There is a deep longing to reconnect with our “True Self” and to live it authentically. I am Peter Roseman.  This is a fundamental underpinning of my work, whether with mental health (depression and anxiety counseling,  grief and loss counseling, and the like), counseling significant life transitions,  addictions counseling.  For over 30 years, I have practiced  psychotherapy throughout Southeast Michigan, and have increasingly grounded my therapy in this simple premise:  the extent to which we are able to be “real” with ourselves and others;  the extent to which we can confidently tolerate our feelings and  thoughts about things, without shrinking from them; and the extent to which we are willing to express ourselves openly and spontaneously and appropriately,  even when it's hard, is the extent to which we will live healthy, vital, well-adjusted lives.  We have the right to be our authentic Selves, no mater how we feel, all of the time, simply because it's our right! 

In living authentically, we feel deserving enough to care so deeply about ourselves, that we have enough left over to responsibly care about others too.  Whether oriented in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Brief Solution Focused Therapy or EMDR, whether working in Transpersonal, Shamanic, or weaving together several traditions, the theme of being honest with oneself and others at all times is my therapeutic metaphor. 


MY PHILOSOPHY ABOUT BEING A COUNSELOR, A THERAPIST

If you've visited my WHY THERAPY? page,  you found a host of reasons that people consider counseling.  Typically they are experiencing a moderate to severe level of stress or emotional discomfort that may have led to poor job or academic performance as well as increasingly dysfunctional relationships.  It is normal to feel some anxiety or nervousness when beginning counseling, for it is never easy to face tough problems.  More, so many of us fear Opening Pandora's Box!  For some though, it's a huge relief to finally start therapy and take control again!

Being a Psychologist is an amazing profession full of challenges, heartaches, and celebration.  Client’s allow me to be with them when they are at their worst and see them at their best.  For me, it just doesn’t get any better than being a part of their success.  Here are 10 aspects that I embrace as fundamental to our relationship.  More than any technique or clinical orientation, I believe that it is our connection ~ the integrity of our relationship that is most catalytic in healing.  I do hope this clarifies what you can expect from working with me.


I’m not thinking you’re crazy!

Since the beginning of my career,  I've held the position that everyone I see is a creative and unique individual, just trying to find their way in the world.  None of us are perfect and I certainly don’t expect you to be!  Serious change usually requires risk taking and experimenting and to my mind, there are no failed experiments!   This is important: the result of an experiment simply gives you information about whether you're are on the right path (in which case, we continue with the experiment) or, the path you’re on is not going to take you where you want to go (in which case, we tweak the experiment, change it a bit, and try it again).  And if I think, as your collaborator, that the design of your experiment is off, I’ll let you know that in a good way.  It’s what you ask of a guide, isn’t it?


Trust is everything.

Your ability to connect with me will be the number one factor determining how well we work together and how effective your healing will be.  If you don’t feel like you click with me after a few sessions, it’s OK to be ‘real’ about it and let me know.  I will be glad to help you find different therapist.  This is simply an ethical practice that we, as therapists understand as part of the human experience.  And if you find that my clinical approach is not working for you, I’m open to tweaking that too.  So there’s never a need to feel bad, or to feel guilty about speaking your Truth about it.  We all need different things and my top priority is to help  you identify and connect with the best of your Self with which to relate authentically to your world.  


My job is not to “psychoanalyze” you.

...Been there;  done that, and could do it again!  But over the years, I’ve come to realize that my job is to be more of a collaborator and to help you gain more understanding about what your spirit already knows.  I don’t think a good therapist claims to have all the answers about why you are the way you are, you have them!  You just can’t get to them.  Answers and changes are found in our collaboration;  in the process of relationship!  I will have some ideas and insights that I will share with you, of course.  With them we create experiments together with which you can come to your own understandings and new, more satisfying ways of being.  My gift is the in the ability to create an environment that is ripe for your own answers to emerge, so healing happens.  Your gift is having those answers deep inside yourself, even though you don’t know you do!  My part is to facilitate that process of discovery, not to tell you how to think or what to believe or how act.  You've probably had enough of that anyway!  Your part is simply to be open and courageous enough to step into your own Truth, take it into the world, and act on it. 


