What’s In a Name?: The Inspiration Behind Authentic Healing Counseling
Hello! I want to take a bit of time to introduce myself…but I don’t really want to talk about me; you can read more about that on my website and you will get to know a bit more about me hopefully through this blog. Blogging is all new to me, so I hope you will bear with me! Let me tell you a little bit about how Authentic Healing Counseling, PLLC came to be.
When my family and I decided to move to NC, the decision to start my own private practice as a therapist was a pretty easy one. One of the toughest parts was deciding on a name for my business. I started coming up with a bunch of ideas based on what I wanted my practice to be about. Let me back up a bit…I believe I have a “calling” or a passion for working with those who are heartbroken, and by that I mean those who have experienced a loss, a change, or a life transition. And let’s be honest, this will be Every. Single. One of us, at some point in our lives. For most of us, this will happen multiple times in our lifetime.
Many of us will be able to work through our losses without needing the help of a therapist. Yet for some, there are losses that leave us so distraught, confused, or utterly helpless and hopeless that we need extra support. Sometimes this is because it is a loss that no one else really understands (this is called a disenfranchised loss). Grief is also a taboo topic in our society, so others are not usually prepared for how to support us because ultimately it is hard to see someone we care about hurting. We might share our loss and grief experience with someone only to hear them say things that, while not intentionally hurtful, are hurtful none-the-less, which then leads us to try to bottle it all up. Or we might tell ourselves that a particular loss does not deserve the grief we are experiencing, so we try to bottle it all up.
I say “try” because for most of us, this tends to be unsuccessful in the long-term. Grief has a way of bubbling up and spilling over if we try to keep it contained. A metaphor we like to use in Grief Recovery is that it is like a tea kettle on the stove on high heat with a cork jammed in the spout; at some point that pressure will build and the cork will explode out. Grief needs a “release” every now and again. That’s not to say there are times you feel you need to contain your grief because, trust me I get that you may not want others to see you hurting or you may need to contain it so you can do your job. What I am saying is that it is not beneficial, or even feasible, to contain it forever.
The experiences we have after a loss are as unique to us our fingerprints. Even when we have multiple losses, changes, or transitions in our lives, no two grief experiences will look or feel the same. The things you do after one loss that are helpful, may not work the next time. This is where a therapist can come in. My goals as a grief therapist are to hear your story, to validate your experience, and to help you find ways to cope with this loss and incorporate it - to weave it into the fabric of your being.
When I thought about names for my practice, the word ‘authentic’ kept coming up for me. I have done several exercises to identify core values and authenticity is always one of my top 3 core values. The definition of authentic means “genuine; true to one's own personality, spirit, or character”. This is important to me when it comes to grief counseling because we often hear a lot of people telling us what we “should” do. What I want is to help you find ways to cope that are true to you, your beliefs, and your experience with the loss. As I continued thinking about the name for my practice, I kept thinking that ultimately my hope is to help individuals heal. This word at first seemed a bit of a contradiction due to the potential for conjuring up ideas of 'fixing', which goes against one of my beliefs as a grief therapist; grievers don't need to be fixed. When I really reflected on this though, the definition of ‘healing’ means “the process of making or becoming whole or healthy again”. By providing the space for people to share their losses and to be their authentic selves, not having to hold back or hide the impact of the losses on their lives, healing often naturally starts to happen. Our hearts and lives can be shattered when we experience a loss. For me, healing through these losses means that we have the opportunity to take these shattered pieces and put them back together in a new way; kind of like a stained glass window. It does not mean we will never feel the sadness or pain again, because we will and we do! Another loss, or something that triggers this loss, might open up the wounds all over again.
Authentic Healing, for me, is about helping you to let the light shine through the new version of you; to help you live and love again in your own way, staying true to who you are, and acknowledging the impact that the losses, changes, or transitions have on you.
This is the first of many blog posts I hope to share with you. Some will be more educational in nature, sharing information and resources on grief and compassion fatigue (the other area of interest for me professionally). Some will share a little more about me and my personal experiences with the losses in my life (because I believe in demonstrating that value of authenticity). Finally, some posts will be simply my thoughts about topics like grief and compassion fatigue. We are surrounded by loss and change, and as a grief counselor I often view the world through my “grief goggles” (a term I just came up with that describes how I often see the stories of, and impact of, loss in the world around me - be it TV, movies, the news, etc). I hope you will follow me along this Authentic Healing journey!