Well, it’s been a difficult couple of months for many people. Some people are exhausted, frustrated, annoyed, and dismayed; myself included. So what can we do in hard times to take better care of ourselves?
First, we need to recognize that taking care of ourselves is not only good for us, it is vital for our mental, physical, and emotional health.
One of the things I wanted to share that has been helping me a great deal of late, is ambient music written by Moby, which he offers as a free download from his website. The album is over four hours long, and helps to soothe my frazzled nerves.
Another thing that really helps my is to get outside. The weather in Philadelphia has been unseasonably warm (or maybe this is the new normal?). Last weekend, my partner and I walked to the diner for brunch instead of driving. It was so refreshing to get outside, and have a great walk and talk. I felt so much better afterwards.
Finally, I’d like to mention that being active in the world can also help. Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post has a great article on How to Get Out of the Cycle of Outrage in a Trump World. It’s a great read. There is also a great list of ways to Strengthen our Spirits to Resist and Thrive by Finding Steady Ground. You should check it out for some more great ideas on things to do every day and every week.
This week, the Democratic National Convention is in Philadelphia, and there are lots of activists doing lots of amazing things: republicans, democrats, socialists, you name it. They are highlighting a variety of issues including immigration rights, climate change, marijuana legalization, and transgender rights.
Being an activist is hard work, and it can be emotionally draining. Damon Constantinides, a licensed clinical social worker, started a website called Healing for Activists. In a recent article on Billy Penn, Constantinides said “many Black Lives Matter activists are people of color, and may come from underserved communities in regards to mental health. With the stressors of racism in America and recent events, they may also be traumatized by encounters with police.” Constantinides noticed that activists may have difficulty accessing affordable therapy services, so he created Healing for Activists, a list of Philadelphia-based therapists who will provide a free or discounted session for activists and advocates (see article on Colorlines).
Healing for Activists is “a list of therapists in the Philadelphia area who are committed to supporting Black Lives Matter and the struggle to end racism and the killing of black people. They have committed to reserving at least one free or low fee slot in their therapy practice for activists who are seeking counseling or mental health support.”
I am proud to be listed as one of the therapists who will offer a free session, and while the list was intended for Black Lives Matter activists, I support all activists.
Thank you for making our world a better place.
There has been much in the news this week about the six-month jail sentence for Brock Turner in the Stanford rape case, and the power statement issued by his victim.
This case got me thinking about consent, which is not just the absence of “No”, but also the presence of “Yes”. Consent is an agreement between people to participate in activities, and can be withdrawn at any time.
Morgan Roe and Liz Andrade created a storyboard (shown to the right) that teaches children about consent. There is also a great article from Joanna Schroeder, Julie Gillis, Jamie Utt and Alyssa Royse at the Huffington Post that talks about how to teach consent to children, teens, and young adults based upon their age groups.
Finally, you could check out this video (less than three minutes) from the Thames Valley Police in the UK, comparing tea and consent with a bit of humor.
I love this Ted Talk by iO Tillet Wright. iO launched the Self Evident Truth project where she photographed nearly 10,000 people who identify as anything other than 100% straight. It is a fact in the US that in over half our states, people can be fired, or denied housing because of their sexual orientation. In iO’s Ted Talk below, called Fifty Shades of Gay, she tackles the question of equality.
And if your up for another Ted Talk, this one by Geena Rocero, a fashion model from the Philippines, called Why I Must Come Out is great. She talks about the fluidity of gender, and she is also an advocate who founded Gender Proud. Did you know that the suicide rate for transgender people is nine times greater than that of the general population? Isn’t it time we treated people the way they say they want to be treated?
The US Departments of Education and Justice issued joint guidance yesterday (05/13/2016) regarding the civil rights of transgender students. The guidance explains how current laws prohibit discrimination, including discrimination of transgender students. The Department of Education also offered examples of policies and procedures to guide school districts in implementing the recommendations.
A particularly absurd example in my opinion, is the question ‘How does a school confirm a student’s gender identity?’ I wonder, ‘Why does a school need to confirm a student’s gender identity?’ Seriously, why do some people think they need to know? How about ‘I identify as a human’. Shouldn’t that be enough? And should’t there be restrooms for each and every human to use?
I’m so proud today of my professional organization; The American Counseling Association. They have decided to move the 2017 conference out of Nashville, TN because of the recent law that permits counselors to refuse services to LGBTQ clients based upon their own beliefs. This law is in violation of the ACA’s code of ethics, and as such, we will not be meeting there!
By the way, this is the code of ethics that I adhere to as a counselor. Section C.5 clearly states that:
“Counselors do not condone or engage in discrimination against prospective or current clients, students, employees, supervisees, or research participants based on age, culture, disability, ethnicity, race, religion/spirituality, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital/ partnership status, language preference, socioeconomic status, immigration status, or any basis proscribed by law.”
I am proud that my professional organization stands behind it’s code of ethics and so that counselors can stand with their clients, each and every one.
April is here and it’s Counseling Awareness month. What should you know?
Well, according to the American Counseling Association you should know 12 things about Licensed Professional Counselors. Of those 12 things, I think the most important are:
- “Counselors respect diverse worldviews.”
- “Counselors focus on wellness, client empowerment, and a proactive approach to mental health.”
- “Counselors encourage people to be genuine and to find their own authentic self, even if that authentic self is different from the dominant culture.”
But more important than knowing things about counselors, what should you know about counseling itself? Sara Schuster of The Mighty interviewed counselors and came up with the 16 ways to make the most of counseling. I won’t repeat them all here, but I’d like to mention a few that I think are important.
- You are the expert in your own life.
- Talk to your counselor about any questions you have.
- Open and honest communication is the most beneficial.
- It’s important to establish a good rapport with your counselor, but remember, not every counselor is right for every client. Since you are the expert in your own life, you can decide which counselor is right for you. Or, if you would like something different from your counselor, please ask.
- Counseling is a collaborative process that takes time, just as the challenges we face developed over the course of time.
- Counseling is 45 minutes or about one hour of the week. There are 167 other hours in a week. Trying things discussed in a counseling session during the other 167 hours can be very beneficial.
If you’d like to know even more about counseling, you can check out this page from the American Counseling Association. Happy Counseling Awareness month and Happy Spring!