Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Homeless and girl on a bike with sunglasses stand off:

I was in my car, driving from an awesome swim class with my baby boy.  He is doing AMAZING by the way.  He has a new physical therapist who is aligned with what my husband and myself believe in, meet the child where he is at and focus on his strengths to help the weak muscles out more.  Simple, right?  We can apply this to every day life, even emotional balance. 

As I sat pondering this thought I noticed a seemingly homeless gentleman walking down the sidewalk with his heavy looking bag wrapped around his neck, weathered by car exhaust and every day travel.  He appeared to have a little skip in his step which made me smile.  He passed a woman on her bike, with blonde hair, sunglasses, work out gear on....focused.  He stopped, said "Hello! good morning to you!" she said nothing.  He walked.  He stopped.  He turned around and said "You could at least say Hi back."  She rolled her eyes and drove off. 

That homeless man with a spring in his step and friendly "hello" is awesome.  That homeless man is a man, a human being and someone's brother, son, husband, child, uncle, friend.  That MAN is amazing and he definitely deserved a "Hello" back from a stranger, and maybe a "hey, how are you doing?"  The MAN fell through the cracks and needs our help.  Despite that, he still maintains a happy attitude and continues to walk to where I have no idea. 

That exchange, that icky ignoring and awful, self entitled roll of the eyes represents what the hell is wrong with this world.  We are all handed very different lives.  It is our human responsibility to help lift others up when we have the resources to do so.  I am not saying hand out money, or end up being late because 'Jenny' told you to stop and say hi to the homeless.  I am just pointing out that it is those types of people that have the money and the education to make important decisions as voters, as non profit board members, as politicians, as lawyers or judges....you get the picture....the majority of the decision makers come from a privileged background.  It is a weird mix of seemingly well off hipsters and homeless in my neighborhood.  Lets start talking and getting to know our neighbors and STOP THE IGNORING of what is IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE.

On a personal level, this also stung too true to how people treat me during 'checking in' conversations.  I can feel the sighs or the rolls of the eyes when I try and explain how challenging it is to raise a son with special needs, work, find time for my other son and my marriage.  Everyone has challenges, it would be helpful to actually sit and understand them.  Not judge them.  Stop judging and start learning about one another.  Be open, please, or you will miss out on so many important lessons in life. 

Stepping....down....from my soap box now...taking a breath....calm.

Much love,

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I am still a therapist despite personal crisis....oh and I am human :)

I have recently faced one of the biggest stresses of my life.  I am having difficulty balancing my personal crisis and others crisis in therapy.  Now that I work full time with men/women suffering from substance abuse and family issues, I am more drained than usual.  I also, until recently, was seeing clients in private practice.  All of a sudden on Tuesday August 14, 2012  the sky came falling on my family.  I am still not quite sure what is going on, however, what I am certain of is that my unborn baby boy will be born with some disabilities.  It isn't the disabilities that I am so heartbroken about, it is the not knowing if he is OK inside me, if he is suffering, if it is as bad as one of the doctors indicated or if it is not as bad which was a later report.  The not knowing is absolutely driving me into a deep deep sadness. 

The ethical thing for me to do was discontinue seeing clients in private practice.  I wish I could discontinue work for a bit too, however, there is one of me and so many needy clients.  In a way it helps to offer therapy to clients still, despite my personal tragedy.  I do find myself using my art therapy more than ever. The art making process I use during  art therapy sessions helps give me a personal outlet when I am feeling overwhelmed by a client's  history.  I feel that I can handle their stories better when I have had that art outlet to 'center' me prior to the processing.  I believe that I am still offering good help.  I now, more than ever, need to take care of myself when I can.  This pregnancy, toddler at home, work, sick baby inside me thing is taking a toll. 

What has been a big struggle is how to tell others what is going on.  I feel as if I need to tell them it will be OK when in fact, it probably wont be OK for a while.  I spend more time trying to convince them I am OK when I should be crying on a good friends shoulder.  I have noticed a distance from loved ones.  I wish people would just check in, be gutsy, just call and say what happened today?  Or do you know anything yet?  Or how is your HUGE battle with the insurance companies?  Silence.  Silence can be a beautiful thing at times.  Silence can be a destructive thing other times.  I feel as if the silence makes me more frustrated, more anxious, and less willing to truly open up to others.

