Reflections: A journey of mental health and community
Thoughts on Labels
"You're labeling me!" is a common enough lament, especially for my younger patients, when I propose a diagnosis of Bipolar/ Schizophrenia/ Asperger/ Personality Disorder, etc. My reply goes something like this:
Any diagnosis is a "working hypothesis," or a name for what ails you. Think of it as a suit of clothes we try on for size. Even if it "fits" now it may not fit forever, as you grow and your personal "weather" and body shape changes. Your diagnosis or "label" is not who you are, but it is where you are in this moment.
Nature is the Most Powerful Nurturer
This coming April will mark my one-year anniversary with Spring Lake Ranch. My role is one of therapist, Clinician being the formal title. As a “newbie,” I have been asked what I think of the Ranch many times by Ranchers, friends, and family. My response tends to be an enthusiastic, “I love it! It’s a little Narnia with a touch of heaven!” Now, I’ll admit I’m still in a bit of the honeymoon phase, but there truly are some magical components to life here.
On my first day at the Ranch, I noticed this homemade poster in the main house dining room, entitled “How to Build Community at SLR.” It contained short mantras that could be found on fortune cookies such as, “be generous with your time,” “challenge yourself,” and “don’t be quick to judge.” I immediately wondered what these mantras look like daily and if I could live up to these uplifting and positive requests. During my time as a House Advisor, here is a glimpse of what building community looks like on a daily basis at Spring Lake Ranch.
Last month we attended the Cape Cod Symposium on Addictive Disorders. This conference is in its 31st year and we have been proud to be sponsors for 10 years now. Each year we not only go to exhibit and spread the word about Spring Lake Ranch but to attend the many workshops offered by renowned psychiatrists and psychologists from across the country. Over the years we have learned the latest about various clinical approaches and or aspects of addiction and mental health. There has been a focus on trauma, opiates, process (device) addictions as well as modalities like cognitive and dialectical behavioral therapies, the efficacy of twelve step meetings and motivational interviewing. This year we went to several workshops on medical marijuana.