First and foremost, it has been the case in our clinical practice that many Queer and Trans people who come to us for services are only hurt, angered, or feel cut off from their family members who choose to take actions such as not attending their weddings. As the person getting married did not choose and cannot change their sexual orientation or gender identity, family rejection does not send an actionable message to the person, just that family who object to their being out or in a marriage to a person of the same sex are incapable of seeing them for who they truly are and loving them as they are.
In our experience, people who may hold religious convictions that homosexuality is wrong or evil may feel as though they have the moral high ground in their family and social dynamics and may overlook the fact that LGBTQIA+ family members will object to their judgement and disdain and may cut them out of their lives as result. Just as we know there are correlations between Queer people not being able to be "out" as themselves or Trans people not being able to have their identified name and pronouns used and respected and the risk for depression and suicide, it stands to reason that parents of Queer and Trans children will cause often irreversible harm to their child's emotional well-being by choosing to put their own judgements in this area ahead of actions that communicate support and love.
If you are someone who is not homophobic or disapproving of your Queer or Trans child, but simply feels less than comfortable due to lack of exposure to those communities, the concerns and values that your child likely holds, speaking from clinical experience, those adult children often just hope that their loved ones will do their best to communicate their love and support and be respectful and not say hateful/judgmental things or use dead names or incorrect pronouns. Many clients report that they are willing to accept that their family may not be capable of being completely open and affirming without reservation if their loved ones are willing to inform themselves, make an effort to see the world through their child's eyes, and not cut them off emotionally or financially when applicable.
We recognize that, if you have an LGBTQIA+ child and are grappling with these questions, the likelihood that you would reject or disown them may be lower than the average, but we feel it is important to consider the impact that letting disrespect or even discomfort destroy one's most important relationships will often lead to sadness, loneliness, and regret.
As therapists who support and align with the Queer and Trans communities, we are happy to meet with clients who may fall on either side of this dynamic and help them work through their feelings about the actions or identities of their loved ones in order to facilitate stronger individuals, families, and to continue to support the wonderful diverse nature and possibilities for the modern family.
Author~Chris Scarberry, MA, LPC
As a family therapists we often run into clients or family of clients that are struggling with political and religious conflict with their family members from the LGBTQIA+ community, sometimes to the point where rejections, and cut offs are being considered. During the holiday season these conflicts tend to reach a fevered pitch, often being the driving force for many to begin/return to therapy. Adding another layer of complication, many individuals tend to get engaged over the holiday season, which prompts a flurry of spring weddings and pre-wedding angst. When the person getting married is your family member and the wedding is a gay/queer wedding, it may bring up a lot of emotions and turmoil over how to respond depending upon your level of acceptance of the entirety of who they are as a person. If you are someone who is struggling with determining what the best choice is for you, we've come up with some discussion points for the family of Queer loved ones to think about to help you gain clarity and hopefully some peace with your decision.
After taking time to read these questions, we suggest that you sit with yourself and notice your reactions. Did you notice any changes in your body as your reflected on them? Notice the questions that made you most uncomfortable and be curious and ask yourself why those questions brought on that reaction. Change is often uncomfortable, and we do a lot to resist change and return to homeostasis-where things were before and what we were most acclimated or used to. Sometimes discomfort shows up when we are at our learning edge, the place where we are challenged and struggle between our old beliefs and the introduction of new thoughts, feelings, or experiences that challenge them.
We know sitting with your thoughts can be uncomfortable. One of the hardest things for folks during the pandemic was not having the usual distractions and being forced to sit with their thoughts (which had the unfortunate consequence of increasing substance abuse to re-bury these thoughts). Be kind to yourself. Let go of the judgment. Just notice and curious. If it helps, write down your thoughts to help you gain more clarity.
