Finding You: An Experiential Approach to Helping Parents Heal
Travis Slagle M.A., LMHC, LPC, Clinical Director at Evoke Therapy Intensives
Brenda Zane is a Sky’s the Limit Fund board member, Founder of Hopestream Community, and podcast host of Hopestream
About the episode:
Travis Slagle discusses the role of experiential therapy for parents. A conversation with Travis helps us understand the importance of parents engaging in their own therapy to increase positive outcomes in their child’s treatment.
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Welcome, welcome back to our February Speaker Series. This is a series that we’ve been having for just about the last year, not quite a year, from sky’s the limit fund, and it is really an opportunity for you to get to learn a little bit more about wilderness therapy, about what goes on at wilderness therapy, and all the things around that. So family work, all of the questions that you might have. So we work really hard to bring you some information and education about wilderness therapy and the people that work in that setting. And I am Brenda Zane, I’m a board member for Sky’s the Limit Fund. And I am the lucky one who gets to bring you this Speaker Series and talk with amazing people from the partner programs that we work with. And today we have an incredible guest who’s going to share so much with us about some of the family work that needs to happen. When we have a child who’s struggling, not even necessarily in wilderness therapy, so Sky’s the Limit Fund. If you’re here, you’re listening, you might know a little bit about us. But we helped make wilderness therapy more accessible for more families. It is an incredible treatment modality, it is also incredibly expensive. And so we work really hard to help fund young adults and teens who need that modality but aren’t able to access it. And so we’re just glad to have you here today. If you’re one of our donors, we thank you tremendously for all of the work that you help us do. Today, we are going to talk with Travis Slagle, he is the Clinical Director at Evoke Intensives and Evoke Therapy Programs is one of our partners. And Travis has over 20 years of experience working with young people and families in crisis. So he has a very extensive background in wilderness therapy. And as a parent coach, as a program leader, with evoke, he’s very passionate about experiential therapy, which you’re going to hear about today. It’s something that you might not have heard about in the past. And he’s really an advocate for helping parents heal alongside their kids. And so this is something that we sometimes don’t hear about, we talk a lot about our kids and trying to get our kids healthy. And we don’t talk as much about the work that the family has to do. So Travis and his team specialize in facilitating custom workshops. And they also do retreats for individuals and families and couples. So I’m excited to have him here today to talk. So welcome, Travis.
Thanks for Thanks so much for having me, Brenda.
Yeah, I am really excited to talk today because I took a little peek at your material. And this was something that I learned as an alumni parent from wilderness therapy is that we often go into this not knowing that we as parents have a lot of work to do, I’m sure that you find that in in the work that you do. And so we just think it’s our kid that needs the help. So I think it’s going to be great for parents to hear that aspect of it. And then once we do realize that we need that help, we were like, Well, where do we get it who who is there to help me through this process. I talk with moms a lot. And they will often say I talked to my therapist, and she had no idea what I was talking about with an adolescent or young adult who’s really, you know, struggling with mental health or substance use. So I think there’s a unique perspective that you bring to that. And then this idea of experiential therapy, I’m excited to hear more about when I think of therapy, personally, I think of sitting in a chair or on a couch in an office park with my therapist. So I have a feeling that you’re going to talk about this a little bit different. So I will let you jump in. And I might pipe in with questions too.
