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How I work with people: part 4

Another word on homework. I often have people come in having not done their homework. It is not my job to shame you, I find that people do that enough without adding any more. We can explore what occurred that you didn’t do it. Although, I often find that a couple of things can happen when people haven’t “done” their homework:

  1. they did and just didn’t realize it
  2. they explored something else that had meaning to them
  3. what was homework, didn’t show up for them so they didn’t have the opportunity to explore it
  4. there was hesitation to facing into the homework and then the work is to explore that.

id-10038934The thing I love about homework is that the therapy or coaching session is not just this isolated event, a bubble of time for you to focus on you. Granted it is time for you, sometimes the only place people have to be listened to, connect with another and heard fully. Homework is a thread that connects the sessions together. It is a time for you to continue your intention to work on your goals outside of the walls of my office. It is practice in “real time” in your “real life.”

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How I work with people part 3

In therapy and coaching, people may come in wanting to be “fixed.” That is not my job. It is also not how I see people. I see people as whole, yes you are on a journey and there may be things that you want changed (that is why people come see me because they want something changed and don’t know how to go about making the changes). And you are not broken or messed up or completely shattered, you are whole just as you are in the midst of the challenges that you are facing.

Often times the steps may be small. People often don’t take a gigantic leap. More often than not, it is a baby step by baby step and sometimes  it may feel like you’re either going backwards id-10083838or falling down. Sometimes the sessions are not a nicely wrapped present with a beautiful bow on top. Sometimes they end in a way that feels very undone. This can also be a time when a lot of change can happen, as you sit with what’s going on.

I do like to give homework, I have adolescents who call it something else since they have enough homework from school- growth opportunity, advancement protocol, something to think about. The homework, or whatever you choose to call it, is something that was explored in the session. Of course that is not always the case, sometimes people want to inquire into something completely different. Either way, I ask if you have ideas and I can toss out some ideas as well. You get to decide what you want to do. The concept of homework is to keep you thinking, exploring, delving into, to keep your intention and attention on movement, to be aware of how you are in the world so that what “just happens” will become conscious and therefore you have a choice in the matter.


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How I work with people in coaching and therapy: part 2

This is part two in an attempt to describe how I work with people.

Once we’ve set up a full session, I will send you some paperwork. It may feel completely tedious. And it is quite a bit of paperwork. Some of it is history, some of it is gathering more details about what’s going on. A big part of it is also about your goals, and how you know when you will be done with either coaching or therapy. I see both coaching and therapy as a way to learn skills,id-100287187 to make changes and shifts in your life so that you can go out and do these things on your own. Goals give us a guide. They give us something to work toward, so that we are not just floundering around meeting after meeting without making steps towards what you want.

The first session is often me asking you a lot of questions. I am gathering information about what is going on, what has been going on, and what you are wanting as you move forward. The first session is not typical of how I work with people. It is you talking more and me asking more questions.

In subsequent sessions, I am more active. I see us as collaborators. I am a professional. I have a license. I go to continuing education courses. You are the expert on you. This is an on going conversation, back and forth. I am not just going to sit and listen. I am an active participant in our sessions, asking questions, gently challenging, throwing out ideas that may or may not land with you. And I am open to feedback. That is also important for you to know. If you are not getting what you want, say something to me. It doesn’t help to vent to your friend or even just stop coming. Let’s have a conversation about it. I don’t want it to be a waste of your time or your money. If I am not able to provide the support you are looking for I can give you referrals.

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How I work with people in coaching and therapy: part 1

Often times people will come and not know what to expect. I thought this might be a good platform to talk about that.

id-100145002I offer a free 20 minute consultation. During this, I meet with people briefly. We don’t necessarily get into the nitty-gritty of what’s going on. I see it more as a meet and greet. It gives both of us an idea of the other person, to find out if we may be a good fit. This gives you a chance to share what you are looking for in a therapist and what issues you are working on to determine if I may able to work with you.

One of the main things to consider doing a consultation or a first meeting, is to ask yourself if you can see yourself trusting this person. A therapeutic or coaching relationship is like any other relationship, it takes time to build trust. You may end up talking about very intimate things. And trust is part of the foundation.  I certainly don’t expect you to trust me in the first 5 or even 20 minutes, or even the first several sessions. What I do ask is, do you see yourself being able to trust me with the intimate details of your life. Do you trust me to guide you on this journey towards your goals?

Compliments of Stuart Miles as

Ending therapy or coaching

At some point it is time to end the process of coaching or therapy. It may be something you bring up or your coach or therapist brings up.

Endings can be hard. My own experience and those I see in sessions is that saying goodbye is something that is not taught. So it is understandable when people avoid them. I have had people just disappear and I have no idea what happened. I have also had sweet endings where we have spent several sessions talking about the end.

ID-100435110Endings can be hard, it is closing a chapter or even a book. I would encourage you to face this, as it can be quite healing to have a conscious, intentional parting. Some things to explore with ending: 1) ask yourself how you have handled endings in the past. 2) what have you learned, what will you take away 3) is there some sort of ritual or something that you want to take with you from this experience 4) do you want to hear the coach or therapist’s view of the process 5) review the time together 6) and give feedback to the coach or therapist (both what you would consider positive and negative) as it is a process for the coach or therapist as well.

