Lisa Ferentz is a recognized expert in the strengths-based, de-pathologized treatment of trauma. She has been in private practice for over 36 years and is the Founder of The Ferentz Institute. On this episode, Lisa helps us deep dive into how prevalent trauma really is, and how it can manifest in the present where we least expect it. We also hear Lisa's advice on what to watch for when prior trauma may be bubbling below the surface, and how to better cope with our unique experiences.
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Lisa is a recognized expert in the strengths-based, de-pathologized treatment of trauma and has been in private practice for over 36 years. She presents workshops and keynote addresses nationally and internationally and is a clinical consultant to practitioners and mental health agencies in the United States, Canada, the UK and Ireland. She has been an Adjunct Faculty member at several Universities, and is the Founder of “The Ferentz Institute,” now in its fourteenth year of providing continuing education to mental health professionals Lisa also hosted a weekly radio talk show, writes blogs and articles for websites on trauma, attachment, self-harm and self-care, teaches on many webinars, and is a contributor to Psychologytoday.com. You can follow Lisa’s work on her website, theferentzinstitute.com, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Lisa is the author of “Treating Self-Destructive Behaviors in Trauma Survivors: A Clinician’s Guide,” now in its second edition, “Letting Go of Self-Destructive Behaviors: A Workbook of Hope and Healing,” and “Finding Your Ruby Slippers: Transformative Life Lessons From the Therapist’s Couch.” In 2009 voted the “Social Worker of Year” by the Maryland Society for Clinical Social Work.
4:12: I realized how inspiring traumatized clients actually are because of their resiliency and their refusal to give up and the creative coping strategies that they actually tap into in order to navigate their challenges and their suffering. They have been the teachers of my heart for all these years.
5:08: It [trauma] is unbelievably prevalent. If you look at the research, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men by the time they’re 18 have experienced some form of sexual trauma. We know millions of people walk around having lived in families where there perhaps was addiction or mental illness, physical violence, witnessing domestic violence, neglect. Unfortunately, it touches millions of people.
6:52: Anything that is subjectively experienced as threatening; anything that subjectively leaves you feeling like your privacy, your boundaries, your body in some way are being violated; anything that feels to you subjectively like a profound a breach of trust, that’s in part how we would define what traumatizes a person.
8:12: It’s very common for people to not connect the dots between past experiences and the current symptoms or struggles that have manifested for them.
9:01: Unfortunately, there are many many ways that people can creatively self-medicate.
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Allison: Hello and welcome to the Dear Mind, You Matter Podcast. My name is Allison Walsh, I am a long time mental health advocate and Vice President at Advanced Recovery Systems. On each episode I will be joined by my colleague and clinical expert, Dr. Angela Phillips. This show along with our mental health and wellness app Nobu, are just some of the ways we are working to provide you with some actionable tips to take really good care of yourself each and every day.
So sit back, relax, and grab your favorite note taking device. It's time to fill your mind with things that matter
Angela: Before we start today's episode, please note that we're going to be discussing topics surrounding trauma, which although intended to inform and support our listeners may be triggering for some.
All right. Welcome to this week's conversation with Lisa Ferentz. Lisa is a recognized expert in the strength-based depathologized treatment of trauma, and has been in private practice for over 36 years. She presents workshops and keynote addresses nationally and internationally, and is a clinical consultant to practitioners and mental health agencies in the U.S, Canada, the UK and Ireland, she has been an adjunct faculty member at several universities.
And as the founder of the Ferentz Institute now in its 14th year of providing continuing education to mental health professionals, Lisa also hosted a weekly radio talk show, writes blogs and articles for websites on trauma, attachment, self harm and self care, conducts many webinars and is a contributor to psychologytoday.com
You can follow Lisa’s work on her website, the Ferentzinstitute.com, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Allison: Thank you so much for being on the show today. Would you mind introducing yourself to the audience?
Lisa Ferentz: Sure. I'm Lisa Ferentz and I've been a clinical social worker now for about 38 years, uh, in private practice and I specialize in working with adolescents and adults survivors from trauma, abuse and neglect and all of the kind of inevitable coping strategies that emerged from that. And I also have an Institute, the Ferentz Institute in its 14th year, which is kind of amazing, um, helping to train mental health providers about doing trauma informed care.
