Counseling | Kay Trotter

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What training does my dog need to become a animal assisted therapy dog?

AAT-Training

I get asked this question alot:

“I am looking for ideas and suggestions for what type of training I should acquire for me and my puppy so that he can be used as a therapy dog.  My goal is to use him in therapy sessions with my clients. “

Because Animal Assisted Therapy is relatively new and exploding in the mental health field this, type of question is asked often. Along with similar questions as: What training is needed to incorporate horses into the therapy arena? But, that’s a horse of a different color and needs its own posting. This post will share some of the wonderful and much-needed answers that this question generated – I hope you find it valuable.

Dr Rise VanFleet

Dr Rise VanFleet

Rise VanFleet is a Psychologist, 
Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, 
Certified Dog Behavior Consultant
 who has practiced for nearly 40 years. Her specialties are in traumatic events, chronic medical illness, strengthening parent-child relationships (esp. Filial Therapy), and Animal Assisted Play Therapy. She is the author of dozens of books, manuals, chapters, and articles on play therapy, Filial Therapy, AAPT, and canine behavior.

ANSWER

Risë VanFleet – This is such an important question!

Be really sure that if you go to training classes that you use positive methods, not compulsion methods with your puppy/dog. You have to be quite careful about this, as some force-oriented trainers are selling their work or their equipment using very misleading information. I have an article on my website about finding a good trainer near you (www.playfulpooch.org, under Resources). I’ve included there some questions you can ask and what answers to listen for. For therapy work, it’s incredibly important to use positive approaches because they build your own relationship with the dog and provide the right type of model for any clients that you work with. (Just on my short list: anything that includes electrical shocks or “taps” or prongs, or chokes, or poking the dog are not okay, and there are excellent positive training options available.)

  1. Pet Partners (formerly Delta Society) and TDI are both reputable programs, but the ACA insurance consideration would be an important one. TDI has a policy statement now that prohibits anyone certified through them to NOT certify with anyone else, which means that people seeking a further credential for therapy work, such as my more specialized certification in Animal Assisted Play Therapy, cannot do so. So that depends on what your own goals might be. When it comes to insurance, you’ll want to look into both professional liability insurance as well as general business liability insurance (which is for scratches, bites, dog knocks child down, etc.). I believe another person posted about this.
  2. The other response about socializing the dog and also watching out for the fear periods is very good!
  3. For you or anyone with puppies, there are a couple free booklets available by Dr. Ian Dunbar, available as downloads at www.dogstardaily.com, under Downloads.
  4. The book’s suggestions so far are excellent as well. I’ll add my own: Play Therapy with Kids & Canines, for those of you who work with children and have an interest in child-dog play interventions to meet therapeutic goals (it won the 2008 Dog Writers Association of America award for best of all therapy and service dog books for that year).
  5. For those with interests in working with children, teens, and families with children, I have an online course called “Introduction to Animal Assisted Play Therapy,” which offers 10 CE credits and includes information about the involvement of both dogs and horses. I’m just now finishing up another online course on Canine Communication for therapy work – how to recognize, read, and understand canine body language, one of the really critical skills that I think all of us therapists need to develop. By early 2013, I hope to have another online course available on Canine Behavior and Training. These are not intended to substitute for the actual work we need to be doing daily with our dogs, but to provide some guidance about the different methods and options. More info is at www.risevanfleet.com, where you can click to see the current Online Course as well as visit my Playful Pooch Program, where the live trainings are described (one is scheduled in PA for June 2013) and there are also some articles about AAPT, involving dogs and horses, etc.
  6.  Probably the best overall book about dog training, in my opinion, is Jean Donaldson’s Culture Clash. It reviews basic behaviorism in a non-trivial way, and applies everything to dogs. There are other excellent books as well.

I’m glad to try to answer further questions. Once I started involving one of my dogs in my play therapy work with children and families nearly 10 years ago, I realized how much more I had to learn, and have been involved in learning to train dogs using positive, relationship-building approaches and also canine behavior consultation work ever since. The nice thing is that learning all of this stuff adds to the fun you can have with your dog, and it’s all relevant to the therapeutic work most of us do, too.

I forgot to say earlier – I know that Pet Partners (Delta) advocates for positive training and does not permit or condone the use of prong, choke, or e-collars either (that is likely true of TDI as well).

