Conversations about Race: What's Different This Time?

Over the past few weeks, I've been feeling emotionally depleted from the attention the need for systemic change for black communities was getting.

I am intentional when I say “the attention”, because this is not a new issue by any means; rather, it is the way that we are starting to pay attention to it that is new.

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Death and COVID-19

What I've noticed during the pandemic are regression, difficulty maintaining differentiation, and a return to unhelpful and undermining defenses. I've been exploring existentialism, object relations, and assumptive world theory in my clinical practice and here is what I've found.

Many of the family systems I work with have never explored their mortality. Death is also symbolic of socioeconomic ruin for many. The fear and grief of these potential realities is rarely shared with one's partner(s).

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Parenting during COVID-19

Parenting differences may be especially highlighted at this time because for many of us, there's no escape from the daily grind and everyone's emotions are heightened. Whether you are parenting teens or young kids, I want to provide some suggestions on how parents may better support one another.

Can you and your partner find value in one another's parenting styles or perspectives?  

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Peer Support Groups

When I read that NEAFAST is organizing a peer support group online, I was intrigued and excited. I thought, "This is exactly what I need at this moment."

My experience through the years with different support groups, both in the US and overseas, was positive and enriching. It helped further my clinical learning, combat professional isolation, and make friends. I could write on and on about how beneficial, on so many levels, peer support groups are, and also how challenging they can be to sustain.

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Space and COVID-19

Welcome to my new office!

I live with two roommates, one of whom is also working from home, and the confidentiality requirements for our work means that I am relegated to my bedroom. My queen size bed, which takes up the majority of my room, serves as my desk, my chair (or lounging space, as sitting without back support can be uncomfortable after awhile), and, well, my bed where I sleep.

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All the Grief That Hasn't Been Grieved

Following the Paris terrorist attack in 2015, I had a conversation with a group of colleagues about how public tragedies provide humanity with permission to grieve.

In these events, we collectively grieve our immediate losses, the collateral damage, and all that damn heartbreak—which may or may not be linked to the precipitating tragedy.

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Social Distance Birthdays

Today is my birthday.

And I'm celebrating it similar to the way soccer star Dele Alli, pictured left through his Instagram feed, celebrated his last month. Social distancing.

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Hope in the Time of COVID-19

NEAFAST member Ann Vasey sent this quote from Howard Zinn. May this give us hope and encouragement in the time of COVID-19.

"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

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What Are You Noticing During COVID-19?

What are you noticing during COVID-19?

What is going on in the lives of your couples and families? What relational trends are you observing?

How are you noticing that the increase in teletherapy and trauma work during the time of COVID-19 is impacting your own relationships, both with others and yourself?

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Trauma Bingo

In response to the collective isolation of the pandemic, COVID-19 has inspired a different sort of community building. While physically separate, people are reaching out in new and creative ways.

Last week, I had a virtual reunion with my roommates from college, which we probably would not have organized during "real" life. I also have an active group text with several of my friends, in which we check on each other daily in order to provide as much support as possible during such a stressful time.

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Interview with Janine Roberts

I’m happy to be joined by Dr. Janine Roberts. Dr. Roberts has been a practicing family therapist for forty years. She was the chair of the doctoral and masters program in Family Therapy at UMass Amherst for some twenty years, and has trained and supervised in-home therapists in the US and in Latin America. Dr. Roberts if the author and co-author of four books including one poetry book The Body Altars, as well as some seventy book chapters and articles. She’s researched and written extensively about our social identities and therapeutic work, family stories and rituals, as well as supervision and training, among other topics. Janine is presenting at the in-home therapy workshop “Our Stories and Theirs: Fully Engaging Ourselves and Our Clients in In-Home Therapy” on Friday, April 24th at Brightside in Holyoke. We’re happy to co-sponsor that with the Couple & Family Institute of New England (CFINE) and Brightside for Children & Families.

Jeremiah Gibson: As a younger therapist, a lot of therapists that are within ten years of me are getting trained in agencies who do in-home therapy. And unfortunately, more and more, these newer therapists are kind of being thrown to the wolves, and kind of given a manual and being sent out working with some really challenging families…without the education tools, without the supervision tools that could really help them be successful. So I’m really excited to have your expertise and your presence at the workshop at the end of April.

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Interview with Bennet Tittler

From his evaluation of triangles as representations of anxiety in healthy communication to his work on how families transmit and project anxiety onto its members, Murray Bowen’s observations and research form the foundation for our perspective as systemic therapists. Bowenian therapy has a strong history in New England; I had the chance to interview Bennett Tittler, a board member for the New England Seminar on Bowen Theory, to discuss more about how Bowen’s theories are being actively taught and explored in 2020.

Jeremiah Gibson: Bennett, your organization, the New England Seminar on Bowen Theory, is hosting Bowen Theory, Family Psychotherapy, and Change on Friday, March 27 at Clark University in Worcester. Dan Papero is the presenter. Folks can attend for $115 if they sign up before March 16. For those who have limited/no information about Murray Bowen, what introductory information about Bowen theory might be useful for folks who want to come to this conference?

