One Additional Letter

smiling lemon

What a smile

I have one more letter behind my name now. Just one, not a set. I am now an LPCC, or Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, when I was formerly an LPC, or Licensed Professional Counselor. That extra “C” does make my life easier. As of this past October 7, I no longer need to have a supervisor sign off on diagnoses and correspondence. And I clients write their checks directly to me. Yup, counseling law required that as an LPCC I not collect my own money. The extra “C” did mean I jumped through enough hoops to satisfy the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, and Marriage and Family Therapist Board. (I know, it’s a mouthful.) I got a criminal records check–which was a real accomplishment because it is hard to get my fingerprints. I completed and documented 3,000 hours. And of course additional hours were missed due to my sometimes forgetting to post them, so I’m sure I did way more than was necessary there. This included a huge amount of supervision–though I got lucky on that score. Running a private practice, I chose and paid my own supervisor. Where else do you get to choose your own boss? And my supervisor, plus a former supervisor who covered a very few hours back in the very beginning, filled out their own double-secret documentation for the Board. (Double-secret as in, I was not permitted to read it.) And I filled out a form. And I sent them a cashier’s check! That was the magic action, I’m thinking. I am happy, my clients are happy, and I’m guessing even the Board is happy. You’ve all experienced this at some point, though: You go through a major life change: getting married, getting that degree, getting the promotion you had your eye on…and then you wake up the next morning and the change matters, but you are still the same person you were before. Luckily, I liked the person I was before. And now the difference is I am a few days older and I have one more letter behind my name.

Accepting Help

My crutches

A couple months ago it was my turn to learn to accept help. I hate it. I want to be totally self-sufficient at all times, or at least to maintain the illusion that I am. I had foot surgery (from which I have recovered).
Darned if my husband wasn’t called away right after the surgery. And darned if he didn’t make sure I had someone in the house to bring me food, etc. You know…to wait on me hand and foot. The agency sent a very kind and capable woman. And I resisted. No, I wasn’t mean to her; I just didn’t utilize anywhere near all the services she was willing to offer.
I have to be macho, after all. Never mind that I was hobbling around on crutches.
Making better use of these services would have been a great opportunity to heal with more ease and comfort.
This is a reminder to me of why people hesitate to reach out for help when they are dealing trauma, grief, or other issues. Many of us revert to our 2-year-old self–you know, the one who grabs the coat out of mom’s or dad’s hand and puts both arms in the same sleeve rather than feel the least bit dependent.
Years ago, I heard the expression “First you adjust, then you re-adjust, and then you maladjust.” I did that with my bunioned feet till it didn’t make sense to maladjust any more. With surgery, there is a short time when the pain is greater than it was before, followed by the joy of healing.
Similarly, a counseling experience will likely help you feel better by degrees, but there is always a risk of emotional pain when dealing with unpleasant issues. Ask anyone who has had successful therapy, however, and they will almost invariably tell you it was well worth it.

Are Trauma Memories Ever False?

Traumatized

I’m terrified!

One issue I come across, a lot, is abuse. And abusers frequently work hard at convincing their victims that their memories are false. Kind of like a person who intentionally trips you as you run past, then makes a big show of helping you up while commenting the entire time how they really tried to prevent the fall. A gymnast could begin to question his or her sense of balance.

This is frequently referred to as “crazy making,” the serious effort to convince you that you didn’t see what you know you saw, hear what you know you heard, or experience what you are absolutely certain you experienced.
When it comes to traumatic memories from further back in time, there is controversy about their accuracy. This controversy works like crazy-making: the victim cannot recover from a trauma that they are being told did not occur. A refusal to believe someone who is reporting severe trauma and/or pain leaves that victim without an ally.
There is even a False Memories Syndrome Foundation. According to wikipedia.com, numerous members of this group have actually been convicted of abuse. The Book The Courage to Heal, by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis states that “If you feel something has happened, it probably has; details may vary but the essence is there.”
Jennifer Freyd, Ph.D., author of Betrayal Trauma, talks about how the body remembers traumatic events. She mentions research in which children who had suffered early traumas they did not recall, were put in a room full of toys, and acted out exactly what had happened! (Bessel Van der Kolk, M.D. also has significant research in this area of body memory.)
This Foundation has led many to believe there is actually such a thing as False Memories Syndrome. According to the recently released DSM-V, which has been criticized for excessive diagnoses, there is no such diagnosis.
This creation of a phony syndrome has made it more difficult for professionals and their clients to collaboratively resolve traumatic events.

