• life
  • The ALOHA Way + 5 Life Lessons Everyone Can Learn from a Graduate Program in Counseling Psychology

    I am very excited to announced that I am a new contributing expert over at The ALOHA Way magazine! And I am in some pretty good company. Check out those other contributing experts above…and those are just some of their expert team! My first article for The AHOLA Way is on 5 Life Lessons Everyone Can Learn from a Graduate Program in Counseling Psychology, but before we get to that I want to tell you about ALOHA because I think they are just fantastic.

    ALOHA is a new company dedicated to conveniently delivering great tasting, high quality nutrition that lifts your spirit. Their superfood chocolate bars and daily good greens whole-food powder in berry blend are my favorites. All of the products made by ALOHA are vegan, made only from natural and organic ingredients, environmentally sustainable, gluten-free, soy-free, non-GMO and free of artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or additives. Plus, they are tested far beyond government regulations and they are manufactured right here in the USA.

    The company is the embodiment of holistic wellness. In addition to creating high quality food products, their magazine promotes wellness in every sense of the word by covering a wide range of topics from nutrition to exercise to meditation to relationships to the environment, and so much more. So, here is an excerpt from my first contribution to their beautiful message of holistic wellness:

    ALOHA feature
    In a counseling psychology graduate program, student-therapists garner a wealth of knowledge regarding psychological theory, human development, relationships, mental illness, assessment, trauma, coping strategies, ethics, counseling, and human behavior, among many other psychology related topics.

    When I enrolled in graduate school to become a psychotherapist, I knew that I would graduate from my program with the tools and knowledge to be a skilled and effective therapist. But I completed my program with so much more than that.

    In becoming a therapist, I learned many invaluable life lessons. I learned why humans behave the ways we do. I learned what it means to be “triggered.” I learned why we develop maladaptive behavior patterns. I learned how to be an astute listener. I learned how to hear the emotions behind people’s words. I learned how to be supportive. I learned how to truly be non-judgmental. And I learned the gift of empathy.

    And with these lessons, not only did I complete my graduate program as an effective therapist, I also completed my program as a kinder, more empathic person. And that may have been the best lesson of all…

    Click here to read the rest of this article on The ALOHA Way

    xo Tedi

  • life
  • What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say

    What to sayThe original motivation behind starting this blog was my desire to share things I have learned, whether in life or through my formal education, with all of you. It’s not because I think I have all the answers. But instead it’s because I have learned so many wonderful lessons that I only wish someone had taught me earlier in life. Whether it’s nutrition-related or counseling-related or just plain my-life-related, I choose to share what I’ve learned on here because I know it has made my life better and I hope it can make some of yours better too.

    Many months ago I started writing this very post on what to say when someone we know is facing a serious challenge or trauma. Because most of the time, we simply don’t know what to say. And for whatever reason I never finished this post and it got put on the back burner. But just yesterday Jessica Murnane of One Part Plant shared a touching personal story that got me thinking about this topic again and how useful this information could be to lots of people. Jessica is going through the process of adopting a baby and recently an adoption that was so close to happening fell through. You can imagine the heartbreak she’s dealing with. And sadly, one thing that is making this process even more difficult for Jessica is that so many people have inadvertently said the wrong thing to her in response to hearing this news. (Read Jessica’s full post on this topic here.)

    I can relate both personally and professionally to Jessica having her feelings compounded by the things people have said to her in the face of her challenge.

    In my graduate education in counseling psychology what-to-say and what-not-to-say in given situations is one of the first things we must learn and master in order to become caring, empathic, effective therapists. By nature of our profession we are going to hear people’s challenges, traumas, struggles, and pain. And therefore, it is our job to respond appropriately.

    In real life, as opposed to therapy, all too often when someone shares their story about a difficult challenge they are experiencing, it stirs up the listener’s own stuff and causes even the most well-meaning people to say the wrong thing. Bad or sad stories are scary because they arouse our own issues, fears and insecurities. They make us uneasy and this often dictates and clouds our response to the person actually facing the challenge. Because our own issues have been aroused, what comes out of our mouths is often what we need to hear (or believe) in response to the story we’re hearing, instead of what the person actually living it needs to hear. The problem isn’t that our words are so horrible and awful, in fact they may seem kind at first glance. The problem is that what we say often doesn’t match the needs of the storyteller…it matches the needs of us, the listeners, instead.

    So, how can we say the right thing when we don’t know the right thing to say…?

    The truth of the matter is, it’s not about the exact words you say…instead it’s about the message behind them. And, as I learned in graduate school, the most important message we can convey to someone who is facing a difficult challenge is this simple…

    I See You

    see you.

    And that doesn’t mean in the physical sense. It means I really, truly see you, I see your pain, I see your struggle and I’m ok meeting you where you’re at and sitting here and being with you in this place. When you’re at a loss for what to say, you truly need nothing more than this basic message to appropriately express your deep love, caring and understanding. It’s not your job to fix the situation or to have all the answers. It’s your job to be there and meet them right where they’re at. To see their pain, to recognize it and be comfortable enough to just be with it.

    So, next time you don’t know what to say in response to someone else’s pain, remember this concept of “I see you”. Let it be the guiding insight, the genuine truth and the message behind your words. And with that, you can have faith that you will always say the “right” thing and be there for the people you care about when they need you most…

    xo Tedi

  • life
  • Thoughts from a Therapist on Empathy & Forgiveness

    Axline Quote

    Back in college, long before I knew I would go on to become a psychotherapist, these words by psychologist Virginia Axline struck a chord with me. They have since had a profound impact on me both professionally and personally. The quote was originally intended to inform therapists in their work with children and families. However, I believe that the wisdom and insight behind these words can be applied more broadly to all people, not just parents.

    When a child makes poor choices or misbehaves we often jump to blame their parents for this poor behavior. However, as therapists even when we can clearly see that a parent’s behavior negatively impacts their child, it is important to still find empathy and understanding for the fact that the parent too was once a child and most likely treated very similar to the way they now treat their own child. This doesn’t excuse the adult’s behavior, but in many ways can help explain it. Our experiences and how we are treated during those most formative years of childhood set in motion the trajectory of who we will become and how we will treat others as adults.

    As adults we are responsible for our behavior in a way that is different from a child. But what is meant by that responsibility is that when we make poor choices as adults, the onus is on us to remedy our behavior. It is no longer anyone else’s job to guide us in the right direction. But just because as we grow older that onus is placed on us, and only us, it doesn’t negate the fact that the root of the behavior most likely stems all the way back to how we were treated when we were innocent, unknowing children, ready to soak up information about how this world will treat us and how we should treat it back.

    Yet, in real life (as opposed to therapy) when adults display maladaptive behavior patterns we often don’t take into consideration the fact that they were a child once too, and have reasons locked in the depths of their souls for the way they behave. This in mind, when we can accept the fact that personal responsibility and empathy can coexist within our view of the same person, this acceptance leads to a beautiful thing: forgiveness.

    In our lives people will undoubtedly let us down or cause us pain. But I challenge everyone to have compassion toward adults the way we so often do toward a child who simply didn’t get enough love or wasn’t treated as they deserved to be. For all children grow up to be adults. And within all adults lies that innocent child that deserves to be met with empathy and forgiveness for what they could not control and what impacted who they became.

    xo Tedi