Orange County Mental Health And Women’s Issues
I believe that connections are central to women’s lives. They are the source of our growth and well being in life. I see connections as crucial on three levels. The first is our own connection to ourselves, our understanding and compassion for who we are. The second is our connection to others, our opportunity and ability to be part of mutually growth-promoting relationships; our sense of identity and worth is generally grounded in our relationships. And thirdly, I think it is important for us to have a sense of connection with something larger than ourselves. For me that is a sense of being an integral part of the earth, one of many of earth’s creatures with a responsibility to live in harmony with the natural forces of the universe.
Yet we live in a society that does not value connections and which, while giving the responsibility for creating and maintaining them to women, also devalues women for their focus on relationships and their relational skills. We often wind up living with major disconnections in our lives and this is the source of much of our pain and difficulties. Disconnections can arise in many ways: through lack of mutual understanding and empathy with those important to us, through death and loss of important relationships, through abuse which has left us scared and alone, through oppression due to racism, sexism, classism, heterosexism, ablism, etc which makes us feel unseen and unknown and through being in controlling or authoritarian relationships where we cannot be our whole selves.
I believe that connections are also crucial in men’s lives but that training in masculinity has taught them to distance themselves from valuing relationships and has failed generally to give men the necessary relational skills. Men tend to be trained in power dominant relationships, useful in competitive situations, rather than cooperative communal styles of relating which are better suited to creating rewarding relationships.
For both women and men the work of therapists in Orange County involves exploring, understanding and working through the impact and pain of the major disconnections in our lives. We explore feelings and strategies of connection and disconnection. Through this process it is possible to identify and learn to live from our core wisdom. It is my belief that we cannot do that in a disconnected neutral therapy relationship. So my approach is to be genuinely present as an active participant in a meaningful relationship.
I believe that most disconnections are rooted ultimately in structures of inequality and oppression in the political, economic and social realms of our society. These inequalities lead some to believe they are entitled to special privileges and others to believe they are worth little. These inequalities lead to difficulties ranging from communication problems to relationship tensions to abuse and ultimately to war and devastation of the earth.
So I see counselling/therapy as a political act that creates not only personal change but social change as well. As we begin to see what is happening, learn to listen to what is truly right for us, develop meaningful connections with each other and take action in our own lives we are participating in a process of changing the larger picture.