We are often distressed by life patterns in our relationships and in our bodies that seem to repeat, often without a sense of intention or control: a series of failed relationships; a history of avoiding contact; a lifetime of anxious, persecuting worries. These patterns can lead to chronic dissatisfaction and hopelessness, relational breakdown, emotional cut-off, physical symptoms, and interfere with healing trauma.
Trauma has many forms, but is a good word to describe the impact of a wide range of distress, disturbance, and injury on our well-being.
We believe that, with serious effort and support, these patterns can be understood, and that the pain and distress that underlie them can eventually be tolerated and transformed. We want to help you have greater range of motion in the ways you think, feel, and move in your world.
Getting Below the Surface
There are parts of our experience that seem too difficult to be aware of most of the time, such as beliefs about self-worth, feelings that don’t seem acceptable (like rage or desire), traumatic experiences, and confusing and overwhelming situations in childhood that were never organized, understood, or explained well.
We learn lots of strategies to keep these things hidden in the hopes we can get on with life without so much pain, including minimizing our experience, denying parts of our history, and shifting responsibility to others. These patterns developed to protect us, but eventually lose their effectiveness because those feelings are then simply hidden and not processed.
IT ALL MATTERS.
Our thoughts, feelings, dreams, actions, and body sensations are important communications about our feelings and needs. That’s why we encourage you to speak freely about whatever comes to mind, without inhibiting or editing. It can feel odd at first, but most people find they learn so much more when they really let themselves talk.
This is not very Minnesotan.
There has been an historic minimizing of trauma, emotions, and distress in our culture that suggests we should get over things quickly and that there is little value in reliving the past.
Ever heard, “It could be worse”? Or said to yourself, “My childhood wasn’t really that bad”?
As much as we may wish to distance ourselves from painful experiences, research tells us that unprocessed distress and trauma actually gets encoded in our DNA and gets passed down through generations. Trauma also affects a parent’s capacity to respond to the natural needs and distresses of their children, setting the stage for new traumas and creating both internal and external forces that make recovery difficult.
In Minnesota, we have a legacy of displaced and traumatized indigenous people, as well as waves of immigrants who came to develop beautiful land only to be faced with the fickle harshness of disease and winter. Self-denial becomes a virtue when it’s a matter of life and death, especially when it doesn’t feel like help is coming. However, psychotherapy helps to put the past in perspective and to create a new narrative that can change these repetitive patterns.
Freeing yourself up to know and tolerate all that you think and feel takes time: be generous and honest with yourself.
Lasting transformation is difficult to achieve in a matter of months. We think it works best when people commit to coming to at least weekly sessions, but that they get the most out of their treatment when they come as often as possible. You and your therapist should talk together about your needs and what seems best.
Both Jamie and Liz offer intensive psychoanalysis (ranging from 1-5 days per week for extended periods of time) for people looking for the increased support and depth often needed to reach their goals. If this interests you, contact either of them for a consultation.