Therapy is a Two-Way Street
Elizabeth (Bitsy) Taylor, LCSW, has worked as a therapist for 17 years, coming to Children’s Center in 2005. Bitsy was instrumental in starting, and now manages, the Children’s Center Therapy Program, and also oversees the work of the Healthy Boundaries and Behaviors team.
Guest post by: Bitsy Taylor, Children’s Center Therapy Program Manager
I’m one of those people who doesn’t shy away from telling people about what I do for a living. For one, I really like my job so I’m always happy to talk about it. The other reason is because I like educating people about how common child abuse is and how important it is for communities to support local Child Advocacy Centers and trauma therapists.
When I talk about the fact that I do therapy with kids who have experienced abuse or neglect and have trauma symptoms, people often ask questions about how in the world I get out of bed and do such a difficult job every day.
The truth is, there are hard things about my job. But my job isn’t just about hard things. My job is also about getting to witness firsthand – hope, perseverance, and resilience. And if I’m honest with myself, the child and their family are not the only ones who benefit from the therapy relationship.
Every child and family I meet teaches me a new lesson about how families can work together to overcome difficult situations. Every child I talk to teaches me about how kids and teenagers have the ability to be so strong and courageous in the face of adversity and difficult situations. Every caregiver I meet teaches me something new about how to relate to a child and build a family culture.
Through my work, I’ve also have had the opportunity to learn about different cultures, religions, and belief systems all because a family was willing to bring me into their circle and teach me.
Each interaction I have with a family system and kid has a profound impact on me, both as a person and a professional. My life would be so different if I hadn’t listened to each family’s story in the 15 years of doing therapy.
I’ve learned so much about being brave through watching kids manage to speak up for themselves and build trust with the adults in their lives when they have thousands of reasons not to.
I always say that the families I will see a year from now benefit from the children and families I’m seeing today. Each kid and family I see teaches me something new about the human experience. I am forever grateful for all the learning opportunities that families have provided to me.
The concept of all of us impacting each other is part of the reason that here at Children’s Center we have developed a tradition of painting and exchanging rocks when a child ends therapy.
Each child paints a rock to leave in our healing garden to serve as a reminder to the child that they will not be forgotten and that they had a positive impact on their therapist. It also serves as a symbol of hope for kids and families who are just starting the program.
Each child also goes home with a rock that their therapist paints for them. This rock is painted with a symbol or word that describes a positive quality that each child’s therapist sees in them. We want every child to remember that he or she is not defined by what brought them to see us, but by the strength they have to move forward into healing.
So, how is it that I can out of bed and do my job every day? Well, it’s because I am surrounded daily by kiddos who are so very courageous, and, because I get to engage in meaningful relationships with my fellow humans and learn something new through every encounter.