Today I gave my first lesson as an instructor in Relief Society (an hour of group scripture study with ladies 18 years+ through the church) that reminded me about the importance of relationships. I was a bit vulnerable during the lesson and shared some past experiences that helped relay a message about accepting all and noting that everyone is doing their best, in that moment, with what they have. Some are better at hiding the skeletons than others.
During preparation of the lesson I couldn’t help but remember the number one thing that I, to this day, value and trust within any therapeutic or non-therapeutic encounter…without a genuine relationship and connection with a person, you might as well try and make the sky green and the grass white, it is not going to happen. Most people do not change because you want them to, they need to find the motivation within themselves to change. All we can do is be there for them and show genuine care and respect.
As a counselor for 3-5 year olds in the inner city, I interacted with a number of individuals (both kiddos and adults) who experienced trauma. From domestic violence, to witnessing murders, to drug abuse…you name it I have seen the after math. These past experiences effect the entire brain structure and development, including one’s ability to form and sustain healthy relationships. My academic crush, Bruce Perry, a child psychologist and senior fellow of the Child Trauma Academy in Houston, (check out the Child Trauma Academy here) once stated “The more healthy relationships a child has, the more likely he will be to recover from trauma and thrive. Relationships are the agents of change and the most powerful therapy is human love.”
(Photo taken from www.traumasmart.org – That’s me!)
This one aspect is the starting building block for any therapy or friendship. The first thing I would do was get to know the child and parent. They needed to know that there were no judgments, no misconceptions, just true and genuine care and understanding. Once a relationship was established, it was always the most important piece of therapy. Building on that relationship were skills that could be taught and learned to help with whatever the concern was that brought them in to my path.
A lot of my training also revolved around Attachment, Self-Regulation, and Competency by Kinniburgh and Blaustein (read more here). The first focus of this theory is also an emphasis about relationships and building on that initial connection.
If you personally know me, the number one thing I try to maintain is a relationship with you.
(My lady friends and the ones who know the good, bad and ugly and they still stick around!)
I most often do this by serving, a lovely character trait and example passed down by my mom and dad. It is hard for me to verbally express my thoughts or feelings (which makes a blog that much more difficult. ha.), but let me show my love through an act of service. Food is my love language and this was a blessing when working with multiple teachers, parents and co-workers. Who doesn’t love a freshly baked plate of brownies, or a hot delivery of donuts on a Wednesday morning?? Seriously, if I needed a form completed by a teacher or parent it usually came with a Snickers bar reward!
The world is such a serious and scary place, where relationships are thrown by the wayside. Screens are replacing face to face time and children are being taught by characters like Calliou (not in my house…he’s the WORST!). There are all types of quotes out there talking about “be the good”, but seriously take one to heart.
If there is ever a day that I am not on the floor playing with my kiddos I know that there is something wrong. The social worker in me that thrives off making/strengthening positive relationships for my kiddos knows that playing with our kids is the way relationships are made. Spending time with them without a screen between us, teaching them through example and being silly are ways to strengthen those relationships. Human beings were not meant to travel the world alone, connection and touch are two things that help us thrive. Seek to create new relationships, strengthen those you have and be a light in someone else’s life. You never know what a small act of kindness might do for that person. Just the act of (or in my case gentle forcing) of inviting a new mom to the “Exclusively Inclusive Mom/Kid Play Group” has made the transition to San Fran a lot more enjoyable.
Have a Super Sabbath Sunday!
Disclaimer: I am a licensed clinical social worker in the state of Missouri and am offering an opinion and generalization from gathered research and observation within my previous work. This is in no way professional, therapeutic advice. Seek professional, personalized guidance from your individual therapist.