In Portland, Oregon, every week the support group I founded and lead, Spouses' Group for the cisgender spouse (or unmarried life partner) of mates who are trans or non binary, dissolves the walls of isolation for new and old members as the dozens of members step up for each other in and out of the group. For most it
New personal blog, telling my truth, giving you the back story, too much information and definitely way outside of the box for a marriage counselor's blog-see the link for all the chapters that will be grouped together under IRL Misfit Mom Over 50 drop down under Blog tab at the top of this page. Or click here IRL
Although online therapy has been around since at least 2000, technology advances make it much easier nowadays to get a counselor or coach to speak to you across the miles with your internet connection and a web cam. Counselors must follow the licensing laws to know whether you can meet over the web and what kind of service you can have. In other words, sessions with a counselor out of state are only going to be legal if your counselor has a license in the state where you live, or is providing what is called "coaching" (and knows the difference) available to residents of any state or nation.
When I first started "online therapy" back in 2000, web cams had not quite taken off in popularity so when I logged in for a session it was into a secured text based therapy chat room with just the client and I. Surprisingly, I found I could work fast and effective and it seemed that the world of online counseling was a new creature in all ways. Assessment was mainly left to a quick pre session intake form, clients could remain anonymous to the counselor (although the credit card billing name was evident), and I swear I did an effective counseling session for a woman on her work break in under 15 minutes! I would have never believed it myself if I hadn't been there.
Here we are nearly 15 years later and my online sessions have been video sessions from both my phone and computer. Distance clients and I still talk the old fashioned way, over the phone, but once you get that live video stream up on the screen, people get excited about seeing each other and getting all that visual information that helps fill out the emotional context. The difference for me is like turning the light on when before talking on the phone is like having a conversation in the dark. I can do it, but it is so much better when we can see each other!
Couples from other nations have reached out to get coaching and as long as they can speak English (or use an interpreter), get their video chat rolling, meet the legal criteria, and can make their payment via credit card on the Square Marketplace. I love it when the miles melt away and Relationship Gardening, delivering tools for growing love, goes GLOBAL!!!!!!
Is Change Possible in Relationships? How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb?
None. The light bulb will change itself when it's ready.
But, are we born with this information? Did your relationship come with instructions?
Is your mother, sister, brother, father, neighbor, lover, boss, sponsor, right about what it takes to make a marriage last? Not likely, but maybe they read up.
Maybe you got lucky and asked someone on the long lasting, happy path. But what works may seem to be one thing and really be another.
The research shows us that everyone has disagreement in some of the basic areas: money, kids-especially babies, in-laws, chore division, work, and sex. It is not that having these conflicts is your problem, nor is it the thing that will cause you to divorce. How you approach your hot topics is what makes or breaks you, not that there are hot topics. And that, my friend, is heavily influenced by your everyday interactions when not in conflict. And for some, traumas mess things up by shortening your fuse as a result of a fight or flight habit that is stuck in the on position. WE can do something about that!!!
I know you are seeking. What will it take to get you in a conversation about how we can make this better? Doing nothing is choosing relationship demise. You will not know if you have given your relationship a fair chance to be a good one if you haven't applied the healthy love habits we know are present in marriages that thrive. They are not optional so it would make sense that marriages fall apart without them. So let's get them rolling for you!
Since you made it this far I invite you to do the following on your way to making a better choice than same old, same old. You can go to my Free Gift tab and get your copy of something I call "Love Habits," or use the blue sign up box that says "Love Habits" anywhere on the relationshipgardening.weebly.com site.
Or just call or write today (see "connect with Shannon at top right of any page).
The many videos circulating including the ones I linked to in my prior Trans Awareness Week blog post show people using a term "Gender Identity Disorder," a diagnostic label which is no longer in use.
The diagnostic label of "Gender Identity Disorder" is replaced now with "Gender Dysphoria" and gets a bit of tweaking.
Gender Dysphoria is a term created to describe people whose gender at birth is contrary to the one they identify with, and includes presence of significant distress related to it. Trans does not equal Gender Dysphoria in this diagnostic world, but trans with significant distress does. I would like to be in that world where a person not in a clear binary gender identity isn't attacked, hated, fired, or murdered. Since we are not, it is hard to get my mind around how trans people could walk around withOUT distress.
