Why do you call your work Gratitude Way, what is that about?
I learned the gratitude way, also called the 5-1 method in an Anishinaabe parenting class many years ago. It is practiced among many native peoples around the world. Five pieces of praise, thanks, appreciation, blessing, and encouragement for every piece of constructive feedback or criticism. I put it into practice as a parent and felt it change my relationship with my child. Then I discovered it was not just a parenting practice but a way of life. If you think of a wilted plant and what happens if you water it, it’s like that. We as people, families, workforces, and communities are emotionally and spiritually “dehydrated” much of the time. It is critical that we hydrate ourselves with kindness, appreciation, thanks and encouragement. Angry, mean, bigoted, and disrespectful speech and actions are tearing the fabric of families, communities and our countries. Building bridges and finding common ground and purpose in our communities can be more effectively done by adopting the Gratitude Way of emotional and spiritual hydration.
How do you practice in Oregon?
Much of what I do is coaching, Somatic Experiencing and health education and does not require a psychotherapy license. Oregon does not recognize a California MFT license, so I choose not to practice psychotherapy in Oregon.
Why do you call yourself a coach rather than a therapist?
Many clients, especially children, react negatively to the term therapy. They think if they need therapy there’s something wrong with them. A coach on the other hand is someone who helps you improve your skills. That is generally a positive association and it is accurate in my case.
What is Somatic Experiencing (SE)® and how do you use it?
Somatic experiencing is a method of educational training that focuses on helping us learn to listen to, and become aware of what our body sensations are telling us. It was developed by Dr. Peter Levine, PhD to help those suffering from post-traumatic stress. Our brain has three main systems: the frontal cortex or the thinking brain whose language is thoughts and concepts, the midbrain, whose language is feelings and emotions, and the old brain, whose language is body sensations. Since stress is mostly controlled by the old brain, it is essential that we learn to be aware of, understand and recognize our body sensations to alleviate stress. That awareness helps us to integrate and metabolize the stress. Actually all the three systems of the brain need to work together in unison to relieve stress, as well as to work through grief, gain mastery of our emotions, find our “mojo” or sense of purpose and positive motivation, and set healthy boundaries in our lives. SE has many great tools that I employ to support clients in tracking body sensations, finding inner resources, developing healthy boundaries and reaching greater peacefulness and less stress. I owe much gratitude to Dr. Levine, Dr. Bruce Perry and Kathy Kain for their teachings.
Do I have to tell all my painful stories and memories?
No, you do not. Many times just learning techniques to support yourself when old painful feelings come up can be very effective. Re-experiencing old pain is not a requirement of healing and letting go of stress. All work is bound by client confidentiality.
Is your medicine man work spiritual work?
Yes, I like to call it Practical Spirituality. I help people find a deeper sense of meaning and purpose, find how to ground ourselves when we are feeling unsteady or isolated, and how to more deeply nurture ourselves and our loved ones. That is spiritual work and I respect all faiths and spiritual traditions in doing that work.