My Thoughts On “Loud Krazy Love”

Happy 2019 Everyone!  For the first blog entry this year I wanted to write about something that is meaningful to me, and most people would probably be surprised that I waited this long to talk about this topic, but I knew I was waiting for the right opportunity.  Anyone that knows me knows that my favorite band is Korn, and there are many paths I could take in writing about this but the one I am going to start with is the incredible documentary that came out late last year called “Loud Krazy Love.” For those of you who are not familiar with this, it’s a story about the journey of healing, but that journey of healing stars a rock star and his daughter.  Brian “Head” Welch is one of the guitarists and founding members of the band Korn, and this is a story not only about his own healing but also about the healing his young daughter, Jennea Welch, had to go through on her own.  It also speaks volumes to the complexities that parent and child relationships (no matter who your parent is) go through and the how a parent’s love and sacrifice is essential to the well-being of a child.  At the peak of Korn’s career while touring Head became a single father to Jennea, but like most rock stars his life was chaotic and it wasn’t easy to raise a child in that environment.  Even if you are not a musician and can’t relate to the rock star life, many people can identify with common themes of addiction, isolation, divorce and feelings of inadequacy that lead to self-destruction.  This is a very dark road that many people travel down at some point in their life which is why stories like this are important because if you know that the story doesn’t always end in hopelessness then it’s possible to find a way out for yourself.

It’s hard for me to put into words what I want to convey about this story, there’s lots of different directions I could go with it.  It has a multi-dimensional theme that I think is important when talking about the human experience, none of us are just one story and there is not just one avenue for healing and I think this documentary does a good job of showing how different experiences can lend themselves to creating potential outcomes that can help others heal.  For instance, Korn’s music helps others heal, but in order for them to continue to make music the band had to go through a process of healing themselves where Head separated himself from Korn to rejoin them after he had gone through his own healing.  It’s a very powerful scene when the band is reunited at the Carolina Rebellion Show, maybe it’s extra powerful for me because I am a fan but I think the point is that relationships go in cycles and there is always the possibility for change to happen as long as you are still here to work for it.

This of course brings up one of the most heartwarming aspects of this story, the relationship between Head and his daughter.  Let me make it very clear to everyone reading this, all parent child relationships can be difficult and go through phases, especially during the teenage years.  Measuring a parent’s success (if there is even such a thing) isn’t about how easy their life turns out, it’s about how well you can help them manage to get through the difficult times.  To me, that’s what is so inspiring about this story.  At its core, this is about a father trying to help his daughter navigate through difficult life circumstances.  No one is guaranteed an easy life, and being the daughter of a world famous musician is no exception.  Jennea experienced situations growing up that her peers didn’t have and the trials she faced left her in need of her own healing.  When Brian Head Welch made the choice to put her needs ahead of his it allowed Jennea to have the freedom to find her own way to heal in the world.  I think it’s important to keep stories like this in mind as we move through our own journeys this year because it’s a safe bet to assume at some point we are all going to feel like life is getting away from us and we need to find a way back to ourselves.  On that note, I want to end with a quote that I found particularly inspiring in the documentary, which comes from the youngest star in the film, Jennea Welch “life doesn’t have to be just a drag.  No one is on earth just because, there is a purpose for everyone being alive.”

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NEW DIRECTIONS, NEW PATHS, NEW JOURNEYS

Hi everyone, thanks for coming back!  It has been a while since I wrote because I have some exciting news about the direction Pathways 2 Healing will be heading and I have been trying to find the right words to say it.  Over this past summer I took a course where I became a Certified Intuitive Counselor, this will now be a prominent feature at my practice as I will be incorporating the skills and knowledge I gained in the services I offer.  When I started Pathways 2 Healing my goal was to help people not just heal from their past but to have an understanding of how unique their particular journey is meant to be.  Since no two people are exactly alike, then no two paths can be the same and the differences in our journeys are important to our growth as individuals.  This has lead me down an interesting road myself, and it has taken some turns that I was not expecting which has landed me in a new direction.