Authors~Megan Garza, MA, LMFT & Chris Scarberry, MA, LPC
In doing my clinical work, I spend much time supporting and processing the reactions of vulnerable clients from marginalized populations to the current and recent political climate in the United States which has included the Supreme Court ruling that took away federal abortion protections. For myself and among clients I see, many of whom are not female assigned or identified, a fear nonetheless set in that many of the freedoms, values, and protections that came about as the result of tireless fighting and advocacy for workers, women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ people, and others could/will be on the chopping block.
Doing the clinical work that I do, I especially found many of my transgender and/or Queer clients fearing for the state of their marriages, their employment, their right to a safe abortion and also for their physical safety in ways that they had not since before the Obama administration. In many cases, this very real fear has led to an exacerbation of mental health symptoms already present or created symptoms of a severity and duration necessary to warrant an Adjustment Disorder Diagnosis or a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder. To look at how some of the composite reactions I've seen have led to symptom creation and exacerbation, let's take a look at the criteria for Major Depressive Disorder as it relates to the experiences of clients and others as reported and observed and discuss how we as clinicians in this practice approach supporting clients with these symptoms and societal concerns.
The symptoms that are potentially part of a depressive episode include: depressed mood, loss of interest/pleasure, weight gain or loss, thoughts of death or suicide, feelings of worthlessness/guilt, fatigue, insomnia/hypersomnia, decreased concentration. These symptoms need to exist in an episode which lasts 2 weeks or more. I have seen symptoms such as these arise for the first time or be exacerbated by the current circumstances. In my clinical work, most notably, I have seen these symptoms arise in clients pertaining to both the recent Supreme Court ruling coupled with comments made by a justice that he might be inclined to vote to overturn the past Marriage Equality ruling that federally legalized marriage for Queer-Identified Individuals. These federal events coupled with Missouri taking steps to orchestrate one of the most rigid statewide abortion bans in the country, led many of my clients to contemplate leaving the state or residing in a more progressive country.
In terms of how I’ve seen symptom creation, depressed mood was most frequently caused by negative and invalidating reactions to the local political situation by clients’ loved ones. The disillusionment caused by this disconnect often leaves Queer and Trans people wondering how their family and purported friends can support politicians, institutions, and businesses that have agendas and take measures that treat marginalized people in invalidating, harmful, personal safety-jeopardizing ways. Loss of interest/pleasure in activities often relates to limits in the ability to comfortably engage in hobbies. Clients often have feelings of worthlessness related to feeling as though their safety and value as a person are being undermined when things like so called “bathroom bills” are being voted upon to not allow transgender people to use the bathroom that corresponds with their identified gender or when Queer and Trans client see reproductive rights for women being rolled back and understandably worry that their much more recent/tenuous rights will be next on the chopping block. All of these concerns can and have disturbed my clients’ sleep, appetite, and made them feel drained and exhausted. As such, some, in addition to considering relocation are considering trying psych meds for the first time. We have been processing the resulting elevated symptomology with our clients and, when needed, referring them for additional services like psychiatric care, support groups such as those at MTUG, 12-Step meetings at place such as the Alano Club, and normalizing our client’s fears and concerns related to the ways in which they are understandably symptomatic/experiencing elevated levels of symptoms due to the fear of losing the already unacceptable level of rights and benefits that were fought for during Stonewall and for decades since, and generally assisting in the formulation of “created family” for our clients who are often being harmed by their biological families and systems of power.
If you are someone who is hurting or feeling isolated or in-danger as a result of the current political environment, please know that you are not alone and that others are also struggling markedly with their mental health. Please know also that even though it can be especially scary for people who have been let down and marginalized by people who should have helped and cared about them, there are service providers some of whom are in the community who are open, affirming, and are advocating both in the field and in their personal lives for LGBTQIA+ people, their marriages, their personal safety, their need for safe spaces including bathrooms, and the need for greater awareness of the needs of this community for the competence of service providers. While many of us feel that these are dark, scary political times and will be for some time, we at Healing Reflections Therapy are dedicated to affirming and defending the rights of the Queer and Trans communities as well as cisgender women and communities of color.
