I am posting this interview from KARE 11 news. This segment discusses the increased need across the nation for more mental health professionals to work in schools. It also highlights that in Minnesota the need is even greater. This is very important because children and teens in school have an increased need for a mental health professional to connect with and understands what is happening socially and emotionally.
I have been practicing Social Work since 1994 after I graduated from my undergraduate program. However, when I look back through my life, I have been practicing social work throughout my entire life. I have been spending a great deal of time over the last few years developing my style of practice and doing the things I wanted to, so I could pass on to clients a new way of thinking or feeling or both. It is safe to say I have found my niche and that is to work what I call the brain, body connection. Basically it means to understand the wonderful tool called the body and to help others understand what is going on from an emotional level from the body perspective first instead of working with the thinking process first. The thinking process is important, but many times a person comes in and wants a specific item to "fix"their thinking and hence only the symptom of a bigger issue is addressed rather then a cause. I have found that working with the body first and walking with people through issues helps identify for them a root or base to start from. If you will indulge me, I will elaborate further. This approach comes from basic biology such as the autonomic nervous system, parasympathetic nervous system and what is the fight, flight response. These systems are designed to help protect us in times of danger and prepare the body to gather energy to deal with the immediate need to survive. Authors such as Bessel Van Der Kolk MD, Daniel J Siegl MD and Resmaa Menakem MSW, LICSW, S.E.P. go through this process and how the body prepares and reacts to the need for survival and what happens when trauma impacts and hijacks these responses. I encourage clients to read if able these authors and a few more to gain a deeper understanding of what is going on. My evolution in the brain/body connection was greatly enhanced after reading these authors works and works by a few others. The common thread in all this is that what has to be addressed first is where a person feels and experiences trauma in the body and then work backwards from the body to the brain and how trauma impacts thinking. It is important to state that trauma is not just the big events that people normally think of, but it is anything that a person experiences as traumatic for them. This also means that even if a person experiences one major event or several small events of trauma, the impact may not be evident for a period of time or it could be felt immediately. What is important is that the trauma is experienced in the body and the body then informs the brain. The issue with trauma is that if left unchecked, the body can be left on overdrive so to speak and thus is looking for danger all the time. In other words the body is never completely at rest so it can rejuvenate. The beauty of working with the body and addressing where problems are experienced within is that people gain an understanding of what is going on. If they gain understanding, they can help others understand them or at least that is the goal. As I stated above, this is where I am practicing from. The better the body is understood, the better people can begin to understand what and how issues are impacting them. The other great thing about practicing this way is that every persons body is different and responds to approaches differently.