On Being in Awe

On Being in Awe

As I began to complete treatment plans for my patients (while currently suspended as a necessity by the Office of Mental Health, I had decided I’d rather keep them current, so I don’t have a metric ton of paperwork to do when that requirement comes back in full force). Anyway, I was reflecting on how hard it can be to hold a healing space for my patients in the whirlwind of this crisis. Being a healer takes energy. And we work so hard to avoid burnout.

However, as I went through and began to review the 40 or so treatment plans I wanted to bring up to date and saw the incredible progress, and growth, and resilience, and strength of my patients, I felt this wonderful and incredible sense of awe come over me and I felt so refreshed and so recharged.

I realized that I am continually in awe. I am in awe of humanity. I am in awe of the power to overcome trauma. I am in awe of the ability to overcome torment and torture. I am in awe of our ability to battle our own minds. I am in awe of our ability to hold ourselves up and together amid countless storms. I am in awe of the holiness that exists between each of us when we work to heal one another.

I am in awe of the laughter that exists amidst tears. I am in awe of the ability to be surprised. I am in awe of recovery and the power to mend and to heal. I am in awe for the power to take apart and to separate and to move forward alone. I am in awe at the love that one another can show to total strangers. I am in awe when someone learns how to fall in love with themselves again after years of self-hate.

I am in awe of the universe and the power of community and networks, big and small: from the anthill to the cosmos. I am in awe at our individuality among our interconnectedness.

I am in awe at our individual and collective resilience.

“There is nothing as straight as a crooked ladder.” The Rebbe of Kotsk

And back to blogging (or how I shut down my private practice and resumed the act of using social media as an extension of my Social Work practice), and what the implications of that are.

And back to blogging (or how I shut down my private practice and resumed the act of using social media as an extension of my Social Work practice), and what the implications of that are.

One of the first parts of personal collateral damage during the immediate COVID-19 pandemic was my private practice. New York State allows those licensed at the LMSW to function (within the scope of their practice) to hold a private practice. I enjoyed that privilege, while also having a wonderful public practice. However, I found it both 1) untenable and 2) unethical to move into telehealth and to be, in essence, in competition with my Public Practice agency. My private practice, while not clinical, should not ever have the possibility of being construed as such. That left not much choice. However, in these times, we have to make the rightest choice, and since we have to socially distance, the rightest choice was to close up shop, and so the choice was made.

When I was first hired at my agency, our CEO let us know at our new hire orientation that the best practice was to lock down and close off our social media. I – vocally – raised my hand and shared that I had professional profiles set up as extensions of my practice and that my Social Work practice extended to the internet, and that I didn’t really plan on closing off that aspect of myself. My CEO warned me that if this was the case, that I would be held responsible for what I said and did online. I shared that I was, quite literally, fine with that. I’m very much okay with being held to account for my words. That remains as true today, as it does almost two years ago now when I started with the agency where I have developed and built and nurtured my public practice.

This does not mean that I don’t have a private social media presence – I have a very well detailed social media policy about just that. It’s for a lot of really good reasons, among them guidance from the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, and the National Association of Social Workers on the use of Technology. It’s also because I like to have a good work/life balance, and I don’t want articles on Trauma-Informed Care to come up when I’m looking at my Gamer/Gaming handle (#ThatGaymerLifeTho). Guess what? I’m okay with being held to account for my words there. Words and actions matter.

I have been a prolific journaler my whole life, and many of those entries are here, saved from the great LiveJournal/Russia-gate (they are behind a protective wall because they would be inappropriate to share at this juncture in my life). I was inspired by visiting Freud’s office on my last trip to Vienna (one of my second homes). Not that I view myself as Freud (or make the comparison) but I was moved by his boldness and bravery in the combination of the personal and private of his writings being displayed together, and it convinced me to move past part of my own propensity to compartmentalize all aspects of my life. That said, writings will be shared as appropriate, and it’s in my will that upon my passing all of my writings will be made open/unrestricted in the hopes that some poor grad student will come along, and among the academese and the flotsam and jetsam and remember that all of us are just people.

