If this is tingling within you then you are ready for Creative Alchemy, and so are we!

Together, Shauna Harper from Consciously Creative, and I decided to create a sacred and supportive space for an intimate group of women:

  • to dive deep into your inner knowing,
  • release the stories that no longer serve you,
  • and listen to your intuition to discover what’s the next step in your life and in your work.

We’d love for you to join us –  http://www.creativealchemyretreat.com/