I had one further thought that might be of interest to this group. On Facebook, I have a multidisciplinary group called Animal Assisted Play Therapy, and it is open to anyone who is interested in having discussions about the world of AAT, dog training and behavior, etc. It’s a very nice group, and we have therapists, dog trainers, veterinarians, writers, and others as part of the group.

One of the things that we started there (but need to pick back up with) is a collection of YouTube dog training videos that show some simple and dog-friendly methods to teach various things.

If you’d like to join that group, too, you can either just go to the group itself (Animal Assisted Play Therapy) and ask to join, or you can send me a friend request along with a private message indicating that you’d like to join that group, and I’ll add you myself. It’s a closed group so not everyone can see everything we’re talking about (and to keep spammers out if possible), but I accept anyone who has a legitimate interest.

Contact Rise VanFleet by visiting her website

Dr. Taylor and Eli

Dr. Carlene Taylor is the Clinical Director at LightHorse, a non-profit organization striving to guide people towards healing of the body, mind, and spirit through a partnership between humans and animals. Dr. Taylor works with her Portuguese Water Dog, Eli, in the treatment of children and families.

ANSWER:

Dr. Carlene Taylor – I have trained my third office therapy dog. My first was a Dalmatian I had when I was in grad school and we did the best we could. The second was an English Mastiff who I used a systematix training from 5 weeks old, and my current dog, Eli, is 2-years-old and just completed a very rigorous process. He is my best trained yet. All total, I’ve had a K9 partner for more than 15 years.

Here is what I do:

Buy the book “How to raise a puppy you can live with”

  • Read it cover-to-cover and have a professional perform temperament testing so you know what you are working with
  • Pursue basic puppy obedience in GROUP lessons
  • Take every opportunity to socialize your pup
  • Graduate from puppy school and do intermediate training with a group trainer.
  • At a year or 18 months (maybe 2), when the dog has begun to show some signs of beginning to mature, pursue AKC Canine Good Citizen training to test.
  • Finally, I finished Eli off with Delta Society’s Pet Partners training and testing.

Eli, my therapy dog, can do anything and go anywhere without incident.  In the process of completing this training, our relationship deepened and we learned how to work together.

I have three books I live by: Dr. Cynthia Chandler’s Animal Assisted Therapy in Counseling, Aubry Fine’s Handbook on Animal Assisted Therapy and Temple Grandin’s Animals Make us Human

This is what I do: in addition to being very particular to follow the developmental milestones outlined in the puppy training book during the first two years,  I make very sure Eli gets what he needs in terms of socialization, dog play times and the balanced relationship of respect and responsiveness to my authority. In the office, I hold him accountable to basic behavioral limits but let him be free to relate to clients without my interference.

There is a workbook I have worked on with colleague, The Therapy Dog Primer.  We have considered doing a 2-day workshop for those who might want to learn the field.  How many of you would go?  What would you be willing/able to pay for a CEU class that prepared you to communicate with and train your dog to enter the field?

Contact Dr. Carlene Taylor at TaylorLightHorse, Inc.www.lighthorse.org, www.drcarlene.com or carlene@drcarlene.com

Christi Dudzik and Paddy

Christi Dudzik is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and owner of the company, Healing Paws, Inc., which provides therapy handler-animal training for volunteers and professionals and provides facility therapy animal programming. She has been a Pet Partners teammate to multiple dogs since 1993 and is a Master Pet Partners Handler and Evaluator Instructor.

ANSWER

Christi Dudzik – I’d like to address your question regarding therapy team training, evaluation, registration. Hands down, without a doubt, you want to pursue Pet Partners® Therapy Animal Program. Their program is the gold standard in the industry. Their’s is a standards-based program, with a strong sense of accountability.

Their evaluation truly evaluates both ends of the leash.  They want to see how you, the handler, will be proactive and supportive of your pup, and want to see impulse control, response to your commands, and how much your pup appears to be enjoying the interactions with the evaluator and evaluation volunteers.

The evaluation is divided into vignettes, so that it flows as naturally as possible, and looks like a real-life visit in a health care setting. Their reason for the evaluation being focused on health care settings is that, if the team is prepared for working with such fragile and somewhat unpredictable people and situations, they will be ready to visit in other settings. Also, every two years, in order to maintain current Pet Partners team registration, you and your pup will need to go through the evaluation again.