~Chris Scarberry, LPC
As part of the National Partnership for Ending Interpersonal Violence (NPEIV), I have committed myself to the cause of ending violence across the lifespan. Along with my colleagues Dr. Pearl Berman, Joyce Thomas, Dr. Karen Rich, Susan Omilian and I recently worked in collaboration to present a webinar series on addressing the impact of violence in Pennsylvania communities, with emphasis on trauma-informed care related interventions.
You can watch the video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bafhxI6PIlc&t=6s to learn more or tune into NPEIV's youtube channel to watch the video series that follows up on resilience.
If you want to collaborate and help end interpersonal violence, consider joining NPEIV and attending this year's Think Tank in San Diego, CA on August 27, 2022 https://www.npeiv.org/think-tank
Healing Reflections Therapy is excited to announce the addition of our new Intern, Mckayla Kagie. She is completing her graduate program at Capella University in Marriage and Family Therapy.
She has immediate availability to see individuals, teens, and adults for $40 per hour, or couples or families for $50 per hour.
She has afternoon and evening availability for virtual sessions.
She specializes in Marriage and Family Therapy, depression, and Trauma and will be working under the supervision of Megan Garza, MA, LMFT 2011011850 MO.
If you are interested in working with McKayla, contact us at HealingReflectionsTherapy@gmail.com
My favorite activity in session is to create coping skills cards. This can help both during a crisis, when decision making ability is limited, or in the in-between times to stave-off a crisis.
Watch this tutorial
I am pleased to announce the publication of the book chapter I co-authored with Dr. Karen Rich on Trauma-Informed Systems of Care in the new resource Handbook of Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan.
Rich K., Garza M.R. (2020) Trauma-Informed Systems of Care. In: Geffner R., White J.W., Hamberger L.K., Rosenbaum A., Vaughan-Eden V., Vieth V.I. (eds) Handbook of Interpersonal Violence and Abuse Across the Lifespan. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-62122-7_293-1
"Survivors of interpersonal trauma are vulnerable to risk of re-victimization when seeking help from community agencies such as welfare offices, substance abuse clinics, schools, homeless shelters, medical facilities and criminal justice agencies. Re-victimization of trauma survivors can lead to client dropout, “resistant” behavior, and treatment failure. It can also lead to stress, conflict, burnout, and frequent turnover among staff. Trauma-informed care is a community’s best approach to supporting survivors of interpersonal violence, but many agencies under-estimate its value or lack a comprehensive approach to its implementation. Budgetary concerns, resistance to change, turf issues, hierarchical power structures, lack of training, fears of trauma contagion and negative attitudes towards service recipients contribute to the problems. Interdisciplinary collaboration, investment in prevention, concern for employee wellness and top-down commitment are essential features of trauma-informed agencies. This chapter will present an overview of trauma-informed care, the benefits to clients and providers, obstacles to implementation of best practices, and research initiatives in the field."
This handbook is a project of The National Partnership for Ending Interpersonal Violence (NPEIV), an organization I have been a part of several years dedicated to ending interpersonal violence. The chapters in this handbook are comprehensive in covering the most up-to date research on various forms of interpersonal violence. Over 200 authors, clinicians, and researchers contributed to the handbook, with all proceeds benefitting NPEIV.
Introduction: The Handbook of Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan is a comprehensive state-of-the-science reference work for researchers, practitioners, and policy makers. It is written from a trauma-informed perspective, and utilizes adverse childhood experiences research as its basic developmental framework along with the traumatic effects all forms of interpersonal violence tend to produce. With public health and social justice in mind, this human-rights based handbook also focuses on the overlap and continuum of the various types of interpersonal violence. It integrates all forms of interpersonal violence while dealing with key issues of intersectionality and systems responses.