Yeah, thanks so much, Brenda, I really appreciate it. And it’s so great to be able to be with you. And with all the listeners out there. You know, I, I my background, I basically worked in wilderness therapy for almost 15 years worked in some aftercare settings. One of my experiences, that has been kind of a recurring theme throughout that whole time, was hearing the stories of the parents and the emotional experience that they were going through in the process of trying to get their kids help and to make sense of, oftentimes situations that are very scary. And, and I find in my own personal life, and also as a therapist, that my kids have been my greatest teachers. And I often find that the families and the parents I work with would resonate with that idea as well. Oftentimes, you know, we are working in a state of crisis, and there’s a need for immediate intervention. And so the idea of kind of taking some time to really look at you know, ourselves and doing our own personal work, you know, understanding our own childhood history and how that informs us as parents, how that has shaped us and our understanding of our boundaries and our needs and how we respond to feelings. I like to say that therapy is really about helping people learn how to feel. And and that starts with ourselves. And oftentimes we talk a lot about in the therapy world, about behaviors. And sometimes that can lead us into missing some deeper awareness about what those behaviors are trying to communicate, and what are the underlying emotional needs and those behaviors and how we can kind of more effectively respond to them from a place of deeper attunement and attachment. And that’s a big kind of part of what I think makes a lasting kind of change and positive outcomes and treatment. So through my journey of working individually, with parents and working with young adolescents and young adults out in the field, in outdoor settings in experiential programs that really strive towards innovation, and doing a service to the whole person versus just the behavior. What I found was that a lot of parents were asking, Well, what do I do? Where do I go to get, you know, where’s a wilderness program for me? Right? Yeah. What do I do, because a lot of times, the kids are going to be exposed to such transformative information about themselves and experiences in their lives and understanding that is, sometimes beyond any of our expectations. And, and then parents are kind of, and siblings are sometimes left on the sidelines, you know, having to be taught, you know, basics of like, what’s a nice statement, what’s the difference between a feeling and a thought and understanding boundaries and, and reflecting on things that are in our control and out of our control. And sometimes that can be a big learning curve for parents and as as their kids are making some radical changes. And that disconnect can often lead to feelings of frustration and distrust, you know, for a young person to go through that level of vulnerable experience. And then having parents kind of kind of waiting for them just to kind of show up changed, often leads to some some major regressions. And so, you know, what you’ll find in research is that parents that do their own work with a child and treatment have the greatest positive outcomes and treatment, that is the one of the greatest predictors and lasting change that we can do for our kids and for our families is US spent taking some time when we are when we feel safe, when our kids are in a safe place, to start doing some deeper work about things that are happening inside of us, that are showing up in our reactions that show up in our anger, it’s it’s indicative of where our you know, our distress tolerance is that all of those kind of little pieces of the puzzle are rooted in our history. And so sometimes when we’re in that crisis management of I just might, my kid is in danger, and I need to get help. And there’s an out of home placement, there are so many moving parts. And when we think about experiential therapy, the first experience many parents are having in that process of intervention is fear. And that fear is such a powerful force inside of the nervous system that it puts us in a such a go in action mode, it really prevents us from slowing down and noticing what’s happening, noticing our patterns. And these are often times where I’m working with parents who are asking me to fix their kids, and I’m working with kids who are asking me to fix their parents. And we have to figure out a way to start you know, collaborating and helping to deshame, the process of therapy, there’s a lot of stigma, and there’s a lot of I work with lots of parents who come into the process, you know, having kind of a perception that, you know, the therapist is there to kind of say it’s your fault, when it’s the oftentimes these patterns and these kinds of behaviors are intergenerational, they’re environmental, they’re they’re built into the culture of our, of our society and the social media and the stressors and the information, the constant barrage of information that young people are having to absorb and process. It’s, it’s beyond the capacity of our nervous systems, and it naturally brings up our anxiety. And, you know, if we, as parents are walking around in this world, saying, We don’t have anxiety, we’re missing something. We all have anxiety. And the more we have a relationship to our fears and our anxieties, the more we understand ourselves and how we respond to them, the safer it is to help our kids work with their anxiety. But if we’re kind of standing on a pedestal saying, I got my life together, and you need to go out there and get help, we’re we’re creating an experience of shame. Because we all have anxiety, you all have vulnerabilities we all been we all can have a reference point of what pain and hurt and loneliness and fear feels like in in our in, in our own lived experiences. And when we can tap into that in a way that we are contained. We’re not looking to our kids to solve our emotional needs. We’re looking to be a safe, self contained human being a As an emotionally attuned boundary person who can be able to be in moments of discomfort, and stay curious and stay in a place of learning versus us kind of being the teacher, those are the magical moments when we can transform the lives and our children and, and really create a new kind of experience in the future generations of our family.
Yeah, I think when when you talked about that fear, because you are, if you are a parent who’s in that situation, you’ve been in fear for so long, and then your child is now safe in this place. It it does provide you with that calm, yes, time to do some focused work if you you know, if you have the energy. So, a lot of times, I think people have to, to take a little bit of time to do that as well. And then to have somebody guide you who’s also either connected with your child, or at least understands what they’re going through, it’d be so valuable, because you’re using language that like I had never heard that, you know, before we sent our center wilderness, so I think it’s really great that you have this program that helps connect to the rest of the families, because you’re you’re right, when the kid is making forward progress, and parents and siblings are still back here. That’s just kind of a recipe for disaster when the two come back to me together.