The team evaluation is one step in their process. You, the handler, also need to either go through a workshop or complete their online course, and then there is the veterinarian check, and other paperwork in the registration packet to complete. It is a well thought out process that takes more time than with other registering organizations.

One other thing, there is a different mind-set between “using” our therapy dogs and “working with” them. “Working with” indicates team work. “Using” indicates it is all about the dog. I have been a registered teammate to dogs since 1993.

Contact Christi Dudzik, MC, LMHC, cwdudzik@healingpaws.com, (425) 488-3061 or www.healingpaws.com

 

 

Terry Abell, LMHC has used animal assisted therapy primarily with at-risk youth for over 10 years and training interns from a variety of fields (such as Social Work, Counseling, Art Therapy, Child Dev., etc.) to utilize animals in therapy. Terry is a Certified Counseling Supervisor, Delta Pet Partner and teaches at Florida State University multicultural Center in Tallahassee, Fla.

ANSWER:

Terry Abble – I would strongly suggest a basic puppy obedience class, it will help you understand how to train him and give him practice in focusing w/distractions. It’s also a good time to take him out and start widely socializing him. I took my first therapy dog to festivals, to restaurants where we could sit outside, to street fairs, etc., anywhere we could meet and greet people and to get him used to folks wanting to come up and pet him and talk to him. My default position is having him sit with his back to me, almost on my feet, when he meets new people. That way he is secure, can’t have kids coming from behind to grab his tail, etc. and I can control their access to him. Learning to take treats from strangers (with your permission) is a good skill to have. He is old enough to sit, down, wait, etc. to earn the treats. I think impulse control is pretty important for puppies to learn from the get go, especially ones who will be used in therapy.

It is important to know your dog well, and watch for signs of being over-faced with too much stimuli, especially when they go through the “fear phase” of development. Reducing exposure to whatever is stressing him and gradually reintroducing later is important. I think having some positive crate training will give him a place to go if he feels the need for a time out and just an overall good skill for any dog to have (not advocating long stretches in a crate, I might add, especially for a doodle.)

Patricia McConnell is a very good canine behaviorist, you may want to check out some of her writings.

Contact Terry Abell at: tabell@FSU.EDU

Jamie Neff  – I have worked with and trained dogs, horses, etc. for a long time and I recommend you take your pup ASAP. Take him to outings and anywhere to get him accustomed to people and traveling. The more your dog is around people and their special needs, the more accustomed he will become to them.

Not only does your pup need to interact with people, but you will find he will gravitate toward people with specific needs and will want to avoid people with other special needs. This is ok! They do not teach you these things in the “formal” trainings. I have been training animals for about 10 years. I have learned that all animals will gravitate toward people with different things going on. They have a specialty, so-to-speak. I have a dog that gets terrified and hides under the desk when people hallucinate in my office. I also have a dog that refuses to participate in nursing home ventures because she becomes too overwhelmed (she sniffs out people with pain, and the nursing home is just too much.)

So, start now “listening” to your pup. Encourage him to be curious and interact! He will teach you a wealth of information. And, by starting early around people and in training basic obedience, there is no need for formal training and extensive tricks unless your facility requires a certificate of completion for legal reasons. Instead, at our farm, we require all our volunteers to spend so much time in the herd or pack taking notes of how they communicate to each other. This is essential to training your dog, llama, sheep, horse, etc.

I would like to add some thoughts to the one who discussed desensitizing and socializing. We, too, rescue many of our pups and give them a purpose at the farm, in nursing homes, in the counseling practice, etc. However, I do not suggest adopting an adult dog and then going through the desensitizing process as outlined. There are many dogs with PTSD that become more fearful. It takes and experienced person with a lot of patience to adopt pets and then incorporate them into the public settings. The dog needs to learn he can trust you before you can begin desensitizing and socializing him. This is a must!!! Otherwise, he will become more fearful. Additionally, as you are patiently and carefully desensitizing  and socializing your adopted dog, tell others of any issues he has so they can be forewarned to any behavioral problems.  Adopting a dog is wonderful, but you have to be sensitive to its needs, challenges, fears, and encourage them often. Allowing them opportunities to build trust with you and be curious will enable them to grow in confidence. And, if the dog has been abused, it requires even more time and patience. The adopted pup is just as amazing as a new pup, and just as helpful and loving and nurturing! But, an adopted dog (or even pup) requires more patience to build trust and break down barriers before the trusting process can begin. You can’t skip this process or you hurt the true potential of your relationship with your dog.

