Command Your Life

A few year ago, I was presented with a book, by Gretchen Rubin entitled, “The Happiness Project”. I was told by the giver of this book that it had changed his life and that in him knowing how I am always looking for ways to better myself and others, he felt that the book would be great for me to not only read but add to my personal library and share with others.

Now, initially, I was reluctant to even open the book and begin to read, as I had already skimmed the back cover and wasn’t as intrigued; however, after letting sit on my bookcase for a month or so, I made the decision to give it a chance and see what I could learn. As individuals we are so focused on all the things happening around us and allow them to consume us that we never really engage self-discovery. We are easily distracted. We lose our focus on what is important, and to be honest, what is most important is our continued growth. We fail to realize that we can learn from anyone and/or anything, and it is those things that we are experiencing resistance that we eventually learn the most from. With that being said, I opened the book and begin to read.

To my surprise, a few pages in, I was introduced to a concept that intrigued me and found myself considering how I could possibly implement this concept into my daily life. Rubin shared that as she began to engage in identifying her resolutions for the first month of the year (she decided to add more resolutions monthly) she noticed that she had some overarching principles that stood out to her. Let me first address the resolution aspect, before going any further. Typically at the first of the year, we all engage in a process of identifying our New Year’s resolutions. The most common resolutions include: getting a gym membership and working out, eating healthier, losing weight, be a better person, and of course the list could go on and on. These resolutions, we are so quick to make, however, we are even more apt to forget about them within the first few week so the year and start to engage in unhealthy habits that go against the resolutions we made for ourselves.

Having the latter notion, is what really drew me in to Rubin’s discussion of the overarching principles she noticed among her resolutions that resulted in her arriving at her own personal twelve (12) commandments that she stated, “would help me as I was struggle to keep my resolutions” (p. 11). How cool would that be to develop my own personal list of commandments that would help me throughout the year to maintain focus and stay on track towards my goals.

Now we are all aware of the Ten Commandments that God provides us in the Bible, which tells us how we as Christians should behave, however, how many of us have ever took the time to think of how we have the ability to “Command” our own lives, personally and professionally, by developing commandments, our own set of rules, that would empower us to act in a certain manner. Seems trivial, but if taken very seriously, it can be one of the most powerful tools utilized. Of course, we think, who has the time to sit down and come up with commandments. It is just as simple as writing down the grocery lists your to-do list for work. It comes down to how serious you are about taking control over your life.

As I sat and thought about the goals I had for myself, I began to identify commandments that I felt would help me to be successful in maintaining my focus, completing my task, and achieving my goals. I arrived at the following commandments that I felt governs my behavior on daily basis:

Karla’s Commandments

1. Live life with no regrets

2. Wake up early

3. Never set limits on my ability to achieve my goals

4. Laugh out loud, always

5. Remain true to form

6. Find something to believe in and pursue

7. Think positive

8. Engage in random acts of kindness

9. Practice mindfulness

10. Treasure family and friends

11. Express gratitude

12. Be consistent

13. One day at a time

14. Make time for myself

15. Indulge in Natures Beauty

16. Be present

17. Stay humble

18. Always be honest

It is these eighteen (18) commandments that have catapulted me into a new realm of my life. A realm that is characterized by happiness, success, confidence, spirituality, and goal-achievement. I find myself being very intentional about the activities I involve myself in making sure that they are aligned with my commandments. If activities and/or goals do not align with my commandments or at some point veer off course, I immediately re-evaluate my intentions and determine if I need to abandon the activity and/or goal or at least place it in a safe place until such alignment takes place.

Being aware is very important to ensure that such things take place. I try my to have an awareness of self, my activities and/or goals, others, and the environment in which I am in on a daily basis. Without a sense of awareness, I am not able to maintain focus or allow myself to be intentional in all that I am doing. This awareness also allows me to gain a sense of balance and have control over my life.

Having control is what commanding your life is about. Commanding is all about taking charge, and that is what you as an individual must do if you desire to move forward and attain all of your heart desires. So are you ready to take control and command your life? If you are, start today by identifying your personal principles that will help you to begin commanding your life.

If you would like to read Gretchen Rubin’s book, “The Happiness Project”, it can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Books-A-Million, and at www.harpercollins.com. Feel free to also follow her daily blog at www.happiness-project.com.

