Episode 16: Moving Through Grief with Rebecca Christianson, LCSW, founder of Rebellious Wellness Counseling
Episode 16: Moving Through Grief with Rebecca Christianson, LCSW, founder of Rebellious Wellness Counseling
Grief does not escape any of us. Whether you’re mourning the death of a loved one, the ending of a relationship, or the loss of a pre-COVID world, this episode will speak to you. Join Alyssa for an emotional conversation with her mentor, Rebecca Christianson, as they discuss the grief process as well as the start-up of Rebecca’s brand new group practice – Rebellious Wellness Counseling – accepting new clients now:
Alyssa Scolari (00:23]:
Hey, everybody. What is Up? Welcome to episode. I don’t know, 13, 14. I told you a long time ago I was going to stop counting and then I started counting again. Pretty sure this is going to be episode 13. Either way, welcome. So happy to have you guys listening. I have one of my favorite people on the planet with me today. I don’t even think she… I don’t even think she knows she’s one of my favorite people on the planet, but I rave about her. [crosstalk 00:00:56]
Rebecca Christianson (00:55]:
Oh, that’s nice to know.
Alyssa Scolari (01:01]:
What did you say?
Rebecca Christianson (01:02]:
I said that’s to know.
Alyssa Scolari (01:03]:
I do. I rave. So I have with me today, Rebecca Christianson, who I know personally, she is my clinical supervisor. Right? Well, I guess I have my license. So technically.
Rebecca Christianson (01:18]:
You could still be clinical supervisor when you have your license. So yeah.
Alyssa Scolari (01:22]:
Basically what that means is, Rebecca is my go-to woman. So when I need help managing a client, or honestly, these days, life has been such a shit-show that Rebecca has been helping me navigate the personal waters of my life. So she’s my go-to woman when it comes to needing support because one of the things that she said to me is every therapist has a good therapist, right?
And Rebecca is, I kind of translate that to every part of my life, right? Every therapist also has a good mentor, a good role model. And Rebecca I’ve known for not too long. It’s only been about a year and a half, but she is somebody who has quickly turned into a mentor and role model for me in the field. She’s an LCSW. So a licensed clinical social worker, and I am happy to have her on today. I’m so excited that she said, yes, she’s a very busy woman doing lots of things, taken the world by storm. So I’m going to turn it over. Can you tell the world who you are, what you’re doing?
Rebecca Christianson (02:43]:
Well, that’s quite an introduction. So I don’t even know where to start with that, but thank you. Thank you for all [crosstalk 00:02:50]
Alyssa Scolari (02:49]:
I have overwhelmed you already.
Rebecca Christianson (02:51]:
I feel a little overwhelmed. I feel like, I don’t know, I need to straighten my tail or something. I am a licensed clinical social worker. I went to school in Texas for undergrad, Louisiana for grad school. And the military moved us up to New Jersey. I love New Jersey. I think it gets a [inaudible 00:03:14] bad rap. And we’ve been here since 1994 and I got licensed in 1996.
And I do say that every good therapist has a good therapist and every good therapist has a good mentor. You’re exactly right. I say that all the time, because I believe that in my part of hearts, it’s not an easy job. So I think support is what makes it all possible.
Alyssa Scolari (03:43]:
Yeah. It’s what makes you good at what you do is being able to reach out for support and knowing when you need support. That’s all part of the job.
Rebecca Christianson (03:52]:
I have a… I’ve been in private practice since 97. I started a really small private practice, but I worked primarily at different, a couple of different inpatient hospitals in the area. So that was my primary job. I started a small private practice. And then after I had kids grew my private practice and left the hospital world, I have been lucky enough to work with some amazing people.
I was in a group practice for a while, and then out on my own for many, many years, and recently starting a group practice like grassroots kind of a thing, built sort of on my philosophy of, I think in this world, that profits on our self-doubt taking care of yourself is a rebellious act. That’s my belief. I believe that it’s important to rebel against what society thinks you should be.
It’s important to be who you are and be authentic. And sometimes that’s a rebellious act. So kind of started to build a grassroots group practice based on that kind of philosophy. The authentic be who you are, learn who that is, make decisions.
Alyssa Scolari (05:08]:
And that’s what led you, that’s what inspired the name of your group practice, right?
Rebecca Christianson (05:08]:
Right. Mm-hmm (affirmative]-
Alyssa Scolari (05:08]:
Rebecca Christianson (05:14]:
Yeah, It’s a Rebellious Wellness Counseling.
