Finding Balance

Finding Balance : Psychotherapy on the edges of Alaska and Oregon

by Robin Grace LCSW

RGraceIt’s ten below. I take deliberate steps on frozen mud flats and ice floes. The light is enormous and blinding.  I turn my gaze to a stand of spruce at the edge of the moonscape beach. Past the inlet, snow covered peaks frame the Lynn Canal, one of the deepest fjords in North America.

I approach the terrain with an ease I haven’t yet found in my work in a community unfamiliar with psychoanalytic therapy. On daily hikes or canoe trips to reach our off-the –grid home, my spirit responds well to adventure. I find the courage to ask rural Alaskan’s to consider attachment, mentalizing and the value of a therapy relationship – through public presentations, newspaper essays and “Shrink Rap”, a local radio show I produce. Writing and acting in short scenes, including the internal thinking of characters, I join participants and encourage analysis of relational experiences. The popularity of the show feeds my new passion for psychoeducation.

In the more temperate climate of southwestern Oregon, emerald moss covers Douglas fir trees rising from the riverbanks. I discover a community mostly experienced in cognitive therapies.  Invited to speak at a class, “Yoga for Transitions” I talk about disrupted attachments – and how our needs for security and attachment continue from the “cradle to the grave.”

Yoga, is about being present, moving from mental distractions through postures and breathing – but what do you do when yoga is over? How do you deal with the preoccupation of emotions and mental states like:  anxiety and fear? Through role plays “mentalizing off the mat” is demonstrated.

This summer in Alaska, “Shrink Rap Live” will offer the community a chance to explore relational dynamics though role plays in workshops with a focus upon mentalizing and intersubjectivity.

(“Shrink Rap on the Air, Mentalizing in the Last Frontier” by Robin Grace, appears in the December-January 2013 issue of Psychoanalytic Dialogues)