I have a wonderful faculty. That's also involved in that and before COVID, and hopefully after COVID, I get to travel the world actually, and train mental health providers, which is a real joy to be able to do that.
Angela: I really want to jump in because I have a lot of questions for you as a fellow therapist and person who is really interested in this area as well and I know Allison is too, but, um, I'm curious, like what brought you to where you are today with all of this amazing work? I'm sure there are so many stories you can tap into. Experiences you've had, but can you give us a little, a little glimpse?
Lisa Ferentz: Sure. And I think my story's a little bit different in that the material, at least in my experience, many, many folks who gravitate towards working with trauma or working with addiction, you know, they usually have a personal story that accompanies that and it totally makes sense that there's a real passion there, you know, to, to want to be involved in, in that world.
I'm a little bit of an anomaly in that I grew up in a really loving and safe and wonderful family. And I learned at a very young age, what it felt like to have a sense of worth and a sense of confidence and was really told by my parents every single day that I could be whatever I wanted to be in life, and so it's because of that experience that I realized in some ways it was, it was like my responsibility to be able to pay that forward and to help clients to feel that same sense of worthiness and inner peace and groundedness. That I think is so fundamental and essential for our wellbeing.
So, um, I came into the field kind of in a different way than many, many folks who work in the trauma field. And it has been an extraordinary journey for me because I was quite innocent and naive about what some people, what millions of people actually endure in their families of origin. And so it was very eye-opening and very humbling. Just, it just increased my gratitude. And, uh, also I realized how inspiring traumatized, um, clients actually are because of their resiliency and their refusal to give up.
Um, and the creative coping strategies that they actually tap into in order to navigate, um, their challenges and their suffering. So they have been the teachers of my heart for all these years, and I find them to be really extraordinary people. So it's, it's such a privilege to do the work that I do do well,
Allison: And you're doing incredible work and you're helping other people to be able to do incredible work right by training the next generation.
And it's so exciting. I love that. And you know, I think trauma has become a much more talked about subject and topic, especially in recent years, but for those that might not be as familiar with it. I really want our listeners to understand when we say the word trauma, what we mean when we say that and how prevalent it is.
Lisa Ferentz: Well, it's unbelievably prevalent. If you look at the research from places like NIMH, it says one in three women, one in five men by the time they're 18 have experienced some form of sexual trauma. We know millions and millions of people walk around. Having lived in families where there perhaps was addiction or mental illness, physical violence, witnessing domestic violence, um, neglect.
Unfortunately, it touches millions of people. What we actually mean by trauma though, in addition to sort of the textbook definition for me, really has more to do with the impact that experience has had on the individual person. So, you know, you can have. Three children in the same, in the same family system, they can experience the same set of circumstances and yet, come out of that with three very different reactions and responses.
So it's subjective, not everything that somebody goes through is necessarily traumatizing to them. So it really has to do, I think with the subjective meaning-making that each person attaches to their narrative and their experience. What I'm always listening for is a narrative that includes self-blame. And shame. And guilt, uh, and unfair sense of responsibility, the sense that they should have been able to stop something or control something or change something. I think that kind of mindset is often what can make an experience more traumatic for a person. If the client has the ability to recognize that it wasn't their fault. And there was nothing that they could have done to prevent it or stop it. That goes a long way towards mitigating the long-term traumatic impact and residue of what's happened.
So anything that is subjectively experienced as threatening anything that subjectively leaves you feeling like your privacy, your boundaries, your body.
Um, in some way or being violated, anything that feels to you subjectively like a profound breach of trust, you know, that's in part how we would define, you know, what traumatizes a person.
Angela: Yeah. I appreciate you bringing that up. You know, a lot of, uh, you were talking about this the other day, so many of us have normalized traumatic experiences.
To the point where there isn't that sort of realization that we've actually experienced trauma. Right? So one of the things I'd love to hear from you is how do you see prior trauma come up for people in the present, in ways that they may not be aware of? And I'm thinking of our listeners who may be sort of like, huh, Maybe this experience that I had is coming up in different ways that I don't know, or I'm wondering why these habits are here that I just can't seem to process through what's going on.
So what, what can people watch for that might be signaling needing more help with this?
Lisa Ferentz: I love that question. It's a great question, because I think you're right. It's not at all uncommon for people to not remember early experiences of trauma or abuse. It’s also very common for people to not connect the dots between past experiences and the current symptoms or struggles that have manifested for them.
