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  • Writer's pictureHelen Dempsey-Henofer

Embracing uncertainty and doing what works

Hope you're hanging in there. It's the start of a new year and with that I'm picking back up the practice of sending a regular letter. It'll have a short update: what's shakin' in my therapy world, but mostly it's for you.

Let's get into it. I was/am working with a scary brilliant... scrilliant?... coach and fellow therapist, Tiffany, over the past year. When I began working with her she was working over a weekend and I freaked a lil' bit. Prior to private practice, I worked in settings where I felt an always-on demand and I know that's not sustainable for me. So when I turned to Tiffany, Please don't work weekends. Set some time boundaries, I was taken aback when she kindly responded, What I do is up to me, it doesn't mean I expect it of you. Like, damn! Yes I did project my own insecurities on to her and she SO called me on it. For that I'm grateful, but I'm sharing this with you because I want you to know that when you get these letters, I'll share stories and ideas, but what I want for you is to use what works for you.


This brings me to the concept that, if I could, I'd gift wrap and give to you (and everyone) with a bow on top. That concept: workability. WTF is workability? Glad you asked. It's a concept Acceptance and Commitment Therapy geeks, like myself, use to mean doing what brings you closer to living life on your own terms. I've got a brain that jumps quickly from concept to concept so I'm finding myself wanting to say, but you're going to need self-compassion on this journey! Totally. We'll come back to that. When uncomfortable thoughts and feelings drive our behaviors we move further and further away from living on our own terms. A deep desire that people often have in a culture that rewards conformity is finding a real sense of belonging. Wanting connection, and fearing rejection, a frequent outcome is social withdraw or acting on fear to avoid discomfort. Which, simply ain't workable. If we want to see radical change in our lives it become less important whether thoughts are true and more important whether how the corresponding actions are working for you. My 2022 wish for you, may you embrace workability.


This letter is part of new things in the works for my practice. While reading a letter isn't therapy, it puts therapy concepts into writing so that they can be accessed more widely. If you know someone who'd benefit, pass it on. There are two ways to sign up, a consent checkbox for new clients in intake, or easy-peasy from the website... available for anyone.

There are other ideas brewing which haven't been parsed out just yet, stay tuned. Like you, I'm stepping into the unknown as we enter 2022. Let's make it workable (as much as we can) for me and for you.


Finally, here's a thought that may be difficult for you to take in. You inspire me. I could go on about how human struggles are reinforced by systems of oppression...

the bottom line is that things aren't set up to be easy. Yet here you f*cking are, reading a letter from a therapist on prioritizing yourself of all things.

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