In the counseling profession the term inner child is sometimes used to describe a person’s emotional truth. A less common term is trauma child. This is used to describe the subconscious part of the brain that remembers all the emotional trauma a person has experienced, in an attempt to prevent the person from having to feel that emotional pain again.

While the inner child resides in the limbic system of the brain, the trauma child resides in the insular cortex. The insular cortex is also known as the insula and works between the cerebral cortex (conscious part of the brain) and the limbic system (emotional part of the brain).

Emotional trauma is created any time a person has a painful emotional experience and is unable to validate, work through, and let go of the feelings. Emotional trauma can be as small as being asked to stop crying or as large as receiving post-traumatic stress from narrowly escaping death. As long as the feelings and emotions are not worked through and resolved, they become emotional trauma and reside in the limbic system.

The insular cortex recognizes that the unresolved feelings are present in the limbic system and also has been taught in many different ways that the feelings are not to be looked at or let out. Everything that the insular cortex is taught is external and is learned from interacting with the world and other people. While many people indicate they taught themselves these behaviors, when a person is willing to go deep enough at an emotional level, the response of hiding one’s feelings is always taught by others, either directly or indirectly. Most of what has been learned and is stored in the insular cortex is taught in the first five years of a person’s life.

Because the insular cortex has been taught to hide feelings, when it recognizes the limbic system is attempting to work through a feeling, it quickly creates a counter-response it has learned to hide those feelings again. Initially, this learned response meant to hide the emotional pain created relief and comfort from the emotional stress. Eventually, though, it can create more stress and discomfort. This pattern is the foundation for an addiction, in which the insular cortex plays a major part.

Since the insular cortex’s job is to find and/or create comfort for the person and it has been taught to hide a person’s feelings, emotional stress and tension get created. This is where the trauma child resides. As feelings are able to be worked through, validated, honored, and released, the energy the trauma child holds is able to be released.


Most of us attempt to be as honest as possible in our daily lives, yet there is a part of us that creates a need to withhold, distort, and manipulate information or even lie outright. While it may not be our intention to do so, the urge to hide the truth is so great that these patterns of deceit prevail.

We were taught at a young age to lie when we were taught to hide our feelings. One way we were taught to hide our feelings was through bribery, such as, “If you stop crying I will give you ____.” We may have also been taught to hide our feelings because it was safer to hold our feelings in than to reap the wrath of a parent; for example, “If you’re going to cry, I’ll give you something to cry about.” We may even have been nagged into hiding our feelings with a glance, glare or a sincere message such as, “Please stop crying.” Whatever way we were taught, the outcome is the same—lying about our true feelings.

As children, we may have benefited from lying about our feelings. The question now is, “How does this behavior help us today?” It helps by not allowing another person to really get to know us, or for us to truly know ourselves. It also allows us to remain in what is familiar; it does not require us to change. When we lie, we typically get some type of immediate reward, such as shifting the focus off ourselves. Many of us have learned to lie as a way to protect and defend ourselves. What we need to examine is how this behavior is helping or hindering us today.

Hiding our true feelings by lying keeps us stuck and trapped. Many of us feel and believe we are trapped and without options. When we commit to hiding our true feelings, we are unable to recognize all the options that we may actually have. In every situation there are at least three options, and usually there are more than three. When we hide our true feelings, we typically are able to see one or maybe two options. Without someone’s assistance, we very rarely are able to see three or more options. The lack of options helps create loneliness, and the trapped feelings leave us with no clear solutions.

While most of us desire to be open and honest with our feelings, we do not know how because we have been trained to do just the opposite. When we are ready to move forward, the opportunity is within us. When we just listen to what our bodies are trying to tell us, we can gain clarity on what we are truly feeling. When we connect with our true feelings, feel them, and express them in a straight healthy way, we get freedom. Our bodies also become more congruent with our words and actions. When we connect with the congruence, we develop integrity in this area of our life and no longer have a need to lie.


Many of us have heard the term codependency and may be familiar with how it plays out in one’s life. Fewer of us are familiar with the term financial codependency.