Absolutely, yeah. And, you know, and what has been kind of a big, you know, kind of blind spot. And our area of need is, we have really great interventions for for kids, you know, to step outside of their current context, to kind of connect with a peer group, to start kind of digging into the parts of themselves that they are compensating for what we haven’t, you know, kind of bridge the gap in many ways to kind of really bring the parents into a place of a parallel process that is that goes beyond, you know, just a letter writing and reading a book, and sharing what you learned from a book. So evoke intensives was started with that kind of idea in mind that we can work with parents in throughout the country, and we’re actually working with lots of individuals throughout the world. Some of most of them have been people in treatment. But you know, we’re working with folks who are all across the spectrum of demographics, to help individuals be a safer, more connected, more integrated person. And that naturally trickles down into our relationships. And that can be a relationship with a spouse, it can be a relationship with our children, we run, you know, intensives, with grandparents, and the ability to kind of start bringing, you know, the family system into the process of personal growth. And transformation, creates an experience for a 16 year old or a 17 year old, to suddenly see that they are the catalyst for growth, and they are kind of the doorway for a new kind of possibility in their family, versus the stigma of I’m bad or I’m not good, or, you know, I have this OCD problem, and therefore, you know, my parents couldn’t handle me, we really want to try to start challenging that idea that a lot of times these issues that we’re here to tackle are the gateway to transformation in the lives of a family system. And that’s beautiful, that’s a gift. That’s, that’s where we can empower these young people to be, you know, the, the trailblazers in the lives of our family versus what their perception is that they’re getting is that they’re a burden. And we want to really help them see like, No, you have taught me so much, you given me the opportunity of introspection that I was too busy to, and I was to kind of focused on, you know, the the idea of the provider and the kind of in the problem solver and the fixer, and you know, the Comforter to actually start seeing where all those impulses are really coming from, and oftentimes it’s our insecurities and it’s our vulnerabilities. And that’s our anxieties and, and parents are not immune to that in many ways. We just get more sophisticated ways to avoid it.
We become very sophisticated. Yeah, I love how you just described that. shifting the focus from you’re the troublemaker, you’re the one who’s causing all these problems to actually you’re the the doorway that’s such a perfect way to think about it. You’re the doorway to our family changing and becoming healthier. And I just think that that would help so much with the shame that I think our kids feel a lot of the time. So that’s that’s incredible. lightbulb moment. Right.
So I have a couple of slides, I’d love to share them if Yeah, that’d be great. And and then we can keep the conversation going. I’d love to keep it going. You know, you know, one of the things I started off with was, you know, just you know, before I was a parent, you know, I was really interested in philosophy and was just so invested and kind of new ideas. And so, you know, Buddhism was something that I was, you know, and all sorts of religions were fascinating to me, but I, you know, this idea of the monk, and I really did used to admire Buddhist monks, and then I realized, they don’t have children and spouses. And a lot of ways, you know, the, the, the heroes in my life as, as a parent, as a therapist, as somebody who is really focused on trying to make lasting change in the world we live in is, the experience of a parent is one of the most heroic, one of the most brave, and one of the most vulnerable things that I know. And when we start to kind of step into that space of we don’t have the answers, we are kind of experimenting, making things up, you know, responding from our own traumas from our history, and, and being in a place of more of a vulnerable position, that’s a really tough thing when we’re responsible for the lives of others. And so oftentimes, we can kind of put on a brave face, like I got to, you know, hide my emotions from my kids, I got to kind of, you know, you know, keep the actor, the grinder and just kind of power through, you know, it leaves something missing in kind of becoming a more authentic sense of who we are. And I do believe, ultimately, there is something in each and every single person out there that needs healing. And as a parent, when we recognize that in ourselves, in a place of power, and love and integrity, we create a space where, you know, getting help is no longer taboo, it’s courageous. And, and we and there’s one fundamental thing we can help our kids do is learn how to be assertively asked for what they need, and, and to be able to accept when there are limits to what other people can do to solve other people’s problems. You know, and I often believe that, you know, we are, you know, an emotional problem requires an emotional solution. And so that concept is so kind of difficult in many ways in from a parent perspective of, you know, well we get a tutor, we get a way we get an executive functioning coach, we, you know, we get a nutritionist, we, we look for all these external solutions to ultimately like, it’s the relationship is where we have the greatest influence in our lives, that we think about correcting behavior, you know, connection is the correction. And so I admire parents much more than I admire monks when I was younger.
