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“In the end, it is always character that moves history, for good or ill.” John McCain

Our nation is experiencing a spiritual divide, the likes of which it has not seen in decades. Some journalists have called the 2020 election the most important contest since 1865! In death, McCain has emerged as a giant of character. Perhaps the contrast between Trump’s partisanship and lack of loyalty to anyone who doesn’t serve his purposes was the perfect foil for McCain’s star to sparkle ever brighter in death.

At Affordable Relationship Counseling, Dr. Barbara Cunningham emphasizes the notion that all good therapy, no matter what the presenting issue, results in a more robust sense of acting in line with one’s highest principles. When one emerges from therapy with a more polished character, one’s posture in the face of relational challenge is always more effective. I am convinced of that fact. Let’s use the example of Senator McCain to consider what that looks like.

It can be tricky to define “character.” McCain’s behavior personified it:

  • He remained loyal to his peers, even though it meant torture for several more years when he was a POW.
  • He had the capacity and humanness to reach across the aisle to understand another viewpoint.
  • He could disagree without becoming disagreeable.
  • He could be an “I” when his whole group screamed to be a “We.” (Thumbs down on critical Healthcare vote)
  • He knew where he stopped and his party began.
  • He conducted himself with honesty and dignity.

How does your own character stack up against a statesman like McCain? How would your loved ones and closest friends describe your temperament, behaviors when under pressure, and capacity for empathy? Do you have a bottom line? Are you clear on what you will and will not do in important relationship dynamics? Do you know where you stop and the other person begins? Is your word your bond or do you act in “bad faith?”

Therapy can help you write your own story in a way that sparkles with actions made in “good faith.” Call Dr. Barbara Cunningham, licensed marriage and family therapist in San Diego, at 619 9906203 for a complimentary consultation. You wont’t regret it. Namaste.

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At Affordable Relationship Counseling in San Diego, CA , licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Barbara Cunningham, often sees clients who present with issues of loneliness around the holidays. It seems that people feel a heightened sense of loss around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Television, movies, magazines, and advertisments seem to emphasize pictures of happy families that are a stark contrast to what people wish they had in their own lives. Often times burned bridges and broken dreams come into bold relief at this time of the year and make it most difficult for people to get through the days of gift giving, Christmas carols, and holiday mirth. Allowing people a safe holding environment to process feelings of vulnerability may be a beginning point.  It takes courage to begin the therapy process. Talk therapy is a proven way to begin. Research has shown that isolation is not good for one’s overall health. If one is not connected, or feels isolated, one is at risk for myriad health problems. Human beings are a social species.  Adaptation to loss can, over time, bring increased integrity and deeper meaning to life. To learn more about Dr. Cunningham’s strength based model of practice, call 619 9906203 or visit her website at http://www.Cunninghamtherapy.com to get more information.

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Dr. Barbara Cunningham, licensed marriage and family therapist,  is a proponent of bibliotherapy and believes that little children adjusting to big changes can benefit from a bibliotherapeutic approach. Talking about sensitive topics is difficult for all of us, and and children are no exception. Whether in play or through the magic of an imaginative and beautifully illustrated narrative, children seem to be able to approach their grief and frustration if psychotherapists provide them with an avenue to go from the outside (story) to the inward emotions and thoughts. What follows is Dr. Cunningham’s review of a great example of this sort of book:

THE SEA CAT DREAMS, by J. R. Poulter, is a beautifully written tale that helps children consider the nature of change. The power of this narrative is in its subtlety. A cat is born on a farm, winds up hidden in a bag of a salty sailor, gets taken from his home to remain with the departing sailor, and after a time at sea, “meows the sailor’s eulogy.” The cat is given to his widow and serves as a comfort to her. At each age and stage of the cat’s life, past times are remembered with the nostalgia that only comes from memory.

Humans are the only species aware of their own impermanence. It may be with the first observation of a falling, dead leaf that a child has a blossoming notion, though dim, of this fact of mortality. However, for the child who comes up close and personal with mortality at a younger age, whether because of the death of a pet or a relative,this book can open a healing dialogue.

With beautiful illustrations and lyrical content, clinicians who treat children coping with change (and change is the one consistent fact of any life course) will want to keep this book on their bookshelf. In THE SEA CAT DREAMS, J.R. Poulter writes metaphorically about the unexpected twists and turns that can occur in life. This little book is a valuable resource for youngsters struggling with difficult changes or who are just adjusting to normal changes, like a move or a new sibling. I highly recommend this book and commend the author for addressing change in a way that can be reflected upon by the very young. Review by Barbara Cunningham, Psy.D., MFT

Dr. Cunningham specializes in issues of grief and loss, and treats these issues from a bibliotherapeutic and play perspective with children.
To learn more about Dr. Cunningham’s psychotherapy and family counseling  practice, visit her at http://www.cunninghamtherapy.com

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