With rare exception, I’m not here to give you advice.

I’m here to share my knowledge with you and help you make your own decisions that are balanced, rational, and well thought out.  Encouraging your own creative excellence strengthens your reasoning and decision-making skills.  And solidifying your resource circle is, in my orientation, the perfect set-up for increasing independence and self-esteem.  What do you think?


Work through your emotions with me instead of quitting, anger included.

I see therapy as the ideal forum within which to learn how to express your feelings accurately and appropriately.  That’s what I’m here for:  to offer a safe place for you to experiment with new ways of being, thinking, and feeling.  Take advantage of this.  When we learn how to work through our difficult emotions not only alone, but especially in the presence of others, it increases one’s core sense of an individuated Self, and is therefore a catalyst to our personal power.  What I promote here, is your incorporating an emotional skill set out of which close, even intimate relationships are predicated.  Relationship, and life in general, simply becomes easier, happier, when we are open and spontaneous in expressing what we think, and how we feel, accurately, spontaneously, and appropriately.   This is a necessary component to maintaining relationships with All Things of the Earth and managing your emotions in a healthy way. 


While back-sliding doesn’t have to happen, it usually does. I’m not here to judge that.   

Most people judge themselves and find themselves guilty enough for several jail sentances!  I encourage my clients to be honest with themselves without judgment.  It’s only through openly acknowledging relapses that we can figure out how it happened, so that you don’t have to relapse again and can catapult forward. Back-sliding is totally common and a part of the healing process.  It is never something that is used to inspire shame.  


You deserve to be happy.

Happiness is not reserved for special people.  Everyone has regrets ~ things we wish we never would have done, people we’ve hurt along the way, people who have hurt us either intentionally or unintentionally.  I’m a firm believer that we can heal our wounds and step into happiness. You deserve it just as much as the next person.  And you deserve to be happy for no reason at all!


I can’t “fix” your life or your problems. Only you can.

I can help you gain more clarity, more understanding, and form plans of action.  There is nothing magical about therapy.  It does takes work, but if you’re up for the challenge,  it can certainly feel like magic is happening!  I always look forward to being a part of that...I don’t bail!


The only way to realizing your personal power is action: do something differently.

If you continue to come to therapy without putting any new behaviors or thoughts into action, progress will be a slow process, if even possible for you.  The path to action is different for everyone, but if you never do anything different, you’ll never get a different result.  You’re the only one who can decide to take action.  You already hold all the power!  Here, I would encourage you to read my short article, “Vision and Action."


I want you to have the life you want.

Sitting together, I come to know your struggles, your hopes and dreams, your insecurities.  There is nothing I want more for you than for you to bring your dreams into reality, push through your fears and self imposed limitations, and have the life you want.  Seriously, your success is the ultimate gift to a therapist.  More importantly it's the most worthwhile gift you can give yourself!  

In the Lansing, Michigan area, please contact me for more information or to set up some time with me.

Peter Roseman Psy.S.
517.798.6446
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Vision and Action
Inspired by writings of Mark Nakell, MSW

The combination of vision and action is a key element in our lives.  Everything you can name, and everything you can't, originated from an imagination ~ a Vision ~ and became manifest in 3D through Action...everything!

Vision is not merely "looking."

Vision is the ability to see into...

Every animal, bird, fish, and insect can see. We have the capability of seeing freshly into ourselves and others;  we have the capacity to see into the nature of all aspects of our world;  we can see into the meanings of experience;  and sometimes we can see into the future.  This is one of the human being's greatest gifts.

On a world level, vision has been crucial to every step of the long development of civilization. 

