What My Rescue Dog Taught Me About Healing

This post is taken from a longer Keynote Address delivered at the Through the Eyes of a Child Conference XXI for dependency court judges, on August 5, 2018. (The request was for a short talk about trauma that was also “light-hearted,” so it wouldn’t upset people eating dinner.) This is my dog Sydney. We got … Read more

Why “Vicarious Trauma” is Going Out of Style

Is the phrase “vicarious trauma” out-of-date? A relic from another era that tries imperfectly to describe a hazard that affects people in the helping professions? And what words do we use to replace it? So, where did it come from? When I entered the field of social work, in 1989, “vicarious trauma” didn’t exist. At twenty-five … Read more

Top Five Antidotes to Toxic Workplace Stress (for professionals who work with people in crisis)

(Originally posted May 2019) TRIGGER WARNING: While this post is about self-care, I won’t mention anything expensive, like therapy, massages, fancy aromatherapy concoctions, craft chocolate, or shopping for new clothes. Television is in no way involved in self-care, although it can be a fun way to connect with colleagues. Before I share my Top Five … Read more

Why Care About Debriefing Critical Incidents? 

Interview with Andrew R. Laue, LCSW What are agencies supposed to do when traumatic events happen to their workers? In my experience doing social work over the past three decades, this question has always hung in the background. Andrew R. Laue, LCSW has pioneered an innovative, embodied model of critical incident debriefing that integrates cutting-edge research on interpersonal … Read more

Turning Empathy Off?: Reflections on the Hazards of Compassionate Presence

(Originally posted February 2020) As people in the helping professions, is it ever ok–ethically, humanly–to allow ourselves to look away from another’s suffering? To turn empathy off? A few years ago, when my daughter was a teenager, she was drawn into a whirlpool of human need. She had been volunteering at a soup kitchen in … Read more

Staying Present While Coping with Overwhelm, part 1: The Five Steps

Overwhelm is a natural, human response to a perception of life-threatening emergency. AFTER A VERY PANIC-EDGED WEEK of tracking news about Oregon’s forest fires, following the latest pandemic news, and feeling threatened by our cruelly divisive national politics, for the first time today the air is so unhealthy that neither myself nor any family member is … Read more

What Makes Us Stronger

(Originally posted December 2020) Welcome to 2021! Especially as we crest the start of the New Year, I am thinking about what I’ve learned from this period and what has made me (and the people around me) stronger. LAST FALL A GROUP OF THERAPISTS and I did a slow read of Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for … Read more

Marital Coaching

MAYBE YOU’RE BOTH AT A POINT of marital transition, significant growth, or a daunting impasse. Maybe you’re wondering if your current couples counseling is giving you what you need. Or you’re exploring the risks and benefits of nonmonogamy.  Or looking at strategies to heal after an infidelity or a breach of an agreement.  Maybe you’re … Read more