Painful Adult Decisions

Most psychological research shows that men and women consistently focus on personal relationships as the source of emotional pain. It is not hard to imagine that romantic relationships are among the top reasons people seek psychotherapy and counselling supports. Marriages, extra-marital affairs, consensual sexual arrangements, long-term committed partnerships and more are common causes of emotional pain when something goes awry. Relationships at work are also reported as troublesome and emotionally painful, but not the topic of focus in this blog.

Emotionally Painful Decisions take time to heal!!!

Many famous people in politics and hollywood have had to endure the consequences of personal adult decisions in public. Perhaps, this is the cost of fame albeit negatively impactful on the lives of innocent family members also affected by revelations, especially where previously shrouded in secrecy.

Our own Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau’s political campaign was shadowed by the ghost of his father’s past. Pierre’s mature post-marital partnership with Deborah Coyne resulted in the birth of Sarah Elisabeth Coyne when Justin was 19 years old. In 1991, the then modern adult and consensual relationship was viewed as mutually caring and respectful. In fact, the decision to reserve the Trudeau surname for his three surviving sons seemed to be a progressive and thoughtful tribute to his own life as Prime Minister with Margaret and their young family. It cast Deborah in an equally progressive and respectful light acknowledging the mature nature of decision-making in her own romantic relationship with Pierre.

The interesting twist of Deborah’s decision to run as the leader of the Liberal Party at the same time as Justin was confusing to many. Certainly, her lifelong interest in law and politics, and her personal commitment to build a better Canada stands for itself. The manner in which the Canadian Press reported her political decisions was respectful in comparison to the humiliating tone used in politics by neighbours to our South. Canadian politics pales in comparison to the mean and sometimes viscious politics of our American neighbours.

Notwithstanding, a media analysis of the public treatment of the Deborah and Sarah Coyne would likely reveal layers of misogyny, gender-based bias and prejudice. From a psychotherapeutic perspective, I am reminded about the ways that emotional pain trickles down to people outside the intimate space of the bedroom where many of these adult decisions are made. Ironically, Pierre rose to fame in part by his declaration that “there is no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” His spontaneuos eloquence so easily summarized the sentiments of the time, and established a much-needed boundary between the personal & the public.

It is in this boundary between the personal and public that intrigues the work of a psychotherapist who regularly straddles this navigational space with clients in careful and deliberate ways. Certainly, adults have rights to engage in consensual decisions that best meet their personal needs. It is the psychological, social, and emotional impacts of personal adult decisions that may cause emotional pain for many years. Currently referred to as “collateral damage” in therapeutic circles, there are rippling effects to personal decisions for which you may not be prepared down the road.

Accessing a Clinical Supervisor to assist navigating this emotional space between the private and public, especially where other people involved including children may be hurt. Clinical supervision is an important step to ensure that your personal prejudices, biases, and values are explored while working on cases at hand. You may be triggered by work with individual clients actively engaged in an extra-martial affair, ethical non-monogamy, poly-amorous relationships, or casual sex. Romatic mores have changed sinced the 1970’s, but emotional pain has not.

In person counselling remains an essential service to individuals, couples, and families who carry their own personal pain, and perhaps, the residual emotional pain inherited from older adults and family members. Take your time and find the right therapist for you today.

Sunny dispositions deserve to shine!!!!

#healthy #wellness #InPersonCounselling #Whenyouareready #Covid19Compliant

The Gift of Motherhood

Birth of New Life

Today is a special day in North America and around the globe. It signifies a deserved pause in busy times to honour the woman who brought you to life. Of course, there are several exceptions to the bio-normative perspective of motherhood that includes adoption, surrogacy, step-parenthood, and foster parenting. A traditional feminist analysis of mothering expands the bio-normative procreative function of the female body to include mothering roles, which may or may not be performed by the woman who bore the new person into the world.

I was a relatively younger mother myself. Deciding to have my children prior to obtaining my Master of Social Work degree or establishing my chosen professional career. Like many women of my time, we were children of immigrants who came to Canada in search of the promise of the New World. We aspired to fulfill dreams of higher education that our parents believed would ensure that the New World would steer a better course than previous generations. I can only imagine the hope that fuelled my parents generations as they sailed across the Ocean to arrive in the Halifax habour. Many cousins sailed to Ellis Island in New York, all sharing dreams of New Beginnings as young men and women full of potential and dreams for a better life.