So the implications are now that, I continue – as I always have been – to be responsible for myself, my actions (my behavior, my responses to others’ behavior), and my words online and in person, and now I feel a sense of obligation to write, and to produce, and and to generate information that is useful. I also feel the obligation to use this as a sort of…virtual office…not in any way to see patients, or to provide “advice” (which Solution Focused Brief Therapists don’t do, as a rule, and no good therapist should do period)…but as a place to be virtually accessible to colleagues….a Salon for ideas.

To that end, I now have the benefit to returning to using this space not for marketing, but as a vessel to think, to ponder, to consider, to write, to ideate, to share, to postulate, to hypotheize, to think, and to be; so with the death of my private practice, welcome to the rebirth of my digital social work presence.

Welcome, please make yourself comfortable, and take a moment to connect with your breath. You are safe here. You belong here. No matter where you are on your life’s journey, I am happy that you’ve decided to join me here.

How to Live Tweet a Conference

How to Live Tweet a Conference

My friend Ariel asked me on LinkedIn to make a quick “how-to” for live tweeting a conference. I’m going to give two examples. One conference that I think I did exceedingly well live tweeting, and one that I didn’t do exceedingly well at (and reasons why, and work arounds).

Why Live Tweet?

  • I have rheumatoid arthritis and writing at conferences/taking notes is difficult, but tapping on my phone is much easier.
  • It allows others not in our field, those in allied fields, and lay people to comment on our scholarship and to be exposed to our work and research. Greater transparency builds trust and is crucial to trauma-informed work and integrity in scholarship.
  • It works, in some small way, to reduce the inherent inequality in conferences by disseminating information to those who can’t attend either due to socio-economic barriers, access barriers, language barriers, childcare barriers, etc.

Sample Data

So first here’s a Thread Reader App (an easy to read collection of tweets) link to a conference that I live tweeted exceedingly well: ‪https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1110903919054635009.html

And here’s a Thread Reader App link to a conference that I lived tweeted not so great: ‪https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1191181131904962560.html‬.

What Makes One Better Than The Other?

  • Generally speaking the first is better than the second because I was only receiving information, rather than actively participating in workshops.
  • A conference that is largely presentation based is easier to live tweet because you can share key points easier.
  • It’s hard to do the same in conferences that are either workshop based, or that are very interactive, or have lots of moments that require small group participation or where they ask for repeated audience feedback.

General Rules/How To:

I follow the following guidelines when I live tweet a conference:

  • I tweet out anything that I’d bullet point in a handwritten note/that I’d find useful later.
  • Credit where credit is due. Put quotes in quote marks. Link to speakers twitter accounts through the @ feature.
  • Take photos of important slides and share them. Provide descriptions for Blind twitter users (I’m working on getting better at this).
  • Add in your own thoughts on important findings, implications, how you will use data/information presented.
  • Share useful links and resources mentioned in real time. Google then in your phones browser and then link them directly in the tweet.
  • @ colleagues who may find information useful.
  • Use conference hashtags. Find out what they are beforehand.
  • Think of this as your conference notebook that your sharing openly and working on collectively. Use the @ThreadReaderApp to Unroll when you’re done and make a PDF of your notes 🙂


In my public practice (which is clinical at an outpatient community behavioral health clinic and under LCSW supervision), I practice therapy, in my private practice I practice counseling (there are many differences). One of the primary differences is whether or not I am diagnosing, and the scope of what clients I will or will not see (among others).

I was discussing recently with a friend and colleague, former professor, mentor, and one of the people who got me started on my path to be a Solutions Focused Counselor/Therapist (that’s a lot of titles) what my notes look like as a Solutions Focused Brief Therapist in public practice in the United States where, especially when billing insurance, we must justify our work through documentation, to say nothing of our ethical requirements to document appropriately…so I figured I’d share the template and format I use.

I have come up with the following format for therapeutic interactions which, with the exception of the MSE, I write collaboratively with my patients. This takes no more than five minutes at the end of our session, and ensures I don’t ever get behind on paperwork/case noting.

