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Questions for Family Support Systems

In our fifth episode, we start our conversation with questions that families could ask of their support systems that they may not know to ask. This leads us to talking about family and group dialogues, and what we can do to stay present in the conversation.

Windhorse: Welcome to Integrative Mental Health: the Trialogues Podcast, where healing and restorative connections cultivate a lifelong commitment to wellbeing with your host Mary Tibbets and me Julia Jackson. In this podcast we offer insights into the mental health world, not only for those who are interested for themselves but also for families, friends, service providers, and the community as a whole. If you like what you hear please subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.

This is episode five of Integrative Mental Health: the Trialogues podcast. In our fifth episode we start our conversation with questions that families could ask of their support systems that they may not know to ask. This leads us to talking about family and group dialogues and what we can do to stay present in the conversation. With that let’s get into the podcast.

What’s one question that you wish families would ask of any sort of support system that they may not know to ask because they’re feeling overwhelmed in the moment?

Mary: Is this a good fit? I think that what predicts success is not sort of moving into the situation until you’ve determined and had some discussion about what the need is, what the primary needs are, what the primary challenges are. What is the work now? Not what is the work five years ago, what will be the work five years from now, but what is the most important work now and is this a situation that will offer me the possibility of answering those needs? And is there the potential to engage in a creative relationship that will nurture those needs and those goals that I feel and that my family member feels are most potent at this time?

Windhorse: So how would a family member start doing that? What’s your suggestion for a process to help them start with that? Because I think it can be kind of daunting sitting in front of a paper and being like my needs are…

Mary: Yes I think it’s most productive in a dialogue with the invested parties. Family, friends, psychotherapists, if it’s happening at Windhorse, with Windhorse admissions people, to bring in as many people and as many views as you can to actually give everybody a voice and give the needs of the whole system a way of sort of looking at itself and understanding how to go forward.

Windhorse: Understanding that space in between.

Mary: Understanding that space in between.

Windhorse: As one of my favorite professors said, you know, every problem or every solution or every process is like a multi-faceted gem. And everybody’s looking through their own little window to try and see what’s inside.

Mary: Absolutely, and you want to bring to bear as many resources from as many quarters as you can. There’s really a use for almost everybody’s point of view, everybody’s insight, because everyone will have a different perspective. And that way you get more facets of the gem and you can see the situation in its entirety, or at least in more of its entirety.

And one more thing: it’s also okay not to know. There’s going to be some space in this whole situation where you don’t know, and it’s really okay not to know. In fact one of my favorite family therapists, and a great woman who we’re lucky to have local here, Lynn Hoffman, likes to say that when she walks into a room to work with a family that she walks in with an attitude of not knowing, which actually is what allows her to be completely open. And that openness I think, there’s also a place for that of listening and allowing for the possibility that something you hadn’t thought of might enter into the dialogue or enter into the space. If you’re able to spend some of the time sort of suspending what you know.

Windhorse: The beginner’s mind.

Mary: Beginner’s mind, absolutely.

Windhorse: I think that’s hard to do though, even in the work that we do here and between each other, like sometimes I’ll be in a meeting and I’ll speak from the marketing perspective and then that will be challenged or argued with, and how you, how would you have a family or talk to a family about that, about possibly holding back on arguing with people and their perspective or dealing with somebody arguing with them on their own perspective?

Mary: Everybody has opinions.

Windhorse: That’s true.

Mary: And I think you know this is, you know, not knowing sort of comes from being willing to coexist with a feeling of uncertainty and lord knows the world that we live in is an uncertain place. If you can allow yourself to relax into a space of uncertainty there’s a lot of potential there. A lot of potential for learning, for listening, for things popping up in that space if we allow it.

Windhorse: I totally agree with that and I find that in a meeting if my shoulders are up by my ears I know that I am not present and listening and having a beginner’s mind. And then as soon as I focus on relaxing my shoulders back down I’m like oh, okay, I can sit with this.

Mary: That just makes me think of sort of the relationship of body and mind, and body and emotional wellbeing and how at any given moment we can sort of check in with our bodies, have a sense of well am I really here? Am I really present? Am I relaxed enough to actually be open and listening to what the other person is saying, or do I need to just attend to myself for a moment?

Thank you so much for joining us for Integrative Mental Health: the Trialogues podcast. If you’d like to find out more about Windhorse Integrative Mental Health please visit our website at You can also find us on Facebook /WindhorseIMH, and our Twitter handle is @WindhorseIMH. Thanks again and we’ll see you at the next podcast episode.