Yesterday was my mom's birthday, she would have turned 72 years old. She was a spunky lady with a heart of gold and a strong spirit like no one I've ever known. Going through the day yesterday at work was hard and I found myself pretty tired at the end of the day. I thought having a normal day would be good for me, to not sit and think about having lost my mom just four months ago. At some moments it feels like a lifetime ago that I was going back and forth regularly from TN to FL to help with her care, providing support at chemo, helping with infusions at home, even giving her a manicure and pedicure the last weekend I came down so she could feel "pretty again" after her chemo and radiation. My dad grilled steaks for us that same night and mom was enjoying being able to (carefully) eat some "real food." We enjoyed each other's company and had no idea it would be our last time sitting with each other like that.
Later that night we ended up calling 911, she was rushed to the ER and admitted to ICU. After what felt like an emotional roller coaster, we lost her one week later on June 2nd. I feel blessed to have gotten a chance to be with her. My dad, sister and I, along with mom's best friend, sat with her as she took her last breath. In some moments it feels like a lifetime ago even though I can still quickly recall every sight, sound, smell and touch of that evening. Whispering in her ear how much she is loved over and over again. I'd like to believe that brought her peace to know she was surrounded by people who loved her so much. I made sure to also tell her that my boys loved her so much; her grandchildren were her world.
The love my dad had for her was one for the books. It was never perfect - no relationship is ever perfect. They would have actually celebrated 47 years of marriage last Monday so, needless to say, it has been a rough week or so for all of us. Watching my father that evening was almost as hard. He kept telling her that she was his girl, reminding her how strong she is and how much he loved her, playing her favorite worship song for her through you tube. The reality of losing your person and the helplessness in knowing there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it is so heartbreaking.
Since mom's passing I often reflect on the presence she had in my life. Not just recalling experiences or the emotions that were associated with those experiences, but almost rising above that, reflecting on what I know she wanted for me. Really taking time to explore and reflect on who she was. I was fortunate, especially in more recent years, to have a relationship with her that allowed us to share with each other. For her to let me in, to hear her fears and challenges and to walk with her in that scary journey. She was so brave, even her most vulnerable moments at the end of her life. I would not have expected anything different of her.
My motivation for family and clients is the same. I believe it is so important for people to not feel alone. Isn't that what we all desire? To feel connected, accepted and loved? Softly whispering in my mom's ear over and over how much she is loved was so important to me. I wanted "I love you" or "We love you" to be the last thing she heard while on this Earth. I am confident she could hear me. I refuse to believe anything different.
This entry is really just an outlet for me to process, to share some my own pain in being human. It is also to convey a message of courage to not be afraid to show up for people. Don't be afraid to say "I love you"... even if you have never heard this from others or it wasn't a part of your family culture growing up. Be brave to say those things, to share those words with people who are so important to you. Let that be what they experience with you... a sense of love and connection... that they are valued.
I certainly know I am not the only person to have experienced the extraordinary pain of losing a loved one, particularly a parent. I'm not looking to do anything extravagant with this entry other than to let people know (and remind myself as I go) that it will be okay. As my grandfather said years ago, and something our family still holds onto, "The pain doesn't stop but neither does the joy." This is such a powerful statement from a man with who had experienced his own pain, such as the loss of his wife and having been a POW in WWII for 18 months.
We will all experience painful moments in this life but please don't let it take away from your ability to experience joy and gratitude. I lovingly reflect on moments with my mom, the tears, the laughter, even the challenging moments in our relationship. I am so blessed to be able to reflect on all of it with a heart of gratitude. If you are experiencing pain, I pray that you are able to do the same.
I'm excited to announce that a colleague, Becca Ubben, has launched her private practice and specializing in work with OCD. People tend to use this term casually in reference to people who seem orderly or "particular," even trying to be humorous at times. However, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a clinical mental health diagnosis and significantly impacts our ability to function on a daily basis, maintain personal relationships, perform at work or school and much more. The impact of OCD on a person's quality of life can be absolutely devastating.
Becca is now accepting new clients. Our area is in need of compassionate and trained clinicians who understand the intricacies of life with OCD and I'm thrilled that Becca is stepping into that place of helping people find healing. She is passionate about her work and understands the complexities of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. As with other things, many clinicians may say that they treat a specific issue but don't necessarily have experience and specialized training in that area. Becca is the real deal and knows her stuff when it comes to OCD.
If you, or someone you love, struggles with anxiety or OCD please know that Becca is a wonderful clinical resource here in the Knoxville, TN area. You can find more details about her counseling practice and how to schedule an appointment with her at www.beccaubbencounseling.com.
Enjoy your Wednesday!
