Therapeutic Support: Coming Out Of Isolation

While musing about my therapeutic work with clients facing issues of anxiety, loneliness, depression and family conflict, I am acutely aware that often I see clients in a vacuum. Where are their families, grandparents, families of origin, communities?

In my clinical office I often see clients facing feelings of hopelessness and helplessness,  triggered by  what we are all exposed to in the news media, social media, as well as their  on-going exposure to the pain and suffering they witness within their nuclear and extended families, Having little means to affect change, we often do not know how to help, and feel that the little we can do, on our own, can make any real difference.

Too often, not finding other options, many find themselves checking out, going on line, and spending  too many hours on their own, in isolation, staring at screen, playing games or “connecting” with random others.  Are these individuals seeking a way to connect with other human beings, that is somehow being cut off in the real world? I wonder..

Isolation, depression, fear, hopelessness and helplessness are not inevitable if we chose to join with others to affect change. I have come across a new social justice app, called Group Plan-It, a socially conscious application that allows people to come together, plan and together, carry out socially conscious  activities, and interact with people  around the world in a connected, positive manner.

We all need connection, compassion and support, not only from professionals, but from each other, from our elders, families, work and spiritual communities. I invite each of you to consider how to come into community and connection with those in your personal and global world. With each person who comes out of a place of isolation our world will become a more connected and compassionate place.

Moving Forward: Secular Divorce Ritual

Now that Valentine’s Day is over, it is time to turn to a more serious topic: Separation and Divorce.

As my practice includes divorce counselling, marital and family therapy, I have a great deal of experience with couples and families as they struggle to come to terms with their pain and restructure their lives. After many years working as a divorce coach, child specialist, and divorce mediator,  I was convinced that something was missing in the way we, in our secular world, were helping people through divorce. With this in mind, i began my doctoral research, mining an ancient, archetypal ritual for its wisdom in healing the wounds of divorce and was astonished at what I learned from my research participants.  As a result of my experience and research, I was just interviewed and quoted in an article, by Anne Bokma,  for the United Church’s online magazine article, “With This Ring I Divorce,”  an article looking at divorce ritual and ceremony.

Divorce is indeed tragedy, but despite the tragedy and pain experienced at the profound death of a marriage, there are times that we either have no longer have a choice, or both partners agree that the irreconcilable differences are just too great and the marriage must end.

Sadly, divorcing couples in the secular world have neither ritual nor safe containers in which to experience the pain surrounding the death of their marriages and accompanying dreams. Our society provides no sacred space in which we can say goodbye to our former spouses and move forward, leaving resentments behind, allowing us to emerge reborn as single, independent, and free individuals.

Often, the “divorced” person is left seething with resentment, and, tragically, it is the children who become the recipients of the pain that secular divorcing adults have had no way to discharge together.

My doctoral research and soon-to-be-published book (based on my research), Moving Forward: An Ancient Divorce Ritual For the Modern World, takes an in-depth and practical look at how we can, with dignity and respect for each other and our children, create our own healing, secular divorce rituals.


Harnessing the untapped strength of Grandparents

The Strength of Grandparents.

We live in challenging times. Anxiety, depression, high conflict separation and divorce are all too common. When parents are at the peak of their pain, whether from a disintegrating marriage, a health scare, the loss of livelihood, struggling with anxiety or depression, or embroiled in marital conflict, their struggles for stability and strength all too often affect their children in a negative manner.

Parents turn to professional therapists, teachers, doctors and nannies for help. It occurs to me that with our teams of paid help, we often forget about one of our greatest resources— our children’s loving grandparents.

Looking around, I see and hear about Grandparents stepping up to help with their grandchildren. I see them walking their grandchildren, baby-sitting, and generally stepping up to support their adult children as they work or go out for a “date.” Musing about this phenomena in our world, I have been thinking about how we, as professionals, might harness the wisdom, love and support of grandparents within our work..

What if we, as professionals, and as a community of adults supporting children, were to invite, on a regular basis, the loving grandparents, into our consciousness, and into our offices? What if grandparents became regular guests into our offices as an integral part of our team? What if grandparents were to work with us, to create and maintain the on-going safety and security of the children? Such help could be particularly significant during times of great stress within a family.

Grandparents can offer the strength of family history and on-going, un-conditional love when parents find themselves emotionally absent or troubled. Healthy and strong grandparents, as part of the team, can provide necessary stability for their grandchildren during times of greatest instability, fear and stress.

Grandparents can offer life lessons, a shoulder to cry on, help with their homework and place of calm and joy when all seems bleak. Grandparents can provide children with stories of their family history, giving them a strong foundation in the past and faith in the future.

As a collaborative divorce coach, child specialist, and mediator, I work with the team of professionals, crafting parenting plans, providing support for vulnerable parents and children. It occurs frequently to me, that professionals, despite all of our best efforts, and with the best of intentions, can only do so much.

With much consideration, I invite readers to consider their own parents, the children’s grandparents as an unharnessed, often times unappreciated but potentially significant, but most-often strong, loving support for themselves and their children. I invite my gentle readers, professionals and lay people alike to consider how we might invite grandparents into our meetings, to work together, in an organized and specific manner, in order to tap into this loving source of strength and stability for all of our children.

I welcome your thoughts.