 I am learning a lot throughout this part in my life.  I will take from this some big lessons, especially when working with clients in the future.  I will always validate, I will always comfort, and I will allow them to just cry without scurrying to 'fix.'  I don't believe I ever was the type of therapist to try and bandage up the wound before it was ready, however, now I truly know why it is important to validate and just listen. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Your world view

When reading the book Therapeutic Metaphors by David Gordon I came across a point that made me think about my clients and the patients in hospital that I work with. 

Gordon states: '...having a set model of the world can be both a help and a hindrance.  The advantage of our relatively stable world models is that they free us from continually testing and retesting our environment.  The disadvantage is that a set world model is relatively inflexible and, so, limiting.'

We therapists must challenge our set models of the world, sometimes put them to the side, in order to understand the client and to meet the client where they are at.  

It is interesting during group therapy to observe and assist two different set world model people interacting with one another.  It can be such a beautiful, educational experience for all to share in. 

If your set model of the world is that of being forced to grow up too young, or being in and out of different homes, or any abuse you may become used to, it can be difficult to accept love because it is not a part of your set model. I like to keep in mind this idea of having a different world model and my job is better understanding my clients world model, not trying to get them to know mine.

I feel that this has always come easy to me, however, it was nice to read about it and be reminded of what my main job is in the beginning of therapy.  The problem with short term treatment is by the time I understand their world view they may be getting discharged.  Maybe the therapy is just the knowing and understanding?  Maybe just listening, really really listening to someone's story is all the therapy they may need in the brief moment? 

It is easier in private practice to spend the time exploring the client's world view.  Sometimes I have to remind myself to 'slow down' since we do have more than 5-7 days (the average stay in the hospital).  I feel art therapy is such a safe, and amazing way to explore the client's world view.  I look forward to going to work and helping others.  I am so very lucky to be doing what I love for a living. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

We can't change them but we can avoid them

Recently my family has been struck with work place stress.  In all incidents there seems to be one thing in common, that one co-worker whom decided for whatever reason that they are going to point out every little thing THEY feel is wrong with how you are doing YOUR job. 

I feel that people get so caught up in right from wrong and proving their 'right' that they loose sight of the big picture.  The big picture being we are all humans living and working in a struggling economy whom have families and personal problems. While at work we should focus on being kind to one another and not focus on the flaws.  We as a society focus enough on "flaws,"  we should make it our mission to focus on the positive at work.  Lets face it, nobody really loves being at work all the time so you might as well make it as enjoyable as possible.

I feel slapped in the face by billboards showing me I have the 'wrong body,' by magazines telling me how to loose weight, with  liquor stores flashing adds of people having fun while gulping down liquor which sends a terrible message to our young people.  If I were to be this 'perfect' being at 5"9' 120 pounds and happily intoxicated without gaining bloated tequila calories, I would only exist in fiction, which is really where these human beings only exist considering all the air brushing and photo shopping. 

I am simply saying, please please please think before you say or do something related to pointing out a flaw in a co-worker.  It isn't a good motivator, in fact the loved one I spoke with about this issue described feeling so deflated that he just wanted to crawl into a hole and sleep. Maybe that  "flaw" is only real in your mind, and maybe you are so focused on what they are doing because you don't want to focus on what you should be doing,. 


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bickering and holiday stress

My husband and I recently got into a fight over pancakes and smoothies.  It was so silly, however, I found myself caught up in the "he needs to understand my point" and not truly listening to him.  It was by no means a 'loving' conversation, but we are human.
My therapist told me a story about how her and her husband had a three day fight about toilet paper.  What is it about these small "discussions" that sometimes feel worse than the big big fights??
After calming down and eating both pancakes and a smoothie (lovely compromise) we made fun of ourselves for having such a battle.  This of course was hours after the bickering incident, but it still felt good to joke about it.  Laughter is by far the best way to get through stress.  The holiday season can be something awful for some so try and remember to laugh.  Also, be big enough to step away from a communication break down and laugh a little.