Alyssa Scolari (05:19]:
Rebellious wellness counseling. I love it. It’s the best name. And I love that philosophy. And I think one of the things that comes to my mind, and this is a little off topic, but I’m going to ask it anyway. So were you born in Texas?
Rebecca Christianson (05:38]:
I was born and raised in Texas. Yes. Mm-hmm (affirmative]-
Alyssa Scolari (05:42]:
It finally. Okay. So your accent finally makes so much sense to me, [crosstalk 00:05:53].
Rebecca Christianson (05:53]:
That’s great. So many people say ” you don’t have an accent.” I think I say, thank you. I do have an accent. I talk to my family. Right after I get off the phone, I have an accent, but that’s funny. So you think, some people do detect it that yes.
Alyssa Scolari (06:12]:
It’s so funny. It has taken me until right now on this podcast to be able to ask you, it’s always been in the back of my mind, like she is from the South. And for those of you listening, one of the things that you will pick up from Rebecca right off the bat, when you meet her is just this very Southern hospitality feel. So I’m like, She’s got to be from the South. So you were born in Texas?
Rebecca Christianson (06:45]:
Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative]-
Alyssa Scolari (06:46]:
Okay. And you still have family down there?
Rebecca Christianson (06:49]:
Yeah. All of my family is there.
Alyssa Scolari (06:53]:
And what brought you, So then you said that you came to New Jersey, which you said you love New Jersey.
Rebecca Christianson (07:02]:
I do. I do. So I got married before right out of college actually, and went to grad school in Louisiana. My husband was military and we got transferred to New Jersey. When we got transferred, the whole squadron was like, “where? I’m sorry, ” where? And we moved to New Jersey and I thought, I love New Jersey. This gets a bad rap. Everybody thinks of every, not everyone, but people from the South think of New Jersey as the Newark airport.
But that’s a beautiful, I love South Jersey. I grew up near Galveston. So that was my impression of the beach. And I don’t know if you know anything about the Gulf, but the water is really dark. And so people here would go to the shore and I always thought Ew. And then one day I went to the Jersey shore and I thought it was like The Bahamas. I was like, this is fabulous. So I’m like Jersey gets the best.
Alyssa Scolari (08:01]:
I didn’t know that the Gulf was really dark. I always pictured the water being like crystal clear and beautiful.
Rebecca Christianson (08:06]:
Depends on what side of the Gulf. The Galveston side of the Gulf has really dark water. It’s the sand, is really, really dark it’s from the sand. Sand is really dark. So I was like, so I think Jersey gets a bad rap and I love New Jersey. So I think as you know I also have a down syndrome daughter, so I did a lot of research. And New Jersey is one of the very best States. One of the two best States in the United States to live in for special needs kids. They have the most to offer. So that definitely made us stay right here. Could not be happier.
Alyssa Scolari (08:47]:
So your roots are in Texas, but your heart is in Jersey.
Rebecca Christianson (08:47]:
Alyssa Scolari (08:53]:
We actually have a lot of listeners from Texas. A lot of people from Texas are listening to the podcast. So shout out to everybody.
Rebecca Christianson (09:00]:
Yeah. Shout out to everybody from Texas. I love Texas. So just don’t get [inaudible 00:09:05] Eila, to leave Texas. I don’t want anybody to get offended that I, but I still love Texas, but yes, New Jersey is, I think it gets a bad rap. I think it’s a great place to live actually. So,
Alyssa Scolari (09:17]:
Ah, God bless you. You are one of the few.
Rebecca Christianson (09:21]:
Alyssa Scolari (09:22]:
One of the few.
Rebecca Christianson (09:24]:
Really I’m like, yeah.
Alyssa Scolari (09:26]:
But you know what you are, right. New Jersey really does a phenomenal job at providing services for those with special needs.
Rebecca Christianson (09:35]:
Alyssa Scolari (09:36]:
It really does.
Rebecca Christianson (09:37]:
It’s unbelievable. And if anybody out there is a listener who has special needs child, they can feel free to call me because I’m well versed. My child is 22. So I’ve been through the process and I can’t even tell you from birth to through adulthood. It is an amazing state with very progressive thinking. And that alone makes me love New Jersey. [crosstalk 00:10:02].
Alyssa Scolari (10:01]:
New Jersey does it well.
Rebecca Christianson (10:03]:
Alyssa Scolari (10:03]:
They do it well when it comes to education for sure.
Rebecca Christianson (10:03]:
Alyssa Scolari (10:06]:
So within your practice and within the patients that you’ve seen, what areas do you specialize in? I know, but if you want to tell everybody?