When I first came out of graduate school in 2016 I, like most new graduates, was expecting to get hired by an agency, especially an agency that worked with children who have experienced trauma, but that’s not what happened.  As time went on I began to get really discouraged but realized that my passion to help people was growing and that this was what I wanted to do with my life.  Figuring out how was my next obstacle.  At this time I was doing a lot of soul searching, meeting and talking with new people and learning new perspectives on life.  When I look back I realize that this was really important to my journey and that I needed this time to reflect on my own path.  It was during this time when I decided to start my own business and open Pathways 2 Healing (I will save the full story for another time) with my goal still to help children and their families who have been experiencing difficult and even traumatic times.  This was a difficult task as well, I was still technically new to the field pretty fresh out of graduate school and to many I didn’t have the credentials to start my own practice.  So I continued to focus on “finding myself” through new avenues, in particular I discovered an area called “new age spirituality.” I began to learn about all kinds of new things including what intuition really is and how to trust it.  I met new people, made new friends and learned a lot about myself.  The reason I am speaking about all of this is because from here on out I will be working to take Pathways 2 Healing in this direction with my new goal to incorporate principles of traditional therapy with more alternative / holistic new age practices.

My purpose for writing this post is to explain where I am in my journey and which road I will be heading down.  For everyone who has supported me and Pathways 2 Healing so far I say thank you and I hope you will continue to join me down this path.  Where exactly it will lead I cannot say, but the point is not to know where you end up but to trust where it is leading you and to enjoy the journey.  For updates and info about services and specials I will be offering follow me on facebook at www.facebook.com/Pathways2Healing.  Wherever your individual journey leads I wish you luck and hope it leads you somewhere unexpectedly great!

 

 

Children Belong With Their Parents

In light of recent events, I feel obligated to speak about situations that are happening on the border.  I created Pathways 2 Healing with the intention for it to become a safe space for people to come and allow the process for healing to take place and so I do not mean to alienate anyone, however as a family therapist I cannot in good conscious keep quiet about the separation of children and their parents.  Helping children who have been affected by trauma was my main reason for entering into this field.  I quickly learned that the best way to help them is to also help the parents, as they are the main vehicles for which change can take place in the family system.  Let me make it clear that I am not writing this to discuss immigration policy, but rather to focus on how trauma is now a lifelong issue these children will face.

In order for children to feel secure and have the best chance at healthy, normal development they need to know that they are safe and taken care of.  This happens when they can look over to their parents or caretakers and be reassured that there is nothing to fear.  When they are separated, children no longer have this assurance and now have the added worry of what is happening to my protector?  This stress and anxiety will ultimately have an effect on development.  Without being able to provide both parents and children adequate information about when they can be reunited this torment will continue indefinitely.  As a mental health professional I believe that it is our job to extend compassion and empathy to those in need.  However, I am concerned about the future of these families as they are going to require additional mental health services as the challenges they face continue to grow.

It is important to understand that healing is something that takes time, it is a slow process that requires patience.  There will be a definite need for therapy for years to come because anyone in this situation will come out of it with wounds that need to be healed, no matter what their age is.  In graduate school I had a professor that described the healing process like a scab, it’s there, you can see it and when you first enter therapy you have to pick at it.  It gets worse at first with puss oozing out but that is part of the healing process.  Eventually it heals but it leaves a scar however when you pick at it, it doesn’t bleed anymore.  Anyone who has been through trauma has these scars and now over 2,000 children have even bigger wounds because they were separated from their parents.  Although we might not be able to help them all, we can extend more compassion to them as they go on their journeys.

I do want to recognize that since this post has been written and published, an executive order was signed that will hopefully stop the separation of parents and children at the border.  However I decided to go ahead and publish it because 1: thousands of kids still need to be reunited with their parents and 2: we need to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.  I always want healing for anyone who needs it, but children who have experienced trauma are in need of it the most and is why I entered this field in the first place.  These children need their parents just like every child in America needs theirs.  I do not know what is to come for these families, but I wish them the best and I hope they are reunited soon.

