Making Friends with Anger: How Anger Serves Us

Most of us receive societal messages that insist that anger is only the purview of men, who are permitted a range of angry expression, from screaming, to punching drywall, to fistfights. For everyone else, society says, anger is a negative emotion that must be suppressed. Thus, many women and nonbinary people struggle with expressing or even recognizing anger when they first begin therapy. While anger can certainly be unpleasant to feel, it is not a "negative" emotion. It is a neutral emotion, and like any other emotion, it's a signal to us. The message embedded in anger is, essentially: You can't treat me…

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What’s it Like to Be a Therapist?

Over the past two years, friends and new people I meet have often asked me questions about being a therapist, because they think it’s an interesting job (and they’re not wrong!). I’ve compiled those questions and my answers here.  Q: Did you always know you wanted to be a therapist? No, not at all! I’ve always been enamored of people and I always knew I wanted to work with people in some way. I was a personal trainer for a few years. When I got into activism and volunteer work when I was 21, I started getting pushed in the social work direction.…

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Wolf in a Nightgown: How to Identify Gaslighting

In the 1944 film "Gaslight," a naive young woman marries a conman who subtly manipulates her over months until she distrusts her own perceptions and believes she's losing her mind. Today, the term “gaslight” has become more mainstream as more people become aware of this form of manipulation and control. But what is gaslighting, exactly? How can you tell when it’s happening to you?   Gaslighting is a form of psychological and emotional abuse that helps the abuser to dominate the relationship; a form of perspective-twisting that is used to hurt you, while providing some benefit to the abuser. That benefit can take many…

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Love vs Lashing Out: Doing Conflict without Drama

Most people loathe or are even afraid of conflict. And for good reason: most people don’t handle it well-- and that goes for both others and ourselves! We have had plenty of bad past experiences with conflict, and very few (if any) good experiences, and so we associate conflict with negativity and drama. We may be afraid that the other person will yell at us or we may lose the relationship. We may be afraid of the uncomfortable feelings that conflict gives rise to within us. We may not like who we become during conflict; reactive, angry, defensive or obsequious. And so we…

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