Rebecca Christianson (10:18]:
My first specialty was bereavement. I was lucky enough as an intern way back, way, way back there to work under a phenomenal pioneer in grief and loss and especially losing a child at Texas children’s hospital. And I did an internship there that’s actually set me back an entire semester from graduating.
So I had already planned my wedding, so I got married and then I moved back. I went back to school to finish my undergraduate because that’s how important this internship was for me. So I had a significant loss in my own family of origin when I was in grad school. And I really do believe that the internship was the introduction to grief and loss for me. But I, through that internship was able to start some siblings support groups, which was an amazing opportunity. So I also did that in Louisiana and-
Alyssa Scolari (11:28]:
Where the Sibling support groups for siblings who have lost?
Rebecca Christianson (11:34]:
Alyssa Scolari (11:35]:
Rebecca Christianson (11:35]:
Who have lost a sibling. Yeah. Siblings support a sibling who have lost a sibling. And how that changes the dynamic in your family. And so they did bereavement almost solely for grief and loss for a number of years. And when I moved to New Jersey, as I said, I worked inpatient and then was trained in CBT, which is cognitive behavioral therapy for depression and solution focused therapy and rational motive.
Some other modalities that work better sort of inpatient when you’re treating depression, anxiety, bipolar. But primarily my specialties lied in depression and anxiety with CBT and solution focused, rational motive those kinds of therapies.
And in 1998, decided that DBT dialectical behavior therapy became sort of made its debut with Marsha Linehan and a friend of mine. And I were lucky enough to be trained by her in DBT, which was an amazing-
Alyssa Scolari (12:37]:
You were trained by the Marsha Linehan?
Rebecca Christianson (12:40]:
Alyssa Scolari (12:41]:
You’re basically famous.
Rebecca Christianson (12:44]:
She’s famous. Let’s be-
Alyssa Scolari (12:45]:
I mean she’s super famous but-
Rebecca Christianson (12:48]:
Yeah, it was, I was actually star struck. Yeah, it was pretty amazing. Mm-hmm (affirmative]-
Alyssa Scolari (12:54]:
Holly [inaudible 00:12:55]
Rebecca Christianson (12:54]:
I went to the Cape Cod Symposium and was in, and she actually did the training. And then flew out to Seattle to see her clinic, I was trained by the Marsha Linehan, it was pretty amazing. I started a DBT part of one of the hospitals that I worked in that model didn’t really, it was very hard and demanded care to be able to do a DBT model.
But I practiced DBT. Still practice DBT. I don’t currently do groups. Somebody that works for me does groups, but I still use a lot of DBT in my everyday work. I think that those are skill sets that everybody can use, learn, be reminded of. And then about six years, seven years ago a friend of mine psychologist in Cherry Hill said, “Hey, come to this training, let’s do this EFT for couples.”
So for anybody who knows that it’s cognitively trained. DBT is very cognitive behavioral as well. EFT is emotionally focused therapy for couples. It’s like the other side of the spectrum. Right? And I’m like, I don’t do emotions. Just kidding.
Alyssa Scolari (14:14]:
Rebecca Christianson (14:14]:
And she said it’s $800 and it’s four days. And I said, girl, we can be in The Bahamas for $800 for four days. Like what?
Alyssa Scolari (14:22]:
Rebecca Christianson (14:24]:
But I went and it’s amazing. So I am in the certification process with EFT for couples as well. It’s an, I actually do think it’s probably the only couples therapy that truly works. So I was previously trained in a Imago couples therapy. So I did do a couples therapy, but I have to be honest before EFT for couples. I wasn’t that successful, but that was my last training. So DBT, lots of different kind of, you know, I’m really old, so lots of different kinds of therapies [inaudible 00:15:03].
Alyssa Scolari (15:03]:
You are not.
Rebecca Christianson (15:04]:
I am. It sounds like I’m ancient, right? I was like trained by Marsha Linehan? I feel like a dinosaur, but it’s what you’re seeing in my career. It was interesting to go from this cognitive behavioral. This is like mindset and skill set that really is so effective with anxiety and depression.
To be able to treat, teach people skills and tools to manage their anxiety is so impactful. And then DBT to teach people interpersonal effectiveness and emotion regulation, and so effective. These are skills that some people didn’t grow up with. I think it should be taught in schools. That’s was one of my, I have too many passions, but one of my passions I wanted to do, I think it should be taught in every middle school. To go from that to-
Alyssa Scolari (15:52]:
Everybody needs it. Everybody needs those skills.