“It’s Chaos, be kind” part 2: Miracles Do Happen

Hello All, it’s been a while again but I like to wait until I am inspired to write and nothing has felt right until recently…

In my last post I talked about the comedian Patton Oswalt and his journey through the grief process after losing his wife.  The one thing I didn’t mention was that she was a true crime author and at the time of her death she was investigating the golden state killer in hopes that she could bring attention to the case and provide closure to the victims and their loved ones.  Well, as of last week, they now know who did it and the man responsible has finally been caught.  I was not expecting there to be a second act to this, but I think it is really fitting that there is one and it is important to talk about it.  I have been really moved by this story and Patton Oswalt’s willingness to open up and talk about it has been really inspiring.  At the time of Michelle’s death, she was only ¾ of the way done with her book and in an interview Oswalt said that he knew he had to push to make sure the book was finished and released because it was too important to his late wife to just let it go.  To me, this is a really loving message that shows that even if we go through a tragedy where we lose someone we can still find a way to honor their memory.  Oswalt demonstrated this by his continuous pursuit in making sure that what was so important to his wife didn’t go unfinished.  In my opinion, that’s love.

I don’t know why this story touches me so much, but I think it is important that as a society we find ways to discuss difficult topics because in order for us to heal we have to be able to recognize our pain.  Ultimately this story is about purpose. My hope is that after spending 2 blog posts months apart on the same story, if you are ever doubting that there is a reason for your pain or that your life does not have meaning, you will think of this story and know that even if you don’t see how it all comes together eventually something will happen that allows you to gain a new perspective and finally have the peace you need.

Thank you for reading this, I hope in some way it brought at least some healing to you along your journey.  If you feel you need to talk about this or any other subject that may be bothering you, please look at my website www.pathways2healing.org and send me a message.  Until next time, take care.

“It’s chaos, be kind” – Michelle Eileen McNamara

Hello and Happy New Year!  It has been a while since I have written so thank you to anyone who has come back to read this.  It is a new year, and new years often signal change.  However that does not mean we are finished with last year’s “stuff,” so we all have to find ways to deal with the past in order for us to move on with the future.  This can be especially difficult if what we are moving on from isn’t something we are willing to let go of just yet.  I saw a perfect example of this in the comedy special by Patton Oswalt: Annihilation.  If you are not familiar with his story, he is a comedian who recently lost his wife and in this special he takes us through the grief process that he and his young daughter went through.  This is never an easy topic to talk about, but he does it in a very honest and authentic way even though you can tell it is very difficult for him to do.

There are so many things that he talks about in this special, but the one that sticks out the most is a quote from his late wife, Michelle Eileen McNamara, “it’s chaos, be kind.”  This was something she would often say to him when they were having philosophical debates about life and trying to make sense of painful situations that people go through.  To sum it up, she always felt that life is very chaotic, people struggle, tragedies happen so it is important to just be kind because we don’t know what someone is going through or what could happen next.  As we are in the early stages of 2018 I think this message is incredibly important and what we need to keep in mind going forward.  The harsh reality is that life can be full of painful situations where we have to make difficult choices, and this is something we all face at one time or another.  Michelle’s moto is simple, strive to be a little kinder and maybe it can make our day a little easier.  As simple as this sounds it doesn’t mean that it is easy.  Since we are human we have a tendency to get lost in our own pain and not see the pain in others.  But if we can remember the first part of this quote, “it’s chaos,” then maybe we can have a little more patience for ourselves and others, making painful situations slightly easier to handle.

Another part of this show that I really liked was Patton Oswalt’s honesty about the journey through the grief process that he and his daughter went on.  It is never easy to lose someone but it can be especially difficult for a child to lose their parent.  As the surviving parent, Patton Oswalt was looked at as the one to lead them both through this process, obviously never an easy task.  However he showed that with a little help and support it can be done.  In a way, this makes his late wife’s favorite saying all the more true, “it’s chaos, be kind.”

Well thank you again to anyone who took the time to read this til the end, I hope it helped you in some way.  If you would like to learn more about Pathways 2 Healing please like us on facebook at www.facebook.com/Pathways2Healing otherwise, good luck on your journey until we meet again.