I do not take any notes during a session in order to foster open and direct communication. There is nothing between myself and the patient (no pad, no pen). This requires a great amount of practice in active listening. I recommend a lot of role play to become comfortable with the technique.

Below is an example of a contrived session I made up about John Doe, it should bear no resemblance to anyone living or dead since I just came up with it on the fly, sans-coffee, while waiting for my flight:


Patient presented on time, dressed appropriately, appeared alert and well-oriented. There was no evidence of disruption in speech flow or content, memory, or perception. Current mood observed as euthymic with affect congruent to mood. Thoughts were organized and goal-directed. Judgment appeared good, and insight appeared moderate.

Patient presented with:

– Symptoms is depression;

– Symptoms is anxiety;

– Difficulties managing moods/emotions;

– Stressors Regarding Family;

– Stressors Regarding Work.

Clinical Note:

WBTW (What’s Better This Week): John Doe shared that this week he was able to get out of bed and go to classes twice. John shared that he was also able to wash half of the dishes in his sink.

Scaling (1-10/Zombies-to-Unicorns): 4.5; Goal (1-10): 5/John shared that he will be at a 5 when he is able to do all of the dishes and is able to go to all of his classes.

Discernment: John and this writer discussed barriers to doing his dishes and to attending classes, and how these barriers are negatively impacting his mental health symptoms**.

Exceptions: John shared that the problem of doing dishes and cleaning in general is not a problem when he comes right home after work. John shared that attending classes weren’t an issue when he got more sleep.

Experiment: John was able to brainstorm ways in which he can address his barriers to move to a 5 on the scale. John will try to do dishes twice this week right after work. John decided he will set a reminder on his phone to go off part way through his commute to remind him. John will set his bedtime back by an hour to get an extra hour of sleep.

Clinical/Psychoeducation: This writer provided psychoeducation on the importance of sleep hygiene and behavioral activation for reducing the sxs of depression.

Risk Assessment: John denied thoughts, plans, or intents or harming himself or others.

Follow Up: Follow up in two weeks. John to complete experiment as outlined above. John will call/come in if he requires additional support between now and his next appointment.

**While problem talk is discouraged, linking the patients concerns, and treatment to their mental health symptoms in discussion is necessary for ethical treatment under insurance. This is possible even in SFBT when we look at the “preferred future” (i.e. “I won’t be so anxious,” or “I won’t be as depressed,” etc.). We have to show how they are negatively impacting mental health symptoms because that is the structure of the medical/insurance setup in the United States.

In any event, I hope this is helpful to the wider SFBT community who is forced to balance SFBT work and insurance (without which, only the wealthy could afford our services), and I look forward to turning this into some kind of presentation at some point (SFBT & Insurance: An Uneasy Truce?).

Episode 3: Self-Care & Sniffles

Episode 3: Self-Care & Sniffles

Welcome to TheMattSchwartz(Cast) where each week we dive into the world of Social Work in Mental Health & Counseling Settings and hopefully provide you with some inspiration to start your week! I’m your host, Matt Schwartz. This week’s episode is Episode 3: Self Care & Sniffles.

So last episode I said we would start getting into Caseload Management techniques, and we are…but then I came down with an awful chest infection, missed a couple of weeks of podcasting, went on a wonderful vacation to Vienna, Austria for the holidays, came back to work, had a blizzard (had the furnace go out on the first day of the blizzard), and then have been in a flareup for the past few days (we’ll get back to that in a minute).

During all of this, I had a bit of an epiphany: you can’t actually talk about Caseload Management in Social Work (clinical or otherwise) unless you first talk about self-care. Like…actual self-care. Meaningful self-care. For realsies self-care.

As social workers, we hear a lot about self-care – from the moment we enter Grad School, until the day we retire and beyond. We’re told to do yoga, drink water, seek supervision, meditate, find hobbies, and more. This is all, generally speaking, great advice. The University at Buffalo School of Social Work even has a fantastic Self Care Starter Kit on their website (which you can find at socialwork.buffalo.edu). All of these things are wonderful to do, and can help keep us centered and improve our wellness. However, no amount of tending to office plants (no matter how much I want to personally believe otherwise) will prevent burnout if we don’t make the necessary time for self-care, and if we don’t set up the appropriate, and necessary boundaries.