Yes, doing the very hard work of being a parent.
Absolutely. And, you know, we can go to the next slide. So one thing I like to just touch on, and there’s a lot of research going on in this, this is a, this is a big, big kind of development that’s happening and neuro psychology and in family systems therapy is this idea of intergenerational trauma, and intergenerational trauma, it’s actually now being understood on a neurochemical level, and how it expressed certain genes in the body. So sometimes what we can now identify, as you know, there are issues when I’m working with families, where they there is a literal kind of sense of, we have no idea where this is coming from, you know, and, and I would say, my bias is a therapist. So I recognize that but I believe that what is hysterical is often historical, something in our history, that has set into motion, these things, and sometimes this can actually skip generations. And so there’s a, there’s a powerful book, I like to you know, folks, if people are interested in this is a book called, it didn’t start with you, how inherited family trauma shapes, who we are, and how to end the cycle. And that’s by Walland. Great book. And I would encourage people to check that out, because it gives a window into starting to do that introspection in ourselves just to pay closer attention that there are these implicit, almost like, more so imprinted responses that come from, you know, sometimes generations, you know, if I think about, you know, anger, the anger that I saw on my parents and the anger I saw on my grandparents in the, in the ways that that gets processed, and, and suppressed and the ways we project it, I mean, that’s, that can be found in my family tree. And so, you know, rather than kind of looking away or saying, oh, you know, it’s, I don’t have anger issues, we all have anger, we all have anxiety. You know, it takes a courageous person to start to look at it.
Yeah, it’s much easier to blame the social media, the marijuana, the, you know, the bad boyfriend, the bad girlfriend, whatever it is, because those are just easy things to latch on to and to look at and to see versus having to dig deeper and say, Oh, this might be something that’s coming from from somewhere else.
Absolutely. And really, it’s about it’s really about mindfulness. I mean, there’s so much I mean, Dan Siegel’s Parenting from the inside out is another amazing book, I’d highly recommend it. You know, his idea is really just how we can have more mindful attention, awareness, bringing into awareness, our thoughts and our feelings. So that you know, the boyfriend and the social media and the marijuana use and all the things that are like activating events, we have just a little bit more room to pause, to pay attention and to notice and to feel, and to notice our automatic thoughts and, and we have in really love and relationship is about capacity. If we are, you know, in a state of constant fear and trauma, we have very little capacity to be curious, to ask those questions to have to allow ourselves to feel our emotions and, and therefore we just go into problem solving. And a lot of times when kids experience a parent’s problem solving, you know, as parents, we think we’re being helpful, but from a kid’s perspective, they think that they’re the problem. Something’s wrong with me, my pet, my parents are acting crazy. You know, the parents are thinking, No, we’re not acting crazy. We’re just trying to help you. And the and the child’s experiences, oftentimes, you think something’s wrong with me. And, and so there’s a room to slow it down to notice our reaction is to help to contain ourselves a little bit more. an intergenerational trauma is a perspective that really helps us to get a window into where these things come from.
Very interesting. Yeah, I can see I wrote down the names of those books, and I, I think we’ll be able to list those as well with with the video. So thank you.