Gender nonconformity is no longer being treated as a mental disorder in the 2013 DSM-5 (diagnostic manual for clinicians. Don't get me started on the DSM.) Gender Dysphoria is moved to its own chapter-out of Sexual Dysfunctions.
A post-transition specifier was added for anyone living in the experienced gender (as in out of the closet full time) rather than gender assigned by others (no matter the legal sanction) so as not to create barriers to transition resources solely based on the depathologizing of transgender people.
Relationship repair and support is not just for the gender binary. Any transgendered person wishing to consult with me downtown on Saturdays can have a first appt as a gift with further consults on a donation (pay what you can) basis.
She reminded me of my father-when he was young before he overdosed to death. Sweet, sensitive, introverted (getting refueled by being alone and exploring creativity), smart, and wanting better for her kid, but feeling very stuck. I was thinking how freaky this is-that there is a chance at any time for an alcoholic not to lose everything, and I was in the presence of one of those moments. I have thought about this a lot in my life-but to meet one on the cusp like this made me wish that my father could have heard what I was about to say to my client.
The kinds of suffering she was having-lack of sleep, anxiety, at times claustrophobia, an avalanche of negative thoughts, craving alcohol-got my wheels turning that she was likely experiencing a nutrient deficit, possibly doing that stockpiling of histamine dance that is undermethylation-a term I didn't even know when my father was alive. My very simplified version of undermethylation is that a step in the filtration process in the body isn't doing its job well. We get to a tipping or more likely a crashing point and all hell breaks loose. See Dr. Ben Lynch's website to get all the information on genetic variants such as MTHFR and what to do about them.
I described a couple of possibilities of how certain nutritional crashes produce mood disorders and symptoms-anxiety, depression, cravings and that most doctors do not look at this seriously or at all. Any client of mine that has any kind of personal body or mind suffering gets a referral to my hotshot top of the heap naturopath-STAT! Otherwise it is like trying to teach some dance steps to a person with a broken leg that hasn't been treated. Ok-ya they can take in the information, maybe, but can we at least get the dang leg xrayed?! " I am not a doctor, Jim, I'm a therapist!" But I know some amazing naturopaths and have learned a lot about an alternative understanding to what makes people feel like crud emotionally and it is not a lack of SSRI drugs. (Dr Peter Breggin, anyone? Google him and listen to this wise and gentle psychiatrist clarify things).
Just to be EXTRA CLEAR here I am not talking that psych drug company mumbo jumbo about diabetics take insulin for the rest of their lives, likewise a depressed person will need psych drugs for the rest of their lives (not). But if that's all you know, then that's all you know. See my blog post about Robert Whitaker and Anatomy of an Epidemic to get caught up on that big deception. Whitaker's updates are riveting and if you get a chance, listen closely to any of his talks posted on YouTube.
Where do you start?
Holistic mental health naturopaths have a few things they look at to see if your body is doing what it is supposed to so you can feel well. Anyone with any difficulties of mood would get checked for crashed or excessive amounts of necessary nutrients...like zinc. Or maybe a profile that shows you are stockpiling histamine and it is way too high in your bloodstream-this will cause mood swings, anxiety or in real severe amounts-manic, panic or OCD states. It runs in families and in children can manifest in many intense ways. Many of us moms have been told we got a typical mommy brain after childbirth but have no idea that our brain fog could be cleared up in hours to just a few days with nutritional boosting of the methylation cycle. I myself struggled painfully for almost 9 years postpartum thinking I lost most of my memory and tracking abilities within days of giving birth only to have most restored within 24 hours of histamine detox.
Let me cut to the chase and tell you that a few specific vitamins later, our aforementioned client gal lost her craving for alcohol, began sleeping well for the first time in many years, is shedding the anxiety and hopelessness that plagued her and as a result has the inner resources freed up to be a healthy partner and mother.
Bleak mood states and lack of sleep, intoxication and blackouts moved out make a lot of room for creative projects and growth.
Sometimes I wonder, "what would my Dad have done if freed from his suffering?"
And what about you?
Shannon Batts, Relationship Gardener, Portland, Oregon.