Contact Jamie Neff: www.precioushelpers.org or e-mail jamie@precioushelpers.org or call 967-2865

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The Healing Power of Nature – My Outdoor Therapy Room

Where do you go to nurture your soul? To relieve stress? To touch and be touched by our almighty Creator? I go outside to what I lovingly call my “Therapy Room.”  My home near Dallas, TX sits on a gently sloping acre dotted with a few oaks and giving me a view of the neighboring stables, where horses graze contentedly. It’s private, peaceful and wrapped in tranquility. Here is where I can sit and feel the gentle breeze and rising sun warm my body, allowing my soul to resonate with the presence of God. Here I am at peace, as my spiritual being reconnects with the expansive energy network of God, more generically know as the Universal Energy Field. This vast, cosmic sea of endless possibilities and infinite wisdom … the Source of All … extending infinitely … beyond human measure. This Universal Field, Source of All, or “God” is the ultimate living being bringing forth and staying connected to every other living thing.

My Source of All resides outside, and more specifically, on most days outside in my backyard. There I can sit overlooking the gently rolling velvet carpet of my lawn, surrounded by majestic post oak tress, singing birds, and the gracefully calming presence of nearby horses. I begin my healing spiritual journey each morning here in my backyard. Some days my journey includes just watching the clouds and feeling God’s presence; other days I may journal, or listen to the Matt Maher album, “Alive Again.” But today—after the tornados, floods and the highly emotionally charged counseling sessions of this past week, my soul was hurting, so I knew my soul needed to be taken on a guided “healing light” meditation by psychologist Dr. Jan Berlin. Popping in my iPod ear buds, the meditative journey began in the middle of my out-door oasis.

Today, I listened to this healing message with my eyes open so I could also take in the visual healing energy that nature provides me—feeding me. And true to form, tears gently rolled down my cheeks as I felt God’s presence and healing light permeate my body. Someday I hope to be able to offer all my clients an “Outdoor Therapy Room” where they, too, can experience how the out-of-doors can provide them a special place for the human adventure of body, mind, and spirit. Where they, too, can personally experience how nature provides an opportunity for mindful ways of being, for reflection, for peace. How just being in nature—nurtures the soul.

The Healing Light – A Sacred Lens Guided Imagery Journey ~ by Jan Berlin PhD Audio CD

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about Kaleidoscope Counseling please call 214-499-0396

Dr Trotter also post regularly on her: Facebook Fan Page and Pinterest.

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Steps to Surrender

Steps-to-surrender

My Spiritual Journey: Counselor—Faith—Intuition

July 2, 2009

Part 5 of a 5 part blog series

Today as I sat meditating I realized that another message I received yesterday is that God has a very important mission for me. Yes, it will change my life greatly, and it will also change the lives of many others. But I already knew that, right? So, what is the problem?

Surrender is the problem or lack of surrendering really. I need to surrender this to God and start doing his work. Knowing deep down in my being that when I go out on faith — when I own my healing power — God will be there and to take care of me. BUT my ego has got to get out of the way.

Great, you’re saying. How in the heck do I get my headstrong crazy ego to leave, or just chill out? Well, yesterday I finally heard the answer, and it actually is simple. It’s something that I’ve heard for years, but I guess I really did not truly hear it. It’s prayer. It’s asking specifically for God’s guidance. Asking for God to help me. So, in essence when we pray to God, asking Him to come into our lives and guide us, what we really are doing is two-fold. First, by “asking” we are giving God and all His angles permission to be with us. To interact on our benefit. To change the course of things. To be our companion. To work hand and hand with us throughout our lives.

I did not realize that because of the free will God gave us, without us asking God to guide us, he couldn’t. What irony is that?