Being Who You Are…… The Authenticity of a Clinician

“Why Did You Become A Clinician”?

I can remember when I first started out at a clinician, fresh out of my graduate program at South University and into the residential setting as a Social Service Counselor. I had no idea exactly what I was supposed to do.

True enough, I had not only successfully completed two internships during (out-patient substance abuse and in-patient psychiatric and dual diagnosis) my graduate studies but had also graduated my program with a solid GPA that was over the 3.0 mark, yet, I found myself nervous, scared, and feeling unprepared.

What if I said the wrong thing?

Better yet, would anything I said make sense to the patients or the staff?

I doubted myself and my ability considering I was just a novice clinician who really had not experience the world of counseling outside of what my graduate program afforded me.

11 years later, I find myself consistently reflecting on those days as I searched for my place within the world of counseling, trying not to just “fit” in but rather creating me an identity in which I feel comfortable and the most effective.

Man, those last few words really just struck a nerve within me.

“Create me an identity where I felt comfortable and the most effective”……………

All too often as clinicians we have this grand idea, especially after we complete our graduate program and begin out journey in the unknown within our chosen profession and career field, that we are going to secure the highest paying job, established amazing private practices, and becoming money making clinicians in no time.

We chase the dream of becoming like those whom we have come to admire in the field, yet, we overlook the fact that they too was once in our shoes and had to start somewhere.

We begin to place these unrealistic expectations upon ourselves and try to emulate others in hopes of attaining the same amount, if not more, success than they have had.

We become the seemingly tired mouse stuck in a cage running in circles over and over again, yet, we are still stuck and find ourselves tired, exhausted, overwhelmed, and even BURNED OUT!!!!

BURN OUT is very real in chosen profession and field. It will creep us on us before we know and kidnap us like no other. We find ourselves unable to be productive and even beginning to wonder if this field is even the field we want to work in.

In measuring our success against others we become discouraged as we feel we are not moving towards where we desire to be in such a quick timeframe.

The reality is, in your attempts to create the success of others for yourself, you lost your drive, your motivation, your inspiration for being a clinician.

You have been so worked out about getting what everyone else has that you never took the time to truly consider what it was that you wanted within the profession and developed you a plan that would allow you to fulfill your dreams and desires, absent of what everyone else is and/or was doing.

You forgot, along the way, why YOU decided to become a clinician? What inspired you? What motivates you? What is about this field that drew you to it?

All meaningful and thought-provoking questions that causes us to take a step back and truly reflect.

I can write this, not just from what I have been told but more from experience.

I was once that clinician who felt that I was just here. I had no clear direction as to what I wanted to do within the field of counseling or what my identity was going to be. I honestly was just following suit. But boy, did I soon learn a lesson.

Following suit did not get me far. My passion for the work was quickly deteriorating and I began to wonder if I had what it took to be successful in this field. Had I just wasted my money earning a degree, I was for certain I was even going to use?

It took doing some soul-searching and really taking a look in the mirror to begin to see that I was too busy stressing myself out about measuring up to everyone else and not being true to who I was and what I loved to do. It was time for me to develop my identity and flourish and that is what I have done over the years.

There will be those who are meant to be a clinician within the private practice setting, seeing 20-30 clients weekly, while there will be others who we find success working within organizations providing therapeutic services, clinical supervision, and so much more to a wide array of unique populations within the counseling field.

Today, I encourage to you remember that this journey is no one’s journey but your own. You should aspire to be your best self as a clinician each and every day, not comparing yourself to the next person, considering their journey is theirs and theirs alone.

Take some time to reflect and list all of the reasons that you made the decision to become a clinician.

EMERGE On!

Taking Care Of Ourselves….

Another week is upon us and there is much work for us to do with our clients.

To be honest, it seems as if the work is never-ending and more work is added before know it.

Last Monday we focused on “Giving The Client What They Need”, but what about us?

How do we take care of ourselves in a field where burnout, compassion fatigue, and/or vicarious trauma is imminent?

Self-Care is the BEST Care!!!!!

We have to remember to NOT own our clients issue…..

We MUST have a safe and confidential outlet to express our feelings…..

We MUST engage in extra-curricular and/or leisure activities outside of our work…..

Leisure activities can range from simple brisk walk in the park to writing in a journal to gardening to listening to our favorite music, amd even spending time with family and friends.

