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Label Yourself. It can be good for you!

September 22, 2014
www.michaelbwaxman.com

So much of my work starts with identities – Who am I? How do I see myself? How am I seen by others?

It is often within the first few sessions that clients will proclaim something about themselves which is often an identity that they are trying to embrace, understand, or get rid of altogether!

Sometimes the identities that clients talk about are labels that have been given to them by professionals – Depressed.  Anxious.  ADHD. – and for some it is labels that have been given to them by people that aren’t so professional –  Crazy.  Unable to commit.  Unmotivated.   At times, clients talk about labels that reflect the way they see them self – Lost.  Scared.  Lonely. – or labels adopted in the circumstances of their lives –  Baby of the family.  Child of divorce.  Single Parent.

Labels that have been given to individuals by society may help us organize our thoughts but may harm the individual with words that limit who they are  – Gay.  Bully.  Athlete. –  whereas others are simply a definition of a life stage –  Student.  Retired.  Coming out.

When individuals arrive in the office we’ll spend time together talking about how labels can be a good thing – either something to embrace, something to accept or something that will motivate change – and, of course, the harm labels can do in limiting one’s potential and the negative effects on one’s self esteem and overall identity.

Each time I meet with a client I have an opportunity to think about labels and personal identity  – including my own professional identity – and how they affect me.  If I were to write a list I think I’d wind up with about 6 1/2 (keeping with the theme)… including:

1. THE FEELINGS GUY – Working with individuals and their families to sort out and explore their feelings

2. ADHD COACH FOR KIDS AND FAMILIES  – Working with a child, teen and family to create supports, routines and schedules to create success for those affected by ADHD

3. GAY THERAPIST – Working with individuals to accept and understand their sexual orientation while building an understanding of the world and those around them.

4. GUEST SPEAKER  – Speaking to parents, teachers, children, schools, camps or community groups on topics such as parenting, technology, camping, communication and independence.

5. SCHOOL SUPPORT – Working with students and their families who may be having a hard time in school with anxiety, self esteem, friendship, social skills or routines.

6. GPS FOR YOUNG ADULTS – Supporting young adults to make decisions, focus their lives and set a course to a new or different destination.

AND, OF COURSE,

6 1/2. CAMP COUNSELLOR! – Supporting children, teens and their families to emotionally prepare for camp, an intensely independent and social experience.

Try and write your own 6 1/2 – not so easy, eh?

I’m here if you need me in any of these roles. And, like most, trying to find ways to challenge myself within the labels I assign myself and am assigned by the world around me.

As always, referrals and self-referrals are welcome – let’s start with identity and work from there.

Michael

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