independence day


Patriotism abounds this week, and with it, a renewal of the American spirit. Amidst waves of red, white, and blue, my immense gratitude swells for this country we call home. I’m overwhelmed by the fortune of our land and the men and women who have made our freedom possible. While many nations still ache for their own independence, it’s with deep thanksgiving I celebrate the abundant privileges we know in this land.

This time of year also stirs in me a renewal for realms of independence in my own life. Alongside the celebration of our nation’s liberty, I also find myself reflecting on the spaces in my own world where I’ve triumphed in freedom as well as the places where I still need to be set free. I know I’m not alone here.

Where do you long for freedom? Perhaps you know the bind of a painful relationship or a family conflict that won’t leave your home. Perhaps toxic friendships have become a burden or a disposition in your life has taken its toll. Saddled with debt? Give pause to the people in your life, the habits you keep, the thoughts weighing you down. Pause to take survey. Where do you need a personal Independence Day?

Each year, millions of people begin therapy in their own quest toward freedom, toward preferred ways of living and loving. For most of us, a time will arise when the visions we hold about ourselves and our lives simply don’t match our present experiences. As the space grows wider between our desires and our circumstances, certain ways arise to assist us in coping and to speak out about the changes we want to see.

Often, such change cannot unfold alone. Furthermore, it shouldn’t need to. We are not creatures of isolation. We need each other. Sometimes we need the support and encouragement of family and friends. Other times, we need the counsel and connection of a therapist. Within a therapeutic relationship, there is a commitment to confidentiality and a sense of safe and sacred space. It’s in this space, where questions become a catalyst for difference and conversations inspire change.

In my search for freedom, when should I seek therapy? If this is a question you find yourself asking, most likely therapy is of value in the present. Is there an internal prompting that is stirring? Perhaps it has been for quite some time. Is there curiosity for what is possible? Is there desire for change? If you find yourself desiring difference in your life between what is and what could be, there is no better time to seek it.

As a note to parents, it can be challenging to discern when therapy is in the best interest of your child. Often, children and teens are not excited about the idea of beginning therapy. Although such resistance seems to be changing for this impressive generation, hesitation is to be expected to a large degree. Therapy is a new and often unfamiliar arena. It is seldom comfortable to venture toward the unknown.

It’s my encouragement to parents that this space of discomfort must not hold power to prevent seeking help. My belief as a therapist is that too often we fail to recognize emotional or psychological challenges with the same measure as physical conditions, yet they are equally powerful in the effects they bring to our lives, often leaving a legacy for years to come and for future generations. There is no better time than the present to help yourself, your child, or your family find the kind of personal liberty we all deserve.

As you celebrate our nation this week, may these days also grant you refreshment of spirit. May you find pleasure and gratitude in the spaces of your life where you’ve already found freedom. May you also find inspiration to create greater independence from aspects of life no longer desired or serving you well.

If you’ve considered therapy for yourself or your family and have questions about choosing a therapist or when to begin therapy, I suggest visiting the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (www.aamft.org) and Therapist Locator (www.therapistlocator.net). You’ll find helpful information about therapy as well as a database of trained clinicians in your area. In search of freedom, I wish you well in your journey as you move toward the abundant life you seek.

SHANNON WEST

is the owner and founder of Speaking Pink, a private therapy and consulting practice devoted to teen girls and twenties women in Seattle / Kirkland, Washington. Shannon is a licensed family therapist, a private consultant, and a writer about all things on the journey from girl to woman. Follow on Pinterest and Twitter or send an email to Shannon@speakingpink.com.