This week’s episode of Perspectives is part 2 of the conversation with Jen Slacks (click here for part 1), an established family therapist, professor and clinical supervisor. This week Sharon and Jen dive into how they both successfully have and maintain healthy and deep relationships with the ones they love. Make sure to check out and discover how to set boundaries and improve listening skills through a simple model and exercise near the halfway point.
Introduction: Hi I'm Sharon Pearson and welcome to this episode of perspectives. We are so fortunate we have part two with the amazing Jennifer slack and I loved all the feedback we got for part 1. I agree with you she is all of that and so much more. What an incredible human being and just soaking up her views of the world and of herself and of raising a family and of her therapy work it’s so instrumental in how the people around her start thinking about their own lives and how they interact with themselves with the people in their lives and the world around them.
I think one of the other gifts that Jennifer brings is the ability to help people see the world kinder and to soften the edges.
I think I've put that I'm underselling her a little bit here but she has the ability just by being around her to help people have perspective and see things accurately and a little more kindly than perhaps they would have if they hadn't had that time with her. I remember one day we were meant to be catching up and I couldn't reach her and it turns out she'd just been sitting with one of her sons for hours brainstorming with him a challenge he was facing and she was simply not simply she was discussing his values and how to bring his values to the fore in making this decision. She didn't make the decision for him he made the decision that was appropriate to him where he was developmentally where it was in terms of what he wanted to experience how much risk you want to take which challenge you wanted to face what his values were and what that would mean would be presenting itself to him as a path forward. That's what she does.
And you're about to see that or hear that for yourself now with Jennifer as we sit there in the back of her house looking out over where the deer’s hang out in Fairfield Connecticut her chatting about her views on family. Now in this audio she makes it very clear I think she says it that they're not the perfect family and that message is very she is resonating with me. So please make it clear no one's thinking we're the perfect family. I don't want us ever being perceived that way we're not. We have our ups and downs like every family but there isn't so much gold to be mined out of how she thinks about parenting and how she thinks about her responsibility and who she needs to be to allow her children to be who they want to be. And that's what you're about to get just a very short snippet of Jennifer's view of the world and parenting it's only 45 minutes or so but it's a world of beauty to go into. It's just simply wonderful and delightful well to dive into with Jennifer slacks. I trust you love part 2 as much as one has resonated with you and I look forward to all your comments and feedback. And of course if you want to get in touch with Jen she's got a Website And there's a Web site there you can get in touch with her and experience this phenomenal human being for yourself. And yes she works as a therapist which is a question we go to a lot. So anyway enjoy the podcast. We'll chat at the end and I look forward to seeing you very very shortly.
Sharon Pearson: Now let's speak to being human making mistakes having flaws and being in the session as the therapist or the coach and not knowing and how delightful that is. Can you speak to that in your own way?
Jennifer Slack: Yeah. Well talk about in the beginning not delightful. I think I spent the better. And I love sharp people are you know student early in their learning. Students are delighted to hear me say this. I think I spent a good part of my internship thinking ‘oh wow what I really got into the wrong profession. I've just got to finish up the degree because it would be too embarrassing to pull out.’ But I just. It was so fraught and difficult for me. And so not knowing where I was going was felt like a pervasive experience. Yes the occasional OK that was pretty good or the imposter syndrome follow me following me around.
Now I think it is delightful in large most of the time in large part because it has been incorporated into my philosophy which is it's it's not only ok that we don't have all the answers it's really important. We have to match our clients in terms of pacing in terms of tone in terms of you know just in terms of that. To me that's largely connection.
And so when I don't know something I'll just say you know I'm not sure about this or if I if I know there's an important conversation and I know I'm not ready to say it I'll say out loud sometimes you know I need to kind of collect my thoughts if it's OK can we revisit this next week. I want to think through a few different things. And people respond its modelling is what happens in life and Wow a therapist can do it from an expert position. You know it's you get all these extra ingredients that are positive in the act of not knowing.
S: I think it's vital to show my humanity which includes mistakes not knowing you know feeling uncertain and still demonstrating modelling that I'm okay. In a space of uncertainty I'm still okay because I think one of the biggest things we need to all those human beings is I'm going to be able to handle not knowing. Because we really don't like the unknown gene right. The human species really doesn't like the young.
J: That's where anxiety and depression it is come in. Yeah.
S: And the more rejecting the unknown the more shut down as we're going for. So we need to demonstrate how comfortable we can be sitting in a space of I have no idea. Yeah I'm gonna do the journey with you. I just have no idea how we're gonna do it. I would say those words in a session I have no idea. Shall we find out together.
J: And I have made loads of mistakes more mistakes than I could could possibly remember. And I will say to clients that was a therapy mistake. Most of the time I love her opportunities to do repair work. I mean we you know one guarantee is we hurt each other and we blunder and we step on but we can go back and repair and it together and be stronger for it. So a relationship like any other we have a wonderful opportunity to model that and experience that with clients. And sometimes a therapy mistake might be the end of a relationship therapy relationship. It doesn't happen very often but then I think there is a commitment to taking that regret that learning and using it to deepen your practice and paying it forward that you're more aware for that the next people how to do certain things differently that it never just needs to sit in a lump of regret. As if mistakes happen if they do it's ok.