 

Save A Life – Talk About Suicide

Well it has been a while…. but thanks for coming back!  As I mentioned in the last post, I planned on talking about the subject of suicide.  Originally I thought I would use the show 13 Reasons Why to help parents start a discussion about this difficult topic.  However since then we learned that Chester Bennington of Linkin Park tragically took his own life, just a few months after Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave did the same thing.  As someone who grew up listening to these bands this news was very shocking to hear, which is why I feel so compelled to start an open dialogue about this subject.  It’s hard to understand and accept why this would happen and that’s why we need to talk about it.

Words cannot express the pain that comes with this heartbreaking event, but maybe it can serve as a way to open up the conversation involving this dark area of the human experience.  It’s impossible to understand, but it’s not impossible to talk about it.  Talking about suicide is something I feel that anyone can do but may struggle with.  How do you bring up this topic to someone you are worried about?  Lots of people have probably had this thought, and the truth is I would be lying to you if I said I had the perfect answer, but I think it is more important to have the courage to want to talk about it.  I do not want anyone to feel that by bringing this topic up that they are somehow harming someone they care about.  This is something that parents probably struggle with the most.  I want to make it clear that in no way are you implanting the idea in anyone’s head, if the idea is there you need to find a way to get it out of the dark and bring it into the light.  As terrible as these events are, I would encourage parents to not shy away from using tragedies like these as a reference point to having an open conversation with your son or daughter.  Obviously this is easier said than done, which is why it is important to consider seeking professional support on opening up this conversation.  This is what people in the mental health profession are there for, and it sets the example that it is okay to get help.  If you are in immediate need of this type of help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or visit their website at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org  My hope is that we can learn as a society that suicide is something that needs to be discussed in an open forum because pretending that it doesn’t exist, or that it is a taboo subject is not working.  For this is the only way to create real change.

If this post has brought up any questions or concerns for you, please feel free to contact me via e-mail at Kelly@pathways2healing.org.  Thank you so much for reading my blog, good luck on your journey until next time we meet.

The Joy of a Musical: How Dear Evan Hansen will change your life.

Hi Everyone!  I know I am a little late but I hope you all had a good 4th of July, and to those of you from around the world I hope everything is going well for you too.  For my holiday I got to have an incredible experience where I was fortunate enough to get tickets to see the Tony Award Winning Musical – Dear Evan Hansen.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, it is a moving story about a socially isolated teenager who gets caught up in a social media lie involving a student who has committed suicide.  There is so much in this play that I am compelled to talk about, but I am going to save the discussion about suicide for another post, I will eventually get to it because it is such an important topic and it needs to be talked about more openly.  For now I want to stick with this relevant and modern story that I think just about anyone can relate to on some level.  There is a universal theme about the human experience which is that we all have the need to belong and that lack of belonging leads to a feeling of loneliness and isolation.  I see so much of this from people in my own life and on social media that it just seems as though more and more of us are feeling this way.  I think that’s why it is important for messages like the one in Dear Evan Hansen to get out into the public so everyone can start understanding that they are not alone.  One of my favorite songs in the show is called “You Will Be Found” and it’s about how no matter how lost you are or dark times may seem, there is always hope that someone or something will find you and help you back up.  This is the heart of the message that I think we need to get to as a society.

This is an issue that teenagers struggle with probably more than any other group.  It is a time in life where the need to belong is very strong, but unfortunately that is not the experience everyone has and teenagers do not have the developmental skills to understand life works in cycles and the unhappiness they are feeling now is only temporary.  This play does a great job of explaining life’s difficulties especially when it comes to feeling lonely and then putting this message into context for people of all ages and backgrounds.  If you are someone who is the parent of a teenager or preteen and it is possible to take them to see this show, I would highly recommend it as a great way to open the conversation between the two of you.  However, it is not possible for everyone to do that, so finding other ways to connect with them and open up a dialogue is important.  You can always do this by taking the time to learn what your child’s interests are, and then using that as a way to find out what connects them to this particular thing.  Dear Evan Hansen also does a great job of honestly depicting the struggles parent-child relationships can have during this time in life.  There is truly something for everyone in this play, if you are a teenager you will find at least one character to identify with, but parents are not forgotten either – the hardships that go along with raising a family are accurately portrayed as well.  My hope would be that honest stories like this can open up conversations that families are needing to have.