So, often people don't start with the memory of what happened when they were five, but what we’re noticing in the present is perhaps feelings again, of worthlessness of I'm not feeling good enough of a lot of inner perfectionism and inner criticism sort of taking on the voice of one's abuser in a way kind of picking up where they left off.
Um, if you're somebody who tends to gravitate towards more destructive strategies for coping for soothing. To regulate your emotions and that can be misusing food that can be addictive behaviors, substances, alcohol. That can be, um, yeah. Internet. It can be gambling. Unfortunately, there are many, many ways that people can creatively self-medicate right. We know that.
And so, um, if, if what you're doing is creating what we would call a dissociative state where you're sort of spaced out and checked out, not really feeling present in your body. Uh, that's a bit of a red flag. If you notice that as you move through life, it's really difficult to trust people.
You work very hard to kind of keep people at arms length. My belief about that is that your earliest relationship template taught you that getting close means getting hurt. And so the safer approach is, you know, to keep people somewhat at bay from you. It's also, unfortunately, because many traumatized folks secretly think if you knew the real me, the real me, you wouldn't like me and you wouldn't want to get close to me.Right. So I'm going to prevent you from having that experience again, by keeping you at arms length. If you really struggle with self care. To me, that's a big, big red flag. And often what it means is that nobody modeled for you, that you, that your body deserved, you know, to be well taken care of.
So these are folks who've often experienced, not just physical neglect, but emotional neglect as well. Um, if you gravitate towards substances, you know, again, as a way to self-medicate or to cope, That's something that you want, that you want to think about. And here's an interesting one. If you gravitate towards a profession where you're all, things are always incredibly chaotic.
If you gravitate towards relationships that tend to be very chaotic and sort of crisis driven, often, that's a red flag that that's been normalized for you, you use the word normalized, and I think you're really wise to suggest that. So unfortunately people often reenact some of the dynamics that they grew up with because they did get normalized for them.
So, I have had a lot of clients over the years, who've been firefighters and EMT, and Police officers and nurses and God bless them. They do amazing work, right. But they're often in these environments that are very crisis oriented, crisis driven and literally their adrenaline, you know, in their body is always at these very, very high levels.
And then they sort of crash. So those of us who have not been traumatized and again, I can speak for myself. We don't gravitate towards crises. We really don't. Um, we like things to be, you know, peaceful and calm and, um, you know, we, we like, we like to be treated with respect and we like things to be appropriate and we tend to speak up when things are not appropriate.
So you have to also look at your tolerance, right. For things that maybe are not so acceptable, but that you've learned to be okay with because you had no choice in childhood.
Allison: So I would love to just drill into this because I love the fact that you gave us so many different red flags, and I'm sure that people listening are going, wow, I can identify with this, or I see this in somebody else that I care about and you know, so what do we do to help really move through this or caring for ourselves or caring for others?
How can we help those that have experienced trauma? And Help them move through that, right. Or how can they address it so that, you know, if it's impacting us today, we're doing something to make a difference for our tomorrows.
Lisa Ferentz: I think it's, it's really important that we deep pathologize, um, what I just described and what I mean by that is it's really important.and this is if you spoke to my clients, they would tell you that I say this phrase kind of ad nauseum in therapy, but the phrase that I say over and over. What you're feeling, what you're thinking, what you're struggling with. Makes sense, given where you've come from and given what you've experienced. And so when we can, in a sense, normalize that for our clients and say everything about you, makes sense, given what you've come from, given all the creative, clever ways that you had to figure out how to navigate what happened and you know, what was happening around you, that truly was not in your control.
So, What I don't say to people is you need help because they think when people hear you need help, they, what they hear in their head is, um, you think I'm crazy, right? So I always say instead, you deserve support.
So I think we have to sort of demystify what therapy is. We have to normalize and de-pathologize the kind of inevitable byproducts of trauma, because nobody fully dodged that bullet.
If you've grown up in a family where there was any kind of chronicity to neglect to trauma to abuse. If you grew up again with a parent who is struggling with their own issues, addiction, unresolved trauma, mental illness, you can't totally dodge that. there's going to be residue. It might be emotional.
