A Therapist Ponders Mental Health, Part I

therapist mental health

I am a psychotherapist with life experiences and skills that enable me to be a good and empathetic teacher. I define myself today as a healer, a philosopher, another human being who has herself healed from the embedded beliefs that kept me bound to unhappy patterns. People who benefit from therapy are not necessarily “mentally ill”. As a matter of fact, I loathe that term.

Yes, some of us are tortured by dysfunctional thinking, or a chemistry that doesn’t allow for homeostasis. These are the people who have probably suffered neglect, and /or verbal, physical, or sexual abuse in the very homes into which they were born.

Good therapy for most of us – even the successful ones who shine in their careers yet are lonely in their relationships – enhances our understanding of who we are and how we can best relate to our families, our lovers, the people in our lives. We are all influenced one way or another by our earliest life experiences. There is a song called “Momma” which says “Thank you momma for who I am and who I’m not.”

Therapy has allowed me to be able to acknowledge that sentiment. Therapy has freed me to define myself in ways that bring me the most satisfaction in my life and relationships. We are the composite of all the moments of our lives, and some of those moments alter our brains in ways that are just now being observed by scientists. We construct a template by which to live from the meaning we give to those experiences, and the messages we took from them. Then we proceed with our lives having formed a “belief system” that may set us up for narrow, biased thinking.

I see the damage caused by unhealthy parenting and unthinkable life experiences. The results are years of lives wasted in unhappy relationships and unfulfilling lives that reflect a lack of self-respect and good judgment. The brain has been affected in such deleterious ways as to cripple natural, healthy development. Often anger and fear taint every day as well as attempts at loving relationships.

These people have been damaged in the core of who they are. No matter how smart we are, our perceptions are influenced by the template by which we live. Some of us come away believing we live in an unfriendly, hostile world, and we approach it as such. Often the result is that we end up getting what we anticipate.

Given our blinders, a professional’s perspective can offer something we may not see. (How does anyone look analytically at himself when his perspective has been skewed?) Yet, if we were born into a warm, nurturing, and responsive environment, we are likely to grow capable of bonding and with good self esteem. Even then, we can each get immense value in learning about ourselves – the unconscious motivators and the most effective ways to define who we want to be in the world and how to achieve intimate, sexually satisfying, emotionally rich relationships. None of us fully escapes disappointment and hurt; that is part of life. However, if we have a cache of hurts stored in us, its impact will be so much stronger.

More to come in Part 2…………


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About Paula Susan

Paula Susan, MSW, LCSW, Masters in Clinical Social Work & Psychology; specialist in Trauma and Relationships since 1982. In 1991, I integrated the powerfully transformative process of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). Research demonstrates that it facilitates life-altering changes more efficiently and effectively than talk therapy alone. I teach skills such as communication and anxiety relief to improve connection with others. Over the decades, I’ve come to respect how much damage even small traumatic experiences inflict on our core beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. I consider it a privilege to help my clients understand and change what has undermined their happiness and their relationships. I do it with warmth, integrity, humor, and profound respect for those who care about the quality of this small piece of time we have on earth.www.paulasusan.com

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