Financial codependency occurs when we make the financial needs of others greater than our own financial needs. When we focus on the financial needs of another person, expectations and resentments develop on both sides. Financial codependency can be seen in many different ways in a person’s life.

Typically, financial codependency plays out with family members and can also be seen in relationships with friends or significant others. Among friends, it commonly takes the form of one person continually loaning money to friends and seldom getting paid back. With couples, one partner may concede all the finances to the other and be unaware of their financial status or situation. Typically parents give to their children and may continue this giving pattern well into adulthood. Some parents give until they die, which indicates how large an issue financial codependency can be.

Many parents realize they have made mistakes and feel guilty around the way they may have raised their children. As a way to compensate for the inadequacies in their parenting, they create ways to help their children financially to relieve some of that guilt. Different ways that parents may present financial codependency to their children include: giving money for no reason, buying as gifts items the children cannot afford, paying for cars, trips, or household bills because children cannot afford them, making sure they always pay for meals even when children can afford and want to pay, helping children through difficult financial tight spots they placed themselves in, paying for college, paying for a house, etc. While all of these can be supportive ways to help children financially, if the motivation is to enable, tension can be created and the opportunity for the child to learn and grow to become financially independent is lost.

When we attempt to help another person financially, we are denying them the opportunity to grow from their own financial situations. We enable them to rely on us financially. Unless the pattern of financial codependency stops, it becomes a financial enmeshment that is difficult to change.

Looking at financial codependency at a deeper level typically uncovers strings associated with the giving. Conditions like “I want you to love me,” or “Now you have to do what I say,” are a couple of unspoken strings associated with financial codependency.

To create freedom from financial codependency it is important to recognize the underlying motivation for the financial codependency and the underlying feelings that drive this behavior.

While we want the best for our children and will do whatever we can to give them what we believe will be the best for them, we actually are doing a disservice by enabling them. The best way to help our children is to teach them at a young age about money and the role it plays in their lives. As they learn and grow, it is our responsibility as parents to be mentors and supporters while they walk through their own financial obstacles.



Blame is a powerful tool many of us like to use as a way of hiding our own inadequacies and shortcomings. When we blame another person, it takes the focus off of us and places it on the other person for a while. When we blame others, we are also closing the door to self-reflection and growth.
We are taught at a young age by our parents and other role models to blame others. We learn to blame through being blamed, controlled, and manipulated. We may be told that it is our fault or told we are wrong when we are not. We may hear controlling and manipulative statements like these: “If you would just listen to me, you would not have to do this,” or “Do what I say so I don’t have to punish you,” or “You made me do it.”
While we all have experienced blame and/or blamed others at some time in our lives as a way of protecting ourselves, the use of blame today helps us remain emotionally stuck and keeps us from moving forward with our lives. Many of us have a long history of blame, which has served us well as a shield and as a way to hide the truth. Blame is pervasive in our society today to the point we hear it happening every day on Capitol Hill. The president is blaming Congress, the Democrats are blaming the Republicans and the Republicans are blaming the Democrats along with the President. With all this blame, no one is taking ownership of the problem and it seems that no clear, healthy solution is on the horizon.
When people take ownership rather than blame, the truth is able to come out, there is no need to blame, and ultimately everyone has the potential to win. When we take ownership of our true feelings and actions, there is no need to lie, so our relationships shift and become healthier and our environment becomes a safer place. In business, when a company is willing to explore solutions rather than find someone or something to blame, the synergy created helps build teamwork and creates an environment for positive growth.
When it comes to emotional recovery in a relationship, one of the greatest obstacles is blame. Typically each person is wanting to be heard on how the other person is the reason for all the problems in the relationship. While we want the other person to change so the relationship can be better, we can only create that change in ourselves. What this means is that if we truly want change in a relationship, we must stop blaming and explore what we contribute that allows the negative aspects of the relationship to continue. When we look at the way we respond in the relationship, we can create changes in ourselves that change how others respond to us.

Blogs, Uncategorized

Dealing with Perfectionism

Every time I attempt to write an article, I question myself. Have I used the right words? Will this make sense to others? Am I using proper grammar? Will the article be interesting to others? Have I written it in a fashion that others will understand?