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Timeframe for Coaching and Therapy

How do you know when to stop therapy and coaching? Sometimes my clients will ask about ID-10094033their graduation date. This is an interesting idea. Some people think of graduation as a destination. I have arrived. Now I have accomplished that. Done. Other people see graduation as a stepping stone. I have accomplished this and now I have a new goal. It is not like this kid who is showing you that it is time. Unfortunately there is not certain answer to this question.

I see life as a process. It is a continual growing place. I am not ever “at” a destination. The age old saying by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Life is a journey not a destination,” says it perfectly. There is no set mark at which you finally arrive. I think of a tree- it is growing or it is withering. There is no stagnation, no in between.

People come in with goals. Sometimes these goals are met and they are complete. Sometimes the goals expand to something else or become more complex the deeper we explore. Sometimes people take time off to be able to practice their new skills they have learned and may or may not come back for a tune up. Sometimes it is an ongoing relationship where it is about the process and continual support as life is a journey.

I would encourage you to check in with yourself. It is actually a question I ask on my intake form- “How will you know when you are done?” If you are starting the process of therapy or coaching or currently seeing someone, ask yourself what your goals have been/are currently, ask yourself what you are wanting out of the process with your coach or therapist.

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image“Yet” is such a small word yet has a lot of strength. I can say, “I don’t know how to feel better,” now add that tiny word behind, “I don’t know how to feel better yet.” A different feel. It has a sense of hope to it.  It unlocks the possibilities.

I use this word quite a bit in my therapy and coaching practice. People may feel depressed or anxious and have an idea of how life is or should be, their own capabilities, what is possible. When adding “yet” to the end of the sentence, it adds an openness. It is not a period at the end of the sentence, it is more of an open endedness.

I notice when I say, “I don’t know how to do this,” I feel heavy, defeated, as if there is no other option  I don’t know how and that is the way it is. When I say, “I don’t know how to do this yet,” I notice a sense that there is a possibility of me knowing how to do it in the future even if I don’t know how to now.

If you choose to continue in this exploration, play with adding “yet” onto the end of your sentences. If you are in relationship play with it in sentences about what your partner is or isn’t doing that you want.

Photo compliments of Stuart Miles at

Conversation around end of life

  • ID-10076574I do some work in hospice. End of life is something that will happen to all of us. We typically don’t know when or how. I would encourage you to talk to your loved ones about what you want or don’t want. Sometimes someone will die and family doesn’t know what the person who died wanted. This can be hard on family especially when people have differing opinions.
    End of life issues is something that people can find difficult to bring up. One way to bring it up is to acknowledge that it can be hard to talk about or sometimes even think about. Sometimes people do think about it and don’t mention it to anyone else. Also acknowledge (if this is true for you) that you want to honor them and find out what is important to them.

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breath_holdingI think I have talked about breath before. One idea around breath is that the in-breath is considered experience and the out-breath is expression. With experiencing we are taking in: taking in stimulation, taking in other people, noticing our body sensations, being with ourself. Expression is the sharing of the experience.
Notice your in and out breath, do you hold your breath on the in or the out, do you take different length breaths? If you are willing, lean into wondering what that is about. Do you have a short out breath and long in breath? Your breath may change with who you are with as well. If you are with someone who talks a lot you may find yourself holding your breath or on the other hand being with someone who doesn’t talk very much you may breath out much easier and have a harder time breathing in. Do you find it easier to experience or express? Play with breathing in different ways.
Photo compliments of, Breath Holding by Ron Sanderson

Holidays with Family

Your Deepest Roots Can Be Nurtured With Counseling

Often times when people are in therapy or coaching and working on different patterns, it can particularly troubling or difficult when they visit family and step right back into the same patterns. Family counseling offered for Portland area clients.

I tell my clients that family is often where the deepest roots are. Imagine trying to pull up a sapling. You could probably do it without any problem. Now think of a larger sapling, perhaps up to your knee. You would still most likely be able to do it easily. Now think of one larger, up to your head. You may need to put a little more into pulling it up. What about one that is about 3 inches in diameter. At this point, it will take longer. You will need to push, pull, maybe dig. I think you could probably do it although it will take time and effort, certainly more effort than the last several trees. Now imagine one that is 100 feet high. You may not be able to get your arms around it. This will take a significant amount of effort. You may ask others for help, use some tools. Even with the assistance, it will take longer than the first tree.

Now imagine these as your patterns. Family dynamics have been going on for years. These are like the 100 foot tree. Is it impossible to remove that tree. No, I wouldn’t do my job if I didn’t think it was possible.

A couple of things to remember when you are visiting family:

  1. Give yourself some compassion, even just a little. Do not expect automatic changes either from yourself or for your family. Go easy on yourself. Maybe you notice the pattern in a different way, even noticing the pattern at all is a significant change.
  2. Take time for yourself. In my world, self care is important. Especially when traveling and being out of your typical routine or zone. Get some fresh air, call a friend, ask for support from your significant other or a friend, take a walk, read a book.
  3. Plan ahead. Imagine where you may get caught up in the dynamics; for example it may be around a certain family ritual or a certain topic of conversation. This is a not a fail safe, although you may notice the pattern starting and planned to take a breath before responding or excuse yourself to go for a walk or even just to the bathroom or for your spouse to look at you or put their hand on your back.

I would love to hear how it went and what you did to support yourself in the journey. Contact me today to find out how I can help with therapy and counseling.

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