Mental Health Week: family therapy session with our new pet therapy puppy

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Yes, we did head off to the weekly family therapy session with our new pet therapy puppy (unnamed as of yet, probably damaging the puppy’s ability to imprint or habituate to his name or something) (both of my sons were nameless for the first month of their lives…. I may be onto something here).

Clover/Pocket/Lucky/Baybay spent the entire session in one lap or another—one of the reasons for choosing a lapdog. Subject matter was not the dog however. It was more family upset, issues of control, trust, respect. Anger and the management of it. Some families cruise through their lives and small crises, other stall with major crises. That’s my family. That’s why we attend family therapy. I’m no psychiatrist, psychologist or therapist. We need professional help.

This is Mental Health Awareness Week. I am acutely aware of mental health every day of my life. It’s a must-have. This week, actually called Mental Illness Awareness Week, was started in 1992 by the Canadian Psychiatric Association, and is now managed by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH). They even have a website for the week, with a succinct rundown on the most “popular” mental illnesses.

I watched CBC Sunday Morning on the weekend, and they kicked off the week with a segment on Tazz Norris, a comedian with bipolar affective disorder who uses his mental health problems as material. On the subject of suicide, he says—”I tried it six times, I’m not very good at it!” You can catch the piece here.

I have my own little peeve about the use of the term “mental illness”—I prefer “mental health problem” because that makes me feel more hopeful, as in, someone has a problem with their mental health, but the problem can be worked on, and the health can come back. Mentally ill has a smack of finality to it that doesn’t leave much room for hope or work.

Back to our family therapy session. By the end, Luka had completed his white board artwork of a huge apartment building with tons of windows and some death rays. The puppy was waking up, refreshed from a good nap. I realized there hadn’t been any shouting or raised voices or slammed doors during the session, because he slept the whole time. Good puppy! Good family!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU: including your family, saying so or not, how many families would there be in your circle of family, friends, close coworkers, neighbours and your children’s friend’s? How many have attended or are attending family counselling or therapy?

Painting as family therapy: some success

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Two of Tessa’s first paintings on Friday

This weekend I tried a switch-up for the kids—only one item on the actual to-do list: do-it-yourself art therapy. We got our stuff together, gessoed the boards and canvasses, and away we went. I’m only showing what the artists were most pleased with. Graydon decided that as much as he wanted to paint, he wanted to make cash instead, so he and his best friend headed through the neighbourhood with the lawnmower. I’m keeping all paint stuff accessible for the next two weeks, so we’ll all have time to do more. Continue reading