Scientific and technological revolutions, new religions and political systems, cities and civilizations have all been the result of vision.  Columbus, and Einstein and Buddha were all exemplary visionaries.  But vision also operates importantly in our everyday world.  Everything about how we live is guided by vision, by imagination, from planning a meal to building a house to starting a business to deciding who to marry.

Counseling and The Myth of Opening Pandora's Box

When we consider starting counseling, we may naturally speak with anxiety about, “Opening Pandora’s box.”   It is a metaphor for the potential of letting loose all manner of disastrous problems and evils for ourselves and potentially others.  On the basis of this anxiety, of course it is natural to hesitate.   In my brand of therapy though, we tease out a gift of empowerment within that "box" that you likely have not  been told about ~ or should I say has been forgotten!

Pandora's BoxPandora’s box is an “origin myth” ~ an attempt to explain the beginning of things.

We humans have always wanted to know why things are the way they are in the world, and how they came to be that way.  We still do.  This is a critical psychological principal that becomes really important to know in the process of self understanding, especially in counseling.  When we don’t know “why things are the way they are,” we will make up a plausible story about it (a 'myth'), relieving us of the anxiety of ‘not knowing.’  It doesn't matter if the story is true or not, only that it plausibly explains a lot.  And what's important about that for your counseling or therapy is that we tend to continue to live our lives, as if the myth is true, even when it's not because we totally believe that it is!  On this basis, who would not be frightened of the counseling process?

There are many myths, across all cultures, which attempt to explain things that can't otherwise be explained: the origins of the universe and of human beings; why there is evil and disease in the world; hate and war; the origins of beauty; of heroes, and so on.  If you think about it, unfortunately entrenched myths about needing counseling or therapy, even about stress and mental illness, continue to run rampant, to this day!  In many stories, beauty and other gifts are bestowed by the gods as rewards for our allegiance to them;  evils are released because we disobey.

The story of Pandora and her box comes from Ancient Greece.  Because the passing of myths were mainly oral in tradition, there are several versions of this myth.  Here seems to be the most popular.

The Story
In Greek mythology, Pandora (meaning ‘all-giving’) was the first woman on earth.  Before humans there were the “immortals” (the Gods and Titans).  The brothers, Prometheus and Epimetheus were Titans, giant “god-like” men, who had fought on the gods’ side in a war. Some say they were cousins of Zeus, King of the gods.  So, Zeus assigned Prometheus the task of creating man out of clay and water (in many versions Hephaestus, the craftsman, helps in this).  Epimetheus was assigned to create the animals and to give them their gifts of courage, swiftness, cunning, etc.  When he had given out all the gifts he had to the animals, he found that he had none left for Man.  Taking pity us, man, brother Prometheus decides to make man stand upright, like the gods, and give them fire (which Zeus had forbidden, since it would give us too much power -- the power of the Gods).  So Prometheus stole fire – some say from Zeus’ lightning bolt, others say from the sun, and yet others from Hephaestus’ forge.

Most agree that Zeus asked Hephaestus to make Pandora (the first woman) also out of earth and water.  Now, Zeus was not crazy about Humans, so he intended her to be a punishment for Prometheus who loved, and took pity on Man.  Each god and goddess bestowed upon Pandora a gift (known as “talent”), of beauty, charm, music, etc, but also others, like curiosity and persuasion – gifts that could be used for good or ill. 

While Prometheus may have crafted man, woman was a different sort of creature.  She came from the forge of Hephaestus, beautiful as a goddess and as beguiling, thanks to traits bestowed by Athena and Zeus.  So, Zeus presented to Man his “gift,” Pandora, as a bride to Prometheus' brother Epimetheus.  Prometheus had the gift of thinking ahead, but Epimetheus was only capable of afterthought, so Prometheus, expecting retribution for his audacity, had warned his brother against accepting gifts from Zeus.  But of course, he didn’t listen.

