As I'm writing this, we have just come out of another Mother's Day and I am thinking ahead to the next few holidays and what my family will be doing. Holidays, and family get-togethers in general, can really cause a lot of anxiety in me and in many of the folks I talk to (in and out of the therapy room). There is just so much pressure - so many shoulds, have tos, musts, and can'ts. When it comes to these rules, as I call them, who is in charge?
Whitney Storey Blog
Whitney Storey, MS, PLPC, CBE
Whitney is a senior instructor of Psychology, and uses curiosity to explore other's inner world to help increase their living.
I love that as a culture we are embracing the idea that "it's okay to not be okay." It's so accepting and welcoming of folks with all kinds of struggles and has reduced the stigma around seeking help. But, can I be honest with you for a second? Sometimes when I think "it's okay to not be okay," I find myself meaning it only for other people. It's okay for other people to not be okay. Not me. And I have a hunch I might not be the only one.
Folks who know me are well aware (and dare I say, tickled) at the way I am able to walk a very fine line between being rigidly rule-governed and, at the same time, aggressively rebellious. I think this is one reason that I find myself being drawn to and working so well with clients who appreciate structure and also the beauty of going against social norms.
I have a long history of being involved in the arts and finding benefits from making art by myself and with others. While I had folks who encouraged me in my practice, I also found that many people (mostly my peers) didn't understand my love of art. The stigma I felt about my artistic self lead to feelings of shame. My best friend in undergrad even told me one time, as we were discussing dating, "maybe you shouldn't tell them you're a theatre major" - as if distancing myself from the arts were possible, let alone preferable! Art fills me with life.
There are so many wonderful things about being a parent. There is nothing better than being able to watch your children grow and change, discover things about themselves and the world, and develop their own unique personality! At the same time, being a parent is one of the most difficult and, at times, painful roles. For those of us who identify as neurodiverse, parenting has another added level of difficulty.
If you have spent any time on TikTok lately, odds are you have come across some videos where folks (with a healthy helping of good humor) discuss the specific behaviors that have led them to discover, usually later in life, that they might actually be neurodiverse.
Since I am a mother and one of my specialties is parenting, I have parents reach out to me and ask if I can counsel their children, and they are usually pretty surprised when I say no. How can I be an expert in parenting and say that I love helping families when I won't work with children? The answer to this question is actually pretty simple.
Ten years into marriage, I find it so odd that all of the classic children's stories end in the same way. People find each other, they make a commitment to each other, and curtain. The end they live happily ever after. This grand commitment we are conditioned to seek and, most often, enter into thinking it's all smooth sailing.
When I talk to clients about their struggles, I notice a very familiar pattern that I find myself in: what causes the struggle becomes the focus of our life and we become fused with it. We believe we must get rid of these thoughts (or feelings, memories, urges, etc.) so that we can live a life we dream of living.
If you were to randomly choose a therapist, you would likely end up with someone who uses cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which has been the dominant type of therapy since the 1960s. The general premise of traditional CBT is that our thoughts influence our emotions, which then go on to influence our behavior. So, the idea is that if we can improve our thinking, our emotions and behavior will therefore improve.