All those years when I was a volunteer in youth group and people would ask me how I felt about abortion, I would tell them I am pro-choice. Boy, what violent and confused reactions I would get. Then I simply would ask them this question: “What is one of the greatest gifts God has given us?” The answer, of course, is “free will.” It is this gift of free will that requires us to ask God to guide us. Until we specifically ask, all God can do is sit back and love us.

The other thing that happens when we “ask” God is that through our asking, He now is in charge, and our ego can be removed. Once our ego is out of the picture, our fears lessen. Why? Because we are not in control – God is. Remember, we asked God to guide our steps, and to be in charge. We turned our troubles over to him. How cool is that.

Of course our domineering, blood sucking ego has a hard time staying out of things, so it becomes a process of assuring our ego — like little children —that everything will be okay. So during this discovery I wrote down some prayers and affirmations to help me ask God specifically to guide me on this spiritual journey.

Affirmation
I am surrounded by the pure white light of God
For love, guidance and protection
Only good shall go from me;
Only good shall come to me.
I give thanks, I give thanks, I give thanks.

Things to remember or focus on:
Guide me, God so I can be of spiritual service.
I must ask for God’s guidance and direction everyday in my life.
I must ask for spiritual assistance to come into my life.
I need to focus on the promise of what is coming (this helps keep my ego in check).

With all this in mind I came up with my daily prayer.

My Daily Prayer
Thank you, God, for calling me to be of spiritual service to you,
And for giving me this time to reflect and become whole.
Please guide me in doing the best possible actions each day.
Please send me people who will help me fulfill Your mission for me in this lifetime.

My Spiritual Journey Continued

Part 1 My Spiritual Journey

Part 2 My Struggle…

Part 3 God’s Passionate Touch

Part 4 God Wants to Talk to You

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about Kaleidoscope Counseling please call 214-499-0396

Dr Trotter also post regularly on her: Facebook Fan Page and Pinterest.

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God Wants to Talk to You

God-wants-to-talk

My Spiritual Journey: Counselor—Faith—Intuition

July 1, 2009

Part 4 of a 5 part blog series

It has been a couple of weeks since I have written in my journal because I have been running away.  That is not to say that God has stopped working in my life—for He has not. I am the one who has been confounding the process. Why, you might ask? Well, that is simple.  “ I got scared” and “I became overwhelmed.” It was interesting when this happened because even though I ran away from journaling and mediating, God was still there — talking to me and guiding me.  He was letting me realize what He wants me to know about Him and His children, and most importantly what He wants me to know about myself.

You might think that’s an awfully egoistical thing to say—that “I am that important.” I, for one, hate to be around people who are all about themselves. I often tell people who are caught-up in themselves, “You’re not that important.” Well, I say that on the inside, anyway. I am way too nice a person to say something so hurtful to their face. Perhaps what I have been doing all this time is saying those words to myself: “Kay, you’re not that important.” But to God, I am that important, as is each one of His children. Right now, though, during my spiritual journey, I think God is telling me, “Yes Kay, you are very important, and I have a very special job for you to do. I need you to embrace your uniqueness so that you can share your unique sense of passion and being.”

Yesterday I had a very special phone conservation with a friend of mine who God put in my life to help guide me on this journey, and to help me claim my healing power. Do you know how hard that was for me to just write that, “to claim my healing power?” The only way I could was to realize that when I claim my own power, in essence I am claiming God’s power. I can do that – I can claim God’s power. And as I go through this process I will gradually also claim my own power and be okay with that.  But today, July 1, 2009, I am not comfortable “claiming all my power.” Oh, I suppose I am okay with parts of it, but I definitely am NOT okay with claiming all of it.

Many things came out of my phone conservation yesterday — like it is me who keeps people at arms length, not them. Yes, people find me to be quirky, expressive and totally unorthodox, but they are not judging me as I thought they were. They are simply processing how to take in this very alive person. The judgment and criticism is not from them but from when I was a kid in elementary school. I was the black sheep of my class — in fact, a fellow classmates of mine repeatedly said I had “cooties.” Yesterday when I realized this, it was like a light went off in my brain.  I cognitively realized that the judgment I so often feel is an old schema from my formative years. Just like I tell my clients, I will have to work hard on changing this old schema and replacing it with a more positive and realistic understanding.