Rebecca Christianson (15:55]:
Everyone needs those skills to be successful. Everybody. So, and middle school is the perfect age I think to teach them because that’s when you start to form maladaptive coping skills.
Alyssa Scolari (16:07]:
Rebecca Christianson (16:07]:
That’s when you, so to go from that to EFT, was this huge mind shift, but I think it, for me, it was a really fascinating jump and it did help me bring it back down to attachment theory and even in the anxiety, [inaudible 00:16:26] depression that, to be able to obviously grief as a lot of attachment theory stuff. Right?
So, but grief was sort of, bereavement and grief was sort just like, when I learned EFT for couples, I was like, wow, so many of those skills as a therapist I use in grief therapy, but I had sort of section that office like a different kind of its own section, but pretty much it was very cognitive behavioral. So it was really interesting to bring those into more of my other types of therapy and attachment really is present for all of us, always.
Alyssa Scolari (17:00]:
Always. And would you say that a lot of, well, how would you describe what emotion focused therapy is with couples in a nutshell?
Rebecca Christianson (17:11]:
So in a nutshell, this theory is that couples get caught in a cycle and it’s like an infinity loop and you pretty much can take any fight that a couple has and you can put it in that infinity loop. So usually there’s a pursuer and a withdrawal. There’s someone who needs to be heard, they get loud or they pursue the other person. They need to talk it out. And there is somebody who is a withdrawal, right?
So like one of, there’s a therapist in New York city who writes blogs about a tiger and a turtle, right? There’s a tiger, tigers need to be heard. They get louder and turtles go in and waits for the storm to pass. And that’s oftentimes how couples, not all couples, but oftentimes how couples relate to each other.
Sometimes those roles can be interspersed, sometimes that’s not usually the case, but sometimes. And if you think about it, two tigers, those relationships are really volatile. They usually don’t last very long. And two turtles do often meet and get married, but they don’t land in your office because they don’t talk about anything.
Alyssa Scolari (18:23]:
Rebecca Christianson (18:25]:
So there’s no conflict.
Alyssa Scolari (18:27]:
Rebecca Christianson (18:27]:
So the couples that usually land in your office are the tiger and the turtle and the bigger the tiger gets, the more the turtle retreats, the more the turtle retreats, the bigger the tiger gets and that’s kind of the dynamic. And it doesn’t matter what tiger usually like, their biggest fear that’s matched to their core belief is this fear of abandonment, right?
So obviously the turtle retreating is that abandonment schema, and then the turtles core belief that gets, these are just examples, obviously, but that gets hit as like, it’s not, I can never do enough. I can’t do it well enough. And that if you can get couples to recognize that they’re never going to get their needs met in that infinity loop and that like non-verbal right?
Couples have a down Pat. It’s like a look, it starts it, right?
Alyssa Scolari (18:27]:
Rebecca Christianson (19:19]:
It’s not even like, they’re never going to get their needs met, but that wife isn’t the bad person, the husband isn’t the bad person or the whatever couple that you’re working with. The partners are not the problem. It’s this interaction [crosstalk 00:19:34]
Alyssa Scolari (19:34]:
Rebecca Christianson (19:35]:
It’s the system.
Alyssa Scolari (19:36]:
Right? The system is not functioning in a way that’s helpful.
Rebecca Christianson (19:40]:
And once people start to realize that it’s like this light bulb, as long as I keep doing this, this is going to happen. So you start to naturally communicate differently. So I’ve taught communication skills till I’m blue in the face with couples. And, but that philosophy was shocking to me.
Alyssa Scolari (20:04]:
It almost applies to almost every couple. You can see that.
Rebecca Christianson (20:12]:
And usually turtles can get really loud too, but that’s when they have been withdrawn to the point that it’s built up. Right? So there’s different, you know, but when you can point that out to couples, this is your pattern, you do this, these are your triggers and they start to communicate different.
It’s the system that’s broken. We just have to fix the system. And when I can show them that, it doesn’t matter what argument, I don’t care about the content of the argument. And people believe in the content of their arguments but when you can shift-
Alyssa Scolari (20:51]:
Rebecca Christianson (20:51]:
Or they want to tell you the whole story, but you start to show them, so let me get this straight. This is how you told, this is how this came about. This is how you started this conversation. And then you show them and this is how it got this big. And it’s so powerful. So?
Alyssa Scolari (21:10]:
Now is that something that you enjoy as you are, because Rebellious Wellness is now open, open accepting new clients, or are we still in the process?