It might be cognitive in terms of the way you think about yourself and other people, it might be nomadic. So many trauma survivors walk around. Yeah. Physical pain, because we know that trauma lives in the body and it might be behavioral, you know, in terms of the choices that you're making in your life. But when we can connect the dots for people and to say everything about this makes sense. And, in your current life, as an adult, or even an older teenager, you don't have to keep resorting to the same creative coping strategies that you had to use in order to navigate your childhood experiences, you can learn new, healthier ways to, to navigate life and to deal with your emotions and to have a voice for what you feel, to be able to articulate what you need.
There are healthier ways to do that, where you're not left with a feeling of shame or you're not engaging in behaviors that are destructive to you or to other people.
Angela: Absolutely. You know, one thing that I was thinking of as you were talking about this is, when folks are processing through so many things, that it can be helpful along your journey, label things in a certain way.
And I know that gets tricky because labeling isn’t always helpful, right, but one thing I want to bring up, which is all over the place as Alison sort of mentioned earlier with where trauma is a lot of these concepts and buzzwords surrounding traumatic experiences, and you might be knowing where I'm going with this, but we hear about concepts like trauma bonds all the time. And so I'm curious, sort of what your understanding or how you sort of explain that and utilize this concept among others, and maybe an example of how you've seen survivors work through this experience with these tools.
Lisa Ferentz: Yeah, you're alluding to something so important and it's not about pathologizing, but it is about psychoeducation. and I think one of the Cardinal features of trauma informed care is the therapist's responsibility to bring psychoeducation into the therapy, um, to actually define a name for clients. You know, there's a name for when you go to the ceiling and check out. You know, we call it the disassociation. That doesn't mean that we're pathologizing it, but we're actually helping to move the client away from, I must be crazy.
So whether we're talking about a trauma bond or we're talking about, you know, any other manifestation of what's happened for a person as a by-product of their past experiences. I think psychoeducation is a hugely, hugely important feature with whatever other, you know, modality or paradigm you're going to bring to the work.
Um, so, uh, so I'm glad that you emphasized that and it's not pathologizing it. It's actually helping the client make sense out of their experience when we can name what we're experiencing. Dan Siegel also often says name it to tame it. So when we name it, it takes some of the emotional valence out of it.
And it gives the client something concrete that they can begin to understand and think about. And then we can together unpack it. You know, in therapy,
Angela: thank you for explaining what psycho-education is and the differentiation between that and pathologizing. I think, because I think that's really what I'm looking for is, you know, we all, as individuals, as therapists, see the influence running all over social media platforms, where people are posting about what they feel this means to them.
So I almost feel like, you know, in a lot of ways it's sort of less what this sort of consensus meaning is and more about what it means individually. But I know that with new listeners just like many of us, they're sort of getting lots of different pieces of information from different places. And so coming from someone who does so much of this work, it's just great to hear directly from you sort of what your conceptualization of it is and I think you, you really do a great job in really helping folks understand how that meaning will play a huge role in what their experience and their processing through what their experience may be and if it is something they identify with.
Lisa Ferentz: There's no question that clients who come into therapy today, or in many ways, far more informed or semi informed, you know, I mean, I've been, I've been in private practice for almost 38 years. And so there was, we didn't there wasn't language for this, you know, when I first started out in the field, so somebody can come into therapy and say, you know, I have an issue with trauma bonds and my, and I'll do exactly what I just did with you is tell me what you mean by that, because you know, it could be, it could be something that totally makes sense. And it could be something that actually is not really capturing. You know, the dynamic and what's going on for the client. Um, and so it is important. I think you're right. That there is a subjective meaning. That's what we need to understand. Um, if we look more genetically than in the field, we talk a lot about the idea of sort of gravitating back towards people in our adolescents and adult lives, who in some ways re-enact the earlier experiences that we had in childhood, the things we needed to do in childhood in order to be safe. And here's another buzzword, the fawn response, but it's a term that my clients actually liked to define from my clients.
Where you learn very early on in childhood to kind of put weight into the back burner, your own feelings, your own desires, your own needs, and instead to get really good at kind of understanding and predicting what your abuser needs, um, and, and that there's attachment and bonding that happens around them.
When the child learns to be compliant and acquiescent, and they're, they're learning to be compliant, not because they want to be, but because that's the one way to be safe. And so the relationship is forged around acquiescence and compliance. And not using your voice, um, and learning how to be accommodating, learning how to keep secrets, you know, learning how to not fight back.
