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Why Connection is Vital for Healing

connection with group of aldermen playing cards

One of the key components to a vibrant, happy life is connection. Humans are designed to want to belong. That sense of belonging improves our motivation, health, and happiness

And yet it’s often one of the first things to go during difficult situations. 

Our founders, Michele Bates and Alisa Jones, experienced a difficult period of time several years ago when their father died of cancer, and six months later, their mother died in a car accident. 

Michele also had two children with disabilities who were in and out of the hospital during the same time. 

“I disconnected in order to get through it. I had to go to work, I had to care for my kids,” Michele reflected. “I felt like I was doing the right thing. But I also felt like I was outside of my body, watching my life take place. I was not in any way connected to it.” 

Connection is having shared experiences, relatable feelings, or similar ideas. We believe that having connection is a key element for healing. It’s important that you are able to recognize when you’re disconnected, what that feels like, and ways you can get that connection back. 

What does it mean to disconnect? 

It’s a natural, normal thing to disconnect in a bad situation. We do this in many ways. We disconnect from the situation itself by avoiding it, postponing or procrastinating, or pretending it’s not happening. We disconnect from others by withdrawing from family and friends, and we can even disconnect from ourselves, where we just go through the motions of everyday life. There’s lots of reasons we withdraw: depression, avoiding conflict, anger, burnout, among others.  

When we disconnect, what we’re really trying to do is disconnect from the pain, so we can endure it. If you’re disconnecting in order to endure in a difficult time, what you are effectively doing is not facing, solving, and most importantly, healing. 

What does disconnection and connection feel like? 

When you’re disconnected, you’re essentially on pause. 

Pausing time is a great superpower that could really come in handy. Charles Xavier of the “X-Men” comic book series, can freeze situations, giving him time to stop and look around and analyze the situation. It seems logical. You can see what’s going on around you and feel like you can handle things. But in reality, you are in no way participating in the situation. 

And when we’re disconnected, it’s not just the big stuff. Have you ever been standing in the kitchen and your kids are talking to you, but at the end of it you don’t remember anything they said? If you’re not connected, you are actually missing out on the life you could be living.

When we have connection in our life, we feel more alive. Life is vibrant and colorful. Little things—like a flower, a smile from a stranger, a good piece of chocolate cake—bring you joy. 

So how do we reconnect?  

We start developing habits of disconnecting early on in life. We learn to avoid conflict in childhood so this is something that has to be learned, or relearned. 

We’ve developed online therapy groups to give people a way to connect with others in an anonymous and safe environment with people who are going through similar situations—areas such as grief, caregiving, mental health issues, among others. 

Building connection allows you to learn from others. You are able to see that others share your experiences and there is a power and beauty in that. Life is hard, and there isn’t any real way around that. But when you’re going through a hard time, you’re going through it with other people. You’re a part of a system that will help you to heal. 

If you’re looking for a safe, non-threatening way to get that connection back into your life, start to heal and feel alive and happy in your own life, Transform Through Therapy’s online groups can get you started. 

Empowerment is More Than Just a Pep Talk

Empowerment of woman holding up arms on mountain

The notion of empowerment is word that has crept into various areas such as Freudian psychology, theology, the Black Power movement, Gandhism, and feminism. 

You might remember the 1980 classic “9 to 5” starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin. For the young ones reading this, the basic premise goes like this: Three working women get fed up with their overbearing, sexist boss and hold him captive, while they run the company, instituting novel corporate policies like flex start times, on premise childcare, and little things like personal pictures on desks. It appears to be the embodiment of empowerment. 

But what is empowerment in reality? Let’s first talk about what empowerment isn’t and then what it really looks like and how you can find it for yourself. 

What empowerment isn’t

Empowerment is not a temporary emotional state. True empowerment is not merely a feeling. But there are a lot of ways to get that false, fleeting feeling. Seminars, motivational speakers, and books—they fill up their own section at the bookstore—are great at giving pep talks: You can do it! You’re enough! Girl Power! But what happens when you leave the seminar, the speaker walks off stage, or you finish the book? 

You’re back to where you started quicker than you thought. 

The second thing that empowerment is not is control. We all want to feel in control, of our environment, of our thoughts and our feelings, and of situations, circumstances or even another person’s behavior. If we can control it, we get predictability and consistency. That need for control is embedded in us, as a way to ensure our physiological and safety needs as human beings.   

But it doesn’t take very long for anyone to understand that it’s difficult and near impossible to be in total control of any situation or person. If you associate empowerment with control, it’s no wonder you feel deflated, discouraged and overwhelmed. 

So what is empowerment? 

We believe that when you feel truly empowered, you are free from the need for a specific outcome. If you only feel empowered when you achieve a goal or a milestone, that means the whole rest of the journey, you don’t get to appreciate it, acknowledge it, or feel empowered along the way. True empowerment is deciding you want to do something and enjoying every piece of that journey. Whether you succeed or not, you were still empowered enough to do it. 

