by Elizabeth Campbell, MS, LPC, RPT-S
“The truth of who we are, is that we are, because we belong. It’s in our DNA.” — Desmond Tutu
One of the most relaxed and oxytocin-filled times that I recall is waking up on my rope cot in my host family’s home in Ganeshpur, Nepal. It was a chilly morning, I was curled up in my sleeping bag, and I heard the soft raspy voice of my host mother talking in the next room and engaging in her morning chores. It was my first international service trip and first time staying with a host family. I was amazed that I felt so connected to a family and a community that I could not easily communicate with. The deep relationship that we formed through working towards a mutual goal: building a school for the community, and caring for another in the process, was life-changing.
The communal nature of Nepal’s culture and all of the rural communities I stayed in while doing international service work stands in stark contrast to our culture. Families lived in adjoining homes or on the same property and shared chores and childcare. Friends and family members were together throughout the day and no one was left with the isolation of a never ending to do list with no support. Parents learned by example by seeing generation after generation raising children. There is an oft repeated joke among parents when people say “It takes a village (to raise a child),” “How do I sign up?!”
Unfortunately, for many in our culture, the village is not there. Whether that is due to living far away from family members, cutting off toxic relationships, or loss, often modern American individuals are often isolated and overwhelmed. We saw in the pandemic how isolation can breed stress and subsequent mental health and wellbeing challenges and the Surgeon General recently release research showing that it impacts physical and mental health. Yet our society continues to value independence, which cuts us off from the benefits of interdependence.
All of that being said, I am not ready to sign up for communal living. I love spending time with others and then going home to have quiet time to recharge my Highly Sensitive, introverted batteries. I say all of this to highlight the gift that interdependence brings. I often see this gift in The Resiliency Center practitioner community. The same wise clinicians that supported me when I began my practice are supporting me as I support supervisees to learn and grow. I see this gift in my friendships. I recommended to my neighbor the book Sensitive and she loaned me Hunt, Gather, Parent (a must read when thinking about community). We so often think about self-care as taking bubble baths and doing yoga, which is lovely. I encourage us all to also care for ourselves by filling up both ourselves and others in connection and support.
Elizabeth Campbell is a Licensed Profession Counselor, Registered Play Therapist Supervisor, and EMDR Consultant in Training who provides empowerment and strength-based support to individuals in personal growth and change. She specializes in play therapy with children, supporting Highly Sensitivity, and IFS-informed EMDR for all ages. She provides supervision and consultation for licensure as well as EMDR and play therapy certification. If you would like to connect with Elizabeth, reach out at email@example.com or 610-757-8163 or learn more at www.elizabethcampbellcounseling.com