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When helping is hindering
Understanding Enabling Enabling is the word most often used to describe the behaviours of … being over-responsible in another person’s life whilst they are under-responsible.perceiving a loved one to be less capable than ourselves and doing for them what they are capable of doing for themselves. protecting our loved one from the natural consequences of their own behaviour and absorbing these consequences for them.engaging in a level of care or involvement in the person’s life and problems that is not age-appropriate, or that is out of alignment with the person’s reality needs. When working with alcohol and drug-addicted people, and the families who...
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5 Things to Work on if you Love Someone With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Recovery is Possible   Following on from my recent article on Veterans and First Responders with PTSD, below are 5 things that can be helpful to work on if you love one of the brave souls trying to find their way through this difficult condition. Recovery is possible and people do get well and go on to live meaningful and purposeful lives. Learning how to support someone with PTSD is a journey of its own that can involve a steep learning curve and some personal growth. One mother told me of her journey supporting her veteran son, “I never knew...
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For the Veterans
And the families who love them As we remember the veterans from the great world wars this Anzac Day, my thoughts are also with those who have served in more recent conflicts, provided aid to war-torn countries and the many who have been impacted by their service in other ways. Growing up as the daughter of an Army officer, my life was that of an army child. This meant we moved a lot and my father went away for long periods of time. I still have a photo of the night we learnt he would be going to Iran the...
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Divergent Principles
‘It’s the Principle of the Thing’ One of the hardest experiences for families to manage is when the principles of one of its members diverge from what the family considers to be their collective family principles. This can happen in subtle ways in any family on any day of the week, but it happens in very striking and gross ways when people are caught in an addiction or other mental health crisis. People do not behave at their best when they are drowning in their own struggle.  Principles fall by the wayside, usurped by the need to simply survive, the...
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How To Manage When Someone You Love Is Suicidal
Walking the Tightrope – Tips for Managing Self When a Loved One is Suicidal  Much of what is actually helpful when someone is in the black night of suicidality is wildly counter-intuitive and requires thoughtful, considered responses rather than automatic instinctual reactions. As human beings, our power is limited when it comes to suicidality and if we can accept that, we can inhabit fully the power we actually have…to manage our own reactions so that we can become an emotional resource for the person standing on the precipice. There is wisdom in directing one’s change effort away from changing the...
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Family Constellation Training Byron Bay
– Maria Dolenc 2019 "When I lived in South Africa, someone told me what the longest road in Africa is. It's not the road from Cairo to Capetown, it's the way from your head to your heart, and from there to the here and now"Bert Hellinger Taking part in Family Systemic Constellation workshops and training with Maria Dolenc over the past 13 years has been the catalyst for deep growth, connection and love, beyond what I thought was possible. Often I was blinded by my own story or fears and I would project that onto my relationships, bringing the complete...
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Myth, Medicine and Paradox in Suicide Prevention
As R U OK Day and World Suicide Prevention Day rolled past, much was stirred in me around suicide. I have worked with many suicidal people over the years and have brushed up against the looming spectre of it in my own family more than once. I have come closer than I would ever like to come again to losing someone I love dearly to suicide, and I have often been a witness to the aftermath of suicide, as families grapple with the tragedy that is left in its wake. How things end in suicide for people is nuanced and complex,...
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Embracing Discomfort Is Where The Recovery Gold Is
“This capacity leads us to the very heart of what makes recovery sustainable, and life worth living, because almost everything that human beings deeply crave lies on the other side of avoiding discomfort.” Very often, people come to treatment expecting to be fixed,…for all the struggle to just melt away and be replaced by an easy, comfortable life. Sounds great doesn’t it? Most human beings are partial to chasing this beautiful fantasy in some way, shape or form, particularly during times of struggle, but wouldn’t something incredibly vital be lost if we were ever granted such an instant miracle? Haven’t...
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Facing Easter with an Eating Disorder
For many, Easter represents a time of connection with family and friends, enjoying a few too many Easter eggs and simply taking a break from our busy lives. For those however that are struggling with eating disorders it can be flavoured with intense fear and shame. I certainly was one of the latter, where every Easter I would end up in a vicious binge purge cycle that would take weeks sometimes months to come out of. No matter how much I tried to exert my willpower, set up a program of eating or tell myself I just wouldn’t, it would only...
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Relapse – The Death of Recovery or Fertile Ground for Change?
“It is on the very ground of suffering that we can contemplate well-being.It is exactly in the muddy water that the lotus glows and blooms.”~ Thich Nhat Hanh ~ A family member’s descent back into alcoholism/addiction can raise the emotional soup of the family to boiling point. The same is true for an eating disorder or mood disorder relapse. In families, we are exquisitely sensitive to what is happening with one another and have the ability to set each other off on a hair trigger, so when something as anxiety-provoking as a relapse occurs, the perception of threat can be very...
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Piercing The Fantasy of the Christmas Family
I am always struck by the paradox of Christmas. We seem to have largely agreed as a society that Christmas is all about love and hope and new life and family and togetherness, and yet what many of us actually do at Christmas is not congruent with these ideas at all. Many of us buy more than we can afford, commit to more than we have the energy for, move more frenetically than we can comfortably cope with, eat and drink to excess, and care for ourselves less than what we ideally need. Many of us allow ourselves to be...
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Interrupted Reaching Out Movement
Interrupted Reaching Out Movement (IROM) Interrupted Reaching Out Movement (IROM) is a simple label for a complex dynamic. IROM stems from a disruption in the flow of love in the relationship between parent and child and can lead to a reduced capacity for being present in your life and feeling primary emotions. This makes connection to others, the world and to themselves difficult, and in crucial situations personal power may prove elusive. For those of us who have had the experience of IROM, we are often outwardly very active, independent and functional people with highly developed skills, coping strategies and...
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The Family System in Crisis
THE FAMILY SYSTEM IN CRISIS There are few things more distressing than watching someone we love head down a seemingly self-destructive path. Families and friends of those caught in the cycle of destructive behaviours often struggle to make sense of and cope with the crisis faced by their loved one, and find themselves at a loss in terms of knowing how to help. Families are sensitive organisms, so when one member is caught in a crisis the entire family is affected. A good metaphor for the complexity of connection and interdependence that exists within families is a web. If there...
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Valuable Insights into Addiction and the Family
The initial discovery that a family member is using illicit drugs is commonly met with a range of strong emotions including anger, shock, guilt and dismay.  Most studies have shown that the most common response is to try to contain the problem and keep it within the family without recourse to outside agencies or support. Often families try to restrain the person from leaving the house in an effort to stop them from using drugs. Such attempts to restrain a family member are never successful.  As the individual’s drug use becomes more problematic, the impact on day-to-day functioning intensifies. As...
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