I recently attended a meeting where one of the presenters was describing the problem of “burnout” among health care providers. A large percentage of health care workers are struggling with work-life balance, enthusiasm for their jobs, and feeling connected to their patients and colleagues. The same might be said about workers in other fields as well. Despite all of our technological advances, employees in the 21st century feel that they are working harder, longer hours, with less satisfaction from their jobs. Human service providers and educators seem to be particularly impacted by these... Read More
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Family Talk Blog
Some years ago, I attended a special event. More than 125 men and women, all struggling with a serious psychiatric illness, gathered for a day of sharing and discussion. Organized by a group of mentally ill patients and ex-patients, all the panels and speeches were given by adults with psychiatric disabilities. I was the only mental health professional invited to share in this celebration. It was an honor that I have not forgotten.
The panelists, all of whom suffered from long-term mental illness, spoke of their struggle to overcome stigma and prejudice. They spoke of their... Read More
I recently attended a week long seminar on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) taught by Ed Hallowell M.D. Dr. Hallowell, a Harvard trained psychiatrist, has written 5 best-selling books on ADHD. In addition to being a world renown expert on the subject, he has ADHD himself. He understands this condition from the “inside out”. The seminar focus was on understanding the strengths and special abilities that individuals with ADHD bring to the table. “We want to help kids and adults with ADHD unwrap their gifts” he says. It’s a refreshing and affirming approach. I love it.... Read More
The other day I received an email from a friend. I read the email and I had a strong, negative reaction to her message. I started crafting an email to send back, while I was still fuming. I felt better after writing my 3 page missive, but I realized that I didn’t really want to send it. A few days later, I sat down with her for a cup of coffee and we talked. By the end of the conversation I understood her a lot better, and I think she understood me too. I think we both felt differently.
In modern life, we bump into conflict in many areas of life. Certainly family life is filled with... Read More
Several weeks ago, my wife and I were having dinner overlooking the harbor in Wellfleet, Massachusetts on beautiful Cape Cod. It was a warm summer evening, cooled by a gentle breeze. The setting sun shimmered, reflected by the water. We were discussing our children’s recent visit when my eyes welled up with tears. As we talked, I realized that my mother, who died a year and half ago, wouldn’t be part of my future. I would never see her again. I was thrown upside down, knocked over by an intense wave of grief.
I thought about other losses—my brother who died at 32, my father who... Read More
It starts very early in life.
Even young children do it. We are “graded” by others and then we spend the rest of our lives rating ourselves. Are we good or bad? Did we pass or fail? Are we “A” daughters or “B” husbands? Are we good enough, smart enough, pretty enough—it’s a long list of comparisons and contrasts.
Most of our education uses the “stick and carrot” of grades to motivate students to do their work. Getting an A on a test or an “E for excellent” on homework is the carrot. Obtaining a D or lower is the stick. It works pretty well for about 80% of the students. It... Read More
Life is unfair.
My good friend retired from his job in his early 60’s. He was looking forward to reading all the books he missed in his workaday life. Several months after his retirement party, he was diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Joe is a realist. He decided not to undergo chemotherapy, recognizing that his quality of life would decline more quickly, but the outcome would be the same. He is philosophical, but sad that he won’t get to see his children grow up. His children are in their early 20’s.
I visit Joe most weekends and spend a few hours with him sitting in... Read More
Sometimes parents wonder---Do I need to be “tougher” with my son or daughter? The parents of teens continually consider whether they are being clear enough, firm enough, or tough enough. It can be a daily question.
Much of this internal debate comes from our own childhood experiences. I grew up in a pretty undisciplined house. My parents had three boys, and I think at a certain point we wore them down! So, we were given a lot of freedom and not much supervision. Looking back, their parental behavior had both good and bad consequences. On the one hand, we became very independent. But... Read More
Warm, dry, and beautiful most every day. It will be a season long remembered. As the days grow shorter and the nights cooler, September comes into view. School will be starting in a few weeks. When I was a child, I loved getting school supplies—pencils, paper, crayons, and binders. Like most kids, I liked school with its predictability and structure.
By mid-august, many kids are getting bored and antsy. They are ready to return to school and start a new year. Kids going into middle and high school are nervous too. They feel like they are stepping up to the big league, and they... Read More
Lately, I have been hearing more from friends, colleagues, and my patients about how hard they are working!—and how tired and discouraged they sometimes feel. It’s not that they don’t like their job, they just feel like they have too much of it, not enough time to do it in, and by the weekend they are out of gas. They have the impression that the assembly line has been slowly speeding up—and now it feels impossible to keep up.
I understand their viewpoint. Sometimes, I feel the same way. What helps me keep my perspective is to step back and look at the big picture, seek solutions,... Read More