Musings from my therapy room
On World Mental Health Day 2020, here’s some musings from my therapy room.
1. The sins of the fathers can end with this generation. Those who go to counselling (in spite of stigma, reluctance or pride) to examine and root out the unhealthy parenting patterns in their family of origin are much better placed to parent the next generation with deliberacy and thoughtfulness. This is the sacred work of intergenerational healing.
2. Trauma changes everything. Everything. A traumatic event (or worse, a series of traumatic events) changes a person’s chemistry, worldview, vigilance, body temperature, thought patterns, concentration, sleep, perception of pain, relationships, immune system, memory, digestion, ability to learn, and ability to handle stress. Some even say that trauma is the foundation of all broken relationships and mental illness. The good news: trauma is treatable.
3. Register for the Medicare Safety Net. If your family hits a designated threshold of eligible Medicare expenses (across all health services) in any calendar year, you get a higher rebate on Medicare services for the rest of the calendar year. The threshold is only $692 if you’re a concession card holder or are receiving Family Tax benefit A, or $2169 otherwise. With a Mental Health Care Plan from your GP, seeing a psychologist could only leave you about $20 out of pocket per session after you’ve hit the threshold.
4. Those who come to therapy have often been wounded by someone who should have come to therapy. Narcissists especially leave a wake of broken relationships. And part of their abuse is when they make you think it’s your fault. Therapy can help you untangle and make sense of it all.
5. If your life or job means you’re caring, relating or leading, you’ll be a lot better off if you get some independent supervision. That means have a formal relationship with someone in your field, more qualified and wiser than you, who you talk with regularly. (Preferably not your current manager.) Like a mentor or a coach, they can oversee you, support you, keep you accountable, problem solve with you, and notice things you don’t. It makes you much more effective in your role, and it helps prevent stress and burnout. Ministers especially would be much more skilled and sustained with regular professional supervision.
6. Churches and colleges often handle disclosures of Domestic and Family Violence or Sexual Assault really badly. If you’re a victim/survivor and you haven’t felt believed or supported, you are absolutely not alone. Christian organisations usually aren’t experts in the field, and after a disclosure they often replicate the same patriarchal and violent dynamics as the perpetrator. Just as your minister shouldn’t perform your appendectomy because they’re not a surgeon, neither should your minister claim authority to adjudicate your DFV. Most aren’t qualified.
7. “Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health; safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.”
— The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
8. You don’t have to be struggling or have a mental illness before you show up to a psychologist or counsellor. You can go regularly even when you’re doing well just to keep you going well. You could get ideas for managing work stress, navigating tricky people, or get some support through the inevitable transitions of life. And its handy to have an existing relationship with your counsellor for when things do fall apart.
9. Parents of young kids aren’t coping. Help them out.
10. The optimal functioning zone is when we are calm and connected. We can be connected to other people, or to a task. In this calm and connected zone, we’re able to think and feel at the same time. When we’re too elevated (anxious, nervous, or panicked) or too flat (slow, depressed or numb), we can only think OR feel. That’s why you can’t reason with someone having a tantrum (big feelings, no thinkings), because their rational brain is offline. If you realise that you can only think OR feel, take some time to calm yourself and connect with someone before you can expect yourself to function well again.
Take care of your mental health during this World Mental Health Month 2020.
(Picture from: https://www.relationshipwell.com/blog)
Kylie is a Christian Psychologist whose client demographic includes perpetrators and survivors of Family Violence. Kylie is a graduate of SMBC.