What I’ve found missing from the conversation – and I preface this with the standard disclaimer that these thoughts are my own, and don’t represent any organization I work for, have worked for, or may ever work for in the future – are two things. The first, is how are agencies actually supporting their workers in conducting self-care on the job (which I maintain is an ethical imperative)?; and the second is, how are we – as social workers – working to build it into our schedules, time management, and caseload management practices whether our employers or agencies want to support us in these endeavors or not? And I don’t mean in some covert way that Human Resources can never find out about. I mean in a very transparent “I require self-care to do my job, and some of that self-care happens on the clock, look, it’s right there in my schedule…” sort of way.

The answer that I have found for myself (and I promise we’ll get back to base camp if I bring us too far off the beaten path for a while) is Bullet Journaling, or BuJo-ing. I have always been a journaler, writer, blogger, and obsessive calendar keeper and office supply aficionado (some might even say hoarder)…I fell into Bullet Journaling a few years ago because it worked with how my brain worked (and it turns out that the inventor, Ryder Carroll and I have some similarities in that area, and I’m willing even to bet that parts of our notebooks might have even looked the same if we were to compare them back when we were in High School)…but Ryder found a way to really create a way of systemizing his process, and combining his method with CBT, mindfulness, and – while I don’t think it was intentional – even a bit of DBT.

I fell into BuJo-ing even further when I was a medical case manager, and – after having woken up almost entirely paralyzed one morning I entered a medical Odyssey for physical disabilities that I had never thought I’d have to consider. I grew up being neurologically divergent, and learning disabled…but I had never had to contend with physical disabilities or overtly visible disabilities…or chronic pain. I needed a way to walk into a medical professional’s office, and drop something down on a table with data about symptoms: dates, times, feelings, the weather when things happened, my blood sugar, any possible trigger that was nearby, where on my body things hurt. Something like two years later I finally had something as close to a solid diagnosis of a diagnosis as I would ever get. Rheumatoid Arthritis, Polymyositis, and Fibromyalgia.

So when Ryder Carroll released his book, last year, The Bullet Journal Method I was curious to read it; and incorporate it into my self-care practice at work (or more of it than I had gathered on the various FaceBook groups I had been a member of). I started rapid logging during the day as I went. Every single task (obviously no PHI, but reminders of things that needed to get done, events, thoughts, to-dos). I also continued to keep track of the internal side-eye toward things I had agreed to do, but that were likely time-sucks…or that I was beginning to feel were taking up time I could be otherwise using for other things…or that was becoming too physically hard on my body to justify continuing with (I’m super good at providing brain-support; but don’t ask me to show up at your board meeting or committee meeting, it probably won’t happen, especially if it’s after a full’s day work).

Through my own practices, buttressed by Ryder Carroll’s and the BuJo community (which is an endlessly supportive community online, by the way) I was able to become more mindful of my time (to say nothing of always being on top of my case notes, treatment plans, and other tasks). I continue to monitor my symptoms…and I continue to focus on my self-care. Through mindfulness, and intentionality of “why am I doing this? (which Ryder preachers a lot in his book) I was able to truly, for the first time, start saying “no” in a meaningful way (…mind you, the last convention I went to, I took a 45 minute workshop where we all stood up and practiced saying “No” together in a variety of different voices…so clearly it’s an issue in our field). Think of it as the KonMari method for “Does This Bring You Joy” but in your professional life. We can’t do everything. We can’t be everything to all people. We can’t save everyone. We have to take care of ourselves. To do that, we have to honestly, and as self-critically as possible look at where we are spending the incredible valuable amount of time we get a day…and then liberate as much of it as is ethically and feasibly possible and possible to do.