I mean, this is all a part of what a child brilliantly figures out very early on is necessary in order to be safe in their relationship with an adult abuser. Many of those same dynamics get carried with them into their adolescent and adult relationships where they're using those same coping skills and usually what it sort of boils down to mean is that they don't have a voice.
You know, they're constantly acquiescing to what the other person wants. They're very vulnerable to being in relationships where there's co coercive control. They're very vulnerable to being in relationships that are not just emotionally abusive, but can often be physically or sexually abusive as well. But there's this loyalty, right? There's this sense of, um, I need to be loyal to my parents, I need to be loyal to my partner, even if they're hurting me, even if they're causing me pain. And the thing that is kind of keeping me connected is that loyalty, even when it's totally undeserved. Right. And so part of therapy is about giving clients permission to not have to stay loyal to a person who has not earned it and a person who does not deserve it, and a person who continues in some way to mistreat them.
And that can be in a marriage, in an intimate relationship, in a friendship with a colleague, with a boss, right? That can play out in a lot of different relational arenas in a person's life.
Allison: I love how you brought up that, you know, people are pretty informed, right? It made me have an inkling or an, you know, they might realize that this could be trauma related in some way, shape or form what they've experienced.
Um, social media has definitely given a voice to a lot of people, or at least just to create awareness around that. But as you see this, and as you help people and, and you have people coming into your office and, and needing guidance and they say, okay, Lisa, like, well, what does trauma treatment look like for me or what are the options that are out there?
What do you share with them? So if somebody is listening right now and it's like, okay, I realized that there might be something going on, but the thought of getting help or getting the support I deserve is still kind of scary for me. What do you share with them about what it's available?
Lisa Ferentz: The great news is we have evolved a lot in the 38 years that I have been in the trauma field. Um, you know, when I was trained in the early eighties, the belief was that trauma survivors had to remember everything that happened to them. And frankly, they had to relive those experiences in therapy, uh, in order to heal. And we actually know now that that is not true.
Um, that some experiences are best to stay buried and that we actually need to defer to our client's wisdom and our client's instincts about what they do and don't need to remember. They definitely do not need to relive the events with the same feeling of helplessness and powerlessness that they felt in childhood.
And frankly, that's what we were doing in the early eighties. I, you know, I look back on it and I kind of shutter, and it's not a coincidence by the way that in the eighties and even the nineties, so many of us in private practice had this sort of invisible revolving door from our offices to hospitals because we were inadvertently retraumatizing our clients by having them go back and relive this stuff without first resourcing them in any way.
So, although everybody certainly has the right to get their voice back. And I would never deny the client the opportunity to share any aspect of a narrative that they want to share. Um, there's a world of difference between observing your experiences. Um, things that happened in the past from a present supported and strengths-based perspective versus reliving and participating in it from that sort of past tense, helpless place.
There's also today in, in the field of trauma treatment, there's much greater emphasis placed on resourcing. Thank God. Cause again, that really did not exist in the past. Um, and for me, one of the more exciting things about the field now. Is that there's a much greater willingness to incorporate, not just talk therapy.
In fact, people like Bessel van der Kolk, who's a world renowned neuroscientist researcher has proven that trauma is not stored in the language part of the brain and broke his area. That was an amazing discovery and it wasn't discovered until 2004 trauma is not stored in the language part of the brain.
Trauma is stored visually. That's why we go into flashbacks and it's stored on the body viscerally. And what that means is that if you're going to seek out therapy, you want to work with a therapist who can use modalities that are visual and visceral, so that that can help you to access the experience in a way that keeps you safe.
Clients often do not have words for what happened to them, but they have body pain or they have you know, bad dreams. And so we want to now bring on board those kinds of creative modalities. And again, when I first started out in this field, um, music therapists, dance therapists, art, there was, they were looked at as weird and flaky right and total outliers. And the honest truth is that they were like 30 years ahead of the rest of us. They actually knew what traumatized folks need in order to heal.
So it is not just talk therapy. I'm very passionate about this, even though sometimes it gets me in trouble. You can't just do CBT cognitive behavioral therapy.
You can't just sit, you know, week in, week out and just do talk therapy. That's not where the deeper healing is going to happen. So you want to work with therapists who know how to work with art, therapeutically, or Sandtray, or music or movement working with the body. Um, guided imagery, visualization. You want therapists who understand inner child work and parts work from internal family systems.
