I have been thinking a lot lately around my graduate studies and training to become a therapist. I remember having a mentor (and highly seasoned clinician) reach out to me to congratulate me on my graduation a couple of years ago. The first thing he said was, “Now, all you have to do is forget everything you learned and start actually doing therapy.” We both laughed, but the reality was that he understood there was some truth behind this. Graduate school and additional training did an adequate job preparing me for the job of being a therapist, but ultimately didn’t completely teach me the art of truly being with another person. This became an integral part of my post-graduate training, and something I am sure I will continue to work on for decades.
Recently, I was preparing for an Evoke Parent Support Group, stumbling through different topics looking for something that spoke to me (it may or may not have been at the last minute). I finally arrived at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, something I have looked at dozens of times, and discussed with both parents and clients on numerous occasions. One of the things I appreciate about the world of mental health is that I can look at something many times and still have a new takeaway. I was struck in that moment of preparation by Maslow’s understanding of our need to belong. Maslow posits that our love and belonging needs come just after our need for things like food, water, and safety. Our need for belonging even comes before our need for things like self-esteem, recognition, and freedom. The gravity of the need was truly apparent to me in that moment.
A few months ago, I came across a video interview with Dr. Gabor Maté that discussed attachment, authenticity, and the interplay between the two for children specifically. The content struck me in its simplicity. Maté explained two often complex topics in a way that seemed digestible. The idea is that as children we have two core needs (in addition to several others), one for attachment and one for authenticity.
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.
As a Clinical Assistant for Michael Griffin in Group 3 at Evoke Cascades, I work primarily with young adult males with substance abuse and addiction issues through a 12-step lens.