I feel myself growing, realizing ways I’ve limited myself and my happiness, knowing I have the power to change those old behaviors if I so choose.  This growth is not comfortable or easy – but it’s important, and good. I’m slowly turning my deepest hidden fears over to God, and with each one I release, I feel lighter.

My Spiritual Journey Continued 

Part 1 My Spiritual Journey

Part 2 My Struggle…

Part 3 God’s Passionate Touch

Part 5 Steps to Surrender

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about Kaleidoscope Counseling please call 214-499-0396

Dr Trotter also post regularly on her: Facebook Fan Page and Pinterest.

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God’s Compassionate Touch

Gods-touch

Part 3 of My Spiritual Journey: Counselor—Faith—Intuition

June 22, 2009

Part 3 of a 5 part blog series

As I continue to read today God was not finished with me yet. Even thou the sun threatens to run me off my patio, He has more He needs to tell me—more I need to hear. To start I guess I need to share with you the words I underlined in the book God has chosen for me to start my spiritual journey, well one of the books anyway. God actually has me reading four books at the moment. Each for a different purposes each with a different meaning. As a side note I do find it important to share that this poor little dyslexia girl has NEVER read more than one book at time before now. Well anyway here are the words that spoke to me today. They seem to center around two themes compassion and wounded spirit, they are:

  • People longed for His compassionate touch
  • Each who came was touched
  • And each one was changed
  • Compassionate touch
  • That one touch changed their life forever
  • He extended his hand, palm forward
  • Isolate their wounded
  • He was put outside the village
  • Infected by this fear of rejection and their memories of the last time they tired. They choose not to be touched at all. Rather than RISK being hurt again
  • Before He spoke, I knew He cared
  • I will never forget the One who dared to touch me

This last one did it —God is now yelling at me saying “Kay don’t you get it!” “I want YOU to dare to touch my children completely with all of your being and all of your spirit. And I God will not only show you how (even though you already know how) I will be there to hold you –because I know you think you will fail you think you will fall. But I God knows better. I know that this is only your fear talking because I God know you won’t fall, that you won’t fail; that you will achieve all that I have planned for you to be. I want you Kay to touch my children to honor me by honoring them to validate me by validating them, to christen them in the Glory of Christ. Yours is the Power of the Godly touch.”

As a side note while I re-read what I wrote today God wanted me to change what I wrote. You see as I penned the bullet points above I put the word God in parenthesis. Now God is telling me to remove the parenthesis. He wanted me to own that it is Kay doing the touching, and to stop deflecting by saying it was God. He wants me to truly embrace and own the power that God has given me. Yes, God is working through me but I have to own my part totally and right now in this moment in time — that’s kind of scary for me —

My Spiritual Journey Continued

Part 1 My Spiritual Journey

Part 2 My Struggle…

Part 4 God Wants to Talk to You

Part 5 Steps to Surrender

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about Kaleidoscope Counseling please call 214-499-0396

Dr Trotter also post regularly on her: Facebook Fan Page and Pinterest.

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My struggle…to be an authentic person

Being-Authentic

My Spiritual Journey: Counselor—Faith—Intuition

June 8, 2009

Part 2 of a 5 part blog series

I can feel myself beginning to question my new commitment to combine all three elements of who I am – the clinical counselor, the Christ-centered religious person, and the spiritually intuitive woman who receives flashes of guidance and clarity – in all aspects of my professional and personal life.

How quickly my memory fades; how quickly I forget the depth of my recent insight, my direction, my new resolve. I do remember how strongly I felt those things I wrote about only two days ago. I remember the tears wetting my face and the tension in my forehead as I embraced the decision to integrate these three parts of my inner core.  But just as powerful as my desire to be “whole” is my mind and body’s overwhelming need to protect me, caution me against standing out, and urge me to maintain the status quo. “Be normal!” is the message from my inner critic.  “No one else ever talks about a burning need to combine clinical, religious and intuitive insight!”

My brain threatens to erase the cognitive connection I came to, and make me soften my writing, my journey’s foot prints, rendering me stuck in non-change—keeping myself unchanged. What a powerful tool this inner conflict provides me to experience first hand how my clients interact with me, and how they feel about the guidance I provide to them daily. I feel just how difficult change can be—even willing, desperate change.

