I was meeting with a boy who I’ll call Robert for our seventh session. Robert had been in wilderness for seven weeks and in his first few weeks was often tearful, talked openly of his depression, his past suicidal actions and thoughts, and his fear of how he would manage these struggles when he returned home. In those first weeks Robert had made great progress in his understanding of his depression and how to better manage it, yet he held very firmly to his past friends and desire to continue to smoke weed.
During this time, it’s not abnormal or surprising to see articles, blogs, or social media posts about managing anxiety and fear of the unknown during the global pandemic we know as COVID-19. Tips and tools on how to deal with the issues surrounding the virus and social distancing are being discussed and shared with the public by a number of mental health professionals, spiritual leaders, mentors, and more. These resources have been providing great support to families across the world who are battling anxiety and fear for the health and safety of their loved ones.
In his latest book, The Audacity to Be You: Learning to Love Your Horrible, Rotten Self, Dr. Brad Reedy tackles the essential question of how we can learn to process our past wounds, forgive ourselves for our shortcomings, and ultimately love our Self, exactly as it is…even when it seems “horrible and rotten.”
Fair warning, I am about to teach a concept that cannot be scientifically proven. It’s an idea so counterintuitive to me, it took me years to grasp: the healing work of re-parenting the Inner Child. The concept of the Inner Child isn’t new, but in our current cultural climate, it gets forgotten as we push ourselves to do more, be more, and climb some imaginary ladder of success. Inner Child work requests presence and pause, and turning into our darkness and perhaps staying there for a bit. We can think of the Inner Child as a part of Self that we have likely long ago forgotten. The piece of us that holds the roots of the difficulties we experience in adulthood.
As a wilderness therapist at Evoke Cascades, I often work with adolescent males who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog on this disorder and how wilderness therapy can help.
I’ve formed a few different approaches when succinctly capturing “Brainspotting.” To fit many audiences here, let’s take a glimpse at a few of those different angles on the trauma counseling Modality.
During the fall and winter I often spend time reflecting on my own recovery journey. It somehow surprises me how much more continues to reveal itself with adequate space and thought. My sobriety date falls on Halloween, a sort of gateway to the holiday season. This is a slower, more reflective part of the year for me. This year, after having made the transition from a Clinical Assistant to a Primary Therapist for Evoke, I’ve had another opportunity to zoom out and examine the work we do in the woods and why I believe it has such a profound impact on young people struggling with addiction.
Being a field instructor can be one of the most simultaneously challenging and rewarding jobs. There are instances when you find yourself in a group of clients, all belly-laughing at something small and silly, lit by the unreal pinks and purples of a desert sunset, and then there are moments where you are navigating a series of emotional upsets, drenched by an untimely rainstorm. Regardless of the disposition of the clients or the climate, one of the most important expectations of field staff is that they maintain a stable baseline of unconditional positive regard for every single person, including their peers, in the group for the entirety of their shift. This expectation is laid out on the first day of training, and is reinforced during off-shift trainings, mid-week check-ins, and post-shift debriefs. This particular skill, approaching all people with unconditional positive regard, is one that takes great personal awareness in order to work.
What do you need right now?
Each week I go to therapy. I have made it my consistent practice since 1999 to meet with my therapist regardless of the state of my circumstances. I never know what will come out in the session. Sometimes I complain about everyone in my life. Sometimes I unload the stress I am carrying. Sometimes I express gratitude for the healing grace my therapist has shown me. Rather than a problem-solving session, it is a place where I can be myself and that is okay. It is a place where I am welcome and where I can’t get it wrong.