It was this vision of higher education that we children of immigrants strived to acheive. The view was that higher education would “teach” us to be better humans. A modern world where people communicate with eloquence, understanding and compassion. We had faith in rational models of problem solving, science, analysis, and deliberation. Our parents cautiously trusted insitutions of higher education, as they lived through the terrible & far reaching impacts of “eugenic sciences” in Europe.

Planning to have my children was the best decision of my life. Having two children twenty-months apart was a happy surprise that kept us on our toes. We had lots of help from my mother, sisters, family, and friends. There is something truly sublime in the simple, as many poets, philosophers, scientists, and artists have tried to capture and recreate over the years.

Perhaps, this sublime quality of all that is beautiful in the world will forever be beyond our human grasp. Nonetheless, we continue to try. It is this gift of hope that New Life heralds to mothers around the world. Motherhood is to me a shared experience that is both amazingly unique and common at the same time.

The cultural and geo-location of my personal experiences as Mom and everything else is shaped by my Italian roots. Fiercely identified as feminist in my views, the ongoing tension with mysogyny & patriarchy in my life and work remains. In humility, I gently nod Simone de Beauvoir’s magnum opus The Second Sex in 1949, and thank the academy for reminding “striving” women about its current relevance.

I remain a “striving” woman myself. It is my hope that being a Mother and “Striving” remains fluid. My genuine hope is that new mothers will find this balance to strive, achieve, and sustain all the while growing healthy, happy, and compassionate people. Happy Mother’s Day!!

Dr. Romano-Dwyer, CEO & Owner, Health & Wellness Affiliates Clinic

#wellness #balance #compassion #care #MothersDay #love #family

What’s in Your Name?

Your Name, Your Roots, Your Heritage, Your Rights!!!!

Forever drawn to the study of culture and society, embarking on a career in Social Work offered me unique ways of understanding human problems. Sharing many aspects of work with Psychology, Psychiatry, Child and Youth Work, Developmental Services Work, and Mental Health Nursing, Clinical Social Work embeds problems in an overarching systemic framework. Similar to mechanistic sciences such as engineering, systemic frameworks explore problems in relation to the systems in which they occur, happen, or manifest.

In this way, social work theory focuses less on the problem as the problem per se, and views the systems or processes that lead to, enhance, shape, or grow the problems as the place for investigation & intervention to occur. It becomes important to understand processes of communication, decision-making, problem-solving, and social interacting when assessing clinical problems identified by a person as distressing.

There is ample scientific evidence today that shows direct positive impacts of interventions that encourage people to try to do something different by modifying particular habitual patterns that more times than not lead to the problem. For example, couples who change up the time of day or place in their home that financial or sexual discussions occur, may improve things. The key is noticing what modifications work to lessen or reduce the problem, and then to do more of what works!!!

Identifying the why something worked is really not all that important, and often distracts clients from shifting their real emotional work to tasks of healing. Sometimes, your tasks of healing are greater than you realize and include some cultural and historical importance as well. For example, are you comfortable with your name? When spoken, does your name signify your cultural heritage, history, and possibly religion? How do you feel about your first and last names?

I am often intrigued by names. I feel a sense of honour when individuals take the time to teach me about their name, cultural heritage, and personal histories. It has been my experience that most people ground personal history in the context of family both here in Canada and abroad. Individuals take pride in talking about the people, traditions, and practices that informs their modern life today.

Within a clinical context, conversations about your personal issues are more deeply understood when explored within this histo-socio-cultural frame. A broader context for understanding your values, beliefs, and traditions will enhance your views of your current situation and problems and allow you to go deeper into those aspects of your life that are simply non-negotiable.

Some familiar non-negotiable values for healthy-living likely include respect for self & other, kindness, fairness, and the freedom to express your point of view. Safeguarding your core values is indeed a human right, just as safeguarding your own name is.

Sunny dispositions deserve to shine!!!!

© Lisa Romano-Dwyer BSc, MSW, PhD, RSW

#wellness #heritage #values #civicduty #healthy #weallbelong #isolatecreate