Rebecca Christianson (21:23]:
No, it’s open accepting new clients. I haven’t, the website is done, so I haven’t truly launched everything. But I’ll be doing that by the end of the month. I’m just waiting on our pictures actually, I had some professional pictures taken.
Alyssa Scolari (21:40]:
Rebecca Christianson (21:42]:
[inaudible 00:21:42] pictures. So for me to launch it and send every, buddy the email and send out. I’m waiting for like pictures, that’s it.
Alyssa Scolari (21:42]:
Rebecca Christianson (21:49]:
So I haven’t launched the website yet, but I think by the end of this month, for sure. But it’s up, it’s running, everybody’s working.
Alyssa Scolari (21:58]:
In this new, as you transitioned from being in private practice solo now going into group practice. Do you want to work mainly using EFT or are you doing grief or are you trying to do all of it? All of the above?
Rebecca Christianson (22:17]:
I do all of it because I feel that’s what people say all the time. I’m sure they ask you this too, but people say all the time, ” how do you see multiple people, multiple days?” And I say, because everybody has a different story. So I like to see all of it. That’s what I think mixes it up. I don’t want to get stuck in one. From the very beginning of my career I did a lot of just bereavement, but I don’t think that that’s really healthy for any therapist to get stuck in just-
Alyssa Scolari (22:50]:
I was going to ask, how did you manage? Because it sounds like you clearly have a history with loss and how did you manage doing just bereavement? I mean, bereavement alone is actually one of the more difficult things to specialize in. I remember my, the first supervisor I ever had at my very first job out of grad school.
One of the things he said to me at my orientation was I can talk to you about X, Y, and Z. We could talk about CBT, DBT, but if there is grief, don’t come anywhere near me. He made it very, very clear. And I have found that to be true with a lot of therapists, that grief is not something people want to work with. How did you focus so much on bereavement without losing your mind?
Rebecca Christianson (23:56]:
I think that it was the internship at Texas children’s hospital where I think I learned so much about it and it affects everyone. So even sometimes cases that I feel like, and you, I feel like you and I I’ve talked about this. Even cases where I feel they may have come to me for some other reason. They lost their job. Their marriage is in trouble, but they didn’t come to me for marriage.
They were just like, I feel some were under that is unresolved loss. When it just doesn’t make sense where you’re just missing something. I’m giving them skills and they’re using them, but there’s something that doesn’t feel like, it’s almost always is an unresolved loss. It affects everyone. And sure enough, when you do history on people, and usually there is a loss somewhere that shaped their life in some kind of way.
So I think I learned early on how powerful that is. And I think it’s fascinating how people grieve. So, it affects everyone and how people grieve is based on so many different things who their attachments are, who, what support they had, how much they understand about themselves, how old they are, just so many different things. And unresolved grief is a void that people will stuff and try to pretend like it’s not there.
Alyssa Scolari (23:56]:
Rebecca Christianson (25:41]:
And it comes out. People act on it all the time. And it’s so much anxiety to, I think if I didn’t have that grief background, I don’t know that I would understand so much anxiety it’s because of an unresolved loss.
Alyssa Scolari (25:56]:
Yeah. I agree with you. And I think that when we say a loss and when we talk about grief, what I really want everybody out there who’s listening to understand is that, that doesn’t just look like the death of somebody. Certainly the death of somebody is very significant and that is what we’re talking about, but that’s not all inclusive.
Rebecca Christianson (26:23]:
Absolutely not. That’s the loss of like there is a divorce and the loss of your parents living together. That’s the loss of one of your parents jobs that led to a significant loss of your having to move, your loss of your home, your loss of your friend group. It’s all of those that are included in losses that shaped your life, that you might not have realized or grieve those losses.
Alyssa Scolari (26:54]:
Yup. It doesn’t necessarily have to be death. And I think that so many of us right now in this pandemic are experiencing some sort of grief.
Rebecca Christianson (27:04]:
Absolutely. So some sort of loss. So for me I was fascinated to learn how different people grieved, how they, and to be able to help them, to be able to help people process and move through. What they needed to move through to be successful and being able to not act out on that unresolved loss, but to process it and understand how it was going to come up in their lives and how to handle it appropriately for them, or that’s still is a huge passion of mine.
Alyssa Scolari (27:41]:
Yeah. And that actually brings up another question that I think I’ve always had about grief. And we talk, you’ve talked a lot about the concept of unresolved grief and unresolved loss. And this is something that I struggle with. I mean, I know a lot of the listeners on the show do know where I’m at in terms of my recovery from complex trauma.