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Interview with Corky Becker

Interview with Corky Becker, PhD, a Family Therapist and Clinical Psychologist who is overseeing the Monthly Master Series in Couple Therapy: Seven MORE Approaches to Interviewing at Therapy Training Boston starting November 6, 2019. These are the highlights from the interview. Watch the full interview here.

Jeremiah Gibson: Tell us a little bit more about the Monthly Master Series. What’s the format of it?

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Interview with Acey Mercer

Interview with Acey Mercer, LMSW, Practice Manager at Choices Counseling & Consulting in Albany, NY. Acey is one of the Keynote Speakers for the Couple & Family Institute of New England's (CFINE) symposium Sexual Identity, Gender Identity: Staying Current in a Rapidly Changing Landscape taking place Saturday, October 26, 2019 at the Smith College Conference Center in Northampton, MA. These are the highlights from the interview. Watch the full interview here.

Jeremiah Gibson: How did you become interested in becoming a therapist?

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Interview with Nancy Knudsen (Excerpts)

Nancy Knudsen, Co-Director & Co-Founder of the Couple & Family Institute of New England (CFINE) in Northampton, MA was interviewed by Jeremiah Gibson, NEAFAST President, about CFINE's upcoming symposium Sexual Identity, Gender Identity: Staying Current in a Rapidly Changing LandscapeThese are the highlights from the interview. Watch the full interview here.

Jeremiah Gibson: We’re excited to announce and promote a symposium that CFINE is hosting on Saturday, October 26th called "Sexual Identity, Gender Identity: Staying Current in a Rapidly Changing Landscape."

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Interview with Jennifer Eaton (Excerpts)

Jennifer Eaton, Director of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Training and Consultation at the Bridge Institute in Worcester, MA, is presenting Communicating Effectively with Children and Families: Key Strategies from Dialectical Behavior Therapy on Wednesday, October 9 in Worcester. She was interviewed by Jeremiah Gibson, NEAFAST President, about the intersection of DBT and family therapy. These are the highlights from the interview.

Jeremiah Gibson: There are some really neat things going on in the Worcester area. I'm curious, Jen, if you could talk for a few minutes about what's happening at the Bridge Institute? 

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Taking Charge: What Works

The following reflection on advocacy is written by Mary-Jane Beach, secretary of the NEAFAST Board. For more information about joining the NEAFAST Board of Directors, please email [email protected]

I remember that in the mid-1990’s, I was working with families, often after school and evenings. I had two children and never seemed to have enough time. Some of the families had various negative and pejorative labels: dysfunction, multi-stressed, multi-problem.

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The Value of Joining NEAFAST

The following is written by Mary-Jane Beach, secretary of the NEAFAST. For more information about joining the NEAFAST Board of Directors, please email [email protected]:

At this stage of my career, I realize that MFT’s from Massachusetts have been there for me. First it was SFTR (Society for Family Therapy and Research) in the 1970s in Boston. There were workshops, supervision groups, and training programs available. Later it was an MAMFT mentoring group where I had individual and group support to develop a practice and a niche. Then there was advocacy and a focus on licensure and eventually vendorship. I learned to advocate and testify at the Statehouse thanks to the leadership of the Massachusetts Chapter. Knowing it was important to give back, yet still challenged by children, travel, and time I joined the MAMFT Board, and naïve as I was, became Treasurer. I learned to use accounting software, began to understand how National Organizations and Chapters functioned, met colleagues from around the state, and participated in local networking activities. 

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Reflections on the Ambulatory Care 2

Last month, we wrote a blog post about the collaborative efforts of the Executive Office for Health and Human Services (EOHHS) as they help create processes that improve access to quality behavioral health care in our state. Quite a few NEAFAST members have attended these meetings and provided input, including Mary-Jean Beach, a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) in Cape Cod, and NEAFAST Board Member. The following are her reflections from a listening session meeting in Cape Cod.


I went to the 2nd EOHHS listening session at Cape Cod Community College on June 18, 2019. It was very well attended by a representative sample of consumers, families, providers, schools, advocacy organizations, and constituents. Senator Julian Cyr (D Truro) came in and spoke about his interest and concerns. The meeting was informative, exciting, and affirming for me as a family therapist. In our community the important take-aways were: 1) family advocates and consumers pled for more family sensitive behavioral health care and support; 2) parents and young adults over 22 are left without help when they lose Special Education Services; 3) the future of ambulatory behavioral health care may be in schools and primary health care offices.

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Reflections on the Ambulatory Care 1

Last month, we wrote a blog post about the collaborative efforts of the Executive Office for Health and Human Services (EOHHS) as they help create processes that improve access to quality behavioral health care in our state. Quite a few NEAFAST members have attended these meetings and provided input, including Stuart Moskowitz, a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) in the Worcester area. The following are his reflections from a listening session meeting in Worcester


 

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