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Entries from October 2006

November is National Novel Writing Month!

November kicks off National Novel Writing Month! There are so many people signing up at the Nanowrimo site right now that the Website is jammed. I made it through the registration process and am now waiting to log in. It's, it couldn't load. You can just feel the frenzy of folks continuously reloading their Websites to get registered and fulfill their writing dream (because nothing helps a dreamer more than a deadline!). Good luck everyone!


Many marriage and family therapists settle back in their offices this week a little more enlightened (or confused?) after attending the annual American Association of Marriage & Family Therapists (AAMFT) conference held in Austin, Texas. The conference theme was "Nurturing Nature: Behavior, Genetics, and Therapy." Many of the individual break-out sessions related to the theme. In short, much of the presented research echoed something that’s been understood for centuries—emotions impact health.

While modern-day medicine expands to grasp this idea, the systemic concept has been drilled into most marriage and family therapists’ minds. We are trained to assess a person in the context of their family and relationship circumstances. Often, it is the dance people engage in that leads to certain behaviors, not just the individual by themselves. My bioenvironmental engineering training taught me the same thing. The environment is contaminated as the result of other actions and responds to those actions in an attempt to find some relief (while sometimes reinforcing the original action). Look at global warming. It gets hot and we turn on our air conditioners for longer periods of time. The concept is referred to as “systems” or “systemic thinking.” It’s holistic and circular, not linear.

I’m now going to share a little secret with you. When someone calls a therapist and wants the therapist to “help” a family member, a flag gets raised. Immediately, we are assessing the caller and hoping to get the entire family in the door so that we can understand the family dance. Otherwise the picture is incomplete. Here’s another nugget for you—the person that seems to be the “problem” in the family is rarely the actual problem. Instead, we call that person the “symptom bearer” of the family dance. They’re kind of like Hurricane Katrina blowing off steam during excessive hot weather. Families interact and impact each other’s emotions, which in turn impacts each person’s health.

Having said that, many holistic health opinion leaders (like Louise Hay, Christiane Northrup, Deepak Chopra, and Wayne Dyer) understand systems thinking (it’s holistic, right?). Moreover, they include the spiritual realm in their overall assessment (talk about BIG picture). But they’re not asking you to bring your entire family into the room, necessarily. Instead the focus is more personal by examining your thoughts, your energy and your spiritual connection (which to be honest is what a number of therapists will do as well). Healing comes from letting go of attachments and power struggles, seeking spiritual renewal, manifesting one’s destiny through positive thinking and loving connectedness. Many of these folks will be addressing such perspectives at an upcoming conference in Scottsdale next month (November 10-12), which has been aptly dubbed "Celebrate Your Life."

Whether you’re in the holistic health camp or you tend toward to a more scientific ("show me the proof") viewpoint, one thing is certain—systemic thinking is the new paradigm. We can no longer look at cause and effect. It’s relational.

This blog is about exploring these systemic relationships and the issues and therapeutic perspectives that impact your quality of life. Topics such as Home, Health, Parenting, Dealing with Parents, Understanding Cultures, Gender Issues, Workplace Issues, Jobs, Careers & Vocations, Aging, Love, Grieve, Fear, Spirituality—and the interconnected nature of all of it—will be discussed. Please feel free to submit questions or suggest any of your ideas as well.

Happy thoughts & healing to you! Kimberly