So next Sunday when I share with you some of my custom made templates for case management (who doesn’t love a good DOC/PDF download combo?) I’m going to entreat you to think about your own intentionality, your own time management (at home and at work), your own boundaries first. I’m going to ask you to reflect on why you’re doing what you’re doing…because if we can’t manage our own time effectively, if we can’t determine how and when we’re going to take care of ourselves: at work, at home, with friends, on the road…then we’re going to burn out. I’m also going to ask that when the notion of self-care comes up at work (as no doubt it will) that we begin discussing these things openly, and at a deeper level than squish balls and water bottles.

2018 was a hard year for most of us (despite some amazing successes, personal growth, and transformations). Let’s make sure that we practice radical self-care in 2019, even if we have to bring our agencies kicking and screaming forward into the future with us…because we need you to remain a Social Worker from now until you retire…and then we need you to become a mentor after that. The world needs you and your talents…and we all lose out if you leave the field of Social Work due to burn out.

The music you’re listening to in the background today is Boston Landing on “Blue Dot Sessions” generously shared through a creative commons license, found through the Free Music Archive. Please find more of their music at www.sessions.blue. You can interact with me on twitter by @‘ing TheMattSchwartz. I’ll see you next week, until then, make good choices.

Public Statement Regarding Resigning From the National Association of Social Work

Public Statement Regarding Resigning From the National Association of Social Work

Hello Everyone,

I was hoping that I would be able to write a much happier email than this one, one filled with hope, and solutions focused based suggestions, and maybe some ideas for some restorative justice where the WNY Steering Committee and NYS NASW could somehow come together. However, I find that I am failing in that attempt, which saddens me greatly.

After Saturday’s meeting, and a fair amount of reflection, I am left more concerned than I was when I first started the online petition calling for the immediate reinstatement of our position on Catholic Charities, and I feel compelled – in order to stand on what I believe will be the right side of history – to share my thoughts, my feelings, and my beliefs.

I am, frankly – after having had the board’s reasoning behind their decision-making process explained to me – appalled, more so than I was when this first process began…but more than that, I am hurt, deeply, and left with a crisis of conscience, and of ethics.

Already, another Christian adoption agency (this one in South Carolina) seeks to ban Jewish people from adopting under the guise of religious freedom. They, like Catholic Charities are stating their reasoning and motives outright. Would the NASW NYS not call out that agency by name if this were to occur in NYS? The Trump Administration is seeking to erase transgender people – which, in the line up of the fascist playbook, by the way, is the proverbial canary in the coal mine: go after and see if you can take away the entire rights of a marginalized group; if you can get away with it, proceed forward from there.

When we fail to call out anyone who perpetrates oppression and persecution by name for who and what they are, we are only one thing: collaborators. Full stop. Civility politics only helps the oppressor. It does not build bridges, it does not create understanding, it does not ‘raise us up’ or allow us to be ‘more enlightened’ and it is certainly not ‘professional’. Civility politics builds walls behind which the oppressed continue to suffer while the oppressors behave with impunity, facing no consequences from the outside world, which become cogs in the wheels of the systemic oppression.

To hear that the board voted for fear of maybe being sued for libel despite the overwhelming volume of quotes, newspaper articles, radio interviews, etc. put out featuring Catholic Charities themselves is not only disturbing, but shows a profound misunderstanding of our duty to accept risk as part of our profession. 

Every single day we have clients or patients in our offices that we have to accept risk for: whether they will hurt themselves, or others. We have to accept risk for whether someone will live or die, or whether an intervention will work, or whether our testimony on a client’s behalf will be enough for them to receive the services they need…when our most marginalized clients’ lives are on the line, we go to bat…and yet, here with no actual risk of being sued for libel (or, perhaps better put: no actual risk for having such a lawsuit ever succeed) here, here is where the board decides to abdicate their responsibility to their clients entirely (their clients, in this situation, being the WNY Steering Committee, the WNY Community, and the LGTBQ+ community).

During the meeting much was made about how good and nice the people on the board are, and on the importance of the relationships that exist, etc. However, it bears pointing out that there have been many good and nice people, in many good and nice countries throughout history. Sometimes those good and nice people are part of the problem…sometimes they are what allow oppression to continue.

