"Reflections:" A Powerful Tool for Healing Relationships, Developing Personal Responsibility, and Moving Forward in Recovery
"People who continue to do their work, stay out of their behaviors and stay in recovery do ultimately get to a place of freedom. And that's really the goal, it's about freedom. But if you're going to be free, you have to be responsible for your reality."
That's how Mirasol Executive Director Diane Ryan introduces a staff workshop on "Reflections", a form designed to help clients analyze their reactions to triggering events, so that they can make choices about how they respond.
"We developed this form several years ago to facilitate communication at Mirasol's family program," says Ryan, "and since then it has expanded to become one of the primary tools that we use here at Mirasol."
The form begins by inviting the subject to describe a neutral event and explore their reaction to the event, including how they experience it in their bodies. Gradually, they examine the narrative they attach to the event based on their core beliefs, and the cycle of self-destructive behaviors that can result from that narrative.
Mirasol Primary Therapist Katie Klein provides a concrete example:
"Suppose when you walked in the door this morning, you didn't say 'hello' to me. Based on my perception of that event, I might conclude you're mad at me. That's just my perception, but I'm adding meaning to it. So where do I feel that in my body? I feel tightness in my chest, because I think, 'you don't like me, probably because I'm not worthy of being liked'. And that makes me feel hopeless. So I might isolate or act out in an eating disorder, or use drugs. This is what happens a lot with eating disorder clients."
Ryan says the "Reflections" form is the philosophical foundation of the work that we do at Mirasol.
"One of our core values is to encourage our clients to take responsibility for their thoughts, for their feelings, for their actions, for the decisions that they make, for their lives, and for their recovery."
Some Mirasol staff members actually keep copies of the form in their notebooks.
"If you use them regularly," says Klein, "you will definitely see a pattern. It all comes back to your core beliefs."
Mirasol Staff Workshop on Using the "Reflections" Form — January 22, 2016
The "Reflections" Form
The only thing we can truly know is ourselves, and yet we all have to interact with others to discover who we are.
"I would like to share some thoughts and feelings with you. I understand that these are my perceptions and mine alone, and that ]you may see things differently."
"Certain events, circumstances and situations create strong emotional reactions within me ("triggers"). For example ..."
"In my body, I experience this as ..."
"Then, I think ..."
"Because I believe ..."
"This causes me to feel ..."
"And as a result I ..."
"Which creates impacts on my life and my relationships in these ways ..."
"I can see that this reminds me of other situations and events in my life, such as ..."
"As I focus on you and the event, I can see the reflections of myself in you in this way ..."
"In my desire for recovery and improved connections to myself and others, in the future I will ..."
"I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to share my perceptions with you and to learn more about myself. I love and respect you just the way you are."
© 2016 Mirasol Eating Disorder Recovery Centers