Wonderful. Yeah, let’s go to the next slide. So experiential therapy. And so you know, what evoke intensives does is you know, we work with families, couples, individuals, creating, you know, anywhere between a two and a half day two, a four and a half day, experiential kind of a fully immersive experience into, you know, doing our own work. And what that could look like is, you know, lots of different kinds of experiential activities, to help people start to kind of build some deeper insight in themselves. And so you know, our kids go off to treatment, or they go to a certain place to kind of start doing, you know, safely start looking within themselves. And we, as parents, we need that too. And oftentimes, what I’d recommend is that there are great moments to bring the family together, and to do that all together. But I’d say more than 50% of the time, it actually helps to do the least, your first kind of step into this process, do it separately, you know, when we if our first experience in this journey is fear, you know, there’s work that we have to do without our kids being present, without them watching that, where we can actually start to learn and listen to that feeling inside of ourselves, without our kids having to caretake that feeling. It’s not our kids jobs, to alleviate our fears. And that’s a big, sometimes a huge learning moment. And, you know, sometimes, you know, we’re expecting now if my kid falls in line and kind of follows the plan and stays off drugs, then you know, they’re going to make me less anxious, that ultimately, your anxiety is your responsibility, your fears, your responsibility. And if you’re asking a 16 year old to take responsibility for a 50 year olds anxiety, we’re going to, we’re going to create some issues. So we want to create an experience a safe experience, where we can start to share and start the process. So there is a eras in activating experience, there is a reflective experience. And then there is an integration experience. And so an intensive could be a two and a half day experience. Sometimes with parents, a lot of like, there’s a lot of tension between parents, many times different parenting styles, different childhood experiences that are shaping how they’re reacting to their kids distress. So let’s bring the parents together. And we can do you know, these, you know, in the, you know, the old school kind of term for it was marathon sessions, where there would be a full day, eight hours, we would do we have lots of breaks, lots of kind of getting up, it’s not just sitting, you know, there’ll be expressive art. There’d be you know, some roleplay, there would be some guided meditation, there’d be some psychoeducation. And it’s really a deep dive. And then you know, you can many people talk about this intensive being something that’s equivalent to a year’s worth of therapy in a weekend. So as it sits an accelerant for helping to kind of build that sense of awareness in ourselves so that we can show up with more capacity with our loved ones. Yeah,
awesome. That sounds amazing. It sounds intense. I bet there’s a lot of emotions that come out. But yeah, when when you talked about the parents who are in different pages, that is really hard. So it seems like having a place to do that with somebody who’s very qualified to help you. Absolutely. And there before would be incredible. It’s amazing from experience.
It’s amazing and it’s such a it is scary. It’s like you know, it’s the hero’s journey, that it’s stepping into the unknown and and in many ways, we’re asking our kids to do that. We’re asking them to step into the unknown and feel their feelings. And why can’t we do the same. And in that experience, what we discover is we are stronger and more resilient, and sometimes more capable than we imagined. So I wanted to share some of like lessons learned from an experiences, you know, this is my collective experience working with families for almost 20 years. Now, as I was mentioning earlier, your emotions are your responsibility. And there there is sometimes in some kind of wilderness models, there’s this kind of, there’s the assignment of the impact letter. And there is kind of a, it’s a very subtle shift between telling a child what you feel in order for them to change, versus telling a child what you feel in order for you to change. I’m learning about my fear is what I’m learning is that I need boundaries. You know, oftentimes, I would say, if we’re experiencing anger, we’re experiencing impatience, and we’re experiencing frustration. That’s a signal that we need better boundaries. That’s telling us that information is not necessarily information that AR kid needs a suddenly kind of, you know, kind of get in line and follow the program. It’s really a time for us to kind of get clear, what are my boundaries? What do I need? That’s kind of step one, your emotions are your responsibility. One thing that’s, you know, going back to what you’re saying, it is hard, they’re in intensives, and therapy, and you know, and kind of stepping into this process after already being and some life and death kind of crisis moments, learning how to grieve. And I would say that grief is one of the, you know, the biggest predictors of our mental health, our ability to grieve is I think, a correlation to our mental well being. The harder it is for it to grieve the harder it is for us to kind of go move through those processes of, of anger and denial and bargaining and to experience our pain, to be able to get to a place of understanding and acceptance, the more resistance, the more denial, the more we refuse that the harder our lives become. Grief is it’s one of the hardest things I would say, you know, I think about my own journey as becoming a parent, I had a, I had a birth plan. I remember my wife and I and our first our first child, we had a birth plan. And my nothing went