The longer I do this work the more I see evidence of a simple fact: Caregivers need extra support. Caregiving takes many forms. For example: having a child; taking in aging parents; fostering puppies; looking after people with health issues; hearing stories of suffering people, working in the health field, etc. Becoming a caregiver can bring significant joy and meaning.
What happens to us during the therapy process? How are we different after a course of therapy? Often clients come in with specific issues that they hope to improve: anxiety, depression, isolation, emotions all over the place or numbed out, work stress, marital conflict. And through our therapy work together these issues are improved.
Are you avoiding people or groups because it feels like you get totally drained from interactions with them? It feels like, "I'm so exhausted after interactions with people. I'd rather just stay home where I'm comfortable and I can just be myself." Yes. We all need time on our own to recuperate and rest.
Do you often notice your partner isn't meeting your needs? It's like they can never get it right. It's infuriating because you think about others' needs. Why can't your partner get your needs. You reject what they attempt to do because it's not close to what you wanted.
Maybe you've always been the "good listener." The one people turn to. Or, maybe your care-taking role is newly acquired: You became a parent to a child or a pet, took on aging parents, or got married. Perhaps you've obtained a job where you are present with others while they are going through life's up and downs. You're a health practitioner. First responder. Lawyer. Social Worker. Teacher. Supervisor. Server. Accountant. The list is endless.
"I'd done several sessions and had stopped having panic attacks. And then I just had another one today. Why do I keep doing this to myself?" "I had worked on my rage and hadn't had another episode in so long. And then I just totally went overboard again this weekend. Why can't I get past this?" "My mood had been up for the last 6 months and then recently it's down again. Why am I not able to manage this?" Are these thoughts familiar?
Do you notice that you worry about things a lot? Do you tend to catastrophize things in your head? In doing "Parts Work" I explore the Part of you that has been getting a little extreme, that has been consuming too much of your time and energy. For some of us it is our Worrier. The Worrier is working really hard these days. It's working in overdrive. And it's getting you into trouble and causing you stress. What can we do about it in therapy?
Is sex vital to a couple's ability to be sustaining and happy? It depends. Sex researcher Barry McCarthy (2002) notes that when sex is going well couples attribute only 15-20% of their relationship satisfaction to it. It's like icing on a cake: If the cake is good we give a slight nod to icing but attribute much more of the goodness in our mouths to other aspects of the cake.
Every client has their own unique experiences. That is a given. But if I could pinpoint a common thread I hear in many of my clients' stories it would be the story of how anxiety hijacked their life. Some anxiety is normal and healthy- we need that little bit of fear/activation to get us out of bed and into our roles in life. But when our anxious behaviours start hijacking our life- and are interfering with our daily functioning and are becoming distressing- that is when it's not normal anymore and seeking help is a good idea.
Are you angry a lot with your partner? Or is your partner telling you that you are constantly angry? Do you feel overwhelmed after a fight? Do most discussions end up in an argument? As humans, it's normal to have a tendency towards fight in a stressful encounter. That's a learned reaction from childhood to protect you. That's the function of anger. It's there to keep you safe.
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