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Dear George: Insights Into Healing Relationships


Dear George: Insights into Healing Relationships is a book of hope and possibilities. I’ve been on a healing journey most of my life. The stories you are about to read are based on my own complicated journey and my years in private practice.

Each chapter starts with "a letter to George," a psychotherapist. The letters describe the journey of George and me custom designing a therapeutic relationship. They are my effort to move beyond my past patterns of distrust for the ...

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Dear George: Insights Into Healing Relationships

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Dear George: Insights into Healing Relationships is a book of hope and possibilities. I’ve been on a healing journey most of my life. The stories you are about to read are based on my own complicated journey and my years in private practice.

Each chapter starts with "a letter to George," a psychotherapist. The letters describe the journey of George and me custom designing a therapeutic relationship. They are my effort to move beyond my past patterns of distrust for the psychotherapeutic system. We co-create something new that drastically reduces the chronic pain I’ve been living with for forty years.

All the chapters have three perspectives: mine with George, a novice’s experience—my daughter’s journey healing cancer—and the points of view of veterans of the system. These people choose to work with me. They have been in the system for a long time and often have more than one diagnosis. They are system-weary and system-wise.

In my life and practice, I witness transformative shifts, which produce amazing results whether people are dealing with anxiety, depression, chronic pain, cancer, or mental illness.

We use less than 10 percent of our brain capacity, and we mostly operate from unconscious programming or habit. This is why we keep doing what we do, even though it may not work. One way to form new connections in the brain is to open ourselves to possibilities through reading about people who experience these kinds of changes.

Is your unconscious programming taking over? Are you struggling to overcome it? Dear George inspires hope, challenges conventional ideas and theories, and creates more expansive thinking and learning for those with the courage to question current practices.

No hard work — no exercises. Just relax, read, and then see what happens.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781452568898
  • Publisher: Balboa Press
  • Publication date: 3/20/2013
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Dear George

Insights Into Healing Relationships

By Jan Miller

Balboa Press

Copyright © 2013 Jan Miller
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4525-6887-4



Dear George:

I am looking for someone to work with me for a few sessions, specifically with my history of status migraines.

I appreciated your input on the research project I did for my Health Certification Training course with the NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) World Health Community. When our mutual friend Jim said you would be interested and supportive of it, I was at first sceptical. I didn't know you, but I have my own bias of your profession. You were an invaluable asset. Since I was examining my work with people experiencing multiple chronic and acute health conditions, I realized that you work with many of the same kind of issues. I was excited that the research showed statistically significant improvement for each participant. You observed that researchers are happy with results regardless of outcomes as it gives them a starting place for a new hypothesis. I guess because I am not a researcher by profession, my bias was for positive outcomes. In the work I do in both my personal and professional life, I believe everyone can get results, and I want and expect them for myself.

You were interested and supportive of my approaches and seemed to understand what I was trying to do. This is why I'm asking you to work with me now. With my request that you consider me as a patient, it's important that we both have choices about if and how we might work together.

I've been experiencing status migraines since 1971. At that time I was making a major transition from an environment where psychiatry had been playing a large role in my life. I moved to a new town; no one knew me. I decided I'd be a different person, the kind who wouldn't need the particular services I did in the past. It was a difficult time, but nonetheless a successful transition—with one exception. I started having migraines. They soon became overlapping and continuous, which generated the diagnosis of status migraine.

My goal is to be free of migraines. I think that goal is a good one, yet I seem to lack energy when I think of achieving it. My intention is to work with someone who can help me reframe old experiences. Specifically, I'm looking for someone who can go beyond history, diagnosis, and prognosis, to help me think about that transition time and its consequences.

My metaphor for what I've been doing over these past thirty years is this: I've been working with a large puzzle with many tiny pieces. At first I was trying to find the pieces I thought were missing. Then I was sorting and grouping them. I even thought I had whole sections put together. However, I've spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how to exclude the difficult psychiatric years, since I think that part ruins the look of the puzzle. I would like you to help me include those pieces in a way that lets me recognize them as an essential part of my journey.

My health goal is possible. I know people who have turned around difficult diagnoses. I am capable of doing it, which means I believe I have the skills and resources needed. It's important for me to work with someone who believes in possibilities too. I want someone who understands that I have been in this process for a long time. I have made changes. I no longer believe there are missing pieces to this puzzle.