to plan. And what was very it was there were some complications. And there were some things about it that we were not fully prepared for. And there was no way to prepare for there was no way to even predict. And it was the very first lesson that repeats itself over and over again, about letting go about, you know, we can have all sorts of plans. But But life will be throw us many, many curveballs and learning how to grieve, learning how to let go. It’s it’s our life’s work. Surrendering the need to be right and surrendering the need to be good. This is very important and very challenging. Oftentimes, I will spend many, many hours and couples sessions and family sessions, where people are debating old facts, you know, a child has a different kind of memory of what’s happened. spouse is saying, you know, you did something wrong, you were bad when you did that. And we get into we exhaust ourselves trying to prove our point. And it’s time to start stepping into a space where, you know, it’s about becoming a self. A self has duality. We have good in us we have bad in us we have right we have wrong. And if our kids are being kind of almost under this pressure cooker, of needing to be good eating to be right, you’re going to create a lot of performance anxiety, you’re gonna get a lot of placating a lot of behaviors where they pretend everything’s okay. And they’re hiding all that anxiety until it comes out and an explosion and in a crisis and many people are caught off guard and they say oh, they were all a students last semester where did this come from? The need to be good and the need to be right creates a lot of sneaky behavior. And it creates a lying and it creates a lot of manipulation. Yep, so boundaries are for you. And limits are for others. Boundaries are about how we take care of ourselves. I cannot sleep at night if there’s drugs in my home. So my boundary is there’s no drugs in my home. We’re not going to get into kind of watching old YouTube videos of you know what your brain does to you on drugs. For me, maybe for you know, the parents down the street, they can sleep at night if there’s drugs in the home. I can’t so the boundary that I need for me no drugs in the home. And you know if the child says you’re crazy, you’re stupid you’re too controlling. You know, you’re not trying to be right you’re not trying to be good. Maybe I am. Maybe I am being controlling it’s my nervous system can be funny sometimes.
I like that response.
Ultimately, you know, you’re not you’re not you don’t get into a tug of war if you don’t pick up the rope. So your boundaries are for you. Limits are for others. Growth is uncomfortable. This is it sounds obvious, but you know when we are hearing reports from the therapists of our kids in the field or kind of starting to kind of hear about change, changes, messy. Change has, you know, kind of all sorts of ain’t, you know, sometimes when a child is angry, that can be a good thing, they have very little safe places we have in the world to be angry. And so you know, if it feels uncomfortable, that actually might be a sign of growth. If it feels like it’s too easy, if it feels like it’s too good to be true, maybe we’re missing something. Another piece that’s really important, and this is, like when we think about what how we want to show up as a parent or a self in any relationship, we want to be a safe person, a safe person to talk to a safe person to come to, you know that a lot of young people are afraid of judgment, they’re afraid of being blamed, they’re afraid of you know, being scolded. So we want to try to have equal parts empathy and equal parts boundaries. So if we’re thinking about a recipe book, it’s equal parts of beach, and oftentimes, you know, we can be good at one and, and struggle with the other. Some are really good with the boundaries. But you know, the emotional attunement is difficult, some are overly abusive with the emotional empathy, and really struggle with the boundaries, we want to try to integrate the two. Neither one curiosity is the antidote for anxiety, very, very important. Thinking about, you know, in the journey towards how, what do I need in order to ask more questions. Oftentimes, you know, if we’re in a place of anxiety, we’re trying to control we’re trying to solve, we’re trying to neutralize the threat, whatever that may be. Versus the curiosity is, what can I learn from this? What is this kind of reaction inside of me telling me about what I need? Curiosity is upset. And I find that it’s very hard to be curious and anxious at the same time. So if we are having family therapy, and a therapist is saying, you know, to mom or dad, you know, practice curiosity. And you know, and the child is saying, they don’t seem very curious. The opportunity would be, you know, like, Yeah, I’m working with my anxiety, it’s not for you to problem solve, I’m taking care of it, I’m seeing a therapist, I’m doing an intensive, I’m journaling, I’m taking care of myself, but I am noticing that I have more anxiety than I thought, beautiful, you know, it’s a great place for a child to see their parents as human, not this kind of, you know, Golden Buddha on its pedestal that they have to live up. Yep. That one couple more is all healing is self healing. This is really important. Oftentimes, we and this is, you know, a very, very true, we think we’re bringing putting our kids into treatment to get them help to help them heal. Ultimately, the only healing that we can fully have kind of like power over and influence is our own healing. And what I find is that when we tap into that, when we make that realization, it’s not just hearing a therapist, say it on a spreadsheet, but it’s you believing that oh, my gosh, I can heal, that naturally makes it safe for others to heal. And so if we’re thinking, I want to heal my family, the next kind of like sentiment could