We have five months left of this year! What?! I know I want to milk every ounce of fun and meaning out of 2019. My big trip this year was back to New York City and a visit to Georgia. Quite a cool mirror of the different regions where I have lived my life (north/south). I hope you get some time off this summer too! Here's what I have been thinking in part; how will I grow my business and how can I truly embody this full-time private practice life. I am thinking more about writing. There is a part of me that really wishes I could be a writer. A room of her own and such. Maybe it's listening to Elizabeth Gilbert and seeing her speak earlier this year. She is so dang composed and well-spoken AND

she writes for a living. Could I do that? Could I turn these blogs into something helpful? We shall see but for now, here is a start; a little story from your colleague/therapist/future therapist. I graduated from college with a degree in theatre, education and no job. College had been a deep time of self-exploration. I went to work at a bar in my small home town. It was clear to me quickly that I needed to figure out the next step sooner rather than later. When the call came to see if I wanted to share a house with two guys I knew and one I did not, far away in New York City I jumped. My parents are pretty cool after all! They did not have to support that decision and the fact that they did is pretty amazing thinking back on that all these years later. It was a dream come true to live in New York, Brooklyn specifically! I worked hard, took acting classes and performed in a few plays. The most important thing I learned is that I am independent and/but I have always had help, always. I have the privilege of growing up in a safe town, with enough food, enough to eat, a loving family. I struggled in school growing up, I struggled to write and I struggled to communicate and still, I found my path. I wrote my first monologue. Then I wrote a short one-woman show and I went on to perform with a dance theatre troop. I would never trade the things I got to do for any other path.

My daughter asked me recently what is one mistake that I would change. Honestly, I could not land on one. I wish I would not have hurt people that I have hurt (inadvertently). I wish I would have stood up for folks that were discriminated against where I grew up. When it gets down to the end of the moments, in taking the inventory, there is not one choice that I regret fully enough to change. Why do I share this "accept everything happens for a reason" message today? I truly think my own therapy has helped me come to terms with this belief and hold onto this truth (most days). Therapy still IS helping me come to terms with this fact of life. Every mistake, every moment is an opportunity to learn. When you come to therapy with me you will see that I tackle your problems with the same philosophy with which I tackle my own life. I believe we are here to learn, to be in relationships. I believe we have inherent good in us. Though I did not end up being an actor, I can help you process emotions, which is the deep work actors engage in. I hope you will reach out if you need a group, a day-long workshop at your office, or a therapy session for you or someone in your counseling practice. I don't see couples so if you have folks who need that extra support in addition to couples therapy let me know. I really enjoy helping people in transition. I can also support folks with parenting. Check out my last blog about expressive arts. I am available for sessions in my home office on Monday and Tuesday afternoons. I am in the office Tuesday AM, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday's. Let's find some time to connect/reconnect.

Thanks for reading.



Neuroscience talk by Francine Lapides, LMFT

On November 13th, 2015 SCV-CAMFT (a group of Bay Area therapists) gathered for a wonderful lunch and an extremely thoughtful presentation by Francine Lapides, LMFT. If you are just learning of Ms. Lapides, as I did in November, I recommend you seek out a training with her.  Or perhaps therapy with her if you are in the Santa Cruz area.  She has a training group coming up in the new year focused on psychoneurology.  The group will help you deeply explore how knowing more about the brain can help you be a better therapist.  One could call Francine our local Dan Siegel. She has studied with him for years and additionally has been a part of Allan Schore's Berkeley study group. Francine Lapides has been a licensed MFT since 1974. She is a decades-long member of SCV-CAMFT and she is in private practice in San Jose and Santa Cruz, California.

In Ms. Lapides talk, “Working Implicitly in Psychotherapy: What Decades of Neuroscience Study Has Taught Me About Being a Psychotherapist” she started by reminding us that infants are primarily right brained and this right brain development continues for the first two to three years of life. Attachment templates are stored in the right brain.  The take away is; in order to heal trauma we need to address both the unconscious and conscious areas of the brain. As therapists we see first hand how these early traumas can shape a person. Some of these traumas leave us with resiliency while others leave us more rigid.  Francine took us through some basic neuroscience during the first portion of the talk. This time acted as our “infancy” in neuroscience (if we did not already have that knowledge). Even if you did have prior neuroscience knowledge her information was a great review. She shared the Winnicott quote, “There is no such thing as a baby ... if you set out to describe a baby, you will find you are describing a baby and someone.'' (Winnicott, 1947).  The relationship heals because we are relational human beings.  We can help our clients make meaning of early trauma.  This healing rooted in the physiology of neuroscience is more helpful if done with a bottom up (or body to head direction).  The limbic system and attachment theory dominate .  As stated on Mrs. Lapides slides: “Early life experiences create potent affective “knowing” in implicit, non-verbal, unconscious memory which underlie and have a profound influence on personality, dominate mood, symptoms and relationships throughout life.”  

As we transitioned to the second section of the talk Mrs. Lapides invited someone to come up to the front of the room and summarize what they had just learned about neuroscience. There were crickets.  We all behaved as though we were glued to our seats. She let the perfect amount of silence play out before she joked that she was just getting our heart rates up so we could feel our prefrontal cortex at work. As many of you likely know the prefrontal cortex is the part of our brains that helps us regulate emotion. Francine’s "experiment" was perfectly set up as a process experiential learning exercise. We have the basics of neuroscience, we are asked to come talk about it in front of the group, and then upon finding out we actually don’t have to, we can then re-regulate. 

Just like intherapy (week after week), we invite our clients to talk, or draw, or move through their way through trauma.  They might turn us down but as the relationship and trust grows we can begin to help them heal. This ability to manage activation helps us access our unconscious beliefs. There are, as Francine shared, “implicit relational schemas” or unconscious beliefs that all of us have. For example, we may unconsciously believe that, “If I try to perform and fail, people will think less of me." These are, of course, the thoughts and feelings we want to target in therapy. The question of how this can be done while integrating neuroscience will be address in the intensive study group Francine will offer.  She will address the clinical skills of: “trusting your intuition, somatic transference, intimacy and self disclosure, rupture and repair,” and much more. I wish I lived closer to Santa Cruz! This group will surely be helpful.

She stated, “While the overwhelming bias in western psychotherapy has been a top down primarily left brain model of conscious and verbal attempts at change, neuroscience is increasingly confirming that we must work in this right brain, unconscious, body-based arena as well.”  When she spoke of the “bottom up” way of working with our clients she mentioned poetry because it has more of a right brain connection. She mention prosody or “the patterns of rhythm and sound used in poetry” according to Webster’s online dictionary. Using poetry or other right brain activities with our clients can help them access and heal their trauma. I also found the interventions Francine offered at the end of her talk to be helpful. Instead of asking left brained questions we can shift statements more into a right brain experience. For example, instead of: “Your father’s anger was uncontrolled and made you feel unsafe” the right brain is more able to hear, “When you father exploded in range, you felt terrified and small.” Instead of offering, “It will be important for you to know I’m hear,” clinicians can try a more right-brained approach such as asking, “Can you look at me, can you feel me here with you”? If you were at the luncheon you heard Francine’s calm seasoned voice. It was healing in a room of almost 100 colleagues. I hope you get a sense of her way of being from this short description.