Women and the Body Experience: Anger, Aggression, and Anxiety

Anger

From the time we are born, women are subjected to cultural messages. They’re taught about how to control their anger and aggressive feelings. These messages come to us from our families, from institutions, and through the media. Our bodies become repositories for these messages. Holding our anger inside and denying our aggressive feelings leads to anxiety and physical ailments. As a result it seems as if our bodies, not the socialization experience, betrays us. Read more

Sexuality, Racial Terrorism and the Presidential Election

 

To understand the rallying potency of Trump’s behavior and the hatred unleashed against Clinton, consider the role of sexuality in the racial terrorism committed against Black people in the United States.

In this presidential election, Hillary Clinton is particularly despised amongst white, non-college-educated men. This is the demographic that forms the base of Trump supporters. What fears and anxieties does her campaign stir up? Read more

Racial Literacy

Racial Literacy Consultation Group

Racial Literacy Consultation Groups: Professional Development for Mental Health Professionals
The next group will begin on Friday January 12, 2018 and will meet bi-weekly for six sessions.

Racial Literacy

Racial Literacy

The Racial Literacy Consultation Group aims to strengthen mental health professional’s capacity to understand and respond to racial dynamics that occur in clients’ lives and are re-enacted in other environments. Internalized racial oppression, racialized sexual fantasies, racial identity concerns, colorism, privilege and disempowerment impact interpersonal connections. Being able to honestly examine race-related issues enhances personal and professional self-confidence. Read more

The Body Experience

Women and the Body Experience: Improving Our Relationship with Food and with Ourselves

The Body ExperienceFrom the time we are born, women are exposed to cultural messages about the idealized female body. These biased messages come to us through the media, from our families, and from institutions. Trying to achieve idealized perfection leads many of us to develop disordered eating habits. As a result, we dislike for our bodies and we’re ashamed of ourselves. It’s as if our bodies, not the socialization experience, betrayed us. Read more

Restoring Parents’ Confidence

The exhausted parent

frustrated-mom

Exhausted parent

Parents’ confidence can be fragile. Terrance demands macaroni and cheese every night, so Beth prepares two separate meals for the family. At bedtime Terrance commands Ronald to read five bedtime stories and then instructs him to say goodnight to each of his stuffed animals. The ritual takes 90 minutes and Terrance screams if Ronald doesn’t comply. Ronald and Beth haven’t enjoyed uninterrupted sleep for years because Terrance insists on sleeping with them when he awakens in the middle of every night.

The overwhelmed parent

Kenny orders Maritza to do laundry daily so that he can wear the same pair of clean black pants to school. He orders her to buy a chocolate croissant on the way to school every morning; otherwise he declares he’ll stay home. Maritza moans that she feels like a weekend prisoner in her home because Kenny refuses to get dressed all day. Read more

Group Psychotherapy Enhances Personal and Intimate Relationships

After treating Alice individually for a number of months, I said, “Alice, I’m inviting you to join my psychotherapy group. It would offer new ways to learn about your self. ”

“I’m intrigued, Christine. How is it different from they way I’m working with you now?”

“Well,” I continued, “first off, let’s consider that we’re all social beings, so the quality of our relationships influences how satisfied we are in life. “

“So true. Mostly what I talk with you about are my relationships at home and at work. That’s the basis of my ups and downs.”

I nodded in agreement, “You and I have talked a lot about the struggles you have with your partner and the pleasure you feel when you two come to an understanding. We’ve also talked about not feeling appreciated at work and how that reminds you of not feeling appreciated by your family. And you’ve told me that I don’t always appreciate the effort you make to come to therapy.” Read more

Healthful Eating

Recently, Susan* came to me for therapy because she was desperate to lose weight. Accomplished in many areas of her life, she was ashamed of her inability to manage her weight and had been plagued for years by yo-yoing hundred pound gains and losses. She had participated in many weight loss programs and felt like a total failure, never able to maintain her low weight achievements. She was clueless about healthful eating. When she stepped into my office the first time, she announced that food was her mortal enemy. She vowed to fight it to the bitter end, fantasizing a life without eating and wishing she could ingest all her nutrient needs by pills and through straws. Food was indeed her imaginary foe. She sought therapy as a last resort to help her stop binge eating  because the diet programs hadn’t worked. Read more

Psychotherapy, Racism, and Whiteness

Racism: the Legacy of Slavery

I wanted to learn about the beginning of racism in this country. In August I visited the Whitney Plantation Slavery Museum near Wallace, Louisiana. It resides on the banks of the Mississippi River, nestled between active sugar plantations. The heat and humidity index was 105 degrees in the shade. I went because I wanted to understand the legacy of slavery and ponder what that means to be a white person in a healing profession.

Sugar cauldrons

Sugar Cauldrons

Reading the names of Louisiana’s 107,000 enslaved Africans and their countries of origin on the memorial Wall of Honor allowed me to imagine real people from real places with their own languages, families, culture, and history. I read: “Agata, gender: female. Birthplace: Congo. Baba, gender: male. Birthplace: Bamana. Cocoro, gender: male. Birthplace: Guinea/Guinea Coast. Pirance, gender: female. Birthplace: Wolof. Read more

unhealthy behavior

Unhealthy Habit

I know about breaking an unhealthy habit. As a young adult I was a cigarette smoker. Most of my friends smoked. It wasn’t until I began preparing for a three-month bicycle trek that I considered that smoking might impede my pedaling stamina. I was highly motivated to quit smoking and, chewed on licorice sticks for several weeks to replace my desire for cigarettes. Once on the road, I was gratified by the freedom of deep breathing. After the trip I quickly fell back into the old comforting habit of a cigarette with morning coffee and smoking breaks with friends. I was also disgusted with myself for not resisting the smoking habit. I tried to figure out what got in the way: I had to acknowledge that I enjoyed the feeling of inhaling smoke even though the stale aftertaste disgusted me; I had to admit my attraction to social conformity – I liked to engage in a behavior with friends even though I knew that it was unhealthy for all of us. Read more

Talking to your 4 year old about racism

At the entrance to Key Span park there’s a larger-than-life statue of Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson, Reese’ arm is around Robinson’s shoulder. If you go to a Brooklyn Cyclones ballgame, that’s the first thing you’ll see. When your four year old asks why one man has his arm around the other’s shoulder, you have an opportunity to teach your child about racism. You can explain the significance of that moment in baseball history as shown in the movie “42” when Robinson, the first negro player in a professional baseball league was booed by the crowd and Reese, the team’s shortstop, showed the angry crowd that Robinson was one of them, a member of the Brooklyn Dodger’s team. Four year olds have long been able to distinguish between differences and similarities; they know about fair and unfair; they understand fighting; and they know about making it better. So, there’s a lot you can teach. Read more