As great as this show is, one of my favorite parts is that the ultimate message to take away is how important it is to be your true authentic self.  This is what everybody needs to hear and Dear Evan Hansen does it in a way that is touching and beautiful but also relatable.  Whether you can see the play or not, I hope that if you are the parent of a teenager you can take something away that will help to improve communication between you and your child.  This can be a difficult topic, so if you have any questions that I can answer please leave a comment or e-mail me at Kelly@pathways2healing.org.  Thank you so much for reading my blog, good luck on your journey until next time we meet.

All The Ways To Care: Chris Gethard’s Personal Journey For Help

Hello Everyone, welcome back!  When I was looking for inspiration for this next blog post I realized one thing I want to focus on is using pop culture and mass media references as a common denominator for us all to talk about the bigger issues and messages that are out there.  With that said, the topic I choose for this post is the HBO stand-up special, Chris Gethard: Career Suicide.  I was so moved by this man’s openness to share his battle with lifelong depression and anxiety and how he came to accept that he needed help that I felt compelled to blog about it.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, you may be wondering how this could be a comedy special, which is part of the brilliance of how he tells his story.  Gethard makes it about as real and honest as you can get, while at the same time making it entertaining and accessible to his audience.  Before I go any further, let me just say that there are a lot of mature themes and language throughout the special, so just be aware of that before you watch it.  However, I do believe that it is a very important story that needs to be heard.  If you have teenagers, I personally think it would be a good idea to sit down and watch it with them, in the hopes that it will open up a dialogue between you and your child about what it is like to struggle with these issues and how they feel about asking for help.

One theme from this special that I wanted to talk about is how to show you care about someone who is going through these issues.  Without giving too much away, Chris Gethard describes two different people that he meets that have two very different ways of showing they care.  They are the clinic doctor and his psychiatrist Barb.  Let me say I think both these people do care, they just have two very different styles and unfortunately one does not work that well.  This does not mean that this person is “bad,” but it does mean that they are not as helpful.  This person would be the clinic doctor.  I am not going to say that he does not have good intentions, because I don’t know him to make that determination, but it is clear that his main concern is following the rules and not being libel.  This makes it so he can’t connect with Chris on a personal level, which is ultimately what he needs to receive help.  The comedian returns to this issue at the end of the special, by talking about different e-mails he receives from people.  He describes two different kinds of people that e-mail him.  One is from people who can relate to his story, the other is from people who know someone like Chris and want to help but are afraid of causing more harm.  Chris says he replies by talking about the clinic doctor, and how he was more concerned about doing what he was supposed to do rather then what was right.  I would bet that this is a common theme for a lot of people, you want to help because you do care but you just don’t know how.  Chris makes the argument that there is nothing you can do to make the situation worse, but I bet we all have stories of how that may not be the case.  To look at another way to show you care, let’s go to Barb.

Barb is about as non-traditional of a therapist as you can get.  And in Chris’s case, that is what he needed.  I am not going to make a claim that his therapist “cured” him, because that would be ridiculous.  Let me make it clear, when therapy works it is because the person receiving the help was willing to do the work and therefore deserves the credit.  But it can be hard to do that if the person you are working with doesn’t seem that invested.  Unlike the clinic doctor, Barb did not have a script with questions that she had to ask, she just had herself and was present for Chris during their sessions.  This is what I think people are looking for the most, whether it be in a therapist, a friend or a family member, we all just want somebody to be present with us when we need them.  So if you find yourself in that group of people e-mailing Chris about what they should do, that’s all you need to do – be present and show you care.  The more engaged you can be with the person, the more they will believe you.  This will make it easier to convince someone that they need to get help.  After all, I am not saying it is your responsibility to “fix them,” but if you are concerned about someone, simply taking the time to listen and express how much you think they should seek help can go a long way.  If for some reason you are very concerned about someone in that moment, you can always call 911 and stay with them until help arrives.

