Intensive. Isn’t that a funny word? Therapeutic intensive. It's kind of scary sounding. And still unclear in what it actually means. Right? When I am asked what I do for a living, and my response is “I am a therapist. I run therapeutic intensives”, the responses are awesome. I typically get, “Woah. I need one of those,” “Oh no! Don’t diagnose me!”, or complete blank confusion. So, regardless of your response, here I am to share what I so passionately call my career!
Viewing entries tagged with 'growth'
Why do some people succeed while some who are equally talented do not? What is it about wilderness that can produce such dramatic results? The foundation from which both answers arise is one of mindset. Mindset, in this case, refers to the mental, emotional and cognitive structures used to process one’s experience. Another way of understanding this idea is asking this question: “What kind of meaning is being created out of any given experience?” Yet another question to help clarify is: “Is learning occurring from a given experience?” The concept of mindset is germane to both answers.
It's a Wednesday afternoon and I'm already late to our weekly yoga class. Much like other people, I have tried to fit too many things into a short amount of time. After hosting a staff breakfast at my house I had decided to schedule a pest control appointment during a 10 minute window, I only sort of had, before I needed to head to yoga. You can imagine my added stress and frustration when the employee arrived late to my house. I hustled him as quickly as I could and rushed over to participate in yoga. We provide this class for our employees every Wednesday as an opportunity for them to engage in their own practice of health and wellness and bring that back into the field. After struggling to find where I needed to be, I wandered into class late and was warmly welcomed by our Health and Wellness Coordinator, Elise Mitchell, who has a phenomenal ability to incorporate inconveniences and distractions into her yoga and mindfulness classes.
In an effort to meet clients with compassion and understanding, the mental health industry has made a shift and replaced the often negatively referred to term, Failure-to-Launch, with a more empathetic term, Emerging Adulthood.
It was the summer of 2003, and I was working as a travel guide before coming to Evoke. We were in the middle of the Peruvian Andes, on the ancient path called the Inca Trail. This trail leads to Macchu Picchu. After my group and I conquered the first of three passes and while the porters and cook were getting lunch ready, I noticed that one of the group members and one of the two local guides were missing, although I continued hiking up the mountain as I knew Arturo, one of the local guides was hiking last on the file, swiping for the group. I wasn’t concerned as this happens frequently since clients were able to hike at their own pace. After a few minutes lunch was ready, but Ashley and Arturo were still nowhere to be found. At that point I had a feeling that something was not right. Ashley had shown to be in pretty decent shape, and had exhibited no signs of altitude sickness prior to the start of the trek to Macchu Picchu, but I was worried. I asked Miguel, the lead local guide, to start lunch with the group and I grabbed my backpack and started descending the mountain to find Ashley. After about 30 minutes of half-jogging back the way we had come, I found them. Ashley was sitting off the trail, on a rock with her head down. Immediately I asked Arturo if everything was ok and he nodded yes, but whispered to that me she had shut down and didn’t want to talk. I asked him to head back to the group and I sat by Ashley’s side. At first, I thought she wasn’t feeling well so I wanted to make sure she was alright physically; I asked if she was drinking enough water and whether or not she had a headache. I followed with all the necessary question to make sure she wasn’t sick or in need of medical attention. She answered all my questions and followed by a loud exclamation of “This is stupid, I want to go home and I suck at everything I do!” It was an awkward moment following her unexpected outburst, and my reaction was to stay quiet for about a minute, not knowing what to say. After my silence, I proceeded to say “You are fine, you can do it, it’s tough but you can do it.” I then told her “We have to keep going because the group is waiting for us.” Ashley then proceeded to burst into tears. Again, I was caught off guard. I knew Ashley, at least that is what I thought back then; she was one of the quietest members of the group during conversations over meals or on the buses, and she always seemed to offer a soft smile back when addressed directly.
I worked for 11 months as a field staff before becoming a Wilderness Therapist. As a member of the field staff team, I have memories of the therapists coming into the groups and shaking things up after we developed a rhythm within our group for the week. At the time, I did not understand this approach. Why leave students feeling sad or upset, letting them deal with these feelings on their own?
It was just over five years ago when I attended the personal growth workshop that would change and shape my life going forward. For me, it was a crossroads in an inescapable torrent of anxiety and confusion. For others in attendance, it was time to refuel and reassess the direction in their lives. We all came together with the belief that we had work to do. I came to it after many years of outpatient work with a gifted therapist, while others came as an initial foray into their own personal work. In either case, what was promised was, “You will get out of it exactly what you need.”
These days, when I’m not working with clients out in the field, I find myself spending more time in my home woodshop. It is a place where I feel free, creative, expansive, and courageous. Despite this, it is a place where I have made plenty of half-hearted attempts and experienced numerous failures. Recently, I have noticed several meaningful connections between the art of therapy and the art of woodwork, for both of which I have a profound love and admiration.