This two-volume handbook is published in collaboration with the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan, which aims to:
I encourage anyone with an interest in ending interpersonal violence to make a pledge to NPEIV today at www.npeiv.org/donate-2
We know this is a scary and uncertain time for many of us as we worry about our health and economic futures. Being faced with idea on an extended quarantine can bring up a lot of overwhelming feelings. Perhaps you've noticed more headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, or stomach aches? Your body may be trying to tell you that it is in distress and needs help soothing itself. Thankfully, there have been many people and places that have stepped up to meet the public need.
1) Watch a new movie or TV show to distract yourself:
Movies can be a great distraction and escape from our daily frustrations
Universal studios is releasing movies to stream that are still playing in theatres
Disney will also be releasing Frozen II 3 months early to stream.
Netflix has an option to watch movies online with friends!
Or maybe binge a new TV show
We need time to relax our bodies with all this stress. Artist Lizzo has been leading online meditation sessions to help calm the community.
There are lots of apps like the Calm app, woebot, headspace and others that can help you learn to meditate.
3) Learn how to Support your community:
Children's Advocacy Services of greater ST. Louis is offering a webinar for supporting children deal with stress of the virus on March 18 at 1:30 pm. http://bit.ly/casgslcoronaviruswebinar.
Check out the united way resources
Get help for yourself
4) Take some new educational classes:
Scholastic is offering free courses to help your child learn
Multiple education companies are offering learning opportunities including Harvard
Podcasts like Theaboutsexpodcast, TheLastPodcastonTheLeft, AskaMortician, and CreepyClub all provide a wealth in information on unique topics from ghosts to sex, and death.
5) Take a virtual tour of a national park
6) Tour a Museum Virtually
Check out art from Paris Museums
Tour a Historical site too
7) Go on a Virtual Field Trip to the Zoo or even Mars
Check out NASAs public library of free images
8) Laugh a little
Watch some comedians on youtube or netflix. Laughter is the best medicine they say.
9) Read some books
Your library has free books you can rent and download to your kindle app.
Audible will also give you a couple audio books free with a subscription.
Amazon frequently offers free books available to download each month, or get the unlimited subscription for $10.
10) Learn a new language
This is a great opportunity to learn that language you always meant to. There are many podcasts dedicated to helping you learn. Check out Coffee Break podcasts.
This is a perfect time to plant some seeds and grow some fruits and vegetables. Start prepping your garden for spring. Get some fresh air. Gardening is great exercise too.
12) Learn a new hobby
This is the perfect time to learn to play that guitar that has been sitting in your basement, to finally figure out how to crochet, to complete the jewelry making project, to finally figure out how leatherworking is done (see Tandy leather), to learn the art of blowing glass or resin making, to hone your cooking, to try out all those projects on your pinterest board, to practice your calligraphy...whatever it is youtube has so many videos on perfecting your craft and facebook has many groups you can join to help you improve your skills.
Perennial St. Louis will be posting online tutorials for crafting and upcycling in a sustainable way.
13) Practice Yoga
14) Re-connect with Family and Friends
So often in the modern world we have complained about social media and work driving us apart. Take the time to reconnect with your loved ones. Call or skype them, dust off the boardgames from your closet, share a puzzle together, get out that deck of cards, maybe even share stories or poetry.
15) Home renovations
You are home. You probably have projects you've been meaning to get to for a while. Pour your energy into something productive.
Whether you have the scrapbook supplies you've been meaning to get to since your kid was born (and they are now 10) or you have an online album you were meaning to create, now is the time to sort and organize your memories into something meaningful.
17) Pet love
Animals can provide great comfort in times of stress. This is a great time to get in those extra snuggles and walks that make you both feel better. Animal videos on youtube are always great. Have you seen the videos of Fiona the baby hippo? Adorable!
See her here:
Check out these funny cat tik toks
18) Spa Day at home
Your body needs relaxation. Take a warm soothing bubble bath, add those candles and essential oils, maybe turn on some relaxing music. Put a blanket in the dryer and then wrap it around you when it's nice and warm. Make yourself a cup of hot cocoa or tea, and wrap your palms around the mug allowing yourself to feel the soothing warmth while you inhale the pleasant aromas. Maybe add some marshmallows if you have them. Get out your box of nail supplies and pain and buff those nails. Try that paraffin spa or massage cushion that has been sitting in a box for years. You can fill some rice into a sock, infuse eucalyptis oil and you have a nice face mask. Check out pinterest for ideas for homemade spa essentials.