Jodi Clarke, MA, LPC/MHSP, NCC
Licensed Professional Counselor
National Certified Counselor
Approved Clinical Supervisor
EFT Knoxville is excited to share that registration is now open for two upcoming workshops for couples! These will be our last two couples workshop offerings for 2019:
HOLD ME TIGHT - 9/28 & 9/29
Hold Me Tight is a 2-day intensive workshop for couples, based on the book Hold Me Tight by Dr. Sue Johnson, developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy. This is designed as a small group educational program and is not therapy. During two full days of content, participants will gain understanding of their dynamic, what causes them to become stuck with each other and how to reach each other again (or for the first time).
In addition to small group education, there are private breakout periods throughout the workshop where couples are offered space to work through structured conversations. At minimum, two trained EFT therapists will be on staff (depending on how many couples attend) and available to help participants if they find they become tangled or stuck during a private exercise.
There is a lot of information covered in two days and couples are often amazed with how much they learn about themselves, their partner, and their relationship within just one weekend. The conversations within the workshop are designed to help couples create healing bonds with one another.
Our last Hold Me Tight Workshop of 2019 will be held on Saturday, September 28th and Sunday, September 29th, from 8:30am - 5pm. For information, and to register, please visit www.holdmetightknoxville.com.
CREATED FOR CONNECTION - 10/26 & 10/27
Created for Connection is our second workshop being offered this fall. Created for Connection is similar in curriculum to Hold Me Tight but designed for Christian couples. Again, designed as a small group educational format over two days, with private breakout conversations to help couples gain an understanding of what happens in moments of distress and how to create safe, healing and loving bonds with each other. The Created for Connection Workshop is an educational program and not therapy, similar to Hold Me Tight. Although not therapy, the programs are designed to help couples create healing bonds with one another that can lead to healing of old patterns and the development of closer connection.
Our last Created for Connection Workshop for 2019 will be held on Saturday, October 26th and Sunday, October 27th, from 8:30am - 5pm. To register for either workshop (Hold Me Tight or Created for Connection) please visit www.holdmetightknoxville.com.
Registration is now open for both workshops. These will be the last two offerings of EFT Couples workshops for this year. If you have any questions at all please contact me using the contact form HERE or call (865) 384-2172. You can find more details about the curriculum, what to expect, as well as what others have shared about their experience in past workshops at www.holdmetightknoxville.com.
Have a wonderful Thursday!
Jodi Clarke, MA, LPC/MHSP, NCC
Co-Founder EFT Knoxville
Workshop Facilitator: Hold Me Tight / Created for Connection
Clients sometimes describe themselves as a peacemaker and, as we continue talking, I learn about their family dynamics, their particular role in the family and the messages they learned about conflict.
I think wanting to be a peacemaker is admirable. In a time when it feels like we are constantly guarding ourselves waiting for the next conflict or sudden outburst... in traffic, in public, at work, in schools, in homes... knowing that someone out there wants to help maintain a sense of peace feels refreshing.
Wouldn't it feel great if you and your partner were connected and on the same team? Sadly, many couples don't feel this way or even check in with each other very much in the bustle of everyday life. It is so common for us to live paralleled lives with our spouse and not feel connected at all. Is that what your marriage feels like? If so, I want to start by saying that I understand and my heart breaks for you both.
What would happen if someone gave you permission to be imperfect? Would it feel like a weight has been lifted or would you find yourself wanting to push back out of fear of what imperfect means to you? As much as we work to be authentic in our lives and relationships, it can be really difficult to let go the idea of having to perform, having to get it right all the time... having to be perfect.
We are complex beings with hopes, dreams, fears, vulnerabilities, shame, goals, desires and longings. We want to be close to people, to feel connected, accepted, celebrated and loved. Interestingly, we tend to attach performance and/or perfection to those things... fearing that if we are not performing well or perfect, we will not feel accepted, celebrated or loved. How sad that we (many of us) have learned to weave those things together, as if our imperfections will threaten the unraveling of the entire tapestry of connection.
I sit with people in their moments of deep and scary vulnerability, gifted with the opportunity to hold space for them that allows for imperfection, stumbling over words, tears, frustrations and fear... absolutely no perfection or performance required. In fact, letting go of the need to perform allows for us to clarify and actively tend to areas that are most important to us. Our relationships with others, our relationship with ourselves, our relationship with God. I fully understand the fear of letting go of perfection... and the fear that if someone sees you in your mess you will feel disconnected and alone.
Give yourself the opportunity to show up fully in your life and in your relationships, without fear of having to perform perfectly. I think the start of 2019 presents an awesome opportunity for you to discover that new, perfection-free space. Rather than adding more tasks to your do-to list, additional goals that you'll let go of by February or rewriting the same resolutions over and over again... uncover and nurture the things that are already within you and in front of you! Perfection not required. :)
Have a wonderful, peaceful and safe new year!