And I think that’s one of the emotions that I struggle with the most is just the magnitude of grief that I feel. And I wonder, and I could just be wondering this because I’m not quite there yet, but what does it mean to have resolved your loss? What does resolved grief look like?
Rebecca Christianson (28:37]:
I always say that, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross who-
Alyssa Scolari (28:43]:
Right. The five stages of grief, it’s like-
Rebecca Christianson (28:45]:
Alyssa Scolari (28:46]:
Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.
Rebecca Christianson (28:50]:
And she was brilliant and it was good for you. Wow. I’m so impressed. I was just like you said you needed to ask me, no I’m just kidding. So long time ago, I changed acceptance to accommodation. I don’t think that, I think acceptance is, I mean, the way that she meant acceptance is accommodating the feelings that come up, accommodating where you’re at in this life, like with that loss. Right?
But when people hear acceptance, especially people who have lost a child, because that’s one of the hardest griefs to process or where they’ve had a tragic loss, acceptance will never make sense to them. So I changed that just for my own practice years ago into accommodation, accommodating those feelings.
So resolving grief really is, if it’s a person that you’re grieving, but even if it’s a situation that you’re grieving, it’s honoring that person or understanding how to honor, especially if it’s a person honoring that person that you have to know whether it’s like, if that can be, you know we’re very ritual, humans are very ritualistic people.
It’s finding something that you do that means something that you honor that person, right? So resolution really means understanding how that loss plays a role in your life, how it will come up, what it will feel like when it comes up and being able to accommodate those feelings, that’s resolution. Understanding that you’re going to be triggered for the rest of your life.
When you hear a similar situation, when you see someone grieving, when you, whatever your loss is, when it touches you in your life, you will be triggered, it doesn’t go away. Understanding how you’ll be triggered and how to accommodate those feelings is resolution.
Alyssa Scolari (31:08]:
I both love and hate that. And I think that a lot of people will. I think you’ll understand this as I explained more, right? I hate it because it’s just shitty, right? There’s no undoing it.
Rebecca Christianson (31:08]:
Alyssa Scolari (31:26]:
Like grief, is grief, is grief. A loss is a loss is a loss. And it’s just a shitty feeling. With that being said, I love the way you put it because it’s not about accepting. It’s about, like you said, accommodating, or as I like to call it sometimes the integration, right?
Integrating, yes, this is what happened. And this is how it’s going to affect me. How can I move on with my life, knowing what I know and feeling the way I feel and still have meaning to my life.
Rebecca Christianson (31:59]:
Alyssa Scolari (32:00]:
I love that because I actually think it’s very relieving for people to hear that because so many people who go through any kind of grief, whether it’s the loss of a child, sexual assault, abuse of a parent or the traumatic loss of somebody, somebody passed away. So many people are told ” Okay, it’s been two years, it’s time to accept what happened to you.”
Rebecca Christianson (32:25]:
Oh, my gosh it’s… yeah.
Alyssa Scolari (32:26]:
And I think it is so relieving to hear that, that’s not really what Elizabeth Kubler-Ross meant by accept.
Rebecca Christianson (32:38]:
It’s not and it never goes away. And I’d say, that’s one of the first things I say, if I could say some one broad statement about bereavement, it takes a lot longer to heal than anybody ever wants to believe it’s going to take or wants it to take. And so I, if your friends are saying, it’s been a year, it’s been two years, they have never experienced a loss that you’ve experienced, even treat trauma.
And it is a part of like, if you’ve had a traumatic childhood grieving the loss of the parents that you wish you had had grieving the loss of the childhood that you wish you’ve had, that’s very, very painful. And I think understanding how that’s going to come out, so many people are triggered when they have a child. I see a man now who has children.
And he was so triggered when he said about his own abusive father when he said to me, ” it’s not that hard to be a good father.” It’s not that hard. You just aren’t there. You love your kids. You do what’s right for them. You do the next thing for them. It’s not that hard.
And he always felt like it was going to be so hard to be a dad because his dad was abusive and unavailable. And he had to grieve. He grieved then the loss of his father, the loss of the father he wished he had. And that’s a really difficult process.
I think healing from that means that you understand you will forever be triggered by that as you work through it, you’re triggered less and you understand what those triggers are and how to accommodate those feelings when they come up and make better decisions.
Alyssa Scolari (34:32]:
Yup. But it’s still there.