19) Listen to music
Music is usually one of the most calming things for people. Get out your playlists, maybe bust out your cds, watch some youtube videos, listen to spotify. Some musicians like the singer from Coldplay have been doing impromptu online concerts. Cellists like Hauser have been creating beautiful peaceful content. Don't forget to sing and dance while you are at it!
Clownvis Presley is also providing online entertainment in upcoming broadcasts online
Enjoy a free concert
More live concert links
20) Catch a broadway show
Multiple Broadway, orchestra, operas, and high school theatre companies are continuing their shows, only doing them online for others to enjoy. It's a great time to take in some free culture.
More concerts and performances here
Our therapists at Healing Reflections Therapy wish to extend our care and concern to our community during this time of crisis. We will continue to provide services during the Covid-19 Pandemic, but with alterations to services beginning Wednesday March 18, 2020. We will be offering services via telehealth phone or video conferencing. We encourage you to check with your insurance company to ensure telehealth is covered. During this time, cancellation fees will also be waived due to health concerns in an effort to ensure our clients are making the best decisions for their health, their families health, and the safety of the community.
Check out this Resource from the National Childhood Center for Traumatic Stress for a guide for caring for your family during this time.
Follow us for tips on self-care during this pandemic.
Over the past several years I have been collaborating with my colleagues from the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan: Global Partners for Peace (www.npeiv.org) on how to educate professionals and the community on utilizing pest practices of Trauma-Informed Care. We have been speaking at national conferences like the International Summit on Violence, Abuse, and Trauma (IVAT) in San Diego, CA and Honolulu, HI.
As part of our effort, my Co-Chairs, researcher Dr. Karen Rich, and author Susan Omilian, and I guest edited a special double issue on Trauma-Informed Care for the Journal of Aggression Maltreatment and Trauma. After a long process, the issues went into print this past April and May. We received submissions from countries across the globe and across multiple disciplines including schools, medical settings, law enforcement, and mental health addressing populations such as rape survivors, urban communities, eating disordered populations, and hip-hop dance interventions. Many new advances in trauma-informed care involve combining traditional approaches like policing or medical practice with embedded social workers or medical family therapists. You can read more here for access to the introductions to each special issue:
A Trauma Informed Call to Action: Culturally-Informed, Multidisciplinary Theoretical and Applied Approaches to Prevention and Healing, published in Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, Volume 28 Issue 4, is now available for you to access via tandfonline.com.
A Trauma-Informed Call to Action: Culturally Informed, Multi-Disciplinary Theoretical, and Applied Approaches to Prevention and Healing, Part II,
This year at IVATs Trauma conference, we had the privilege of sharing our research along with our co-presenter and new NPEIV co-chair Diana Barnes-Fox. I also co-presented on a Keynote Panel with renowned co-author of the famous ACES study, Dr. Vincent Felitti, along with Child Welfare Advocate Joyce Thomas and moderator Dr. Karen Rich. It is a privilege to work with people so committed to public health, healing wounds, and trauma prevention.
I encourage you to join NPEIV at www.NPEIV.org or attend one of the IVAT summits at www.IVATcenters.org if you are interested in violence prevention. At the summit this year some of the survivors of the Parkland shooting held a musical performance, Hawaiian dancers gave an amazing performance at the opening plenary, and famous actor, Vet, Dancing with the Stars performer, author, and trauma survivor JR Martinez served as a Keynote speaker. You will not be disappointed by attending.
Megan Garza, MA, LMFT is a certified Specialist in Treating Trauma at a Supervisory level and is Licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist. She specializes in work with sexual abuse survivors.