A long time in the making...
I got into the couple and family therapy business because I thought the healing and restoration of relationship would be the most powerful thing I could ever do in someone’s life. I had spend a number of years in youth ministry and found myself spending more time relationally trying to help people heal in their relationships than anything else. I figured this would be a better, more powerful way to do it. Maybe it sounds cheesy or altruistic… but I loved “love.”
Fast forward years later and I’m working as a couple therapist, specializing in Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, and helping people in their romantic and family relationships. What I’m really doing is working on relational bonds… and I’ve come to learn that these bonds are the lifeblood of our existence. At least for most of us. Having relationships and especially THE relationship that you can count on, that is solid and secure, that is life giving makes all the difference in a world full of anxieties, stresses, challenges and especially the traumatic moments that shape us. I found in this work that it makes all the difference and is as important as food and water in our lives. Actually, not only have I personally found this, but so have many mental health researchers, lending to the critical importance of what we as relationship therapists do in helping people out of broken bonds, trauma and stress.
However…I’m doing this work in private practice and I’m having to charge quite a bit to make a living. No doubt the work is worth the fee, but I also had a realization. I probably wouldn’t be able to afford the service I was giving! The financial stress would actually create new problems. This realization was followed by the sobering reality that MOST people cannot afford it. Insurance will not pay for it (that is a topic for an entirely different blog). And that doesn’t even cover the thousands that don’t have access to the services at all. If we’re looking worldwide, maybe that’s millions. Sadly, what I do is in all reality only for the affluent of the world that can afford it. Yikes.
I think a lot of therapists are realizing this. Many, like myself, go to school with big ideas of helping communities, especially those that come from lower socio-economic communities (SES) that are often plagued with violence, crime, unemployment, and all the wonderful stressors and traumas that come along. These issues bring the greater need for us to have those critical relationships that can nourish and sustain us. These issues are also what usually create traumas and fracture those same relationships.
I remember talking to a colleague who was lamenting this very thing. She went to school, earned her degree and all the student loans that come with it, achieved her specialized training, and emerged ready to go back into the community she came from and so badly dreamt of serving… only to find this impossible. Her newfound financial needs and the private practice world she would need to operate basically out-priced that community. I fear she is not alone with this. Having been a professor for a number of years, I met many students with similar dreams.
Designing Conexa has these therapists and these communities in mind. But how to connect the two? And how do we empower people to do this work in their own communities? And what if communities didn't have professionals? We need to build bridges and connect therapists to communities, communities to therapists, and people in need to people who care. We need to teach, equip and train people in their own communities. We need to connect highly-resourced communities that care with lower or non-resourced communities that care. Working together. Helping each other. Seeing entire communities change in the process.
My hope for this blog is that you find a great many things. I would love for you to get an insight into the deeper aspects of the work we do. Community transformation is not a straight line and a simple equation. It is jumping into an already existing dynamic process and trying to swim in it’s massive current. I would hope for you to be inspired or touched by some of the testimonials and stories that come from our work. Even though change at a community level takes years, we need these stories to remind us of the “why” in what we are doing. I also hope you get educated! So many of us are passionate about what we do, the therapy models and psychology, even the philosophy behind it. We strive to be cutting edge. My hope is that you’re right there with us.