As we venture into the holidays, you might be contemplating that perfect gift for your spouse or partner. It can be an a wonderful feeling to give your special person a gift that brings a smile to their face and joy to their heart. We love feeling connected in that moment like we got it right with them, even if only for that moment. Can you imagine feeling connected with your partner like that more often?
We think relationships are easy and, simply put, they're not. We think we are communicating clearly and we don't. We think our partner should be able to know what we need and they don't. There are so many elements to our dynamic that we aren't tapped into... things that are under the surface yet very much guiding our interactions with our partner. Even if you have an idea of those elements under the surface, you are likely not sharing them for fear that it will cause trouble or more distance.
Our weekend workshop for couples, called Hold Me Tight, offers a structured curriculum based on the model of Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for Couples, a method that is considered the gold standard for marriage and relationship counseling. During each workshop we are blown away by the courage and willingness of couples to show up in a new way for their marriage or relationship. The workshop experience has been a game changer for many couples, bringing them to a place of feeling connected and safe in ways that had not yet before, or haven't felt with each other for a long time.
We are excited to release the date of our next weekend workshop: January 19th and 20th, 2019. If you are ready to give yourself and your partner the gift of a more connected relationship we would love to have you join us. Please see our workshop website at www.holdmetightknoxville.com for more information about the workshop and how to register. You are also welcome to contact me personally with any questions at (865) 384-2172 or through the contact page HERE.
I look forward to helping you connect!
It is interesting to me how much, as adults, we assume we know how to be in healthy committed relationships. We think it's a "no brainer" or "common sense" when, really, it is one of the most challenging things we will ever do. We are tested in all kinds of ways in our intimate relationship. We try over and over again to make things better using the same ol' skills and tricks we have been using for years and get frustrated when our partner isn't getting on our page.
Is any of this familiar?
If you weren't so ________ I wouldn't be _________!
Will you just "let it go?"
If you could just be more (or less) ________ we wouldn't BE in this situation!
Why is this coming up AGAIN?
Can you NOT be a jerk for once?
Why do you get so mad all the time?
What did I do now?
You say this EVERY single time!
You NEVER listen to me!
Why are you always on my case?
Don't you have anything to say?
I knew it... you don't really care about me.
Why is it always like this with you?
Every couple is challenged with escalated moments in their relationship from time to time and that is to be expected... we're human beings trying to love other human beings.
When it starts to feel like a problem
What becomes problematic is when these moments are happening more frequently than not and couples can't seem to find a way to get out. We get lost in those places when we are escalated and often find it hard to hear, see or understand our partner. Couples become stuck and, even when they know they love each other, still seem to not know where to go from there. When we are doing this over and over again, it can easily become exhausting for both partners... not because we stop caring but because we simply don't know what else to do.
Three key components
In Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for Couples, there are three key things that help serve as the foundation for an emotionally safe, healthy and connected relationship. These three things include:
If it helps, just remember "A.R.E."
Accessibility means that we are open to our partner approaching us and that we feel comfortable to move toward our partner with something. They let us know they are available to us and vice versa.
Responsiveness refers to answering the call. If my person moves toward me with something I will acknowledge their presence and respond. Likewise, when I call to my person, I feel confident that they will hear me and respond to my call.
Engagement is knowing that our person is interested and present with us. If I bring something to my person, I feel confident that they will engage in conversation with me and there will be dialogue. In turn, when my partner brings something to me, I will engage with them and tune into what is happening.
Take a personal inventory
When couples find themselves in a pattern of distress, it might be that something in the foundation of A.R.E. is lacking or missing. Take a look at your interactions with your partner and reflect... Am I offering A.R.E to him/her? What might I be doing or saying that would suggest I'm not Accessible, Responsive and/or Engaged with them?
At times when we are hurting, it can be really challenging to want to look at the ways we are showing up in the relationship. We become laser focused on what the other person is doing, or not doing, and how they are the problem. It goes without saying that relationships are a two-way street and there is likely something we are contributing to this cycle or pattern as well.
The more we can personally take inventory like this the sooner we can make adjustments and practice influencing positive change. If you find it is too difficult, it might be worth talking about with a professional third party (insert my smiling face here) to see what is happening in the dynamic that is contributing to feeling stuck and leaving you both unable to connect.
It's not about being perfect
Remember, whether you are doing this with a counselor or on your own at home, it is more important that you are intentionally trying to learn something new than whether you are "performing perfectly" or "getting it right." Most people respond positively when they see and feel their partner trying to grow, learn and find new ways to become close to them. It lets them know that they matter and are worth making an effort to do something different.
