One of the reasons a person studies mental health is to understand their own unique background and set of issues. I came from a family where alcohol was heavily consumed, normalized, and any negative consequences were quickly denied. It was just an accepted part of adult behavior and the rules were: "Don't Talk About It, Don't Show Your Feelings, and Keep Family Secrets to Yourself!" This environment made me feel crazy as a child and so I researched it with passion as a graduate student.
I was astonished to see my upbringing described in detail on the pages of Melody Beattie's book, Codependent No More, and Recovery for Adult Children of Alcoholics, by Gravitz and Bowden. The secrets were out! And I began to understand the consequences of this upbringing. I began to realize why relationships which involve talking honestly and expressing your feelings seemed so challenging. I found my own therapist and Alanon and began to recover. For five years, I facilitated therapy groups for ACOA's to share the research and give clients the hope they needed. Many followed up with individual therapy when I opened my own private practice. I felt such gratitude at having found my own healing and then was able to help others find their own.
In recent years, I have connected my stress patterns and physical health concerns with the emotional scars of being an ACOA. While talk therapy is a very important step on the journey, the dilemma is that some traumas can stay in the tissues of the body. These emotional triggers can still cause ongoing distress. However, in just the past 10 years, a new specialty within mental health called Energy Psychology, based on Chinese Medicine, offers techniques to clear these body- based traumas. I currently offer Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping) and Psych K. I am completing training to offer the Emotion Code soon. These new energy techniques can bring a new level of emotional recovery for ACOA's.