Just so you know, in making this request, I'm also deciding not to hold it against you that you are a conventionally trained psychiatrist—an expert. I will do my best to keep any relationship we develop as free as I can of preconceptions from the past. The fact that you work in a traditional psychiatric setting at the hospital is a little more of a stretch, but again I knew this would be part of the package when I decided to ask you to work with me.

If you are interested in my request, please contact me.


Jan Miller

Choice: Choosing Your Expert

When life gets complicated, we feel stuck, which in my case resulted in a kind of paralysis. As things went from bad to worse, I kept waiting for someone else to do something. I felt ill-equipped to figure it out and hoped with each referral that the expert would show up and fix things. In my mind, an expert was the person who specialized in this kind of problem. When nothing was changed or fixed, my reaction was to be quiet. I certainly didn't think I had much to offer. After all, if I knew what to do, I wouldn't have to be there. I didn't feel there were any choices. Referrals happened. Sometimes I was informed of the referral, and sometimes it was a surprise. I felt like I was in a small boat tossed on the ocean, hanging on as best I could.

Now I know that there are many opportunities for choice, and it's okay to ask for things as they make sense or occur to me. I've learned that I can choose who I want as my expert. Some experts are even open to being interviewed.

In the case where a consultation has been arranged, it's still possible to meet the person for the first appointment and decide if this relationship will be helpful to you or not. You can offer choice as well. After all, some experts may be just as surprised to see you as you are to see them. In some systems, people get the next available person rather than the best fit.

It's important to remember there can be choice over the kind of care you get. Most experts have a preferred way of operating. They have a range of skills and can be flexible if you work with them and guide them as to what works best for you. In a healthy relationship, everyone takes responsibility for his or her part.

Remembering you have choice will help you ask for what you want. We always have power, even if it is to choose our attitude about what is happening. When we start choosing what we want, we start taking responsibility for our lives. It can be very freeing to be part of creating our experiences and changing them if we so desire.

Victor Frankl, the author of Man's Search for Meaning, writes, "When all seems to be snatched away, what alone remains is the last of human freedoms—the ability to choose one's attitude in a given set of circumstances."

Novice: Lisa (New to the System)

A Novice Learns about Choice

We are sitting around the living room. We have a family friend visiting. She's had surgery, and since she lives alone, she has come to our house for a couple of weeks to recuperate. She is complaining about her aches and pains, and in true supportive manner, we all join in.

"I've got a stiff arm," says my husband, Dick, cheerfully.

"My leg's got a bruise," pipes up our thirteen-year-old son, Chris.

"I've got a bump," says our fifteen-year-old daughter, Lisa, pulling her T-shirt down off her collarbone. Sure enough, there sits a most unusual bump.

There's a sudden silence. This is a showstopper.

"How long have you had that?" I ask.

"I don't know." Suddenly she looks like a fifteen-year-old. She yanks her shirt up and gives a look that says, It's none of your business. I've been seeing this look more often since the onset of adolescence.

My very loving husband and excellent father to both our children, suddenly out of character, says, "You will go to the doctor!"

Predictably, Lisa flounces out of the room, announcing, "I will not!"

It's funny how some things stand out in life—at least, for me they do. It's as if this situation is being marked out for me. She's fifteen, and we could push her in all the wrong directions without even trying.

I feel like a referee, blowing my whistle and sending everyone back to his or her corner. I follow Lisa to her room. I knock. "Can I come in?" There's a grunt that I take as permission.

"That's an unusual bump," I say, hoping I sound casual. "Do you know anyone else who has one?"

Another grunt—sounds like a "no."

I decide not to be put off. "Since it's rather unusual, is there a reason you wouldn't want to have it checked out by the doctor?"

"I'm not going to the doctor. He's a man, and I'm not taking any of my clothes off."

"Oh." Relief washes over me. Of course! Fifteen—how could I forget? Naturally, this would not be a cool thing to do. "I could go with you if you like," I offer helpfully and hopefully. "If you don't want to remove any clothes, I'll be there, and no clothes will be removed."

It's a good offer. Both my kids know how little tolerance their mother has for any professional or expert messing about in their lives.

