|Mind/Body CE Comments Ethics Clinical Mastery Narcissistic Clients Community of Excellence Future of Psychotherapy Trauma Etienne Wenger Diets Couples Therapy Clinical Excellence Couples Anxiety Challenging Cases Attachment The Future of Psychotherapy Mary Jo Barrett Symposium 2012 Alan Sroufe Wendy Behary Attachment Theory Great Attachment Debate David Schnarch Gender Issues Linda Bacon Men in Therapy Mindfulness William Doherty Brain Science|
|Beyond the Consulting Room - Page 6|
Listen for Public Stories
With my newfound insight into the public dimensions of this problem, I moved to the next essential task of the citizen-therapist: talking with people in the community about the issue. Whenever I expressed curiosity about hockey schedules and missed family dinners and traveling leagues and cutthroat competitive dance, I was flooded with stories from exhausted, discouraged parents. When I asked my clients about their daily schedules (a topic I'd previously avoided as "too superficial"), they told me at length about their harried lives.
I learned to start conversations with parents in my community by passing on stories from previous conversations, which elicited vigorous nods and even more outrageous stories to pass on—like the 4-year-olds who practiced hockey at 5:00 a.m. on nursery school days (true story). Whenever I got myself invited to speak to PTA groups and church forums, I asked for more stories and invited attendees to reflect together on what's happened in our culture to bring this craziness upon us. Virtually every parent I talked to was eager to engage with this as a public issue.
Link the Personal to the Communal—in Public
It's relatively easy to get people talking about problems that bedevil their own families; it's a bigger challenge to help them connect their own stories to the community's story and to the work that lies ahead. At a town meeting in Wayzata for the launching of the Putting Family First project, I decided to address this challenge head-on. I put four questions to the 80-some parents, school board members, and community officials present: "Is this problem we're talking about here—overscheduled kids and underconnected families—only an individual family problem? or is it also a community problem? Are the solutions only individual family solutions? or are they also community solutions? Do you think this community is ready to take action? What actions should we take?"