What is truly important is being together with those who appreciate you and vice versa.  Happy Holidays Blog readers and laugh a little....it's good for the bones ;)

Here is a little story I read in the book Destructive Emotions: How Can We Overcome Them A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama

There were two brothers, one who was never satisfied and one who always seemed satisfied.  On Christmas morning they got their presents, and the children were up in their room playing with them.  The child who was never satisfied had a new computer and games and a little robot, but when his father asked if he was happy, he said, 'No.  Now all the other children will be jealous of me, and then the batteries will die and I'll have to buy new batteries,' and on and on.  "Now, the other little boy had gotten a load of horse manure for Christmas.  When the father went to his room, he found him happily playing in it.  His father said, 'Why are you so happy?' He replied, 'There must be a horse in here somewhere!'

The book goes on to explain how we (at first) choose to react cruelly or negatively to certain things in life,  and the more we are negative minded, the more it becomes our regular thought pattern. 

One of my suggested anecdotes for negative thinking is to be generous toward others without the intention of receiving anything in return except for feeling a little less negative.  This week let us all try and be generous with our compliments, holding doors, being patient in long lines, and so on.  A good challenge is try and go an entire day without saying anything judgmental, even if it's simply judging the 'dry' turkey at your aunt Sue's house.  Just refrain from saying the negative judgmental saying and train your brain to be more thankful and less negative. 

Jenny Korotko

p.s. I know it has been a while since I blogged.  There is a good reason for that.....more info to come soon ;)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sick of the judging

I constantly try to live my life without judgement.  I am even careful about making judgmental statements or assumptions.  I am not perfect, this process will be on going.  I feel very strongly that a lot of mental illness issues are a result of a judgemental society.  I feel very fortunate every time I learn from my 'clients,' especially the ones in inpatient psychiatric care.  I learn the sad, complex stories that detail the steps which led the 'client' to such a setting.  I also learn that people who view those on the street whom appear 'disheveled' and/or homeless with judgment are ignorant. 

It is difficult to work in this field and have loved ones who cast judgmental nets all over things that confuse them.  It can be confusing to see a 'drunk' begging for money or a woman screaming in the middle of the street.  Instead of labeling 'drunk' or 'crazy' lets start asking questions and offering support.  One way to offer support is by educating yourself on mental illness.  Many times people with mental illness self medicate with drugs and/or alcohol.  So it isn't as simple as they are "drunks" it is way more complex. 

I often bite my tongue when I hear a loved one make judgemental statements but I think I am going to start challenging their judgements and beliefs.  I owe my clients that.  I owe my loved ones that opportunity to re-think their assumptions.  I don't have much else to say except please start to educate yourself before you continue to just assume or judge.  We all are guilty of judging others, lets try and do less starting now. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

What I learned today

Even if your day was one of those 'just-like-every-other-day' days, it is still an interesting question to ask yourself "What did I learn today?"  Kinda like checking in with a kid after school.  So here are some brief descriptions about what I learned today after working my 3 day a week job as an art therapist/counselor in an inpatient psychiatric setting. 

I learned that if you learn early on, due to abuse, how to fear adults you will likely live in fear for the rest of your life unless you get help.  Fear can make people do and think abnormal things.  I blame the adult that taught the child how to fear for what the child does as an adult.  I hear a lot from friends and family that eventually people just need to "get over it" when discussing childhood problems.  Sexual molestation, verbal abuse and physical abuse can lay some very permanent marks on the brain (or soul or both, whatever your beliefs are).   I reject this "get over it" or "rub some dirt in it" advice and offer a solution, talking openly and lovingly within the family and, if that can't happen, then getting therapy.  The more we "rub dirt" in the child abuse wounds the more infectious the wound becomes.  I saw today an extremely paranoid, anxious individual who could have had a much much different life had the mom or dad believed when he/she said the abuse was happening. 

I also learned today that we as a culture/society would benefit a great deal if along with STD's and the food pyramid talked openly (WITHOUT judgment) about mental illness in health classes within the schools.  We need more open talk about these 'hushed' issues.  I think everyone has had a family member or loved one suffer from a mental illness and if we just started talking about it without judgment, we could understand the importance of good mental health care.

I can honestly say that I feel burned out at times as a therapist, but, what keeps me going is learning from my clients.

Good night :)