Zeus gave the gods-crafted Pandora as bride to Epimetheus, along with a box.  With it came a warning telling the couple never to open it. Epimetheus was dazzled by his bride, Pandora.  Perhaps he forgot the warning of his prescient brother:  that it might not be a gift at all, but they were supposed to ‘hold the box in safe-keeping for Zeus until his return!”

Epimetheus insisted that his wife obey the letter of warning.  Unfortunately, one day Pandora's husband left her side for a few hours. Remember that Pandora was gifted with curiosity as much as the other attributes given her by the gods.  For her the box was a gift, not something to be kept in trust. What business had Zeus to tell her not to open it?  Perhaps she'd listened to much too her brother-in-law's tales of tricking the King of the gods. Perhaps she saw nothing to fear...Maybe if she just took a quick peak.... 

Looking around to make sure no one was watching, she opened the box Zeus had given them just a crack.  As Pandora did so, ghostly forms gushed forth from the crack.  Pandora had unleashed all manner of evils that are now known to man.  No longer could man loll about all day lavishing himself in the dream-like benevolence of the gods, but he would have to work and would succumb to illnesses.

At the very bottom of the container though, was the last thing to come out.  It was something that wasn't evil at all. In fact, it was actually very good. And we call the good that Pandora unleashed by the name of “hope.”

As in many origin myths, man had lived in a world without worry – until this jar / box was opened, which contained ills for mankind.  Zeus knew that Pandora’s curiosity would mean that she could not stop herself from opening it, especially when he had told her that she must not do so!

We can feel the myth of Pandora’s Box stirring in ourselves in times of confronting ourselves, or important others.  Can you relate this myth to the issue of 'authenticity' in relationship?  To your imagination in your conception of what it is to be in counseling?  Is there not a voice that you hear warning you against being totally “real” with yourself;  with others -- inspiring a fear of opening Pandora’s box?   Don’t forget what was in the bottom of that box though...

In the Lansing, Michigan area, please feel free to email or call me with any questions or comments at the address below.

Peter Roseman
517.798-6446
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Why Do People Typically Seek Counseling or Therapy?

There is often a misconception that to need counseling means that one is 'crazy.' But this is just not true!

Why seek psychotherapy?

Typically, people begin therapy (aka "psychotherapy;" or "Counseling") wanting to change something about themselves or their relationship.  For the most part, they may actually like the way they are.  Sometimes they don’t.  In any case, they decide on counseling because they have a sense that they do need to make some practical changes in:

  • How they’re thinking about things
  • How they feel about things and to manage those feelings (like, anger & stress) better
  • How they’re behaving in certain situations
  • How they relate to others

People seek therapy looking for a different perspective on particular issues; a different viewing point.  They may be aware of other perspectives, but they are limited or unsatisfying, and may not work.

In addition to scouring the internet, someone may have given you the name of a therapist they know and trust.  Still, because so many of us carry the myth of opening Pandora's Box, it can be difficult to make the call.  So, what actually moves people to call or to send the email, to set up your first appointment?

You could be in crisis.

An overwhelming, catastrophic event occurs and you have no clue how to deal with it.

The loss of a loved one, the end of a relationship, job loss.  More: emotional or physical abuse, victimization, trauma, an episode of mental or physical illness or disability, a stressful situation that has reached the breaking point.  Therapy meets the need for acquiring immediate resources for feeling more stable, daily coping and adaptive survival.  

You are in transition

You need help adjusting, or proactively approaching an inevitable, perhaps radically different life change.

Leaving home and adjusting to adulthood, choosing a career, preparing for marriage or divorce, becoming a parent, retirement.  Sometimes sudden change, chaotically surprises us with the seeming lack of resources we thought we had. The role of therapy as I practice it, transforms transitional movement into a more predictable, organized [and often less chaotic] process of integrity and dignity.

You’re just feeling ‘stuck’

You keep repeating the same bad relationships or the same bad, self-defeating decisions.

