Supplemental Material: “Safe People”

Oftentimes therapy can be more effective when clients are intentional with reading supplemental material outside of the therapy session. In my clinical work, I often suggest books, movies, video clips, and music to my clients that support their personal work, challenges them to think differently, and help them feel known and not alone. The resources discussed here are used regularly in my work and are helpful for a variety of struggles. I do not receive any benefits for sharing this supplemental material on my blog.

Title of Material: Safe People: How to Find Relationships that are Good for you and Avoid those that Aren’t by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Type of Material: Self-help Book for teens to adults

How to Access it: Safe People: How to Find Relationships that are Good for you and Avoid those that Aren’t is available for purchase on Amazon and numerous book stores. I also suggest checking your local library for hard or audio copies of this material.

Publisher’s Book Synopsis: “Too many of us have invested ourselves into relationships where things have gone wrong. You may have experienced being judged, manipulated controlled, or worse. The impact of being with an unsafe person can be damaging to your confidence, your trust in others, and even your health. And what’s more, we either repeat the same mistakes of judgment over and over, or else simply give up on trying to have great, authentic relationships again. We get busy instead. Why do we choose the wrong people to get involved with? Is it possible to change? And if so, where does one begin? Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend offer solid guidance for making safe choices in relationships, from family to friendship, romance and work. They help identify the healthy and growing people we all need in our lives, as well as ones we need to learn to avoid. Safe People will help you to recognize twenty traits of relationally untrustworthy people and discover what makes some people relationally safe, as well as how to avoid unhealthy entanglements. You’ll learn about things within yourself that jeopardize your relational security, and you’ll find out how to develop a balanced approach to relationships.”

How I learned about this material: This book was mentioned numerous times throughout my Masters program as material frequently referred to with clients.

Why I suggest this material: Building strong, supportive relationships makes a huge impact on my clients during their journey through therapy but having that kind of relationship isn’t a given. I have personally been impacted by this material and believe it reveals a lot of truths about who is safe and who is not.

Who may benefit: Anyone who is relationship with another person. Seriously, anyone.



#metoo Resources

Here is a list of resources for support persons or those impacted by sexual assault. If you have personally been impacted by sexual assault, please consider contacting a support from the following resources. Your story matters.

  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) has a National Sexual Abuse Hotline where you are able to chat online or call 1.800.656.HOPE. You are also able to locate local resources through the website as well.
  • For men who have experienced sexual abuse, please visit for more information as well as a opportunity to chat with a trained advocate 24/7 or with a support group.
  • If you think you might be struggling with depression as a result of your experience, the National Institute of Mental Help can help you better understand what you may be feeling. It is important, if you feel like you may be depressed, to contact your medical doctor to report your symptoms and create a treatment plan. Often times, medication and some form of therapy can be helpful to address depression symptoms.
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also a safe place for you to shat online or call 1.800.273.8255 and speak with someone about what you’re experiencing and how you’re feeling. The website is also full of resources about suicide and suicide prevention.
  • A Netflix Original show 13 Reasons Why has created a website with links to resources for those experiencing sexual assault, depression, anxiety, drug/alcohol addition, suicide, and bullying. Please consider looking through their resources for additional information regarding the above topics.
  • For those who live in and around Kansas City our local resource is the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA). Through their website you are able to call their crisis line or chat with someone 24 hours a day. MOCSA also has resources and information for those who have experienced sexual assault or know someone who has. Education is important to combating sexual assault and helping those impacted by it heal.

While this post does offer a few organizations that can provide resources for those who have been assaulted, are considering self-harm, or are otherwise in need, it is by no means comprehensive and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. If you think that you are a danger to yourself or others or are in immediate need of help/support, immediately reach out to your medical professional, therapist, or emergency services (eg. dial 911) or go to the nearest emergency facility.

You matter. Your experience matters. Thank you for taking the time to read this post.