"All right, then, I'll go with you," she says reluctantly.

The family doctor isn't too worried, since she has no other symptoms, and he puts her on antibiotics for a week. A week later, he checks, and the lump hasn't changed. "I think she should see a paediatric specialist," he says. "I know one."

I ask, "An expert? I'll think about it and get back to you."

I drive the five minutes to our home. My husband hands me the phone at the door. I take it and hear my doctor's voice.

"I have a friend who's a paediatric specialist. I could get you in there tomorrow. I really think you should go."

I recognize the pleading in our doctor's voice, and I also recognize the careful and reasonable way he's talking—that "don't jump off the bridge" voice. I've heard this voice before. It's also the one I'm now using with my fifteen year old. "Okay, that's fine," I say.

The next day, we go to the specialist, and we find he's nice, not pushy. He's also quite insistent. He can get us in to see his friend, a paediatric surgeon, in two days.

"If it was my daughter, I'd go," he says.

I'm starting to feel alarmed. In my job, I sometimes work as an interpreter in the area hospitals, and I know that getting in to see specialists takes months. There is no "tomorrow" or "the next day" in this system.

Another expert, and he's using "if it was my daughter, I'd go" ammunition. He may have been warned by my family doctor about my tendency to slow everything down. Lisa is agreeing to take time off school. This expert sure knows how to appeal to adolescents. I guess we're going to see his friend. There are a lot of friends in this system. I don't remember that from my past.

The paediatric surgeon is a nice young woman. Lisa agrees to take off some of her clothes. I stay with her. This woman is very matter-of-fact. She can get us in for a biopsy within a day or two.

"It might be nothing," she says reassuringly. "Lisa has no other symptoms. And she loves animals—there is this thing called cat-scratch disease that makes the glands swell. But a biopsy will say for sure."

A couple of days later, I'm sitting in the waiting room for day surgery outpatients. It's full of people, and the only empty chair is next to me. Some people are nervously leafing through magazines, some comforting fussy children waiting to go in for their procedure. Others, pale and silent, like me, are sitting quietly, waiting.

The young female surgeon appears and sits in the empty chair next to me. "It will be seven days for the results." She reaches out and grabs my arm—or does she just put her hand on my arm? "If this was my child, I'd be very worried," she says.

Suddenly I'm in a kind of split attention, like I'm a computer with two screens pulled up at once. One screen has this nice young woman who is obviously worried and has hold of me. The other screen has the people in the waiting room. Poor things, you should not be hearing this just before you go in for your procedure. It will probably now take a lot more anaesthetic to get you under.

"What would you be worried about? Would you be worried about cancer?" I ask. There. The word has been said. I say what no one else is saying.

"It's too early to say. We'll know in seven days," she says. She looks upset. I wonder if I should try to comfort her. I think she's given up the idea of cat-scratch disease.

I need to get out of here. I feel like the oxygen levels in the room are dropping. I know someone in this hospital, a woman. She and her family are friends through my husband's theatre involvement. She's an occupational therapist. I go to the reception area of her department and ask if she's there. They say she's with a patient.

"I have to see her." The tears are starting to flow; the silence is about to be broken. The reasonableness is starting to fade.

The receptionist looks appalled. "I can put you into a little room and get her as soon as I can," she says.

A broom closet would do—anywhere quiet and private.

The room is typical of hospitals, a couple of not-too-comfortable chairs, a small desk, things hanging off the wall for blood pressure. I sit and feel the disintegration of the positive, reasonable wife and mother who's been taking charge this past week. The eruption comes from a place deep inside, and I shake with sobs and tears.

My friend arrives. "What's happened?" She looks shocked to see me like this.

I sob uncontrollably. I can't speak.

There's some kind of time distortion happening. I'm somewhere forward in time, or is it back in time? Breathing seems impossible. Where did the oxygen go? Finally, I choke out, "No one will be positive about this. We have to take a positive approach, but no one is going to go along with being positive."

I hear a small voice in the distance. "I'll be positive Jan, I will."

That gets my attention. I look at her finally with pity. No, you won't. I know this world, and you will want to but you won't know how.

