My path to becoming a marriage and family therapist is a windy path through four decades of life, with many ups and downs and experiences that fueled a passion in me for attachment.
Prior to having children, I didn't think much about attachment. Then, a friend introduced me to the term "attachment parenting" and I learned more and more about it. (Read about it here.) As an anthropology and sociology major in college, many of the principles of AP really resonated with me. And so, as a new parent, I surrounded myself with like-minded friends and have bumbled my way through 15 years of parenting two boys, trying my best to create in them a secure attachment.
Attachment parenting involves a huge investment of time and energy. When my kids were little, I just had to trust that this was going to work out, and they would eventually become independent people. Because, wow, young kids are SO needy and it's easy to fear that they will become spoiled when they have their needs met consistently. Or that they will always be the whiny jerks that young kids often are. But, I'm here to tell you it really works! My kids aren't perfect, but they are kind and caring and as independent as is appropriate for their ages.
I didn't fully realize the importance of choosing this style of parenting until the last five years or so. During those years, I had some life experiences that really taught me just how important the first 5 years of life are, and how one's attachment style can really impact the rest of their life. It can impact an adult's mental health, self-esteem, addiction, relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners, and so much more.
It was over two years ago that I had an experience with a couple I was working with as their birth doula. As we talked about some deep topics in a prenatal meeting, the thought crossed my mind that I wished I was their therapist, not their doula! There had also been numerous occasions with doula clients that felt a little bit like therapy, and I loved those moments. After the experience with my clients two years ago, I realized I could absolutely become a therapist, and I set off on this journey. As I talked to therapist friends who represent all the different types of therapists (social worker, professional clinical counselor, marriage and family therapy (MFT)) it become clear that MFT was for me, since it takes a systemic look at mental health, with a strong focus on attachment and relationships.
Now, having studied even more about attachment during grad school, I am so grateful to have been introduced to attachment parenting 15 years ago. And, I am thrilled to have been offered the opportunity to do my internship at the MN Couple Therapy Center. Their focus is the modality of therapy called Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). EFT is deeply rooted in attachment theory, and as soon as I learned about EFT, I was drawn to it in a profound way.
I am excited to be studying EFT this year, and learning how to be an EFT therapist with the guidance and supervision of multiple amazing therapists who are EFT experts. I hope to share what I've learned about building secure attachments with my clients. Whether you are a parent trying to navigate parenting kids, a couple in distress, someone who struggles with secure attachments, or just a human bumbling their way through life like me, I'd love to work with you.
Recently I was walking out of Target and in front of me a mom was pushing a stroller with an infant in it and a dad was pushing the cart with a toddler. The toddler was saying "mommy push me", "mommy push me." And so, in a fluid movement the parents just switched places. It was so simple, but so responsive. This little girl was saying "I need some attention from mommy right now. I want my mom." It would have been so easy for the dad to say "You're OK" or "We have to get to the car now" and just ignore her request. But he didn't. It was so mundane, but actually very powerful. It said to the child, "We hear you and we respect you. We are responsive to your needs and wants."
This is so powerful! Even very young kids deserve to be seen, heard, and treated as an important person. When we do that, we build trust and this is key for a strong, secure attachment.