Tuesday, April 30, 2013


President Obama said he’s proud of Jason Collins, the NBA player who disclosed that he’s gay this week, and said he called him to tell him so.

The president said Americans should be proud that “this is just one more step in this ongoing recognition that we treat everybody fairly. And everybody’s part of a family, and we judge people on the basis of their character and their performance, and not their sexual orientation.”

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Traumatic Transference and Countertransference: Minefield or Gold Mine?

As part of our foray into the blog world, we would like to increase your awareness of events Womencare Counseling Center is involved in or hosting. Please take a look at this event, which is happening at the end of May. We'd love for you to join us!

Event Details
Traumatic Transference and Countertransference: Minefield or Gold Mine?
  • Date and Time: Friday, May 24, 2013, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
  • Location: Hilton Garden Inn, Evanston
  • Presented by: Laurie Kahn and Janet Migdow
  • 6 CEUs are available

Many therapeutic dilemmas and disasters described in clinical literature are with trauma survivors. The interpersonal terrain of these therapeutic relationships is filled with opportunities for the therapist inadvertently to retraumatize the client.

On the other hand, the awareness and the successful management of traumatic transference and  countertransference open doors that can deepen our understanding of the client's dissociated traumatic injuries and associated affects. We believe that the provision of safety in trauma therapy is intimately connected to the management of traumatic transference and the traumatic countertransference engendered in the therapist.

In this workshop we will explore therapeutic opportunities and challenges presented by this transferential field. We will pay special attention to the particular difficulties of both erotic and sadistic transference and countertransference with clients who have experienced relational traumas.

How To Register
  • Register online
    Once you have completed the online registration form you will be directed to the payment page. You can also return to this page and then make your payment. 
  • Call us at 847-491-0530, and provide us with your name, mailing address, phone number and payment information. 
  • E-mail Julie Dinelli at jdinelli@womencarecounseling.com and provide us with your name, mailing address, phone number and payment information. 
  • Mail a completed registration form with a check or credit card information to:
Womencare Counseling Center
1740 Ridge Avenue, Suite 201
Evanston, IL 60201
Attn: Registration

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Keep on Running

Today at an interfaith prayer service, President Obama addressed the city of Boston, a city in shock, a city grieving its losses, a city grieving the wounded.

He spoke to a city also brimming with pride, celebrating their goodness, their shared humanity, and their resilience. 

 Many honored the city where in the midst of bomb blasts people ran towards the wounded, not away.

I am humbled and awed today by the collective insistence on love, strength, and determination that pervaded every speech given by the city’s leaders, and that poured out of the hearts of every-day folk on the streets of Boston.

 In the face of adversity these voices are resounding and inspiring.

My thoughts move to my clients who face of adversity. They witness and experience cruelty and abuse. Their voices are quieter, and sometimes silenced. In President Obama’s words "Even when our heart aches, we summon the strength that maybe we didn't even know we had, and we carry on." My clients too run marathons that require perseverance, guts and determination.

May we honor all those who persevere, and all those who run towards the wounded.

Thank you President Obama for insisting, “in the face of cruelty, we chose compassion.”  

Laurie Kahn

Monday, April 8, 2013

Vacation; Cure for Compassion Fatigue?

I am a recent convert to vacations as a method to combat ‘the cost of caring.’ 

There is a cumulative toll when we, professionals or other caregivers, are exposed to the suffering of other human beings. We may come to feel exhausted, helpless and numb.

There are reams of articles and literature on this subject.  We call it Compassion Fatigue, Vicarious Trauma or Secondary Trauma. I have addressed audiences on this topic over the years. Though I am a believer in self-care, I have always put more stock in community care. I have always noted that walking beside compassion fatigue is compassion satisfaction.

I believe the cost of turning away from others’ suffering is greater than the cost of caring. Strategies that sustain our spirit are essential: mindfulness, surrounding ourselves with gentleness, embracing our creativity, the use of consultation, making meaning in the company of others, and social activism all seem quite promising to sustain our resilience in the face if adversities.  

I have been baffled when surveys of counselors, and other providers of care, list vacations as one of the top antidotes for Compassion Fatigue.

Aren’t vacations a form of denial or avoidance? Aren’t vacations reserved for the privileged, those who would never choose to be social workers?

Truthfully I dreaded vacations.

When the noise stops and my to do lists vanish I felt more panic than the relief predicted by the self-care books. Waiting at the threshold of my well-chosen vacation spot are swirling feelings that my daily busyness allows me to avoid.

There are also ghosts that breathe down my neck or pull at my skirt insisting that I pay attention to them. They are your everyday ghosts that carry the commonplace personal and interpersonal issues I like to put on the back burner, losses that I hoped time alone would resolve. What good, I wonder,  is a vacation if I have to spend it being haunted and bombarded with unwanted feelings?

Maturity, experience and humility are great teachers. I now know that during vacations, no mattered how brief or extended, I must make room for reflection, for feelings of all shapes and sizes. Whatever is haunting me must be welcomed, not avoided.

Now on vacations I write each morning and wait to see what appears on the page that has been waiting for words. This ritual often includes weeping, a few revelations and reconnection with ignored parts of myself.

Last weekend I stayed in a cabin next to Warren Woods State Park, less than a two- hour drive from my home.  My dog Kali, my favorite role model for the practice of enjoying the moment, came too. I walked in the woods. My mind wandered to my mother in hospice care. I cried. Kali chased squirrels, and we walked up hills and discovered a beach. The smell of wet sand, the sound of the waves caressing the shoreline and seagulls squawking as Kali ran behind them put my world back in balance.

I am now a fan of the quiet spaces in addition to the precious connections with friends, colleagues and family who refuse to turn away.

Laurie Kahn