This will never do. I'm exhausted. If I fall apart like this, I'll never be any help for Lisa, never mind Dick and Chris. Another snapshot in time is marked out for me. Pay attention and learn. This kind of hysteria does not serve anyone. I make a different choice. I breathe. I explain briefly about the biopsy and the seven days and thank my friend for the room and for being there. I go back to the outpatient floor and pick up Lisa and take her home to wait.

The next week I phone all the people in conventional and complementary systems that I can find: homoeopathy, music therapy, art therapy, acupuncture, and institutions like the Bernie Siegel Centre for exceptional cancer patients. I screen people for Lisa. It's interesting that in a community like ours, with teaching hospitals and a well-respected medical school, there is still a network of complementary healing systems. They come and go, but I manage to come up with eleven complementary healing options plus the established ones that meet my stringent criteria.

Lisa will have choice in systems that often don't know how to offer it. Choice is healthier than the feeling of no choice.

My screening involves calling places that offer healing services and asking:

* "Do you work with adolescents with cancer?"

* How flexible are you in your work?"

* Can adolescents pick when they come?"

* Can they bring who they want to their sessions?"

* How long do you usually see people?"

I bump people off the list when I get responses like

* I never have parents or friends in sessions;

* I only work at such and such a time;

* I think adolescents with cancer are dealing with loss, and I focus on that first;

* I suggest people be realistic about these kinds of illnesses.

While I'm in touch with all kinds of people, gathering resources, Dick is telling me that there's no use worrying until we know for sure. He keeps our home running smoothly, meals prepared, shopping done, and takes the kids to their activities. Life goes on. He's one of my better choices in life. Someone so complementary to me and my needs makes for a great life partner.

We will hear in a day or so. My list is almost ready. Our phone bill will be something this month.

Chris falls and hurts himself. I look at him and think—is it cancer? He's limping. It doesn't look like cancer. I have minimal interest.

Lisa appears. She can always get my attention this week. "What's wrong with you?" she asks. "Chris hurt himself. He's in his room crying, and you don't even care!"

It's amazing how her teenage voice doesn't irritate me anymore, even when she's taking me to task. What a difference two weeks makes.

I go to Chris's room and sit on the bed with him. I remember how sensitive he is. He is aware that I have little interest in his minor hurt. He, no doubt, is picking up on all the shifting energies that are happening in our home. I need to remember that this is such a short time for other members of the family. Nothing has happened yet for them.

"Chris, are you okay? Lisa says you hurt yourself."

"I fell down the stairs and hurt my leg," he says.

I examine his leg and show some sympathy, then say, "You know that Lisa is having some tests, and we're finding out what we need to do. I'm very sorry you hurt yourself, but I need you to give me time this week to focus on what I'm doing, getting all the information we need. Then we'll all know. Can you do that for me?"

He's not crying now. Looking more serious and mature, he says, "Sure, Mom, I can do that."

We hug, and I remember it's about choice for all of us.

The news comes in a phone call. It's cancer.

I'm ready. We need to go tomorrow to find out what stage it's at. My list is ready.

Lisa and I talk. "The test shows the bump is a kind of cancer," I tell her. "I have a list of things you can do to heal. You can choose whatever feels right for your healing." I go on to explain that we know that when people are working with experts, in this case doctors or healers, it works better—we get better results—when we each take full responsibility for our part. It also seems that when we trust our own instincts for what's right for us, things work out better. I finish, saying, "We will trust your instincts."

Excerpted from Dear George by Jan Miller. Copyright © 2013 by Jan Miller. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


FOREWORD....................     xi     

INTRODUCTION....................     xiii     

CHAPTER ONE....................     1     

CHAPTER TWO....................     27     

CHAPTER THREE....................     43     

CHAPTER FOUR....................     59     

CHAPTER FIVE....................     77     

CHAPTER SIX....................     93     

CHAPTER SEVEN....................     109     

CHAPTER EIGHT....................     123     

CHAPTER NINE....................     135     

CHAPTER TEN....................     147     

CHAPTER ELEVEN....................     161     

CHAPTER TWELVE....................     177     

CHAPTER THIRTEEN....................     195     

CHAPTER FOURTEEN....................     211     

CHAPTER FIFTEEN....................     225     

CHAPTER SIXTEEN....................     239     

EPILOGUE....................     251     

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS....................     253     

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