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Motherhood in the Wilderness

When I was in the 6th grade, my class went to a nature retreat for the weekend. The intention of this retreat was to teach us wilderness survival skills: how to start a campfire, read a map, find the north star, identify dangerous plants, etc. Heading up north, I felt pretty confident about my abilities as I am a lifetime tent camper whose mom was her girl scout leader. Even with all my experience, however, when dropped off in the middle of the woods with a friend and a compass, I got seriously lost. So lost that when we finally found our way out of the forest, we were over 30 minutes late to the “meet up” and they’d already sent out throngs of adults to look for us. We had whistles to alert camp staff to our location, but we’d gone so far away, they couldn’t hear. And honestly, that was not the last time I would get lost in the woods while holding a compass and blowing a whistle.

I’m not sure how many of you have ever been lost in a forest but it is a strange experience. One minute you’re enjoying a peaceful stroll down the unbeaten path, the next minute you’re feeling a cold tingle down your spine and the thought pops into your head: “I have no idea where I am right now.”

My personal experiences as a mother and a lost hiker are alarmingly similar. Most days I feel confident about my ability to successfully lead my children through the day unscathed and dressed in pants and shirts that actually match, then there are other days where I feel out of my depth, even with a few solid parenting tools. Where is that damn whistle?!

Then you add the additional pressure of a job to get to, a house to clean, meals to make, and a partner to snuggle; motherhood becomes more like running through the forest being chased by a bear, you dropped the compass a mile ago, somehow you managed to step in a puddle of mud so your feet are wet and dirty, and you’re developing a side cramp.

And there’s bees.

But no whistle.

Let’s be real: motherhood is amazing and it can be tough. One moment you’re being smothered by kiddo kisses, the next you’re scraping poop off of numerous surfaces. They love you. They hate you. The scream, “go away” and “come back” in the same breath. And this doesn’t even begin to tap into the guilt we feel when we’re trying to get some extra work done as they ask us: “Hey Mom, can you help me with my homework?”. Or the guilt we feel for cleaning our house instead of sending that email or writing that report. You stay up way past your bedtime just to finish the last of the day’s tasks…tasks which never end, they are simply completed for a moment then return to the top of the list the next day. Sure, we have tools to help guide us through but sometimes when we’re tired, stressed, and our teenager just got sent home from school for behavioral issues, tools don’t seem to cut it. Exhaustion, annoyance, and frustration can creep in and make an already challenging day feel isolating and hopeless.

Whatever the age and number of your children, whatever work you do, in home and out, whether you do it alone or with a partner, whether you buy all organic and cook your meals from scratch or hit up the Chik-Fil-A drive thru more than you’d like to admit: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Many of us are stumbling through motherhood like a lost hiker in the wilderness, hoping that we find someone else who can help us trudge through the remainder of our journey.

As a clinician, one of the most impactful things I’ve observed in a client’s journey of change is their support system: the larger and more connected it is, the more movement they experience in a shorter amount of time. If this post struck a chord in you, I’d encourage you to take some time to self-reflect: why do you feel this was impactful to you? How do you feel you’re doing as a person, as a partner, as a parent, or as a friend? Have you felt a little lost and alone lately? Do you have a support system that you can tap in to for companionship in your own journey? For me, when I’ve felt my most alone, I reach for those who will sit with me in my hopelessness and just be present. If you read this paragraph and thought, “Well, I don’t have a support system to lean in to”, I would encourage you to look for a local mom’s group. Often times they can be found by searching on social media, calling local churches and community organizations, or even contacting a local mommy and baby store.

If you are local to Kansas City,  a fellow therapist, Teressa Thurwanger, and I are hosting a workshop for mothers titled Motherhood in the Wilderness. If you’d like to join us, you can sign up here! Want more information about this workshop? Check out the information page on my group website for additional info or contact me through the contact page.

Was this piece impactful for you? Feel free to leave a comment! I welcome comments on my posts and encourage open, respectful and purposeful dialogue. I reserve the right to delete comments that insult, degrade, or shame other commenters.

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