Rebecca Christianson (34:34]:
Alyssa Scolari (34:36]:
I mean, Honestly, I think we could have an entire episode alone on just what can get triggered in terms of grief when you become a parent. Especially-
Rebecca Christianson (34:36]:
Alyssa Scolari (34:47]:
If you have any kind of childhood abuse or anything like that. Or even if you’ve had a miscarriage and I don’t think many people understand, it’s like, but here you have your baby. And it’s like it’s so not like that. It’s-
Rebecca Christianson (35:05]:
I see a pediatrician who had a miscarriage and you would think that she, and she said, “I was so unprepared for what I was going to feel like.” And I know it’s, that is… we could do a whole episode on that alone, but yes we can absolutely [crosstalk 00:35:25]
Alyssa Scolari (35:24]:
We Absolutely could. And how an unrecognized it goes and, I want to say ungrieved which is not a word, but I’m just making [inaudible 00:35:37] up now. It’s like we don’t take the time to even acknowledge that loss. In fact, there’s so much stigma around it that everybody keeps it to themselves when they suffer a miscarriage. They don’t tell anybody. It’s so sad.
Rebecca Christianson (35:53]:
Yeah. It’s so sad. It is. And not only do you not tell people, but the hormonal impact, there’s so much that goes into that loss. It is very unacknowledged. And interestingly enough, I think one of the other and most unacknowledged griefs is the loss of a friend.
There’s an author who wrote a book, his name’s Harold Ivan Smith. He’s a phenomenal author on grief. And I saw him speak after he wrote that book. I lost a friend 10 years ago and I saw him speak on that about three years before she got sick and he’s right.
He says, our friends are the people we choose to be closest in our lives. And yet he made people raise their hand in the audience. How many days do you get off show numbers on your finger. How many days do you get off? If your friend passes away, zero, most people.
Alyssa Scolari (36:53]:
Rebecca Christianson (36:54]:
But if your cousin’s wife passes away, you probably get two days and you’ve met her twice. So it’s an unacknowledged grief. And I really-
Alyssa Scolari (37:07]:
That’s the word yep, unacknowledged.
Rebecca Christianson (37:10]:
And so there are several unacknowledged groups. That’s one of them, a miscarriage is certainly right in there. It’s really there. And they’re such personal losses too. So,
Alyssa Scolari (37:24]:
So in a way, it’s almost like as you continue this next stage of your life and your professional development with Rebellious Wellness Counseling, you really will continue to encounter grief, because grief is really there for us and a thousand different ways and shapes and forms. So it’s something that you’ll always be working with.
Rebecca Christianson (37:47]:
Absolutely. I absolutely think that it is there for everyone. And the difference in, like I said healing, where you learn to accommodate those feelings and understand that you will always be triggered and learn to do self care, like things, when you get triggered and learn to accommodate those feelings and not act out on those feelings, react to them, the way that you need to react to them, react appropriately to those triggers and accommodate those feelings that come up.
When you don’t, when you have unresolved grief that can turn into many different problems. So you act out on that grief. So you become anxious because you try to control things that you can’t control because you’re trying to prevent something bad from happening because there’s an unresolved issue, unresolved grief. Right?
That’s definitely one way that I’ve seen anxiety began to spiral out of control OCD disorder sometimes are grief related. It’s very, people don’t ever think that, but when you start to pair down or pair away the layers, it’s oftentimes it comes down to unresolved grief.
Alyssa Scolari (39:10]:
Yeah, absolutely. I agree a thousand percent. Now with your new practice, how many people are there on your team? So you’re the founder?
Rebecca Christianson (39:23]:
Alyssa Scolari (39:24]:
How many people are there?
Rebecca Christianson (39:27]:
There’s four people altogether. So me and three other therapists.
Alyssa Scolari (39:31]:
And does everybody specialize in something different or is it?
Rebecca Christianson (39:37]:
So I supervise all of them. So Stacy Tarzie is one of the therapists. I supervised her in 1998. Sorry. She got her license in 2000 and then Arnett Clark is, she just recently graduated with her master’s degree and she specializes in children and adolescents. So that’s not a specialty that I have. I usually see adolescents and adults. So she has a little bit of a different specialty. And Diane Mishler, who’s also part of our team does the DBT groups. So she has that specialty. She’s also a certified yoga therapist, so she does therapeutic yoga.
Alyssa Scolari (40:25]:
So you’ve got people with all different backgrounds.
Rebecca Christianson (40:28]:
I do. Yes. I know. I’m very lucky.