You find yourself on the same emotional roller-coaster over and over.  You feel powerless to make different decisions or change your situation; you’re not progressing the way you know you could, and life seems to be passing you by!  Some of my clients simply want a psychological “tune-up” to make sure they themselves, or their relationships are healthy and their life is on track to meet their goals.

You just need to vent.

Sometimes we just need to get something off our chest...and that’s OK!

You could simply need a forum in which to express your feelings safely, where your pain will be held sympathetically, and you won’t be told, “You shouldn’t feel that way.”  You may just need someone to listen well, or wanting to learn more appropriate stress management, or anger management strategies. You just want to be taken seriously and want to know that your pain matters to somebody.  You want to be able to say: “Finally, somebody ‘gets’ me!”

You’re concerned about your marriage or other commited relationship

1. You no longer, have anything in common. You spend hours together under the same roof, or at social gatherings, or performing routine errands, yet rarely engage in meaningful conversation.

2. Seems like you/your partner can do nothing right. You feel like every action is being watched and criticized. In your mind, your partner just can't to do anything right anymore.

3. Silence is becoming the norm in your relationship. You go out of your way to avoid being together and, when you are, you have nothing to talk about.

4. Your partner has stopped sharing much of anything with you about career, excitements, personal problems or achievements...

5. A change in physical appearance. There has been a more pronounced deterioration in personal appearance and hygiene by your partner and you wonder if they no longer care or, are not happy in the relationship.

6. Little attention is given to the relationship itself: the television is on constantly, you both sit with your face buried in a book; there is always something else that needs to be done.

7. Arguments have become routine: mostly petty; all the same issues and no resolution. You find yourself arguing over the same thing, repeatedly. Resentment and contempt have replaced patience and love.

8. Intimacy has become a thing of the past. Physical affection is minimal, if it exists at all, as is the sense of emotional/spiritual bonding with your partner. You've turned from lovers into roommates.

9. One or both of you is having an affair.

10. You have wondered about divorce.

You feel like you’ve lost yourself

“I just don’t know who I am any more.”

You’ve “lost your Self” to so much over-compliance or focusing for so long on your career, or the needs of others.  You may want to reconnect with an identity you’ve forgotten: your own legitimate needs, wants and desires, and the right to get them met; you’ll want to re-member and clarify your true feelings, attitudes and values to be reclaimed as your own again.

You need to resolve historical issues

You’ve finally realized, or suspect that your personal history is negatively effecting your current life.

You consider starting therapy to reflect on your life, process and resolve old feelings, perhaps “let go” of some past experiences so that you can “move on” and get your life back on track again.

You wonder if you are addicted to something

Repeated and increasing use of substances, or other forms of influence is detrimentally becoming the focus of your life.

You’ve been excluding other, more meaningful people and activities from your life and your circle of resources is shrinking: friends, family, coworkers and supervisors, are beginning to be concerned about you.  You wonder if your involvement with substance abuse, gambling, sex or relationship, work, or other preoccupations, are becoming a problem.

The therapeutic relationship should be a vessel that is safe and welcoming.  Within it, feelings, worries, concerns can be 'fleshed out' and embraced.  By the end of the first visit, you should have a pretty good idea of precisely what is wrong, and how to fix it: that is, your action plan.   Understand that, no mater who your therapist is, nothing should proceed without your complete approval, and your consent. In other words, there will be no implementation of any plan of action; there will be no counseling or therapy, unless you, or you designee approve it and give your permission!

If you live in the Lansing Michigan area, please feel free to email or call me with any questions or comments at the address below.

Peter Roseman Psy.S.
517.798.6446
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 

In Session: Trusting Your Emotions

Diad WhyTxScott:  I want to get rid of this anger!

Peter:  How so?

S:  It is horrible when it comes...I don’t know what to do! I cannot control myself and soon I start beating up on everyone ... not physically, but just screaming, yelling, even throwing things...you know?

