Wednesday, February 20, 2013

It's the Big Day

Second interview for Assistant Professor position.
Six candidates.  Two openings.
Four-hour interview.
Interview with the Dean, the Department Director, the search committee, present colloquium on urban families, trauma and resilience, and finally dinner with search committee.
Questions about my research, teaching methods, and experience.
I will be busting open my brain and heart for this one - laying it all on the line.
Then I will come home and hug my daughter and call it a night.

When I am old and people ask me about my greatest joy and accomplishment - I will smile and say it is being Paolina's mom. 
Love, work and play - that's what Freud said we all need for good mental health. 
Living a life in balance is the reward.
This line of work exercises all my faculties. 
I have been preparing my whole life for this. 
I am grateful that my daughter gets to see me doing what I am passionate about and I'm glad that it will pay the bills too.

Feeling calm and ready.
My friends and family members are sending positive vibes and prayers.
I've invited my mothers, daughter, God, angels and my ancestors in the room for moral support.
I have prayed surrender. I have smudged myself with sage.
This is happening. Naturally.
Cliff diving for Yesus.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Spirituality & SW

Spirituality is a human need; it is too important to be misunderstood; avoided; or viewed as regressive, neurotic, or pathological in nature.

Social workers must recognize that a person’s spiritual beliefs, values, perceptions, feelings, and ideals are intrinsically connected to religious, philosophical, cultural, ethnic, and life experiences.

It is important that the practitioner acknowledge that spirituality in a person’s life can be a constructive way of facing life’s difficulties…Developing practice skills in addressing spirituality begins with acceptance of the values, beliefs and attitudes that are fundamental to the client.

When the client chooses to use spiritual perspectives, practitioner empathy and encouragement of client self-determinations should follow.

Clients may choose to pursue self-help group membership, church involvement, prayer, meditation, or commitment to a social action or cause.

The practitioner should be willing to incorporate goals in treatment that include spiritual values for the accomplishment of tasks.

(Sermabeikian, 1994, p. 181-182)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Say It and Heal

“The mere act of disclosure is a powerful therapeutic agent that may account for a substantial percentage of the variance in the healing process (Pennebaker, 1997, p. 162)”

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Feel It All

"Stop pretending that I have it all together.
And if I'm scared, be scared.
Allow it.
Release it.
Move on."
--Beyonce Knowles

Friday, February 15, 2013

Rewriting our stories

"Recovery approaches that emphasize deconstructing fragmented traumatic memories and reorganizing them into a coherent, meaningful narrative have been associated with reduced PTSD severity (Foa & Meadows, 1997). This suggests the importance of helping clients and their families make sense of the trauma by constructing new narratives that reduce self-blame and guilt.  One such approach is to use attachment theory as a component of narrative family therapy in promoting recovery."
A Family Systems Perspective to Recovery From Posttraumatic Stress in Children
Bernardon & Pernice-Duca, 2010
The Family Journal:  Counseling and Therapy for Couples and Families, 18(4), 349-357.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Solidarity of Equals

Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a covenant between equals. Al Sharpton always says, “We’re all created equal, but we don’t end up equal.” 

A beloved community of equals…soon enough, there won’t be anyone left outside. 

Tattoos on the Heart
Father Gregory Boyle

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hope in the Tunnel

"I know you think you're in a deep, dark hole, pero la neta, you're in a tunnel.  It's in the nature of tunnels that if you just keep walking, the light's gonna show up.  Trust me, I can see it -- I'm taller than you are."

Tattoos on the Heart
Father Gregory Boyle

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Me and My World

"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."
--Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning

In social work, we see ourselves and clients through the lens of "Person-in-Environment."  That is, human behavior is a function of the social environment.  There is a bi-directional (a give and take, influence and influenced by) relationship between us and the people and places that make up our world.

That's why our first efforts are aimed at changing the environment to create a better fit between person and environment.  Sometimes efforts to change institutions, policies, communities and other externals are not enough.  Sometimes we gotta change ourselves too.  There is no ideal place or person - simply goodness of fit.

External barriers can be knocked down but we may still choose imprisonment - it can seem safer than the power and responsibility of freedom.  The oppression we have lived under can seep in and become our own thoughts and beliefs - oppression internalized.

Changing ourselves may mean getting stronger (challenging our own limiting thoughts & beliefs) and becoming more hopeful and optimistic in order to manifest our hearts desire.  It may mean redoubling our efforts or it may mean overcoming our fears of taking risks.

This post is purposefully vague and abstract.  It may make sense in relation to your work, love or other relationships and/or situations.