With all these questions running through my head, I realize I want to write the perfect article. These questions prevent me from writing more or addressing topics I believe could be interesting, because they limit my creativity.

When we strive for perfection we are guaranteed to fail, because we can always see flaws in whatever we do. Perfection is not a natural trait, but is something we are taught.

Many people see perfection as a good thing because it can produce positive results, yet there is a down side to perfection as well. Perfection creates much unneeded stress in our lives due to the higher demands and expectations we place upon ourselves. This stress affects everything, including the people we love, because the stress comes out sideways as sarcasm, criticism, and anger.

We are taught to strive for perfection as children when we are criticized for not behaving, looking good, trying hard enough, or feeling our feelings when we are not supposed to. We also learn it when we are told we are wrong or even bad for what we are doing or thinking. When we receive these messages often enough as a child, we take them to heart and start to tell them to ourselves, reinforcing the message that we are inadequate and need to try harder. These messages we learned as children and tell ourselves are actually reflections of other people’s direct or indirect inadequacies that they saw in us.

Since these messages that drive the need for perfection are so engrained, they create a pattern that is difficult to break. When a person is ready to break the pattern of perfectionism, it takes a conscious effort to do something different. Many people that are perfectionistic do not see a need to change because these tendencies can prove beneficial in certain situations. Yet perfectionistic tendencies are destructive in relationships with ourselves and others, which is the typical reason for working on our perfection.

Many people are concerned that when they work on their perfection, they will lower their standards and this will not work well for them in their professional lives. When we work on our perfection, we can still maintain a high level of performance, without the unnecessary and destructive stress. This is where we evaluate when good enough is good enough and not try to push it even further.
In my case, I have found it helpful to let the words free-flow in the document and get help from my gifted writing friend, Kathleen, who polishes the writing. Then I can let go of my internal criticism, relax more when I write, and free myself to focus on what I have to say instead of questioning how I say it.


Understanding Experiential Therapy

Counseling has many theories and techniques available. The insurance industry, for example, has embraced behavioral counseling. Behavioral counseling embraces techniques to modify behaviors, and much research is available that demonstrates behavioral changes.

Experiential therapy is another approach that can be used to help modify behaviors. Additionally, experiential therapy has the ability to help a person explore and work through core issues when and if they are ready. While most counseling theories connect with the conscious or cerebral part of the brain, experiential therapy works to address both the conscious and subconscious parts of the brain. This is what sets experiential therapy apart and what allows the person to access core issues.

Experiential therapy also goes beyond talk therapy in that one of its goals is helping a person connect with what the body is saying or hiding. Many times a person is unaware of what their body is saying, yet the information the body shares has truth that wants to come out. Experiential therapy allows a person to reenact the emotional experience, then to embrace it and let it go. This is an important part of the process necessary to create long-term changes that many people desire.

Many techniques currently exist that are experiential in nature. Experiential therapy allows people to feel and connect with the hidden emotional truths that create chaos in their lives. Experiential therapy techniques include but are not limited to play therapy, art therapy, journaling, meditation, story telling, sand tray therapy, psychodrama, sculpting, and intuitive experiential therapy.

Many people share that they have attempted to figure out their problems for years with no success. Since they are intelligent, it makes sense that if they could figure it out, they would have already done so. Attempting to figure out the issues is tapping into the conscious part of the brain. To create the positive change they seek requires them to connect with their feelings as well, which is part of the subconscious brain.

Experiential therapy allows people to access both parts of the brain and  connect with the deeper issues that keep them from creating change. This is the reason it is such a beneficial and effective tool for change.

Upcoming Workshops, Workshops

Codependency Workshop

This 4-day workshop is to work at an intuitive emotional level to gain new insights into the patterns that have shaped codependent behaviors.