NFL Jovan Belcher murder-suicide

Kansas City Chiefs Linebacker Jovan Belcher’s murder-suicide has struck a nerve that I cannot ignore. It was called a tragedy, but it was far more. I’m amazed it wasn’t called out as the crime it was. The Washington Times carried

an article citing this type of violence as an NFL problem.
Most sports figures are not violent. With the huge amounts of money in the world of professional sports, however, there is way too much temptation for management to gloss over issues involving players’ behavior off the field.
Way back in 1994, I was horrified to learn that O.J. Simpson was suspected in his ex-wife’s murder. Though I don’t follow football, I had thoroughly enjoyed O.J.’s antics in the Naked Gun movies, as well as his appearances in the Hertz commercials with an old woman yelling “Go, O.J., Go!” I saw the public face he and his handlers wanted me to see. Imagine my shock to learn about the real O.J.!There are 9-1-1 tapes of Nicole Brown Simpson’s pleas for help when O.J. threatened her, including once when he broke down her door. The police failed her, probably because of O.J.’s fame.
Fast-forward to 2012. How many times did Jovan Belcher threaten his girlfriend prior to killing her? Had she just told him she was through with him? Had the police been called on other occasions? Did his coaching staff have knowledge of any of this? Did the coaching staff WANT to have knowledge of any of this?
No person should be protected from the penalty for abusing another, ever. Sports figures should be held to the highest standard, as part of the job involves their superior strength. This will never change until team owners and managers stop putting their bottom line above the protection of victims.

Childhood Memories

Childhood Memories
When I think of my own childhood, many things come to mind: the tree branches I used to see outside my window on summer mornings, making baskets from cockleburs, bedtime stories from my father, the fireplace that was in my parents’ bedroom. There was a staircase that curved at the bottom, a huge kitchen, and cats. Always cats.

We had a tree house that was only a platform, and one day it collapsed under my sister and her best friend. The house was heated with a coal furnace, meaning the winter nights got awfully cold. I got sick on a couple of vacations, and on one our car was broken into. Police came to our house one night after my next older brother was harassed and run off the road by a motorcyclist.

As you can see, some of these memories are good, some not so much…and of course many fall Childhood memories and traumasomewhere in between. But there are plenty of memories.

Most of us have the good fortune to be in relatively good possession of our own history. If attempts at recalling your own childhood come up empty, it is possible you were traumatized in such a way that your own mind blanked it out. Repressed it. Because it was too much to handle at the time it occurred. Your body, however, does not forget.

I am not suggesting that every time you forget a detail from your childhood, there is a problem. The red flag would be if, for example, you can’t recall a single thing from your second and third grade years. Nada. Not where you lived, who your best friend was, nothing. Unless someone fills you in. But not from your own memory. That’s a clue that something scary may have occurred during that time.

If you start having strange dreams, or unusual reactions to otherwise innocuous occurrences, like for example you jump every time you hear a horn honk anywhere, or you flinch every time someone runs in your direction, or any of a host of other unexplainable reactions…do not discount it. Work toward accepting that whatever happened to you, happened. And realize that if this gets in the way of your day-to-day life it could be time to seek help.

None of this is your fault; it’s just reality.

Here is the good news: Once you begin to recall and deal with the uglier parts of your past, energy will be freed up and you can be in better control of your present life.