As a disabled queer Jew, I will not be a party to my own oppression, nor will I be silent out of misplaced ideas of what constitutes professionalism in a field born out of the radicalism of the needs of the oppressed in the face of patriarchy, racism, and classism.

I will not be a tool so easily wielded into a weapon. In that light, I will continue to be a Social Worker, continue to treasure the NASW Code of Ethics, which I believe the NASW NYS Board has completely abandoned, and I am resigning my membership in the National Association of Social Workers, until such time as the entire NYS Board has resigned or been disbanded by NASW National, and the organization has returned to the ideals it once held.

It is my strongest belief that the NYS Chapter can no longer govern itself, nor can it adequately represent the needs of the most marginalized…rather now, through its own actions and inactions, its very own behavior it has shown us that, when given the choice to choose between what is hard and scary, but what is right, and just, and ethical, it has instead chosen what is easier…but what will allow oppression to continue, and therefore, has instead chosen to become a part of the oppressive system.

I will be in touch, privately, regarding a free Social Work co-working space and meet-up group that Ashley and I have been working on for the past year and a half. We were not planning on launching it this year (or even announcing it yet), but I see no reason that we should not be bringing our peers together in WNY now, more than ever, to work together as a community, for those who are interested. We are not looking at becoming the “new steering committee” – merely a place to come together twice a month for two hours on weekends for potlucks, conversation, peer support, peer supervision, and social work. 

“Your silence will not protect you.” – Audre Lorde

In The Spirit of Stonewall,

Matthew L. Schwartz, MBA, LMSW


Episode 1: What’s Better This Week?

Episode 1: What’s Better This Week?

Welcome to TheMattSchwartz(Cast)! where we dive into the world of Social Work in Mental Health & Counseling Settings, and hopefully provide you with some inspiration to start your week! I’m your host, Matt Schwartz, this week’s episode is Episode 1: What’s Better This Week?

I figured I would start the show off by asking listeners (and readers, if you’re reading the transcript, because if we attempt to be anything here, it’s inclusive and accessible) the same first question that I ask every patient who comes into my office each week: “What’s Better This Week?”

I learned to ask this question as part of my training in Solutions Focused Therapy, when I was an intern at the Family Solutions Center in the Cheektowaga-Sloan School District.

It’s an interesting question because usually, responses will fall into one of three categories:

  1. Something’s Better
  2. Everything’s Stayed the Same or
  3. Things have gotten worse.

(I say usually because patients or clients can always surprise you).

What’s important from a solutions-focused perspective, is that, no matter what response our patients are giving us to this question, we’re reframing it to show them their strengths, and their own capabilities.

So if a patient says that something’s better this week, like they had a behavioral change, or they got an A on an exam, or they got a raise, my follow up question is always “wow, how’d you make that happen?”

If a patient says “Man, everything’s just staying the same!” I usually say something to the affect of “that’s incredible – what did you do to make sure that nothing slid backwards? How did you make sure that nothing got worse? What’d you have to do to make that happen?”

And if a patient says “it’s all terrible, and here’s all of the horrible things that happened to me this past week” I’ll usually respond with “wow, that sounds really hard – how have you been coping?”

In each one of these scenarios, We’re showing the patient that they’ve been using their strengths and their coping skills. In the last scenario, sometimes patients will say “I haven’t been coping!” and that’s sometimes a very good entryway to review how they got to your office (which, counseling – in and of itself can be a coping skill), and then review with them that since they’re sitting in front of you they must have used some coping skills this week…and even if they weren’t the quote un quote best coping skills, they used them, and they’re still here.

Please feel free interact and respond to us online over on Twitter by tweeting @TheMattSchwartz. Let me know what’s better this week, and please let me know if there’s something specific you’d like to see on the show. I don’t really have a set agenda, except to cover the day-to-day/week-to-week world of Social Work in Mental Health and Counseling Settings. Since I believe that we are called upon (no matter what setting) to function at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels, this show will address how that plays out in the Mental Health and Counseling world, and I hope to bring in a little Social Work History as Well.

