April 17, 2013 6:07pm

Some of you know that I am attending a conference this week about Systems Centered Therapy. What can someone who has been doing therapy and been in and out of therapy since forever learn at a conference? Oh, you just have absolutely no idea! None. And neither did I, have any notion of what I know and did not know and still have yet to learn. And so I am excited, grateful and yes, a bit overwhelmed. In a nutshell, the crux with this intervention, Systems Centered Therapy, is to stay in the present and stay with the feeling. Explore but don’t explain. Don’t tell the same old story with that same old song! And if you do explain, try to back up and start over with exploring. Bring your apprehension into comprehension and vice versa. At the risk of getting it wrong, I’m going to stop explaining. But I’ll be using this new approach with myself and empowering my patients to use it as well. We’ll see how it goes. I must say that I have been amazed at both the opening and the ah ha moments that I’ve had this week. Pretty good for a crusty intuitive ensconced in her own talents and relationships. Disemboweled might be an accurate description of how I feel at this stage of the process and the intensity of this week.

However, before I walk too far down the therapy road and lose my constituents, I’d like to get back to why I’ve taken a moment to write. To honor the urgent desire I feel to reach out and touch and hold hands and hearts with each of you during a week when I’ve hardly had a second of my own. My time so completely scheduled that few moments remain for returning phone calls about patient medications or scheduling new appointments or God forbid saying hello to my ailing daughter.

As I am waiting for a friend in the hotel lobby so that we can go to dinner, I am overwhelmed with a growing and pressing need to reach out and touch my readers. To type, using my hands to express my thoughts, love and presence. To stretch out over the vast expanse separating me from each of you,compressing that space. Constricting and expanding that separation, so that we can be in communion.  In other words, I miss you. I am away from home and away from my routine. And although my conference is stimulating and restorative, I am longing for things familiar. I miss my life, my patients, my family and my beautiful azaleas, hydrangea and Japanese maples that are blooming into existence and fullness. Even as I write, I miss and mourn so that an ache blossoms in my chest. An ache I can hold with compassion and understanding knowing that the violence in Boston has captured and tilted me askew.  The bombing of innocence has led me to search for safety in the commonplace. Safety that alluded  those at the finish of the Boston marathon.

How can I feel gratitude for this life and this conference, this new-found learning without acknowledging my readers? I feel that I would most certainly become diminished without this writing, this reaching outward. My blog and readers mark a space in my life now. I wonder at the earnest pleas of the mothers in my audiences, wishing I had a better answer when they ask for explanations one more time about how to talk to  children regarding tragedy and death. How to live in the uncertainty of a humanity which brings us once more to the brink of such power and destruction.

So why do I write now, at this moment in time to say hello, thank you, I miss and appreciate you. Because I do. My heart is full with the satisfaction that you and I share something outstandingly irreplaceable. I write, you read and then you write and we are together. This happens no matter how busy our days. And it happens no mater what  violence shakes our foundation. No matter how many children and adults are massacred in a stolen moment of aggression which blows limbs into pieces and a little boy’s dreams of peace and harmony into death. I reach out to you in love and honesty because I can. I thank you for being a part of my life and energy because you are. I touch you because you remain in my spaces touching me. I am grateful. And although many times I may wish for more, more safety, more stability, more peace, I know that more can not happen the way that I envision. The exact way that I want in this moment. And so I am encouraged, emboldened and empowered by the faith and love we have for each other. And this will hold us through another tragedy.  It has to, for now if not forever. Thank you for giving me the strength to be curious about a new system of therapy. Thank you for helping me live in a world where people succumb to their  anguish and communicate with destruction and rage. Thank you for helping me to continue to  believe in myself as a member of this system. Thank you for helping me take responsibility for such a system and for inspiring change in this same system. Thank you for being here with me.

Julia W. Burns, MD


  1. Julia- as I read this I wish that you lived closer so I could just sit and talk with you! When I have my very bad days and miss my son so much-you have just the right things to say! I love your blog and it does give me some peace of mind. Hugs to all of you!!! Love, Nancy


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