I mean, the truth is there's over 150 therapy modalities that are out there right now. So if you're working with somebody who's just talking, you know, week in and week out. Know that that's actually not how we currently define trauma informed care.
Angela: Thank you so much, I know this really just scrapes the surface for so many who might just sort of, you know, may be thinking like Allison said, that maybe there is a little bit more support than I need. But this really gets at how much more there is out there. This might actually create even more anxiety in the sense that there are 150 options, but I think what you said is really important. It just takes one. Right?
So if you can find someone who can work with a variety of modalities that, you know, maybe going beyond some things that you've tried before, which I hear a lot too, it's sort of like, well, I've tried therapy for whatever my experience has been, It didn't work. And you know, we hear that all the time--so just knowing that there are other options out there is going to be really helpful.
To piggyback off of that, and I know we don't have much time left with you. So I have one more question before we ask you our favorite question. I get a lot of questions around, you know, what, if someone comes to me, just sort of sharing something traumatic that happened to them. I may or may not be comfortable with it, but a lot of people just freeze. They don't really know what to do. But when, you know, for example, if one of our listeners' has a friend who comes to them and is sharing an experience, how do you recommend that folks respond to that either in the moment. Or after the fact, for themselves?
Lisa Ferentz: So definitely there has to be a response in the moment because what I want to remind your listeners is that when someone decides to disclose anything that is intimate, personal, vulnerable, it takes extraordinary courage. And so one of the very first responses that I would always encourage is to thank that person for the courage and the trust that it took to share whatever it is that they are sharing to just acknowledge that that took incredible courage and that it also speaks to the fact that they have the capacity to be courageous.
And they have the capacity to be trusting, because they've shared something that's so vulnerable and intimate. I, you know, when anybody shares anything with me, I feel like it's really important to say, I need you to know that what happened was not your fault because 99.9% of the time folks who come with trauma believe it was their fault.
And the reason why they believe it's their fault is because the number one response to trauma is to freeze. And when you freeze as a child, because that's the only safe response. It's the only safe response you very, um, easily mistake freezing, um, for being weak, not fighting back, not doing anything. And yet, the freeze response is a life-saving response.
When you recognize that you'll get hurt more. If you yell out, you'll get hurt more. If you attempt to physically fight an abuser off of you. Um, or say no or in any way, try to stand up for yourself. So that's what I mean by freeze, you become, again, compliant. You, you don't fight back because it's not safe to, but when you don't fight back, you unfortunately hold this idea that says, um, I must have been participating. Right? I, I didn't, I didn't do anything to “stop it”.
So letting the person know, particularly if it's a decline, a disclosure of sexual abuse, you know, from childhood, no child is ever, ever responsible for that. Uh, and yet it's extraordinary how many survivors believe that they are and that they ”participate in”.
I put that in air quotes because no child participates in sexual abuse. So letting them know that it wasn't their fault. And also letting them know if the abuse happened in the past. There's nothing they could've done to stop it, to prevent it. Um We, you know, you, you can't get your mom to stop drinking when you're 10 years old, you can't get your mom's drinking when you're 45 years old either.
Right. I mean, you know, we don't have that power over other people. Most of us know that, but trauma survivors don't really think that way and are always focused on what could I have done to change the outcome. And I think it's just very repairative to let them know that what they did was the most essential thing. And that is, that they survive.
You know, they got through it. Now for the person who's on the receiving end. Right. Who's been told something that's really hard to hear. And those of us who work with trauma that's, you know, that happens many times in a day. That's where clinicians self-care is unbelievably important because we become like the vessel and because of HIPAA and confidentiality.
You know, we don't just go tell 10 people what we heard into therapy session, right. we're holding that and that's living on our bodies. So it's so important, you know, in my Institute where I have certificate programs in trauma treatment, because I'm so passionate about wanting mental health providers to be trauma informed, and also to know how to take care of themselves in that process.
So, physical activity so that you can literally energetically release what you've been holding all day. That's essential, making sure that you're not turning to self-destructive strategies to deal with. You know, what you heard all day, all week, you know, being mindful of how you're using food and alcohol and coffee and the internet and, you know, shopping and, and other things that can get you.
I call it getting weaponized so that suddenly they become, you know, they put you in a state of numbness and dissociation. So we have to practice what we preach. That's a hugely important message. We can't talk to our clients about self-care. If we're not engaging in it ourselves, literally this morning, I was giving a two hour consultation to a wonderful group of clinicians who work with, um, women who are in intimate partner violence situations.
