How to Tell If Your Therapist is Impatient

By Sara Staggs, LICSW, MPH

DSC06685Monday’s post described how perfectionism can prevent clients from getting the most out of therapy. But the drive for results affects therapists as well. I remember spending many supervisions explaining why a client wasn’t improving quickly enough, only to have my supervisor remind me to be patient.

When sitting with someone in pain, who hasn’t wanted to solve the problem? To tell someone that other people have it worse, so, you know, it’s not that bad, and it’ll be better soon, so check out that silver lining and lighten up!

A Client Failed

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How Perfectionism Interferes with Therapy

By Sara Staggs, LICSW, MPH

IMG_0683Brené Brown reminds us that we often try to feel good enough by “pleasing, performing and perfecting.”  That’s an endless task and we’re left feeling like we haven’t tried hard enough, accomplished enough and produced enough.  So we feel inadequate.

Client:  “I feel like we aren’t doing anything. Why haven’t we processed my trauma yet?” someone will ask me in their second session.

“Well,” I say, “you’re re-experiencing your trauma all the time right now, right?”

“Yes, that’s why I need to get rid of it!”

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Trauma Therapy with Children in Ghana

By Sara Staggs, LICSW, MPH

classroom5cWhen you first walk into New Horizon Special School located in Accra, Ghana’s capital, you can’t miss a particular warmth to the place. It’s not just the lack of air conditioning; New Horizon is a happy place. Children shuffle or roll through the artwork and photograph-laden halls and the sound of Christmas carols echo through the campus as classes prepare for the annual Christmas Festival. I provide trauma-informed behavioral support and psychotherapy for students and caregivers here.

Yesterday was International Day of Individuals with Disabilities, formerly World Disability Day. Disability is a HUGE concept encompassing visual impairment, hearing impairment, physical disabilities, mental health and intellectual disabilities. So today’s post will focus on intellectual disabilities (ID’s). Why? Because I find that getting information on treatment for people with intellectual disabilities is particularly difficult.

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Infertility is Trauma, Physical and Emotional

By Sara Staggs, LICSW, MPH

DSC04411You might think that if there were an epidemic that impacted 1 in 6 couples, that it couldn’t possibly be invisible. Yet every day people who struggle with infertility are asked when they’re going to have children or told to be patient or urged to listen to advice from people who got pregnant without any medical intervention.

Society is very fertility-normative. Everyone, including medical professionals, interact in a way that assumes that everyone can get pregnant. The reminders that everyone is supposed to be able to do this thing are relentless: from the initial doctor’s appointment where the obstetrician chirps “You’ll be back in just a few months!” to family who mindlessly repeat, “You’ll be pregnant soon,” to a best friend who every single time you call her blurts, “Are you pregnant? Every time you call me I think you’re pregnant.”

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Alone on Thanksgiving?

By Sara Staggs, LICSW, MPH

DSC01569In typical grass-is-greener fashion, many people spending time with family would love to have a day all to themselves. However, if it’s not a choice, it’s hard not to feel ashamed that there isn’t anyone to spend time with; that something must be wrong with you. However, many wonderful people who are in the same boat. Since no one talks about it, it can seem like you’re the only one. Here are some things you can do on Thanksgiving to make the day something special in your own way.

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Prevent a Traumatic Thanksgiving in 3 Steps

By Sara Staggs, LICSW, MPH

DSC01566Today’s post is for those who are lucky enough to spend Thanksgiving with family, though none of us get to choose our families and not everyone gets a good one.

Wednesday’s post is for people who don’t have anyone to spend it with.

Have a Plan (or 3)

You can plan for specific types of boundaries, strategizing your time, or planning to deal with a specific person that you KNOW is going to do that thing they always do.

Boundaries

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Why Do We All Blame the Victim?

By Sara Staggs, LICSW, MPH

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 12.24.01 PM

Generally, most outcomes are a combination of personal decision and outside forces. For example, Wanda chooses to build her house on the coast + a hurricane comes through = Wanda loses her home. Since natural disasters are endemic in most areas, it’s hard to avoid this outcome, but where someone builds their home is still a choice.  However, we often importance of personal responsibility and outside factors depending on whose tragedy it is.

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Jonestown: What Happened?

By Sara Staggs, LICSW, MPH

Jim-Jones-bwOn November 18, 1978, 913 U.S. citizens died in the jungle of Guyana in what is usually described as mass suicide. The most simplified version of the telling, the one that most people first encounter when hearing of the event, is that over 900 people lined up quietly and quaffed cyanide laced Kool-Aid. As a trauma therapist, I was curious what sort of manipulation could lead to such a thing, and found that, as is nearly always the case, truth is a lot more complicated than legend. For one thing, it wasn’t even Kool-Aid, and that’s the least of the misinformation.

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