Common Humanity
with Dana Belletiere, LICSW, MSED


Listen To Me: The Simple Power of Bearing Witness


As a clinician, I sometimes get incredibly freaked out by all of the things I do not know. 

Do others in the healing professions relate to this?

The trainings are endless, the specializations so minute. I could learn constantly for three years on end and I wouldn’t emerge feeling fully competent. The scope of available information is infinite. 

I find it helpful in these moments of feeling my small-ness to touch back on the foundations of  the healing arts - the basics - to remember that the true power of therapeutic work comes in the small elements of joining another person in their emotional space. At the core of  our practice, we are witnesses - listeners. I am confident, at the very least, that I have honed this skill. It helps to remind myself that listening well, on it's own, is worth so much. 


When Help Is Harmful: Thoughts On “Snowplow” Parenting

The recent news about wealthy/celebrity parents paying to have their children accepted into colleges via fraudulent methods has gotten me thinking. My first thought is, "Wait, isn't this old news? I thought we all knew this was going on." My second thought is the stuff of this post: a thread around the larger concept of parents' removing obstacles out of the way of their children, sometimes called "snowplow parenting." What happens when parents move from being a background source of support and guidance to a front-line player in their children's affairs? When does help become harmful?  

Be On Purpose

Once More, With Feeling: On Intention & Living Your Values

I recently completed Brene Brown's Dare To Lead (read it; it's wonderful and you will be better for it). Within the book's beautiful contents are a few pages dedicated to Values from which we choose to intentionally conduct ourselves. The reader is asked to select two Values that resonate with them, and challenged to curate a life that is in harmony with those chosen Values. If a relationship or a business decision does not align, it might be changed, or cut out entirely. The exercise brings up the importance of having a plan - an intention - for who and how we want to be in our limited time on this planet.


4 Ways to Make Life Changes A Little Less Scary

It’s no accident that many of us get a little freaked out about making changes or approaching transitions in our daily lives. The Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory, a tool used by doctors to gauge stress levels and the probability of stress-related health breakdowns, directly correlates physical health with relatively low amounts of life change. 

That said, the avoidance of change can also lead to missing out on awesome opportunities to grow, learn, and experience new things. 


Speaking Up Is Hard To Do: 4 Core Reasons We Struggle To Self-Assert

Self-assertiveness is a major theme in my work with clients. I work predominantly with clients with issues with eating, and it is very common for clients with issues with eating to "restrict" their emotions and thoughts, resulting in unwanted bingeing or purging behaviors. Learning to speak up for oneself is an important part of the healing process. I've also found that, among the skill sets that I encourage, it is probably among the most difficult to learn and to execute.

So why is it so hard to speak up? 

What I've found is that we shy away from speaking our minds for four core reasons:

Get Big

How to Get Big & Take Up Space, Emotionally Speaking

February is not a stretchy month. It's cold all of the time, and we're indoors alot, and things can start to feel a little cramped.

With all this time to huddle up, it's a very good month for some intentional emotional work and self-reflection. How about considering how to take a leap and put yourself out there a bit more?

Here are four ways to stretch out and give yourself the space you deserve, emotionally speaking. 

Acts of Service

Love Languages: Five Ways to Let Your People Know You Love Them.

So, it's Valentine's Day. The holiday is notoriously demonized, and I can't say that I'm a super-fan myself (I typically begrudge any days that dictates that I'm supposed to be doing or buying or recognizing something specific).  That said, I do believe that taking intentional time to show love and gratitude for your people is an important and worthwhile exercise, any day of the year. Below are five different ways that individuals can demonstrate love for one another, based on their personal preferences and style of giving/receiving love. The 5 "love languages" described below are based on Dr. Gary Chapman's book, "The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts." 

Be Together

Tell Me Everything: A Case for Real Connection


One of my best friends is having a hard time. I've been talking to him on the phone about this problem recently (a year ago I decided to bring phone calls back as my primary mode of communication - best decision ever), processing and laughing and complaining together. At the end of our last rather long conversation about his current situation, he apologized to me. "Sorry to talk about this again," he lamented. "Next time we'll talk about something else, I promise."

That's cool. But I mean, I hope not.


If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It: 3 Tips for Setting Rules for Teenagers

Parents frequently ask me for support in figuring out how best to set rules and expectations for their teenagers. This can be tough to navigate, especially if the teenager pushes back (which they are wont to do) or the parents aren't sure how they "should" approach boundary setting (there are no "shoulds"; there is no manual).

I humbly submit, from a therapist's perspective, thoughts on how to create a safe structure from which teenagers can explore: