Plum Tree Books Blog

"Where Words Grow On Trees"

What Makes A Bully?

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What makes a bully, bully?

A bully hurts. Because they hurt inside, they hurt others.

A bully’s emotions are out of control. Their emotions are a tangled web of complex emotional responses, so they seek control over others.

A bully is angry, uncontrollably so, having never resolved any of the issues at work within his/her Psyche. A bully does not understand anger, how destructive it is to self and to others. Anger consumes their emotional responses.

A bully lives in a perpetual state of anger, unknowing of any other state of being, unaware of the amazing purpose that properly channeled anger might serve.

A bully is insecure so seeks dominion over others. They do this to big-up a fragile, disintegrating ego with false bravado, false power, false control.

Within a bully is a victim. A bully is a victim.

If a bully perceives a ‘victim,’ s/he despises that victim because s/he despises that aspect of self.  A bully learns to hate the weakness in self. That perceived weakness, difference, quirk, sensitivity has provoked attack, criticism or ridicule from others.

A bully has been humiliated. A bully has witnessed others being humiliated. A bully has witnessed humiliation exercised over others as a form of control. A bully has never known love. Bullying is associated often with twisted, dysfunctional love.

A bully usually self-bullies. A bully hates him/her self.

Families create bullies. Cultures and creeds create bullies. Dogma creates bullies. Fear creates bullies.

In my series, I have been trying to show how unresolved or unconscious ‘shadow’ traits are projected onto others or onto the outside world. I have tried to do this in a number of ways, as I believe ownership of personal issues is the first step towards becoming a self-transfiguring adult.

I am not making excuses for bullies. I never make excuses for those who are so self-unaware as to cause harm to others. But, bullies are created by the societies of which we are all a part. As far as I am concerned, if we, as functional adults teach our children through love, not dominion; through self-respect, not ridicule; through self-awareness and ownership of personal emotional responses, rather than through denial and defensiveness; through acknowledgement and respect of vulnerability, rather than through a false show of strength; through the recognition that we all fail and learn by our mistakes, we might, collectively, understand how to tackle bullying.

I wrote a little story about bullying.  Orange Petals In A Storm is a story of hope and transformation. I wrote it to shine some psychological light on the inward causes of bullying.

 

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About niamh clune

I love to write in childish rhyme I really do it all the time A Doctor and a Nana too 'Tis on the plum tree that I grew! Before we go any further, I must let you into one of my secrets. When I was little, fairies lived at the bottom of my garden. I used to talk or sing to them quietly (as fairies don't like shouting). And when dew covered the grass and made it glitter and sparkle, I knew the fairies were preparing for a shindig! Everyone knows that when dew is on the grass, fairies have their choice of the most beautiful sparkles imaginable. Fairies might wear peony or iris sparkle. They might wear rose or violet sparkle. Boy fairies wear shamrock and shiny breeches of bark be-dewed and made smooth and slithery ~ great for sliding down mole-hills! Fairies always throw parties in celebration of dew, as fairies love nothing more! They drink it, and it makes them giggle! They wear it, and it makes them shimmer. Dew really is the diamond in the fairy-queen crown. Apart from anything else, dew means it is a new day, and fairies love the time before dawn when they can flit and dart ~ flicker and start; hover and whiz ~ zip and fizz; float and flash ~ make-a-dash; tease and prance ~ skip and dance; hurry and scurry ~ all of a flurry; rush and rail ~ skim, speed and sail! The very best Leprechaun fiddlers play the most lively jigs. Elf harpists pluck at your heartstrings and weave magic in verse. Goblins are, by far, the best drummers, whilst meadow sprites have very high, reedy singing voices ~ almost inaudible to all but the very trained musical ear. Usually appearing on percussion are the cobbler gnomes ~ with a-clink and a-clank, whenever needed, and in perfect time. All in all, fairy gatherings are a sight to see ~ for those able to see them. I spent many an early morning dancing to the tunes of the little people. Very soon, they began to trust me, (Fairies seldom trust humans, as humans do very strange things to fairies and to fairyland), but I could dance a fine jig, pirouette often, sing a long song and recite a poem, all of which is of very great interest to fairies. They taught me some of their ancient secrets about bees and butterflies, worms and magic bears who know such an awful lot about everything. They also taught me secrets about science and the sky, and how to grow up into someone who is wise (wise enough to still believe in fairies). I like to share some of those mysteries with boys and girls (and grown-ups who still have magic in them) who are inquisitive but can also keep a secret. Sssssssssh! Promise you won't tell anyone... Are you ready? Now listen well, to the stories I will tell...

51 comments on “What Makes A Bully?

  1. DiAnne Ebejer
    October 28, 2012

    How timely! I just finished “Orange Petals in a Storm” yesterday! It was a fabulous tale of bullying and the effects it had on generation after generation in one little family among other wonderful things this story had to say. I fell in love with Skyla!

    Like this

    • ontheplumtree
      October 28, 2012

      I am so glad you like Skyla. I love her too. And part 2 will be out soon. I wrote the tale from an inner perspective.

      Like this

  2. theclaudiofiore
    October 28, 2012

    Reblogged this on The Claudio Fiore and commented:
    A fantastic blog entry, and a wonderful book. You should really read this post and get the book. Wonderful writing. An insight into why bullies become bullies.

    Like this

  3. the secret keeper
    October 28, 2012

    A brilliant post on bullying. It makes you feel compassion for them. But it does not excuse them, as you said, for treating other victims by bullying them. Not all those who are victims turn around and bully. It goes into the same circumstances as child abuse. All those who are abused never become abusers. One question: on these instances, what makes one person step over the line to go to the dark side and the other seek out self discovery for their damaged selves? It does seem to be a mattter of inner awareness. Good to see you back and writing. A great addition to your Emotional Fitness (TM) series. Next on my list of reading, just finished The Coming of the Feminine Christ (needs a reread-so much to digest,) is to continue reading Orange Petals in a Storm. Such brilliant writing in both. Definitely looking forward to Exaltation of a Rose. J.K.

    Like this

    • ontheplumtree
      October 28, 2012

      Thank You, Jennifer! It is good to be back! And who knows why one person uses their personal experiences and suffering to serve a greater cause? Maybe it is actually to do with soul.

      Like this

  4. thiskidreviewsbooks
    October 29, 2012

    What a true post. It has a very important message.

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  5. patriciasands
    October 29, 2012

    Thank you for this insightful post, Niamh. There is so much we need to know and understand, beyond the superficial, about this unacceptable behaviour. Most importantly we need to continue the conversation wherever and whenever possible.

    Like this

    • ontheplumtree
      October 29, 2012

      Yes! We do need to continue this conversation…I am doing a series about the damage that emotional undercurrents cause when not brought into the light. It is such an important thing that people in emotional pain should receive the opportunity to be healed.

      Like this

  6. the secret keeper
    October 29, 2012

    Reblogged this on the secret keeper and commented:
    It is hard to try to understand someone who does such harm to other people, especially if they are children that often end up feeling so bad from the bullying that they end up committing suicide. Yet, in this post you get a feeling for the bully that most of us would not have even thought of as the possible cause and/or reason that they are doing the bullying because of their own awful experiences. It makes sense and there is some compassion that goes through you when you read this post. But then I think that all those who are abused do not turn into abusers, So what makes someone seek self awareness and one turn to being the bully. Dr. Clune suggested in an answer to my comment that it might just be the “soul.” There is something to think about in that answer, This a brilliant series and a great post with incredible insight. Take the time and visit ontheplumtree to read this section of the series on Emotional Fitness(TM). It will be well worth you time and understanding. J.K. the secret keeper

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    • ontheplumtree
      October 29, 2012

      Thank You, Jennifer for reposting. Your question…why do some abused become abusers when others do not…is a good one. Many years ago, when I practiced as a psychotherapist, I would wonder this myself. I used to question why, for example, some people were willing and able to ‘work on themselves’ when others were not the slightest bit interested in doing so. I used to wonder why, some people lashed out in response to others without self-questioning. I used to wonder why, not everybody could be healed. It is, I think, one of the most important lessons that a psychotherapist, or any healer, has to answer for themselves. Eventually, I answered the question for myself. I think it is a question of soul. it is a metaphysical answer…too philosophical to enter into in this blog answer. I wrote about it extensively in The Coming of The Feminine Christ. I do think soul-consciousness has something to do with it. We can only leave the idea of that up to metaphysical conjecture. I based my Ph.D on answering some of these questions. We are not all the same. I am of the mind that we have inborn, innate knowledge hidden in the soul. Maybe some of us have soul-knowledge, and that makes a difference.

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  7. rosedixon
    October 29, 2012

    So true and so necessary to discuss. Skyla is so lovely.

    Like this

  8. mapelba
    October 29, 2012

    My son and I were talking about bullying today. I talked him specifically about not being a bystander or laughing if he saw someone else being bullied and about taking some kind of action. We also discussed how even if the kid being bullied was someone he didn’t especially like, that child still needed help and shouldn’t be laughed at.

    And I am disturbed at how many adults actually bully teenagers online. Like the grown man bullying Amanda Todd and a few other infamous cases. It’s baffling to me.

    Like this

    • ontheplumtree
      October 29, 2012

      Avery kind and reasonable attitude. Bullying is rife. It is everywhere. Your son is lucky to have you.

      Like this

  9. soziebird
    October 30, 2012

    Will we ever reach a time when bullying is not a relevant topic ? I hope so …. I certainly do but I fear it will always remain as long as one person feels superior to another. Children learn from the examples their parents & peers . . and unfortunately many find this an acceptable social dynamic. Thank you Niamh for writing & sharing such a succinct & accurate piece, Thank You !!!

    Like this

    • ontheplumtree
      October 30, 2012

      You are right! Susie. Many do find bullying an acceptable social dynamic. That is the worrying thing. So many people bully and are bullied that societry is literally rife with it. How do we even begin to sort it out when, for so many, it is cultural.

      Like this

  10. Patricia Tilton
    October 31, 2012

    Enjoyed your post a lot. Have read “Orange Petals in the Storm” and it was a very powerful story. I loved Skyla and my heart hurt for all of the bullying she endured. But, I loved the redemption at the end. Great read!

    Read many of the comments above. Would like to remain optimistic about parents and educators working with children in coming years. It’s epidemic right now. And, schools are developing anti-bullying programs – zero tolerance. But, if a kid is being bullied by parents/siblings, then it’s going to repeat itself.

    Just got back from a great and interesting week with my esoteric family. Realized I have wandered away from my daily work, so it was nice to reconnect and make some commitments to myself. Need that balance. And, the times are too important.

    Like this

    • ontheplumtree
      October 31, 2012

      It is lovely to have you back! My days of losing myself in the timelessness of esoteric reality are no more for me. I just cannot seem to go there anymore. I agree, the world calls. I would like to organise a healing blog-hop soon. And I would love it if you would be one of my featured nominations.

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      • ontheplumtree
        October 31, 2012

        P.s. By that i mean, your blog is about children’s books that heal.

        Like this

      • Patricia Tilton
        October 31, 2012

        Your healing blog-hop sounds interesting. Not sure what you mean by “featured nominations.” If it doesn’t involve any more work than what I’m doing, that would be okay. I have had to really limit my participation in things the past few months.

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      • ontheplumtree
        October 31, 2012

        Understood.

        Like this

  11. Margo van der Voort
    November 1, 2012

    Just downloaded ‘Orange Petals in a Storm’ on my kindle. Thank You! Will give feedback soon!

    Like this

  12. songtothesirens
    November 16, 2012

    Reblogged this on A Bipolar Journey Through The Rabbit Hole and commented:
    Thank you for the very insightful article. I was also bullied in school and was planning my death by the time I was twelve. My 16th birthday had been only two weeks before, and I had just finished taking an entire bottle Trazadone and Aspirin. I had just gotten every one believing I was fine. I tried to talk myself into feeling fine. Didn’t work. I think over my life time, I have attempted suicide maybe 6 times that I remember, but probably less, maybe more. At least when I was bullied there were no cell phones, no DVD player, atari was still cool, in particular, however, people did not own computers unless they were incredibly rich. Now the kids have to deal with cell phones, tablet computers, and when they get home… there it is. The portal to all that is good in people and for people who have nothing but hate inside them, they get a different fork in the road.

    Like this

    • ontheplumtree
      November 16, 2012

      Dear songofthesirens, I amso very sorry to hear of the torment you went through as a child and of your suicide attempts. I don’t think others realise just how much psychic and emotional agony it is possible to feel because of the actions and cruelty of others. It is very hard to rebuild self=esteem. Thank you for your contribution.

      Like this

      • songtothesirens
        November 16, 2012

        I seem to be coming to some cathartic moment in my life because I have been thinking a lot about things I had pretty much put away. And, thank you for highlighting the problem that bullying has become.

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  13. songtothesirens
    November 16, 2012

    I do not think necessarily that a bully is completely and totally made. The predisposition towards violence and a battered household are pretty good indicators of the abuse of someone in that household. So the kids grow up believing in the back of their mind that what they were smart and intelligent and beautiful, but it is the various parts of the frontal cortex that seem to have something to do with violent tantrums. At least that is what I see with my own eyes;a cycle of violence that won’t stop until somebody stands up for what is right, not just that which is tolerable, and in really bad cases, completely Apocalypse Now type neighborhoods.

    The only way to stop violence is for people to pay attention to the young people. look for the warning signs, mysterious cuts and bruises, or wearing long sleeves in the summer time to hide cuts and bruises. Then the kid goes and falls out of a tree, breaks her leg somehow, or she is reluctant to go with them to the police because Mom and Dad were deemed as worthy parents. And he is given what is probably the worst thing any abused person or child can ever hear. “Your Dad’s going to be just as good as new.” That is the last thing an abused individual wants to hear because they know when the honeymoon’s over, so to speak.

    So as a person who was bullied from the age of around ten until she was around 16 when the whole world just came crashing down on her head. She didn’t score well enough to make the team, She would have to wait until next billing cycle was over. The counselor she and her husband had been seeing until they moved back home had actually been making some progress with him. I think the counselor may have seen the husband’s depressive nature to be actually help his wife become bipolar, usually depressed but sometimes manic and depressed at the same time. He was actually getting better while he was seeing the counselor, and he was becoming more lively again, becoming interested in things he had lost interest in, except for one thing. He is absolutely addicted to porn on the internet. He has no idea how bad that makes is wife feel so he stops for a while, then his use gradually increases until he is sitting at his desk almost 24/7 looking at other women whom he would never meet in real life when he has an attractive , curvy wife right there at home. It is a cycle of emotional and verbal abuse I have experienced from classmates, my father, and now, my husband. And, he was doing so well when he was talking to the counselor. He was treating his wife with respect, he was treating himself with respect. He hasn’t retained another counselor as of yet. And the whole cycle is starting all over again. i can see it because I live this reality everyday.

    Like this

    • ontheplumtree
      November 16, 2012

      I am so sorry for all of this. An abused person often becomes compulsive/addictive. They need rigorous self-awareness re-training programs, if they ever hope to establish and maintain a healthy relationship. If that person is also in a relationship with an abused person, it is very difficult, as the one triggers and interprets the actions of the other in ways that re-compound the abuse once again. Abused people are always vulnerable. And their shell is easily cracked. They need gentleness and love and lots of support.

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      • songtothesirens
        November 16, 2012

        Well, as the survivor of abuse and near addiction, I can tell that my husband has not the first clue that he is not supposed to consider that baggage (you can check your suitcases at the boarding terminal, you cannot check your issues). So, he doesn’t always realize when he is acting like a jerk because with him being addicted to the internet, he doesn’t really spend enough time with me to know what my specific issues are. It is just so odd that he claims to be so observant of people and their behavior, but he’s not got the first clue about what makes me happy, what makes me sad, angry, glad, appreciative, all those emotions. And, he won’t let me in to find out about things that may have happened to him that changed his world view. It is rather ironic as I have never heard such a vocal proponent of communication. :)

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      • ontheplumtree
        November 16, 2012

        Unfortunately, so many people are unaware of their own underlying issues, and then, because of being unconscious of them project them onto others. Sometimes, I think those who have been abused are more aware of their issues and deepen and develop their emotional intelligence because of being able to feel. Some people have never developed the ability to feel.

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      • Jennifer Wimsatt
        November 16, 2012

        At least I know what’s wrong with me, and am no longer in denial that I have a very serious mental health issue in the Bipolar I disorder. I have papers that say that I am insane :) I just wish he’d get back into counseling. He has a lot of issues that are buried very deep down in his head. And he thinks I am insane….

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      • ontheplumtree
        November 16, 2012

        Well, you don’t sound insane to me. Bipolar 1 is a very serious and difficult disease to manage. It is hard on everyone, including those who love you. And “Insanity” is a very difficult label to wear. Peace to you, my friend.

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      • songtothesirens
        November 16, 2012

        It seems like it was much more difficult before. Life was really simple before the Big Declaration that I wasn’t really crazy, I just had Bipolar illness. I have had to learn that it doesn’t define who I am, that I can still do things with my life that are positive, but there are definitely days when I want to crawl into the wood work.

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      • ontheplumtree
        November 16, 2012

        I am certain you are as positive and creative as you can be. Sometimes, bi-polar gives birth to wonderful creativity!

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      • songtothesirens
        November 16, 2012

        Yes it can. Dr. Kay Jamison Redfield has written extensively in the field of mood disorders (she also has Bipolar I), and has a book devoted strictly to the “artistic” temperament. I take that to mean that most artists are odd. Like my Grandmother who painted beautiful landscapes and taught Calculus. They seem a bit incongruous to me. But, that was who she was, and Manic Depressive as well.

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      • ontheplumtree
        November 16, 2012

        In my role of ‘Doctor,’ I can also attest that many brilliant and talented people are bi-polar.

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      • songtothesirens
        November 16, 2012

        Some of the best artists and chess players have been Schizophrenic or Manic Depressive. A lot of other people with different mental illnesses are surprisingly creative.

        I haven’t read Touched by Fire which are Dr. Redfield studies of mood disorder correlated with creativity in any form. I do not know if she studied just Manic Depressives because that was her own personal “albatross” and she was trying to understand herself, or if she also studied other groups as well. I just ordered it from one of my favorite online used book stores (they are hard to find “in person” at this point in time.) It is coming. It should be interesting in the light that my grandmother taught calculus in an age where girls were thought incapable of such lofty tasks (she born in 1909 and passed away in 1999.) Painter/Scientist. I tend to write, or I, believe it not, paint with watercolor. Sometimes I do believe that the diagnosis is accurate in calling us fiery people. We sometimes burn very brightly for a short period of time, and then just sort of fade into the background.; every Bipolar I have ever met is very bright. often artistic, or one heck of a mean chess player (Yes, I think chess is art).

        I have found people with Bipolar seem to be somewhat self-centered, and sometimes very egotistical is that they have to be that way out in the world. You can’t command respect if you walk around looking like life has just given you a swift kick. And it is very hard for other people to understand the bone crushing lows that come with the crash down from mania. I mean, you cannot breathe, cannot move to get dressed nothing. And, you can hang there for a long time.

        So, I do consider myself fortunate. I have parents who have the means to take care of my health care problems. Although, I do not know what will become of me when everyone including me are old. I have no signs of schizophrenia, which is something I worried about. I had known a lot of street people who were only there because they were Vets, they were struggling with mental illness and alcoholism. Some of them became quite scary at times, but they were good honest people albeit different.

        I think the mentally ill are unfairly labeled and written off. They adopt the ‘sick role,’ although these days I have to wonder how many homeless are Vets who really need help and need fast to be swift. I tend to speak out about the things I see but other people do not. As a country we could at least provide the soldiers with the best possible medical, mental health and spiritual care. They wouldn’t have been there save for the decision to bomb them back.

        Okay, tirade over. I have days where I just want to wear a big sign that says “I have Bipolar type I with Schizophrenic Tendencies!!!! Please give me a ride. ” People run. They retreat in what ever way they can that they feel will protect them from us, and I do not blame them. If I had to live with me, I do not know what I would do about it either. I am still on the journey, exploring the world of the mind and how it functions (or doesn’t).

        Thanks for replying to my posts today. I am a depressed Bipolar who takes Adderall for ADD. So, I am depressed and slow to action, but I can’t get my mind under control. I guess you call that “pressured thught?” Anyway, have a nice rest of the weekened.

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      • ontheplumtree
        November 16, 2012

        You are very welcome. Thank you for telling us about you.

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      • songtothesirens
        November 16, 2012

        It is the Adderall. Normally I am very quiet. But thank you for hearing me out today.

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      • songtothesirens
        November 16, 2012

        I forgot to ask: What type of Doctor are you?

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      • ontheplumtree
        November 16, 2012

        I am a specialist in certain types of psychotherapy.

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      • songtothesirens
        November 16, 2012

        Oh okay. I wanted at one point to be a psychologist, but I realized that i tend to empathize with the other person too much and too easily. It is not a job for the thin skinned, that’s for sure.

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      • ontheplumtree
        November 17, 2012

        Actually, great and true psychotherapists are gifted. They are able to feel genuine empathy, compassion and understanding. And no psychotherapist can take another into shadow realms in search of catharsis, unless they, themselves, have been there.Healing and catharsis comes about through the practice of congruence, empathy, and the ability to enter the heart of another and see their woe. A gifted psychotherapist is able also to exalt the beauty in another. When the soul is seen in its beauty and in its pain and darkness, it begins the slow process of healing. I do not think a good psychotherapist has a thick skin, but a wholesome one, one that is able to love and to feel the suffering in another without shrinking, retreating or judging.

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      • songtothesirens
        November 17, 2012

        I think I would probably work best with at risk youth. I know what they are experiencing, and many just need an adult to take an interest in them, to foster them, to help them grow. I know if my own parents had paid a little more attention to me, I would not have ended up on a path that turned out a few years later to squash my goal of getting into Behavioral Science at the FBI. What you do when you are in your teens can have a huge impact on what you want to do later. So, I am trying to get into a graduate level Counseling program at my state university so I can try to effect a change in even just one teenager’s life. I think I could handle that better than someone like myself who has fully developed mental illnesses. Besides, I can speak teenager :) What models of psychotherapy do you use?

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      • ontheplumtree
        November 17, 2012

        Oh! I used many. Jungian, and bio-dynamic feedback. But, after a while, I don’t think a healer is limited by a model. I specialise on helping people get in touch with feelings.

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      • songtothesirens
        November 17, 2012

        My own therapist is like that. She has sort of developed her own model of psychotherapy. It works really well for me, and a lot of other Bipolars, but it isn’t really based on any particular theory. She has sort of developed her own meta-theory. She is more individual oriented. She’s really a very intelligent and caring therapist. She has that gift you mentioned earlier. She can put herself in other people’s shoes better than other therapists I have seen. She tends to focus on emotions as well. She doesn’t try to get you to talk about them, but boy, will she latch on if you do start talking about how you feel. She rocks :)

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      • ontheplumtree
        November 17, 2012

        Glad you have someone you can express yourself with.

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      • songtothesirens
        November 17, 2012

        I am very grateful to her. She has helped a lot. At one point she wouldn’t see me, and I was seeing someone else. I felt like I was talking to my Mom :)

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      • ontheplumtree
        November 17, 2012

        Lol! Sometimes, it is like that…She sounds lovely.

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      • songtothesirens
        November 17, 2012

        She is beautiful inside and out, but in her own way which is why we work well together. She’s a bit different.

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      • songtothesirens
        November 16, 2012

        My husband used to see a counselor twice a month and he and I would go together once per month. When he was getting help, I could see big changes in him. He probably couldn’t, but there is that forest for the trees issue. I really believe if he would continue counseling and work through his issues with life that he would see what he had been doing. He acts like he has no baggage, but I have been to counseling with him. He has a lot of issues that he buries. I just do not bury my feelings anymore, especially if you are going to use my Bipolar friend against me, and tell me I can’t do things. That’s ridiculous. I really can do almost anything I want, but then I have been in therapy for nearly 10 years. I am a little more laid back than he is.

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