Have a wonderful afternoon!
Many people want to experience a better marriage and try many different things to make that happen on their own. Unfortunately, these tactics don't often work long term or provide any real healing to the relationship. Even when couples feel closer for a period of time, it seems like the same topics resurface over and over again... the very things you both thought were behind you.
Our weekend workshop for couples is based on a curriculum of Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples (EFT) an highly effective model of counseling used for couples in distress.
My experience with Emotionally Focused Therapy
I was introduced to Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples by a dear friend, and colleague, Dana Vince, about 6 years ago. Learning about EFT was life changing for me, as a professional therapist and as a married woman. Although I was pretty good at reading and meeting the needs of others (I mean, I am a therapist after all), I realized I had a difficult time expressing my needs (or really recognize that I had any at all - I was the "strong one" who didn't need anything but always ready to help others). Over time, I found myself becoming angry, lonely and confused.
My husband is an AMAZING man and, in my mind, I knew back then that he loved me, but it felt like we couldn't have been on more different pages. I couldn't quite put my finger on a specific cause to this distance but I definitely felt it was present. My heart was becoming hardened, I felt lonely and I found myself wondering if this was all there was to marriage. He was confused and frustrated, to say the least, and we seemed to just keep missing each other. This old cycle we had found ourselves in was ineffective and left us both frustrated, wondering what the heck was happening to us... we were acting in ways that didn't accurately represent who we are, our values or our love for each other.
Couples in our workshop
EFT is specifically designed to dig into these types of issues couples often experience. Our weekend workshops are offered for couples in committed relationships who desire to be closer. We have had couples join us who are dating, engaged, recently married and those married for years. Couples who have been through significant life experiences together yet look at each other and wonder what happened that led them to this place of feeling disconnected, lonely and frustrated.
It is your time to join us
Our next weekend workshop is taking place in just a few weeks, Aug. 25th and 26th. Over the course of two days, you and your partner will learn what is happening in your dynamic that leaves you feeling stuck, frustrated and lonely. You CAN experience better and enjoy your relationship in a way you might not think is possible right now. I can share this confidently through my own experiences and understanding of EFT, which is the model of counseling used as the foundation for our couples workshop.
Dana Vince and I co-facilitate the workshop together, with a genuine passion for helping couples find healing and rediscover each other in new, compassionate ways. The weekend is jam-packed with information, exercises and opportunities to receive help from experienced, trained EFT therapists. Although the environment and vibe of the weekend is casual, we get A LOT of work done. Dana and I have even said if every couple who starts marriage counseling could participate in a weekend workshop, they would have moved through about the first 5-6 sessions of marriage counseling. The workshop is THAT full of information... information that can begin transforming your marriage right now.
Register now for our next workshop
Registration is open now for the upcoming workshop August 25th and 26th in Knoxville. If you have any questions at all about the curriculum, what to expect, the fees or how to register, please contact me - I am happy to answer. Registration is done online through our workshop website www.holdmetightknoxville.com.
If you are on the fence at all, or wondering if this type of workshop would be helpful for your marriage, call me or use the contact page to reach out. We can talk through your situation briefly and see if this workshop might be able to help. We have had couples attend who were truly on the verge of leaving each other and making very significant decisions about their lives and family... couples who walked away from this workshop feeling hopeful, connected and positive about the changes to come.
You can read testimonials from past participants at the workshop website: www.holdmetightknoxville.com. There you can also read more about the workshop details and how to register. Call or reach me through the contact page if you have any questions. Register today to reserve your seats!
Have a wonderful day!
Don't spend another summer vacation going through the motions with your spouse or significant other. You spend money and time with hopes of having wonderful, connected moments with each other. However, sometimes it can feel like you're just going through the motions and you wonder it will ever be different. You don't necessarily want to leave but you want better than this... something that feels closer and more connected.
You can do this... learn what is happening that keeps you guys stuck and what you can do to move forward, move closer and start actually enjoying each other again. In fact, you can do this in as little as one weekend. I'm not saying that to get you to "buy in" to something... I'm saying it with sincere hope that you will give one of our workshops a chance. People who have participated walk away with a tremendous amount of information, insight and feelings of safety and connection that they have not feel with each other in a long time, if ever. Don't take it from me... read several testimonials from recent participants at www.holdmetightknoxville.com.
Our next workshop is coming up soon... August 25th and 26th. Registration is open now and we would love to have you join us!
You can read more about the workshop and registration process at:
Have a great Wednesday,
Licensed Professional Counselor
9219 Middlebrook Pike
Knoxville, TN 37931
I am also a contributing mental health writer at