P:  I do know, yes.

S:  And it’s just horrible. I'm a good person, but sometimes things upset me so much, and I end up with people who should understand me, leaving me.  Do you know what I mean?

P:  Perfectly.

S:  What do I do?

P:  What kinds of things to you rage about?

S:  Mmm, you know ... like when I get another bill for example, I get really pissed!

About Peter: A Short Bio

WesternPeterI am a Vietnam era Veteran.  Between 1967 and 1971, while in the U.S. Air Force, I not only served as a Crew Chief aboard a large Jet Transport/Medical Evacuation aircraft. Paradoxically, I was also managing and performing as a folk singer in a local, South Carolina Coffee House.  There, I became the lay ‘go-to social worker’ and crisis interventionist for the drug overdosed, the broken-hearted, and those confused about their participation in the war.  My socially "ordained" role was more about the ‘image’ as well as my capacity as a manager of the “Folk Ghetto” and performer, than my untrained skill as an interventionist.  It was true that throughout my life, I had a sensitivity to others that drew the emotionally troubled, so my time at the “Ghetto” was a welcome privilege, and came easily to me. 

Honorably discharged in 1971, my re-entry into “the world” and the “Readjustment Blues” set in. Of course, this was a tough process.  It was for most of us. Still is for those currently returning.  I was angry with the military, but proud of my service and I had no clue about my future.  I was confused about my identity and my place in the world.  ”Maybe college could help me sort this out.” 

I happened onto my first ‘Introduction to Psychology’ class, the following  year in late 1972, at Dearborn Michigan’s, Henry Ford Community College. It was a natural fit.  I also stumbled upon Bill Wahlberg, a Henry Ford counselor and psychotherapist who later, during my own inner journeying, led me deeply into the traditions of Gestalt therapy, Transactional Analysis, Bioenergetics, ‘PathWork,’ and other more esoteric, psycho-spiritual traditions.  Strenuously rooted in the rigors of the ‘Human Potential Movement’ (Encounter groups, ‘T’-groups etc.) of the 60‘s and early 70‘s, full emphasis was placed on living authentically, in the ‘here and now.’  To my great relief and excitement, life as I now know it began!  I will be forever grateful for Bill’s guidance into the depths of my falsehoods, and into the revelation of my Truths.

I spent the next 10 years moving through Henry Ford, through Wayne State University in Detroit and Highland Park College, completing two Associates degrees (one in Alcoholism Therapy), and a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology.  By 1982, through the Merrill-Palmer Institute and then,the Center For Humanistic Studies in Detroit, my graduate degrees led to licensure and working in both mental health and substance abuse throughout Southeast Michigan.  Although I always had a small, concurrent private practice, my mainstay was public, outpatient clinics until 2011, when I began my private work in Okemos, Michigan, where I now continue to practice.

Throughout my education and career, I attended conferences and workshops, many of which continue to influence my work (those most notable: Solution Focused Brief Therapy; Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; Hypnosis; EMDR). During the first of these, a crisis intervention conference, I was introduced to the meditative martial art, T’ai-Chi Ch’uan.  This was the first major influence, outside my academic training.  It led to a ten-year study of the Chinese 'Taoist' philosophy, and actually teaching T’ai-Chi for six years. Both contributed deeply to the shaping of my work, and still do.

In 1985, I met ‘Swiftdeer’, a mixed blood medicine man of Cherokee and Irish decent and shortly thereafter, began transitioning from my Taoist studies, to Native-American medicine and healing practices.  For 8 years I apprenticed in the Sweet Medicine Sundance Tradition, drawing on shamanic practices from around the planet, especially North, Central, and South America.  The ancient wisdom continues to ‘breathe’ insight and wisdom into both my personal and professional life and to those open, provides spiritual and psychological viewing points and interventions, that western psychology often does not. 