And they're incredibly passionate about what they're doing. And one of the younger clinicians, I mean, she was just really young, but incredibly, um, committed to the work and very intelligent. And she was talking about her caseload and in my mind, I'm thinking this is a lot of different clients. So I just sort of spontaneously asked how many clients are you seeing in a day?
And she said, without missing a beat, nine, I said, how many breaks are you taking? None. This woman is doing nine hours of therapy back to back to back. And you know what? That's not so unusual.. That's not so unusual. It's unsustainable. She's going to burn out. Right? And so here she is really dedicated, you know, working so hard to convince her female clients that they don't deserve to be abused or mistreated.
And yet, she's created this scenario for herself in her job where frankly, she's being abused. Her body's being abused. Reminds me she's you know, that ninth client is not getting the same energy that the first client is getting and it was kind of a revelation for her. So we have to practice what we preach.
We have to take good care of ourselves. You're only as good professionally as the extent to which you take care of yourself personally.
Allison: What a beautiful end to that, because that was so perfect. And it's so important for all of us too. I mean, it's, you know, of course those that serve in that therapeutic capacity and that are doing this amazing work and really helping people change their lives, but also.
Those that are on the advocacy front, those that are working in different roles, within treatment organizations, those that are, you know, continuing to walk alongside other people in their journeys after experiencing them themselves. It's just so critically important that we honor ourselves as well. So we can continue to show up for others.
So, well, this is the part in the show, Lisa, that we love because we ask every single one of our guests that come on. At this point in your life, what matters most to you right now?
Lisa Ferentz: Oh, that's so easy. People are gonna think this is a setup and it's not, I had no idea. You're going to ask that question. Um, family, family, family, family, family, family.
And what has so incredibly heightened that. Is my one-year-old grandson, my very first grandchild. So, um, you know, I adore what I do professionally. I'm going to be doing it probably until I'm 90. I love working with clients. I love training other clinicians. I love paying forward the knowledge that my clients have taught me in these 38 years.
So I'm not going anywhere and I'm gonna do this work for a very long time. And at the end of the day, you know, It's just sitting around the kitchen table when my sons come to visit and we're just laughing hysterically, it's going to New York and watching my one-year-old grandson just start to walk. Um, you know, it's spending time with my 85 year old, amazing mother who still does yoga every day and walks two miles every day.
Um, so it's, it's being with people that I love. And to that extent, I feel so Last and I feel so, um, full, like I've done everything I want to do. Truly. I am writing my fourth book, but if I don't write it, that's actually going to be okay too, because I really feel like, you know, I've made the contribution and, um, again, I'll keep making it because I love what I do.
And it's a privilege to do it. But you know, it's my incredible husband. We've been together for 42 years. It's being able to travel again, you know, once COVID is fully behind us and go back to the theater and go back to baseball games and, um, just being in the present moment. And I live my life from this very intense place of gratitude.
So every day I wake up and I look up and I just say, thank you. You know, thank you for every blessing in my life. Every blessing to me, to me there's nothing more important than the people in my life that I love.
Angela: Your smile is infectious. First of all, and thank you so much for joining us. It has been such a pleasure to talk with you. So many important things I think that folks are going to get from our conversation. I can't even begin to show our gratitude for being able to have you here with us. So Lisa, would you mind just sharing with our listeners how they can either follow you on social media or just find you in the world of the web.
Lisa Ferentz: I think the easiest way to get to me is through my website, The Ferentzinstitute.com. There's a lot of free resources there. My books are there. My blogs are there. My archived radio show is there. Uh, again, all that is on the website, the Ferentz institute.com. That's the quickest way to get all things that are leasing.
Allison: Well, thank you so much for being on the show today. Lisa, you are absolutely fabulous. I feel like we could have kept this conversation going for hours and oh my gosh. Thank you. We might have to have you back for part two in the future, but thank you so much for sharing with us.
Angela: Thank you so much for listening to today's episode.If you're not already subscribed, we hope you join us regularly and please leave us a five-star review, wherever you get your podcasts. We hope that this podcast is beneficial to you and your wellness journey. Dear mind, you matter. is brought to you by Nobu, a new mental health and wellness app. You can download it today, using the link in our show notes.
We'll talk to you next time and until then, remember you and your mind matter.