There are many ways to care, and there are many ways to show that you care, Barb and the clinic doctor had 2 very different approaches.  This special does a great job of highlighting what it is like for someone to go through the process of getting the help that they need.  It is a true story of a personal journey to a healthier more peaceful life, which is what we all deserve.  I really do hope that wherever you are in the world, you can find a Barb that will help you along your journey.  If you have any questions about how you can find that help, please don’t hesitate to ask me.

Thank you for taking the time to ready my blog, I really appreciate it.  If you would like to talk to me further or to schedule an appointment please contact me at Kelly@pathways2healing.org  Good luck on your journey until the next time we meet.

 

Metal, Music and Therapy: A Review of The Therapist featuring Corey Taylor

Hi Everyone!

Thank you so much for joining me for my first blog post.  Let me start by saying that my name is Kelly and I am a Marriage and Family Therapist.  I am new to the blogging world and I will be learning as I go, so please bare with me as I figure this out.  Ultimately I would love to create a space where we can discuss the world around us and everything that comes with it in order for us to process what’s going on in our individual lives as well as our collective experiences.  Let’s face it, life isn’t easy and we all have something that needs healing, but it is important to remember that it doesn’t matter where we are on our journey just that we are on the right path.

The very first topic I want to talk about is what inspired me to start a blog, which is an episode of The Therapist with Dr. Siri Sat Sam Singh Ph.D, LMFT on Viceland, where the subject was someone who I have been following for years, Corey Taylor of Slipknot.  Like many of us who grew up in the late 90’s / early 2000’s I am huge fan of nu-metal, to this day it is my favorite type of music, my iPod is basically stuck in this era filled with all the bands I grew up

listening to.  So when I saw a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist give a therapy session to Corey Taylor, it was like having worlds collide for me and it was profoundly moving.  Suddenly, these two different parts of my life were coming together in a beautiful, transformative way.  Lyrics that Jonathan Davis of Korn and Corey Taylor wrote were so real and honest that it made me look at people who are in pain as people to reach out to and help work through that pain.  Seeing that Dr. Siri Sat Sam Singh was also a Marriage and Family Therapist, and therefore would be taking a systems approach, not only intrigued me but also excited me to see how this process was going to unfold.

Of course I could easily make a blog about how brave Corey Taylor was for sharing his story, because of course he was, but I think it’s more important for you, the readers, to understand what it is the therapist was doing in order for you to determine whether it would be helpful for you or not.  This is after all about your journey.  Most of the time when people see letters after someone’s name there is no explanation as to what they stand for, let alone their meaning.  So here is what a Marriage and Family Therapist is – it is someone who is going to look at the whole picture, or system, that a person lives in in order to connect the dots.  They are going to pay particular attention to the relationships in a person’s life and how they have been impacted by these relationships.  There is also less of an emphasis on diagnosing the symptoms and more of a focus on how they all relate to each other.  This is why the therapist was exploring so many areas of Corey’s life, he was trying to bring everything together in order to understand how this person became who they are.

One of the things I liked most about how Dr. Siri Sat Sam Singh conducted the session, was how non-judgmental he was toward Corey.  A lot of people mislabel this type of music or are uncomfortable discussing these topics, but a good therapist can handle whatever issues you need to discuss without letting negative biases influence them, which is exactly what we saw in this video.  I’m sure if Corey Taylor didn’t feel comfortable with how his therapist was reacting to what he had to say then it would not have been a positive session and would not have ended on a healing note.  This is the kind of therapist I hope everyone can have, because this is what therapy is meant to be.  If you have had negative experiences with therapists in the past, I hope you will consider trying someone else.

Thank you again for taking the time to read my first blog post.  If you are in the Philadelphia area and would like to schedule an appointment to talk about your own healing, then please take a look at my website at www.pathways2healing.org.  Also, please feel free to leave any questions or suggestions in the comment section and I will try to answer them as best I can.