Of course, my formal education was invaluable to my abilities as a clinician.  At least as important were my own in depth personal growth experiences: my therapy with Bill Wahlberg in Dearborn; my study of Taoism and T’ai-Chi with Steve Harrigan and his assistant Robin in Ann Arbor, Michigan, my shamanic apprenticeship in the Deer Tribe with Swiftdeer, and later of other indigenous peoples. 

BECOMING ‘REAL’: A PROCESS

Over the years, my personal process increasingly dealt not only with historical and interpersonal issues, but the theme of ‘authenticity‘ as well.  It began to dominate my work.  Almost of it’s own accord, authenticity became more compelling in my everyday life. It meant working with my increasing need to live, and to express well, the reality of my feelings and thoughts, my needs, wants and desires. The need to express myself honestly, and live my Truth impeccably arose nearly simultaneously, in conjunction with my willingness to take risks (intimacy always involves risk, doesn’t it?).  I discovered that the personal, and the interpersonal process are really one in the same.

And so evolved the work of confronting and working through roadblocks to identifying my dreams of prosperity and security in my daily life, as well as my sacred dream: my spiritual gifts and purpose for having been born here in the first place.  I continue to work with inventing ways to dance those dreams awake, into my personal life, and into the community.

So, the reinvention of my own, more personal definitions of what it is to be a "man" in this culture, of authenticity and intimacy is still central to my personal mission and it guides my work with others.  I have come to understand that it is the on-going striving to be as open and honest with ourselves as we can, which make living in harmony and balance with one another, the community, and all life, so much easier and so much more prosperous. This is fundamental to my work. It is fundamental to my life.

Any comments?  Please feel free to contact me: 

Peter Roseman Psy.S.
517.798.6446
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

 Counseling and Its Relationship With the Dreamcatcher

Dream-CatcherDream Catchers are among the most recognizable Native American symbols in the country today.  For many Native American peoples, they represent a tradition.  There is something sacred about them.  They represent legends, the very fabric of a culture that has been handed down for generations.  By learning the meanings behind these beautiful, woven circles, you can gain a deeper appreciation of the craft and the beliefs behind their creation.  They may even provide some meaning to your own life as they have for many, outside the traditional Native-American world. 

Native People believed in a mythical spider woman that would visit the sleeping newly born infants and spin a web for their protection.  Over time, it became impossible for her to visit all infants, leaving the women of the tribe to make the dreamcatcher to protect their newborns. For this reason, some tribes fashion their dreamcatchers with eight points to represent the eight legs of Spiderwoman.  Eventually, Dreamcatchers began to be created with a more colorful design to keep babies entertained while they rested in their sleeping places.  It was believed that the Dreamcatcher would keep away bad dreams and let only the good ones enter.  Here, you will find a beautiful animation that depicts the sweetness of "dreamcatching" for you.

CoDependents and Domestic ViolenceIn the course of my work, I have seen people with a remarkable tendancy to remain at the effect of physical or emotional abuse and even violence. Domestic Violence is against the law. Its perpetrators often resist being held accountable for their behavior and may place their partner (who I most typically have, and will periodically continue to work with) and/or children in harm’s way.  Often, perpetrators may seek to disparage and discredit the therapists of their abused partners who only seek to help them address their CoDependence, or their own abusive behavior.  (Here, I would really encourage you to take a look at my article on A Brief Psychology of Narcissism and How to Survive it.) Given my willingness to occasionally work with these CoDependents or even those whose behavior may be abusive, I make the following statement, in the interest of client and personal safety: 

