One of the things I love most about being a part of Motivo has been the opportunity to meet and get to know so many of you.
Therapists often work in professional silos, depleting our own relational energy with our clients and having little leftover for professional peers.
For this reason, my relationship with the therapists in our Motivo community is so meaningful to me. I value the input you have about the profession and I have a good number of you on speed dial (or text) for when I have a question I know you can answer.
One such “speed dial supervisor” is Karen Stewart. I can’t quite remember the first time I met Karen, but I know I loved her right off the bat. She’s a Colorado LCSW and Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC) and she spent much of her career working with Doctors without Borders throughout Asia and Africa. Part of what I appreciate about Karen is how introspective she is. She also has a humble, direct, and clear way of communicating that is so refreshing.
It came as no surprise to me when I learned Karen was recently interviewed by the world-renowned author and meditation teacher, Sharon Salzberg. It was such a great interview and I think you’ll enjoy it as well – take a listen right here.
The episode is jam-packed with relevant content. Karen and Sharon talk about many of the pressing issues facing our world today – trauma, addiction, loneliness, and the impact of COVID on our mental health.
However, my main takeaway was when Karen spoke about the power of normalizing another person’s feelings. Karen shared a story about a humanitarian aid trip to Indonesia. She met a woman who had been traumatized from a severe earthquake on the island of Java. A powerful moment in this woman’s recovery journey was when Karen took time to acknowledge and normalize her feelings. Karen simply said, “This is a normal reaction to what you have experienced.”
It reminded me of one of the things my therapist often says to me. When I’m sharing how I feel about a challenging or hurtful situation, she says, “Rachel, it makes so much sense that you feel this way.”
Gah – it’s so simple – but it’s also so powerful.
We, as therapists, often feel like we have to guide our clients to deeper, more powerful revelation – that we have to help them uncover some truth. We can say, “Here’s what the research says about this” or we can ask, “Why do you think you feel this way?”
However, I agree with Karen that the most powerful thing we can do is simply acknowledge and normalize the feeling – then pause and see what happens next.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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