Secondly, empowerment is knowing in your bones that you’re unbreakable. You might crack a little, but you know you’ll be OK. 

We believe that everyone deserves to feel empowered in all aspects of your life, and no matter what happens or what comes at you, you know you’re going to be OK. When we don’t have empowerment, we are often afraid to take a chance or do certain things in life because we are afraid of failing or it might be really painful. 

In addition to that, many people feel empowered in certain areas of their life where they have confidence, like in the workplace, but then don’t have that same empowerment in other areas, such as personal relationships. 

Empowerment doesn’t have to be relegated to just one area that you feel confident and comfortable in. And it really shouldn’t be. At Transform Through Therapy, our passion is to help people realize empowerment within themselves—to have long-lasting conviction to handle life’s challenges big and small, and  make it through the other side. If you are looking for empowerment in your life that lasts, we can help you get there. 

No More Bandaids: Finding Long-term Solutions for Mental Wellness

bandaids mountain lake

We’ve had to use a Band-Aid or two—give or take several thousand—to patch up knees and various scrapes and scratches. But we never expected that temporary bandage to do the actual healing, right? 

There are lots of ways we try to help ourselves mentally and emotionally with a Band-Aid: A lot of you who have been to therapy and didn’t see the changes you wanted or you weren’t being challenged, or the coping strategies worked for awhile but eventually didn’t have any impact. Or maybe you attended a self-help conference. And you were excited, pumped up, and you even learned a few things. But once you got home, there was no sustainable change, and it didn’t really fix things. Or you read someone’s self-help book and it didn’t really apply to you. 

Going through any or all of these efforts can be deflating and discouraging. But just because something worked for others and not for you, doesn’t mean you can’t have mental wellness. It just means you need someone to help you find your own way. 

At Transform Through Therapy, we have developed our own approach that we believe helps people find mental wellness, while avoiding the constant temporary bandaging that leads to the same unhealthy situations over and over again. 

We call it K.A.S.A.S.—Knowledge, Awareness, Skills, Application, Sticky Thoughts. It’s how we approach helping our clients find mental wellness. Here we’ll explain each phase and what you can expect from how we work with people looking for a new way to heal. Keep in mind that this isn’t linear. For lifelong mental wellness, there is no magic formula where if you do this and that you’ll be better. It’s a process that isn’t linear, but a circular pattern of re-evaluation and new discoveries.

Knowledge

Knowledge is at the base of everything we do. We believe this is especially true for those who are supporting others, whether that be parents caring for children with disabilities, or those supporting a loved one with addiction or mental illness. We want to arm you with knowledge of the issues you’re facing, why those are happening, and give you a full understanding of the situation. 

This information will help you know what you need to do to get through whatever it is you’re facing. 

Awareness

Now you can take that knowledge and loot at how it can be applied specifically to your own life. Knowledge doesn’t mean a whole lot when you can’t see how it applies to you. The Awareness phase is a way to utilize knowledge to recognize things that we may have been blinded to, or see them in a new way. 

Skills

When you participate in our online groups or even in one-on-one therapy, we teach you a variety of skills. We believe in having a variety of these skills and techniques so you can decide apply best to you and your situation. 

Application

Once you’ve learned skills, it’s time to practice. Everyone is different, and mental illness, addiction, and other issues look different in different people. What may work for one person, might not work for you and vice versa. We want to give you the opportunity to practice and test these skills in the real world, so you can see what really works and what doesn’t. This also gives you an opportunity to take a step back and optimize your approach. 

Sticky Thoughts

Once you’ve done all that, and, like we said before, continue to re-evaluate and gain new understanding, it’s time to address your sticky thoughts. 

What do we mean by sticky thoughts? These are the things that are limiting you in your progress, whether they be religious or cultural beliefs, fears, as examples. These are things that are ingrained in you, often for a long time. They “stick” to you. 

So as you go through the K.A.S.A.S. process and calm the chaos and quiet the noise, that’s when you’re able to address these sticky thoughts through the aid and guidance of experts. 

You can’t change certain things—other people’s behavior, or certain scenarios or situations, but with help, you can expand your view beyond these sticky thoughts and move forward. 

Learning to Self Solve

When you think about a Band-Aid providing a temporary relief—a coping mechanism or strategy—that can be really important in a crisis to stop the flow of blood, so to speak. But if you don’t address the wound itself, you’re going to have to keep applying a new Band-Aid over and over again. It’s not going to really fix anything. 

By addressing the wound, your own body is able to heal itself. And that’s what we want for you—to learn to recognize your internal voice and wisdom and self-heal. We help facilitate the skills necessary to do that—we want to teach you so you won’t need us anymore. 

If you’re tired of temporary fixes and are looking for long-lasting mental wellness, check out our website and see if we might be the right fit for you.