be, and that starts with me. And then that creates everything in motion, because we have the self healing response inside of each of us. If we create the right conditions, if I’m an active role of healing myself, it will naturally create space for others to do the same for them. Yep, learning to speak to your fears and anxiety. So rather than kind of writing a letter to your child, and telling them all of your fears, and all of your anxiety, write a letter to your fears and your anxiety, dear fear, I am, I am paralyzed with knowing what to do and how to kind of react, and I’m tired of living this way. Write it to your feelings be in relationship with these emotions. And that way, our kids aren’t the ones that are the the processing ground for our own emotional needs. That way, you you write that letter to your fear and anxiety, your next letter to your kids is going to be so much more fluid, so much more, you know, like less needy, less of this kind of, you know, kind of this urgency where that anxiety and you can kind of say, I’m working on my anxiety so I can show up and just be a better listener. So, last part, most solutions are part of the problem. People don’t like this one too much. So what I what I mean by that is that oftentimes, you know, when we are trying to control the situation, when we’re trying to problem solve, we’re contributing to the problem. You know, again, going back to a place of curiosity, what do we need in order to kind of approach this from a different place of being with the problem versus having to control it? We want to be thinking more about being in the relationship with these situations versus having to solve them. And what we find is that each person naturally said works to create space to tap into resources in themselves to contribute to more solution versus and being forced to contrive solution. This oftentimes happens in behaviorally focused therapy, if we’re just talking about behaviors, and we’re not actually learning about ourselves, we’re contributing to the problem. We’re not contributing to the relationship. And I, my belief in the Evoke Intensives kind of model is that we heal, we are wounded in relationships, and we heal in relationships. That’s where you’re gonna get the depth and your work, worksheets and diagrams and skill building that does provide, you know, a good kind of scaffolding. But if we really want to stand firm in the ground, we need to know who we are and what we feel and what we need. All right.
Yeah, that is a an amazing list. I bet a lot of people are going to be screenshotting this video, because those are, those are great ones. We need a little cheat sheet that we can, you know, try it out. So those thank you for going through those. Those are really, really excellent.
Great. Yeah. Well, I think we can pause there if we want to, just to kind of chat a little bit more. And if there’s any questions?
Wow. Well, I think what you said there is sort of the theme that I picked up is what’s intuitive for a parent, I think, often is to fix, we just go into fix mode. And I don’t think it’s necessarily out of arrogance, I don’t think it’s necessarily that we think we have all you know that we have all the answers, we just have this need to protect our kids. And so, like your points were really good, because it just makes you pause for a minute and think about just because it’s your natural response doesn’t mean it’s the right response. Yeah.
Yeah, I think that that’s a great reflection. And I would say that what I find a lot with working with parents is that, you know, there is a developmental curve to our kids experiences, but there’s also a developmental curve, to a parent’s journey. You know, in a first kind of years of life, our nervous systems, our whole kind of state of being is being kind of inoculated with this need to protect, and this need to kind of, you know, assume this role that this person is literally dependent on me, they’re there, they’re almost like an appendage of my body, literally. And then we start to kind of moving into adolescents and young adults, there is that idea that feeling in our nervous system is still there. And yet, the script is switched, where it’s now it’s actually about autonomy and individuation and allowing space for each person to have differences and separation, which is a very kind of different way of thinking, because we’ve spent the first phase of our lives as parents, you know, assuming the role of the of the protector, the provider, the, you know, the teacher, the, you know, the policeman, all of the pieces of his play, which is kind of part of the intensive work is that we start to look at our roles, we start to kind of sometimes even have role plays that help us to kind of connect to these parts of ourselves where there’s such a strong idea of caretaking that, you know, it’s not saying that it’s wrong, or it’s right, or good or bad. We’re getting out of that way of thinking, right? We’re getting into a way of curiosity. Hmm, like noticing, there’s something inside of me that really wants to fix this. Where did this come from? Where did that start? Oh, I remember when, you know, when my birth plan went to crap, and I needed to kind of know go into action mode. It’s happening again, 10 years later, and I’m like, Oh, these things are not isolated events. They are they are connected,
deeply connecting. Yeah, I think the other thing that I heard sort of overtly, in between the lines is we have to have a certain level of comfort, to be uncomfortable and let our kids know that we’re uncomfortable. Yes, it feels like instead of coming with all the answers coming with the solutions, that we need to be able to say, I don’t know, I don’t know how to fix this. But I’m gonna be there with you work on it, which again, goes against our nature, because it’s like, I’m supposed to have all the answers, I suppose.