 “If you don't like something, change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it. ”
― Mary Engelbreit

If all else has failed, then try something different.  Scary, I know.  Being stuck or making progress?  It can feel like an impossible choice when something important has to be lost (title, position, money, or significant other) for something important to be gained (your own life & soul).

I have reached an age where I don't have any answers.  Thinking, curiosity, reflection, hope, faith and optimism are what I've got.   I have a nagging suspicion that everything is gonna be okay.  I'll keep you posted.  It's gonna be a good story.

Monday, February 11, 2013


A child needs to feel valued by his/her parent.

S/he needs to see welcome on the parent's face when s/he enters a room 
and feel like s/he really matters,
and is loved.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Motivation for the Mid-Way Point

When you find yourself in the middle of a big, scary forest, tired and emotionally spent, you have the choice to run back or finish the journey. Both options seem hard. If you would have known that the path was this treacherous, you might not have started it in the first place. Thank goodness for naivete. Take a break. Sit down. Have a snack. Take a nap. Pace yourself until you catch a second wind. The Universe is conspiring to help you. It will work out.

Universal Interventions

The cardinal characteristics of universal interventions are that individual families (and their children) do not seek help and children are not singled out for the intervention.

All children in a geographic area or setting (e.g., a school) receive the intervention.

There are two types of universal programs:
  1. those that focus on particular communities or settings (e.g., a public housing complex) and 
  2. those that are state-, province-, or countrywide. 

The setting itself may be a high-risk one for emotional and behavioral problems in children and adolescents, but if the intervention is not targeted at specific children and adolescents but at all children and youth in that location, then the intervention is classified as universal.

In the past, the term primary prevention has been used” (Offord et al., 1998, p. 687).

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Herbs & NCCAM

It is pretty cool that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have a center that funds research for complementary and alternative medicine like herbs, acupuncture, yoga and meditation.

In 2012, there were over 3 million visitors to National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine (NCCAM’s) Web site seeking information on complementary health approaches.

The top 5 searched-for herbs that led visitors to the NCCAM site:
1. Evening Primrose Oil
2. St. John’s Wort
3. Fenugreek
4. Echinacea
5. Aloe Vera

NCCAM's advice:  These herbs and botanicals are widely marketed and readily available, often sold as dietary supplements. However, the scientific evidence available to assess safety or efficacy of each of these products is quite variable. In some cases, there is limited evidence to support a product’s use, while in others, evidence identifies significant safety concerns, fails to suggest efficacy, or is insufficient. Because of this variability, consumers and health care providers should carefully review the available information before deciding to use a specific product.

Monday, February 4, 2013

What Makes Therapy Effective?

The effectiveness of therapy is a result of the dynamic interplay among many complex components. It includes:
  1. the characteristics of the client
  2. the therapeutic relationship
  3. theoretical orientation of the therapist, and 
  4. the expectancy or placebo effect 
(Lambert & Bergin, 1994).


Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Wishing Game

What do you really, really want?

Use your imagination to picture what you want and marinate in the good feelings that follow

Dig deep

Take a break, sit down, take a nap

Keep going

Dig deeper

Have some fun

Keep going

Appreciate the journey and the accomplishment

Friday, February 1, 2013


I don't know a helping professional that doesn't struggle with setting limits and boundaries in relationships - personal or professional.  After all, we get paid to do what we do best - take care of others!

There are better ways to help others - ways that don't involve self-neglect, infantilizing others or outright codependence.

Consider some of these "tips" from an unusual source:
  • avoid being "too nice" - that is, giving and giving until we are depleted - know when to pull back
  • be kind and strong
  • know what you want but don't compromise yourself to get it
  • stand up for yourself when anyone steps over the line
  • play fair, don't take advantage
  • presence of mind enables us to wield our power when necessary
  • remain cool under pressure
  • don't be a doormat, don't always say yes, don't revolve your whole world around someone
  • don't obsess over someone else's approval or disapproval
  • a bit of irreverence is necessary to have any self-esteem at all - not irreverence for people, but rather, for what other people think
  • an empowered person derives tremendous strength from the ability to be an independent thinker, particularly in a world that still teaches women how to be self-abnegating
  • have the presence of mind to do what is in your own best interests
Why Men Love Bitches: from Doormat to Dreamgirl - a woman's guide to holding her own in a relationship by Sherry Argov

Truth Opened

Freud presented a paper in April, 1896 to the Society for Psychiatry and Neurology in Vienna on the sexual abuse of his female patients by t...