Whatever it is you choose to do, make sure you are FOCUSED on yourself and allowing yourself to really enjoy the moment.

Our clients can be real selfish at times, monopolizing all of our time (whether they realize it or not).

We have to know we to say ENOUGH is ENOUGH and its time for me to have my time.

True enough, you want to help them become better individuals, but that doesn’t mean you have to thinl about them every second of every day.

What good are you to them, if you are not taking care of yourself, FIRST?

I encourage each of you to identify at least one thing you could do weekly for yourself, that has nothing to do with your clients or work, and engage and enjoy it.

You owe it to yourself to have a MOMENT for Self.

Have an Amazing Week!!!!

EMERGE On!

Giving Our Clients What They Need.. .

There are times that we as therapists lose sight of what our clients need most—a genuine, nonreactive, empathic presence, authentic relationship, supportive change-validation, skill-building, and goal-directed activity.

Too often, mental health workers escalate clients’ distress by asserting too rigid a modality and too rational a mindset for the therapy to be therapeutic. In fact, I find that this principle is true often in marriage, parenting, clinical supervision, and in many other relationships we encounter in our daily lives.

Carl Whitaker argued that therapy should be a complex emotional experience, not “intellectual nagging”(Napier, 1977). We are complex creatures, most effectively engaged at multiple levels of awareness and being. Moments of emotion have ignited wars. We are far from purely rational creatures. The world is not a purely rational place. Why should therapy be?

When our approach with clients is too rigid or too directive, it naturally provokes resistance.

Here are a few tips to decrease resistance and promote a healthy therapeutic relationships with our clients:

● Respect clients’ autonomy: Our clients shoud never feel that we are making a choice or decision for them. They should feel free to make the choices and decisions they feel are best for them. Encourage and promote independence.

● Validate pre-existing strengths, current readiness or motivation to change (even when it may be low), and positive steps already being taken toward therapeutic goals.

● Meet your clients where they are in the process. Encourage them to feel their difficult emotions in the face of unconditional acceptance in order to begin working through them rather than merely talking about them.

Wishing each of you a Productive week!

EMERGE On!

References:

Napier, A. Y. (1977). “Follow-up to divorce labyrinth.” In P. Papp (Ed.), Family therapy: Full-length case studies. New York: Gardner Press.

A Catalyst For Change…..

It is that time that we prepare to embark upon another week of working with our clients to provide them with the most effective therapeutic services we can.

While I would love to focus on our clients this week, I feel that it is more important that I focus more on us as clinicians and how we are feeling.

These past weeks, as most of you are aware, was a very trying time for our Country.

I know you are wondering, how does what is happening all over the world relate to as well as impact each of us as clinicians.

We find ourselves, watching the news for each possible update, focusing on the rhetoric that is being stated by the media, political figures, and even our social media friends and/or family members. We find ourselves having to deal with everyone’s feelings and emotions and at times, placing our feelings and emotions on the back-burner.

The reality is, before we are Clinicians, we are HUMANS first.

On a Personal Level:

We have to remember that in order for us to be effective within the counseling setting, we have to make ourselves our 1st PRIORITY. Take the time to really cope with your feelings regarding the situations, in a healthy manner. Seek out peers to talk to, go for a walk, mediate, pray, and even TURN OFF the TV and take a timeout.

From a clinical standpoint:

While it is easy to form an opinion on what is taking place in the world, what have to be mindful to not allow such to distort our perceptions and hinder our ability to maintain a non-bias stance when working with our clients, regardless of their beliefs, behaviors, affiliations, etc. We never know who we will face as clients and that we are “CATALYST for CHANGE”.

I can only imagine how each of you may be feeling, as I too have my own feelings. Lets remember to take care of ourselves during such times in the world and empower others to do the same. Let’s be the example that others strive to become.

We are CATALYST for CHANGE!!!!!!!!!

EMERGE On!

We Must Act……

Systematic racism and police violence have stolen lives of Black Americans from communities across the country.

As clinicians, it is our responsibility to recognize the plight faced by our African American clients and their allies and must fight to correct these injustices. We must invest and stay active in these efforts, especially when they aren’t the focus of the media. The events in recent days, weeks and month have provided another all-too-often reminder of this.

As we work to provide a wide array of services to our African American clients and their allies at the forefront of these issues, I implore you to make a few promises.