Goodness, it’s so true. And that the I’m supposed to I should, you know, we in therapy world, we talk about the tyranny of the shoulds. What is the idea of the thing that I should be or I should be doing or, you know, kind of comparing ourselves to comparisons to, you know, the parents on the Facebook pages and the parents down the streets and Oh, my goodness, it’s it’s all the should is, is destroying us. And it’s in the shoulds that are also getting talked about intergenerational trauma. Our shoulds get passed on to our kids.
Yes. Yes. And even though we’re adults, trying to parent our own young adult children, we’re still getting them from our parents. Oh, yeah. So yeah, that is just the layers of shoulds. So well, I love your list, I think that’s going to be a really great tool for a lot of people to go back and reflect on and just think about how, what is their relationship with those different things. So any last words of wisdom for a parent who might be watching and either considering wilderness therapy, or maybe they have a child there now, and they’re just really feeling kind of stuck? Yes,
I would say one thing I would just say is, look at ways that you can take care of yourself, our self care is how we increase our capacity to be with unsolvable problems, and not rush into fix, you know, that, like you said, there is something intrinsically kind of embedded in our nervous systems that want to jump into that fix that role that’s in there. And sometimes that actually contributes to the problem, you know, the way that I was did that last line, you know, the solutions can be part of the problem. So we want to try to take care of ourselves. And I would say that I would highly encourage and, you know, after working with, you know, in the with intensives, and helping young, you know, young people see their parents, you know, transform their own lives, and then being inspired to transform themselves. intensives or something, I would highly recommend anybody, you know, considering, you know, taking a leap of faith into their own personal growth, I can’t think of anything better, you know, to do something that can be done in a weekend time, it gets out of that 15 minute session, into a place of deep relationship with a therapist, a place of being seen and understood, so that we can really start tapping into that curiosity in our lives. And that opens many, many doors we’d never even knew possible. So I would encourage parents to take care of themselves, consider, you know, doing their own work, whether that’s, you know, investing in time in a therapeutic intensive, finding an attachment based therapist, being in a place of curiosity and their own kind of journaling, or personal kind of introspection, find relationships in groups of other parents who they can relate to. So important, and to know that, you know, this, this idea of needing to get it right or get it wrong, that is part of the problem. It’s about being a self being authentic, being able to say, I’m gonna mess up sometimes, you know, like, I’m sorry that Johnny down the streets, parents love marijuana in the house for me, I can’t sleep, it makes me anxious, I can’t have it in the home, you know, that the kids are going to respond a lot better to that idea of responding to a parent who is connected to themselves versus connected to this right or wrong. Ideology.
Right. Wow, Travis, thank you so much. For this. I feel like we could go on for hours and hours. We will we will put all the information of how to to find you and the intensives I assume you have a schedule and a website that people can go absolutely just to clarify people don’t have to have a child at evoke right to to go to an intense okay.
Yeah, no, we have we work with couples families. We work with all young lot of young adults in intensive now. So people in their mid 20s 30s. Like, we just had an intensive recently where we had a brand new parent, and he said, I want to go do an intensive to help, you know, show up the way that I want to show up for my Monday morning.
Wow, no, there’s an insightful person.
inspiring place to be and we have an amazing team of therapists. Thank you so much, Brenda for your time, and it’s so great to be connected with the sky’s the limit group and please reach out it’s it intensives at evoke therapy.com or you can reach me it’s Travis at evoke therapy.com
Wonderful, thank you so much. And if you’re watching, thanks for watching, and we will be back in March for another great talk. So definitely stay tuned and we’ll talk to you soon and thanks Travis. You’re welcome.
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