  • Domestic violence is the physical or emotional domination of one person over another.  Generally, the partner who is victimized has had no power in the relationship.
  • Domestic violence is known by various names in professional circles including: conjugal violence; intimate partner violence; partner abuse; woman abuse; and violence against women. Clearly some wording is gender or target specific while other wording is gender neutral and more general with respect to the target.
  • Domestic violence includes a variety of abusive behavior whereby some sort of harm is threatened and/or inflicted upon one or more persons by another person who shares a close and emotional relationship and/or shared living arrangement. Domestic violence in the context of these relationships includes behavior that is often physical and/or verbal and/or psychological in nature.
  • Domestic abuse and violence may however take other forms that you may be surprised about. It is evident in those relationships where one seeks to control any of the behavior or life of the other through means such as:
    • limiting access to finances or making unilateral financial decisions
    • limiting friendships
    • undermining the care of the children
    • not participating in or demanding household responsibilities
    • determining one’s dress and clothing
    • limiting or demanding one’s work
    • limiting or restricting recreational activities
    • demanding sex and unwanted sexual activity
    • threatening other related persons and/or pets
    • limiting access to any shared resources.

 Domestic violence is known to create mental health problems for the target of the behavior. Common mental health problems include depression and anxiety.  Further, the relationship between the person engaging in domestic violence and the target is often marked by cycles of abusive behavior; anger or withdrawal on the part of the target followed by contrite, apologetic behavior by the perpetrator resulting in a lowering of defenses by the target, until the cycle starts up again.

Domestic violence is not healthy for the target or for the person engaging in the abusive/controlling behavior.  While it is understood how such behavior is contrary to the well-being of the target, it harms the person engaging in abusive behavior too as it is self-defeating in the long term with regard to maintaining healthy and mutually satisfying relationships.

Domestic violence is also harmful to children.  Children subject to domestic violence may appear sullen or withdrawn or angry and bitter. These children often have difficulty relating to peers and difficulty focusing at school.  Boys may be seen to bully and girls may be seen to be withdrawn. These children are at risk of being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Distorder, depression and anxiety.

When I initially see a client, I pretty routinely ask about the potential history of domestic violence and power imbalances.  I do this, not only to get necessary information, but to provide reassurance that emotionally revealing disclosures in our therapeutic relationship won’t put anyone at risk of harm.

In the event that issues of domestic violence and/or power imbalances are discussed, a safety plan may be created to facilitate the client’s well-being, understanding that safety is ultimately each person’s own responsibility alone.

Given the destructive nature of domestic violence on people and their relationships, these issues really do need to be discussed in therapy.

Victimized CoDependents as well as perpetrators who do well in therapy, tend to be more self-reflective and have an ability to take responsibility for their behavior.  They very often become interested and concerned about their impact upon others. But, there are those who are well entrenched in their behavior and attitudes.  These people tend to not take responsibility for their behavior or their contribution to the pain of others. In those situations, I will make my opinion clear, that the likelihood of a positive outcome is limited. The therapy will be more focused on protective strategies, such as creating a “safe plan”, identifying personal resources, triggering social supports and local agencies, etc...  

Where required by law, Child, and/or Adult Protective Services will be notified in circumstances where a child’s, or more impaired adult’s well being is in jeopardy of violence, abuse, or neglect.  More, police may be called to protect the well-being of the intended target, if necessary.

At times perpetrators who are resistant to change are likely to blame their partner, and may also target the therapist with false allegations and other forms of abuse.  This attempt to discredit or bring financial or professional harm is a ploy to deflect matters from themselves and/or seek revenge for empowering the independence of the client. 

When working peripherally with those who may try to make me the target of false allegations or abuse, I reserve the right to protect myself by any legal means available including taking action at the expense of the violent/abusive person.  Confidentiality will be deemed to be waived by both clients and persons engaging in violent or abusive behavior for the protection of my client, and/or myself and/or my family.

Because of my periodic willingness to work with the CoDependents of abusive partners, I have also been the target of false allegations, attempted abuse and even physical intimidation.  Notwithstanding, I  still tend to work with folks in these circumstances, in the interest of their well-being, their relationships and their children. 

In the Lansing, Michigan area, feel free to email or call me with any questions or comments at the address below.

 

Peter Roseman Psy.S.
517.798.6446
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