This workshop could help:
Learn more about family/relationship dynamics
Learn how we were taught and teach others to be codependent and   the path to change this behavior
Explore generational patterns and the need to take care of others
Create balanced self care
Identify underlying beliefs and feelings around care taking
Learn to build/create trust
Recognize and label self-defeating codependent patterns
Gain insight understanding around codependency
Recognize how religious behaviors can embrace codependency
Explore and address trauma issues
Explore how sexual abuse can create pattens of codependency
Understand codependency patterns in relationships and addictions
Recognize self worth, self esteem and codependent patterns
Practice establishing and maintaining boundaries with codependency

Where:        Terra Sancta, Rapid City http://terrasancta.org/retreat-center/
When:        Friday, December 8 @ 8:30 am thru
Monday, December 11 @ 4:00 pm
Cost:    $2,450 includes workshop, food and lodging

Pre-registration with deposit of $1,125.00 is required due to limited space. Contact Jetson Counseling @ (605) 718-5500 to register. Deposit is non-refundable after November 24, 2017.

Blogs, Emotional Freedom, Featured

Transference / Countertransference

Conversations can be frustrating and disappointing many times when all we want is to be heard and validated, yet we receive advice, judgment, control and criticism.

In the counseling profession there is a term called transference, in which one person subconsciously transfers what he or she is feeling to another person. For example, if I am feeling angry and am not consciously aware of my anger, I may assume you are angry. Countertransference is the same type of emotional transferring of feelings, this time from the second person back onto the person that did the transference.

I find that the potential of transference/countertransference exists, not just in therapy sessions, but in all conversations. I recently had a transference/countertransference experience that was a good reminder for me to be ever aware of the potential.

I wanted and needed to do something that required working with another professional. In order to do so, I needed to get approval from another colleague. What seemed to be a simple request turned out to be a big headache.

The colleague initially denied my request and presented a number of reasons that were inconsistent and incongruent. I began to feel controlled and manipulated. As I continued to negotiate, it became clear that their responses were not about me.

With the help of some feedback from others, I realized the inconsistency and incongruence of the responses indicated that some form of transference was occurring. I found it helpful to realize how easy and subtle it is for transference to occur. It prevented some of the people involved from hearing what I was actually requesting. Others, who did hear me, were able to help me explore deeper into my underlying motivation for this request.

This was a good reminder to be more aware of the possibility of transference. One way to reduce that possibility is to mirror back what I hear with the words and body language of the other person, with no interpretations of my own.

Blogs, Emotional Freedom

Positive Energy and Emotional Truth

We hear in many ways the need to be positive and yet it seems to lack meaning and purpose when we repeat positive messages over and over again with no positive results. If being positive is so important why is it so difficult to to be positive and how do I create positive energy in my life.

When we live in negative energy, we do not matter and are taught to hide our true self. Our true self is always positive, loving and caring, yet why do we not connect with our selves this way? When we are taught to hide our feelings we are taught we do not matter and we learn to hide our true selves. In hiding our true selves, we focus on more negative energy as a way to cope in our environment. This negative energy keeps us stuck and trapped.

For many of us, attempting to focus on the positive is difficult because it is unfamiliar. It is also scary to do something that is emotionally unfamiliar. When we are able to face the fear of the unfamiliar and feel the natural positive energy that is within us, the negative energy starts to decrease and a natural power starts to well up within that helps us realize we do matter in ways we were unaware of.

Focusing on our emotional truth (true straight feelings) is the first step in connecting with our positive energy.

Blogs, Emotional Freedom

Codependency = Impossible to Live Honestly

Codependency, which grows out of hiding our feelings, makes it impossible to live honestly. An essential part of recovery is learning to be honest with ourselves about our own negative messages, our own painful memories, and our own feelings by taking ownership of our emotional truth.

While this honesty may initially be painful, it’s important to recognize that it is not what people sometimes call being “brutally honest.” That kind of “honesty” happens when someone is being both cruel and emotionally dishonest. When true feelings are being honored, there is no brutality or disrespect to anyone.

When we can be true to ourselves and take ownership of our lives rather than blame other people or things, we have no need to lie to others. The truth is always respectful of ourselves, others, our feelings, and things around us. It allows us to be more creative, see more options in our lives, accomplish more, and enjoy life more fully. It frees us to discover our many positive qualities and enjoy living as our true selves.

When we are able to embrace our emotional truth, it sets us free.