I remember fondly those first few years of being a clinician; that newbie air smelled so fresh as I entered the therapeutic world with my head held high, my mind and ears wide open. I was a sponge and I absorbed every idea I could, experimented and put the ones that held the most promise into my clinician’s toolbox. As a newbie, my box had many compartments; it was more organization than substance in those days but I gathered them and stored them ready for use. As the years wore on, the box became perhaps less organized but it sure was full of great resources collected from clients, colleagues, teachers and research. I always hoped it would stay neater than the tool kit at the farm which was more of a heap of tools and odds and ends piled higher and deeper than basic math suggested was possible.
As we progress as clinicians we tend to hold close those techniques that we use most often and run risk of losing some of the ones that worked well but were not as commonly used as others. Art based therapies is perhaps on of the biggest; writing in particular stands out for me today.
It’s funny what can trigger a memory; what can remind and inspire us. In my case, it was reading an inspirational blurb from a friend who happens to be a talented writer (please read below, shared with her permission). Reading it reminded me of some of the old techniques that I used with Bibliotherapy; having clients write about happy memories, goals and ambitions that can be used to help them keep focus and maintain hope in their darkest days. They collect these thoughts in a journal, preferably tabbed or otherwise indexed so they can find the story or stories that may help them work their way out of their current funk. The written word can promote such visual and mental stimuli so as to help lift the person when they may otherwise feel they lack the strength.
It had been some time since I worked that into a wellness recovery plan; mental imagery had somehow become its replacement rather than its partner. I mean I never forgot the response that the majority of my clients had towards it; many continued to utilize and expand their journals long after formal therapy ended. I just got too busy perhaps.
The other day I read this and remembered this long set aside tool. I am eager to put it to use as soon as I find my next client whose goals, needs and desires call for it. Just like that pile of tools at the farm, clinical tools are only handy when they fit the current need.
Stay safe, do good and make a difference!
“In the 1950s, my grandfather, Delphis Frechette, bought 54 acres of woodland in Harwinton, Connecticut. He built a little cabin there, which has always been called, “The Camp.” It had electricity, a wood-burning stove for heat, and a pump for water, which doesn’t always work. My cousins and family and I would go sledding, snowmobiling, shoot the BB gun at empty soda cans, and walk in the woods there.
Some of the happiest days of my life have been spent there, and when I am stressed or sad, it is where my mind wanders still. It brings me peace and solace.
The smells of leaves, the wood-burning stove, fresh air, hot cocoa, clean snow, the sounds of leaves overhead in the trees as they are moved by the breezes, an airplane above, a chipmunk scolding, a woodpecker, someone’s dog barking, a chainsaw rrrring, as my Uncles and Dad down dead wood for the winter.
Grilling hot dogs and burgers in the summer, finding and identifying plants and mushrooms. Ladies’ Slippers, Princess Pine, Shelf fungus, and “Indian pipes.” Flopping down under the White Pine tree after the steep climb up the Hill and watching the branches sway over my head. All these are precious memories of my childhood.
This is where I come from.”
Wendy Frechette Goldstein (Author) (shared with permission)
Warren Corson III (Doc Warren) is a counselor, writer and the clinical & executive director of Community Counseling of Central CT and Pillwillop Therapeutic Farm (www.docwarren.org).