The struggle to open myself up and share these spiritual and intuitive dimensions of my life with others continues to plague me. The desire to be known, to be loved is there — but I quickly close off when I feel even the possibility of the judgment and criticism of others, especially those who are close to me, those whom I love the most.  I know it hurts them, too, when they see how alive I can be, but that I choose not to share that part of me with them. Do they not see that they can’t have it both ways? They can’t effectively shut me down one moment, and then expect me to continue to open my world to them. This is something to this day I have not learned to do. So I fracture myself sharing just those pieces of me they can handle, and not sharing the other pieces of me that they can’t understand or deal with — or should I just exclude them all together and go it alone?

In a way this is part of what my spiritual journey is about; learning how not to “go it alone.” Learning how to put myself out there and stand in my truth, not only with my family (who are the scariest because I have the most to loose with them) but also with everyone with whom I come into contact. I fear that the people at my church, who I do not really know, will make fun of me, or think I am some kind of psychic nut job. I agonize about how my clients will react – the very people I help navigate the level of their own openness and desire to be touched.

My clients perhaps are the least of my fears, because God sent them to me, and they are ready, open and relieved when I talk about what others shy away from. They have had experiences that can’t be explained through traditional, clinical logic, and they have questions that can’t be answered through traditional, clinical logic, either. Not only do I talk about what others consider psychic babble when my clients bring it up, but also I act as if it’s the most normal everyday occurrence, because for me, it truly is. I only wish I could let my family in on this element of my life—my journey. Perhaps God will show me how, or place the desire and openness in them to explore this and not be threatened or fearful. As I walk were He sends me, as I talk to those He brings to me, to I hope all will be made clear.

My Spiritual Journey Continued

Part 1 My Spiritual Journey

Part 3 God’s Passionate Touch

Part 4 God Wants to Talk to You

Part 5 Steps to Surrender

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about Kaleidoscope Counseling please call 214-499-0396

Dr Trotter also post regularly on her: Facebook Fan Page and Pinterest.

 

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My Spiritual Journey: Counselor—Faith—Intuition

Spritual-Journey

My Spiritual Journey: Counselor—Faith—Intuition
Summer of 2009

Part 1 of a 5 part blog series

I’m Dr. Kay Trotter, and I love my clinical work as a counselor for children, adolescents and adults. While I respect all religious beliefs, I am also a devout Christian, and love the strong foundation my faith gives my life and my work. In addition, I love how I am spiritually inspired and guided, receiving messages and confirmations in intuitive flashes of insight.

While these three facets of me are all important – the clinical, the religious and the spiritual – for years I felt I needed to keep them separate from each other. It became more and more difficult, though, and I seemed to be attracting to me clients who required that I begin to work with them from multiple perspectives. For instance there was the young girl who saw ghosts, and needed a way to understand and control what was happening in her life. Other clients have asked me to pray with them.

From a clinical perspective, I was feeling torn. While I received excellent results when I used both my religious and spiritual experiences to help my clients, I still questioned the validity of deviating from the clinical model – or rather, building other layers on top of it.

I had to be authentic – I couldn’t pretend these other facets of myself weren’t there during a counseling session when I felt clients were needing guidance above and beyond textbook models. And in the instances where I did delve into my spiritual and religious tool box, I could see sometimes miraculous emotional healing in my clients. In summer of 2009, I finally realized I had to take a sabbatical to both prayerfully and analytically reflect on my work, and my future path.

I knew I had to undertake this spiritual journey for myself, all my clients, and all the people I am blessed to interact with on a daily basis. I also knew I had to journal my experiences – I couldn’t be the only counselor who was facing this dilemma.

No sooner had I made this commitment to myself and my clients than I found this remarkable passage, labeled “God’s View of Life:”

“God loves to decorate; God has to decorate. Let Him live long enough in a heart and the heart will begin to change. Portraits of hurt will be replaced by landscapes of grace. Walls of anger will be demolished and shaky foundations restored. God can no more leave a life unchanged than a mother can leave her child’s tears untouched.

It’s not enough for Him to own you; He wants to change you. Where you and I might be satisfied with a recliner and refrigerator, He refuses to settle for any dwelling short of a palace. After all, this is His house. No expense is spared. No corners are cut. “Oh, the utter extravagance of His work in us who trust Him (Eph. 1:19).”