First, promise that you will continually uplift and call attention to these injustices. We should not only hear your voice on this issue when it is the focus of the media, but also hear your voice when it is not the focus of the media attention. Promise that you will address and fight for these issues proactively, not reactively.

Promise that you will hold space for African Americans to process their emotions and thoughts as well as empower them.

Promise that you will become familiar with and utilize both multicultural and social justice counseling advocacy interventions.

Lastly, promise that you will promote and collaborate with organizations focused on ending these injustices.

As a fellow clinician, I call on you to hold each other as well as yourself accountable to these promises and our African American clients, their families, and our/their communities.

Join Me on Motivo’s Panel Discussion on Racial Trauma

In a time where African Americans are experiencing systemic racism, social injustices, police brutality, and violence, it is imperative that mental health professionals begin having those not so popular discussions that address the psychological impacts of systemic racism and social injustices perpetrated against African Americans.

As a Motivo Clinical Supervisor, I am inviting all mental health professional to join myself and three other panelist for a Motivo Panel Discuss on Racia Trauma on Thursday, June 4, 2020 at 12pm.

This panel discussion webinar is specifically designed for mental health clinicians and clinical supervisors who would like to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of racial trauma and hosted by Motivo.

For more information and to register use the following link below!

Registration Link: https://wearemotivo.com/racial-trauma-discussion/

#socialjustice #socialjusticeissues #socialjusticeadvocacy #socialjusticecounselor #racialtrauma #EmergeWithDrSapp #EmergingClinicianSupervision #MotivoSupervisor #DrKSpeaks #NationalSpeaker

Take Time To Reflect…..

As you embark upon this week working with your clients and providing them with therapeutic services, I want to encourage each of you to “Take Time To Reflect”….

Reflect upon the interactions you have with your clients……

Reflect upon the treatment interventions and services you are providing….

Reflect upon your experiences in and outside of the sessions with your clients…..

Reflect upon all the work that you have done and currently doing…..

What were some of your takeaways?

What have you learned about yourself, personally and professionally?

How have these experiences help you to grow as a clinician?

Reflection is not only good for the soul but even more for our growth and development as clinicians.

I believe in each of you and continue to be amazed at your growth as you EMERGE as clinicians.

Have a wonderful week and EMERGE On…

Will You “MAKE SOME NOISE”?

On last evening, I had the pleasure of speaking virtually on the topic “Trauma, Violence, and Social Justice Advocacy among the Black Community” to the DC and Virginia Chapters of the National Black MBA Association.

While it was a great opportunity to shate my knowledge, I will admit I was saddened that such a conversation has to be had.

The continued perpetuation of violence and senseless killings of African Americans (both male and female) as well as other social injustices by powerful institutions is overwhelming, uncalled for and traumatizing to minorities, both directly and indirectly.

As I did on last evening to the many members of DC and Virginia’s Black MBA Association Chapter members, I am IMPLORING minorities as well as our Allies to begin “MAKING SOME NOISE” about the continued yet unnecessary social injustices plaguing minorities…. especially African Americans!

Now, more than ever, we should be taking action to bring awareness along with holding our institutions (judicial, criminal justice/law enforcement, educational, political) accountable for their actions. We MUST STAND for JUSTICE by Advocating and Demanding Change!

Are you Willing to “MAKE SOME NOISE”?

When The Going Gets Tough….

As a clinician in the field of counseling, every day is not a good day.

We find ourselves working with clients that are challenging and being assigned clients that seem to be beyond difficult, leaving us to wonder if we really know how to provide services and help them to improve.

I want to remind each of you that on days like this, “When the Going Gets Tough….. Continue EMERGING”!!!!!

We are never going to be the perfect clinician.

We are always going to walk away from session wondering what we could have done different.

Better yet, we are going to question if we are even cut out to do the work required of a clinician.

Always remember, each experience is a learning experience.

What you learn from the experience and how you apply it to yourself and the work you do as a clinicians, is what is the most important.

Trust me, I was once in your shoes and experienced some of the same anxieties, fears, and doubts as you have and/or currently are. Believe it or not, I have days when I still have these experiences. It is human nature. It is in these moments we grow, evolve, and EMERGE the most.

Take some time out of your day to breathe and remind yourself that you are “EMERGING”.

EMERGE On!