Alyssa Scolari (40:31]:
Well, and I love it because I also think it goes with, just to circle back with kind of the theme of what Rebellious Wellness Counseling is. And so I’m actually on the website right now. And for those of you who are listening, it’s rebelliouswellnesscounseling.com. I will link it in the show notes and it will be in the newsletter and on the Facebook page.
So no worries about that. If you miss the spelling or anything, just check online, but the quote, right, when you go on the website is the quote that really inspired this group practice, which is in a world that profits from escapism and self-doubt personal development is an act of rebellion. So I love that you have all different people in your practice who have these different kinds of specialties in different areas of expertise that they bring to the table.
Rebecca Christianson (41:29]:
Alyssa Scolari (41:30]:
I just think it’s awesome. It’s awesome.
Rebecca Christianson (41:34]:
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I do some of, my roommate from college is a crisis counselor in DC. She was not a fan of the name. A couple of other people in my friend group were like, Hmm, I’m not sure about it. And I was passionate about the name because it is how I practice. I feel like I am not, I do feel I’m a warm and welcoming therapist, but I also think people have to work if they want to get better.
Alyssa Scolari (42:13]:
Oh yeah. You are both a cup of tea and a strong shot of whiskey metaphorically speaking. Rebecca will make you feel so supported and so cared about But will also kick in the ass metaphorically if you need to be kicked in the ass. And listen, we all need that in therapy. For the most part, I don’t think most people go to therapy just to have tea and crumpets.
I think it’s people, well, I shouldn’t say some people do want to go to therapy just to talk and not hear that there’s anything wrong or that there are any issues that they have to work on, but that’s not how you practice.
Rebecca Christianson (42:13]:
Alyssa Scolari (42:53]:
And that’s just exactly what the name conveys, which is you are incredible at what you do and you don’t pull any punches, but you see the way your delivery, the way you say things, it makes everything easier to hear.
Rebecca Christianson (43:14]:
Thank you very much for saying that. That’s so funny. I love that. I can’t wait to tell my family that you said I was like a cup of tea and a shot of whiskey. That’ll go over huge.
Alyssa Scolari (43:29]:
And I mean that in the best way possible.
Rebecca Christianson (43:30]:
I know. I love that. I love that. I do. I try to live my life that way. I also think it’s like I do believe in authenticity and I’m not, I don’t just practice that way. I feel like I live my life that way. And I also think, as you said, a lot of your listeners know your journey and I also am pretty open and one of the reasons I’m really passionate about grief, I’ve had a lot of losses in my life and I think every one of them, I had to understand and grieve and go through therapy and understand that was going to continue to come up.
We had, I had a house fire. I think you knew that. I had a house fire six years ago and my house burnt down in the middle of the night. And I just was watching a show not too long ago. And my sister was visiting and she said, ” Is it okay to watch this?” Because the house burnt down. And I was like, ” Yeah, I can watch this.”
But it’s interesting how that comes out and that’s such a huge loss. So you’re right it doesn’t always have to be people. It can be definitely can, traumatic events happen all the time. And it’s just understanding and being able to work through them. And so, as a therapist to be able to seek help.
We all went to therapy immediately and have the courage to work through them yourself. So have the courage to walk in that path. And let people know that they’re not alone. You’ve also had to walk in that path sometimes. I feel like that’s what I love about you is that you’re so honest and open and I feel that that’s authenticity.
Alyssa Scolari (45:18]:
Yeah, showing up as yourself, I think it makes you, it requires you to be vulnerable, but it also brings the most benefit in terms of making great connections.
Rebecca Christianson (45:29]:
Mm-hmm (affirmative]- Yeah. I believe that.
Alyssa Scolari (45:32]:
Well, I thank you so much for coming on the show today. rebelliouswellnesscounseling.com. I will again link the website. They are open for business.
Rebecca Christianson (45:43]:
Alyssa Scolari (45:43]:
Taking new clients, doing telehealth reach out. Rebecca is amazing and her team is no doubt amazing as well.
Rebecca Christianson (45:54]:
Well, thank you so much for having me. This was so fun. I was so excited to… that you asked me, so thank you so much for having me.
Alyssa Scolari (46:03]:
Thanks for listening. Hope you enjoyed this episode for more information about today’s episode and to sign up for the light after trauma newsletter, head over to my website @alyssascolari.com. I’m also on Twitter and I’d love to chat with you guys. Be sure to follow me. My Twitter handle is Alyssa Scolari. Thanks again for listening and take good care.