This explains some of the discomfort in my life. Remodeling of the heart is not always pleasant. We don’t object when the Carpenter adds a few shelves, but He has been know to gut a entire west wing. He has such high aspirations for me! God envisions a complete restoration. He won’t stop until He is finished. And he won’t be finished until I have been shaped “along the… lines…of His Son (Rom. 8:29).”

My Creator is remaking me into the Image of Christ. He wants me to be just like Jesus. This is the desire of God.”

— By Max Lucado
in Just Like Jesus

So with this strong confirmation, my journey began. It is an honor to share it with you through this blog.

Saturday June 6, 2009
Because I feel God is challenging me to go on a spiritual journey, I have chosen to take a three-month sabbatical from my counseling practice. For this journey I completely surrender myself and my hands to God, that He can take me where I need to go and show me what He wants me to see. I feel with all my heart that He is taking me on this journey to be in relationship with Him at a greater level than I am now—to the next level of faith. I do not know where He will lead me, but I will strive with all that I am to go where He takes me and to utilize all those He sends to guide me. I know that these summer sabbatical months are just the prelude for a lifelong voyage as I allow God to guide me in both my personal and my professional life.

God has also called upon me to re-dedicate my life to Him, symbolically, in a new Baptism. As of yet I do not know when or where my Baptism will take place — however I feel it is not far off. As I walk and cry on this journey, I hope to take you with me, sharing in my joys and hopes and risking to let those closest to me see the parts of myself that I keep close to my heart out of fear of be ridiculed.

I pray that God gives me the strength and words to let you in, something that I struggle to do. It is much easier to keep the deepest emotional parts of my heart and my faith cloistered away. I pray that God gives me the strength to not hide myself when I am overcome with the presence of the Holy Spirit and tears quietly roll down my face. I pray that God remove my feelings of self-consciousness and that I truly embrace all that He is sending me, no matter where I am, no matter who is around me and could possibly see me. I seek to move my faith and God’s presence in my life out of my private world and into the world of others. For I know this is what God is calling me to do.

As I write these words tears wet my face and the power of Christ fills me. This is a gift God has always given me, the ability to see and feel Him in so many different places and in so many different people. I have been the one who has kept Him locked up, out of fear of what others will think, fear of what others will do if they know how intensely I feel God’s presence and how unconventionally he works in my life.

Sunday June 7, 2009
I know this may sound silly to you, but God just showed me what He wants from me and what I am.

“I am a healer.”

I know those of you who know me are chuckling to yourself because you have always known that that I am a healer and I have known too. But — not at the level that God now wants me to own it. Like the Scriptures tell us, people longed for Christ’s compassionate touch. And each who came was touched. And each one touched was changed. I know that God has given me the ability to compassionately touch His children and on some level, I know they have been changed. But that is a lot of power — and I don’t know if I want that.

I guess that’s part of what this journey is all about — me learning to release God’s power in me and just let God flow thru me. I also know that thru this journey, God will help me learn to manage the physical and emotional drain—not just a ‘drain,’ but rather the pure depletion I can experience being His healer.

The cognitive part of me wants Him to show me coping skills, mediation, relaxation techniques to use to fill me up when I am empty. But on some deeper level, I know this will not happen. I have to learn once again to surrender myself to God and allow Him to use me. And I have to know that although I may feel like I am going to explode; that there is no more that I can give, that I am exhausted — God will be there to take care of me. He will be the one to fill me and replenish me in ways my human mind can not even imagine.

I was gong to write that I need to go Google some of our world great “healers” and see how they take care of themselves. Then I realized that it is this kind of ‘stinking thinking’ that I have to stop. Because God does not want “me” to take care of myself — He wants me to surrender to Him, and have faith that he will take care of this need in me so that I can do the great work that He is calling me to do. Since I now see this more clearly I will work on surrendering this aspect of myself more to Christ. God willing, I will succeed!

My Spiritual Journey Continued

Part 2 My Struggle…

Part 3 God’s Passionate Touch

Part 4 God Wants to Talk to You

Part 5 Steps to Surrender

If you would like Dr. Kay Trotter to come talk to your group or find out more about Kaleidoscope Counseling please call 214-499-0396

Dr Trotter also post regularly on her: Facebook Fan Page and Pinterest.

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