While I don’t like to “fan the flames” too much about the differences that exist within the different helping professions, sometimes I think that some of us (especially those of us who are doing psychotherapy daily) forget the importance in recognizing the differences in each of our professions, philosophies and histories, and the strengths that lie in recognizing those differences when we look at what each of the helping professions brings to the table. So expect some interesting (or what I think is interesting) historical-is-today think pieces on Mary Ellen Richmond, Jane Addams, and others as the program goes along.

Well, that’s all for today, as I go to practice self care with my cat, Akiva, who you might have heard in the background. Remember, you got into this profession for a reason, and this profession needs you – so please, take care of yourself, so you can continue helping others take care of themselves.

The music you’re listening to in the background today is Boston Landing on “Blue Dot Sessions” generously shared through a creative commons license. Please find more of their music at www.sessions.blue, that’s w-w-w- dot s-e-s-s-i-o-n-s– dot b-l-u-e. I’ll see you next Sunday; until then, make good choices.

Apples of Wrath?

Apples of Wrath?

According to author Hal Borland, there are people who would rather summer never end, and who would be much happier if we never made the transition into autumn at all. These same people often hope, unsuccessfully, that the world will do exactly what they want in other areas as well. Unfortunately, you and I (and usually these summer loving folks) usually know that this isn’t how the universe works.

Sometimes things are just out of our control – and that can be a really hard realization at times. Sometimes when we realize that things are entirely out of our control, we can feel all different kinds of ways about it. Maybe it makes us anxious, or maybe it makes us feel scared, or maybe it makes us feel really angry. And guess what? The things that get us feeling all sorts of ways don’t have to be big and important either!

One example that I often like to give is that I get upset when my packages don’t arrive on time, or when Amazon says they’re supposed to. I know this about myself, and I know that about 95% of the time, my packages get to my front door either on time, or even ahead of schedule. But if I’m not keeping my thoughts and feelings in check, my ears can start turning the shade of those apples at the top of this blog post when I get to my front door after work and see that the book I was expecting didn’t arrive when I was told it would.

So what are the lovers of endless summers and on-time-book-deliveries supposed to do? No matter what we do, the summer is going to transition into autumn (at least it will here in Buffalo, NY), and no amount of foot stomping or any amount of huffing is going to make the truck that’s sitting in Nebraska with my book on it arrive to my front door any sooner than when it’s going to arrive.

Fortunately, we can find the answer in any number of ways in both counseling or therapy. However, one of the best ways I’ve found is through learning Dialectical Behavior Therapy’s Distress Tolerance Skills; or those skills that allow us to get through a crisis (however we define that for ourselves) without making it worse, and then learning how to live with whatever it is that’s out of our control, and that we just can’t change (whether it’s the seasons, not being in the career or occupation we wanted because of life circumstances or the economy, or having to come to terms with a physical limitation or newfound disability). 

While I don’t practice Dialectical Behavior Therapy, there are many folks who do. If you’re local in Buffalo and would like to learn more, I highly recommend my colleague Ashley Maracle, LCSW. Until then, please watch the videos by Marsha Linehan (the creator of Dialectical Behavior Therapy herself) to learn a more on Distress Tolerance, and how it can help you.

…I’ll be here waiting for my book!

A moment of Mussar: הכרת הטוב

A moment of Mussar: הכרת הטוב

In Mussar we are taught to recognize the good. In Hebrew this is “הכרת הטוב” (which can be translated as gratitude, but literally means recognizing the good).

While taking my lunch break at work today I decided to reflect on my blessings. I have been so blessed in life. I am grateful for my Ohana. I am thankful for those who supported me when I couldn’t support myself. I am thankful that I have had the pleasure, privilege, and opportunity to work in each and every field that I’ve studied: as a Linguist in Foreign Relations in the IDF, as an MBA, in business, accounting, and freelance consulting for entrepreneurial development, and finally, as an LMSW, working as a Social Worker and Mental Health Counselor where I finally feel entirely self-actualized, yet with years of growth potential before me. I am so grateful. Life continues to have its challenges, but they are far outweighed by its blessings.

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