What if happiness were just a choice? Anne Maxwell, LCSW, RPT-S

On an airplane a few months ago, I sat behind a Dad and his two young children … a boy aged 6-ish and a girl aged 4-ish. He was sitting on the aisle, grim faced. As people continued to board the plane, the boy, who was seated in between his father and his sister, spoke with his Mom. “Yes, Mom, we’re on the airplane … it hasn’t taken off yet … No Mom, the door is still open! … Ok Mom, I’ll have fun! … Mom, do you want to talk to Daddy? … (The dad stared straight ahead) … Ok Mom, bye Mom I love you too Mom.” As he handed the cell phone back to his dad, he sneaked a peak at him. Dad continued to stare ahead.

He then turned to his sister, who had been silent during the phone call. She began a blow-by-blow narrative of everything she was observing out the window. “Look at that red truck … there are the suitcases … why is that man standing there? Who are all those people? When is the plane...

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Don't Take the Bait!


“Darling … You’ve got to learn not to take the bait … They’re just doing it to get you!”

Those are the words my mom would say to me, as I ran crying to her, seeking comfort from the teasing that my brothers and father used to do periodically when I was a little girl.

I so desperately wanted to be in on their jokes, to be included in their camaraderie, to not be made fun of or laughed at … and … from my perspective, it didn’t happen … and, they were merciless.

They made fun of what I said and how I said it.

They laughed at the way I looked.

They would promise to stop … and then keep on even more.

Moments of inclusion in their worlds frequently ended with me in tears, as they would say or do something that they knew would upset me. 

And, as I lost it, they would laugh, and then grow quiet, knowing that my mom would reprimand them and demand that they “Stop it.”

“We didn’t...

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Nesedej jim na lep!

czech Aug 15, 2020

"Miláčku ... Musíš se naučit nesedat jim na lep ... dělají to jen proto, aby tě dostali!"

To jsou slova, která mi moje maminka říkávala, když jsem za ní plačky běžela a hledala útěchu, když mě moji bratři a otec pravidelně škádlili, když jsem byla malá holčička.

Zoufale jsem chtěla být součástí jejich vtipů, být součástí jejich kamarádství, nebýt ta, ze které si dělají legraci a které se smějí ... a ... z mého pohledu se to nestalo ... a oni byli nemilosrdní.

Bavili se tím, co jsem řekla a jak jsem to řekla.

Smáli se tomu, jak jsem vypadala.

Slíbili, že přestanou ... a pak pokračovali ještě více.

Okamžiky začlenění do jejich světů často končily mými slzami, protože říkali nebo dělali něco, o čem věděli, že mě tím naštvou.

A jak...

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Lo que aprendí de un caballo

spanish Jun 26, 2020

" ¿Quieres ir a montar? "

Mi amiga Alison y yo estábamos en Dublín con otros amigos, asistiendo a una clase. Había encontrado un establo a las afueras de Dublín. El sitio web mostraba vistas espectaculares, a través de los bosques, arriba en las colinas, mirando hacia abajo a la ciudad de Dublín y al océano... ¡difícil de resistir!

El día del paseo, el sol brillaba, el cielo azul suave del océano irlandés con nubes hinchadas.

Llegamos al establo y fuimos recibidos por caballos que salían de sus establos, curiosos. "Han escogido un buen día... el tiempo es hermoso", dijo el guía, saludándonos. "¡No sucede así muy a menudo!" Nos hizo rellenar los papeles (la última vez que monté fue de niña, montando un gran y gentil caballo viejo llamado Sasha, a pelo.) Ella y los peones del establo ensillaron los caballos y los llevaron al patio.


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People who have been labeled with Autism

by Anne Maxwell, LCSW

Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. 
~ Albert Einstein

It has become clear to me, having worked as a psychotherapist for the past 25+ years with children, families and adults of all ages and kinds, that there are particular cultures of thinking or attitude in regard to the way people, and especially kids, should function.  Those that don’t function according to the rules and regulations in play around them are labeled with ‘disabilities,’ especially in educational and medical communities. 

Autism is one such definition.

I have a different way of viewing people who have been labeled with autism, and, 10 years ago, when I discovered the tools of Access Consciousness®, my practice changed, as did the children and adults I was working with... more ease, longer-lasting change, happier families.

Some questions I was invited to...

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What I Learned from a Horse

“Want to go riding?” 

My friend Alison and I were in Dublin with other friends, attending a class.  She had found a stable just outside Dublin.  The website showed spectacular views, through woods, up in the hills, looking down on the city of Dublin and the ocean … hard to resist!

On the day of the ride, the sun was shining, soft blue Irish ocean sky with puffy clouds. 

We arrived at the stable and were welcomed by horses peeking out from their stalls, curious.  “You picked a good day … the weather is beautiful,” the guide said, greeting us.  “It doesn’t happen like this very often!”  She had us fill out paperwork (the last time I rode was as a little girl, riding a large, gentle old horse named Sasha, bareback.)  She and the stable hands saddled up horses and brought them out in the courtyard. 

“This is Divo,” she said, as she handed the reins over to me. ...

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Trusting What You Know About Your Child

“Can you help me?  My son needs to be in some therapy, like a therapy group.  Can you recommend one for him?”

I was at the bank, and my favorite banker was doing some last-minute paperwork for me, before my move to another state.  She knows I have worked as a child and family therapist for years, and, was lamenting the fact that I would be moving my practice out of state.

“How old is he?”  I asked.

“Eighteen months!” 

“What’s up?  What’s going on that makes you look for therapy for him?”  I asked.

She looked worried and slightly embarrassed. 

“He won’t sleep by himself, and I’m exhausted.  I stay in his bed until he falls asleep, and usually, when I get up, he wakes up and cries.  If he doesn’t wake up then, he wakes up at two in the morning, screaming and crying for me.  He’s a mama’s boy and he’s mad at me a lot of the...

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What would it be like to be free of New Year’s Resolutions?

tools Jan 01, 2020

How many New Year’s resolutions have you made? 

And how many have you kept? 

Not so many? 

Me either!

I cannot tell you how many times I tried … and tried … for years … and I would greet each New Year with renewed seriousness and earnestness and intention and gravitas … It was exhausting!!  And ultimately not very satisfying, as I observed my weight creeping back up or my continued attraction to men who preferred to be with other women or my inability to sustain a workout routine or my continued attraction to people who viewed themselves as superior to me or my earnings that never seemed to go above a ceiling … the lists went on.

So, I decided to quit with the resolutions … except I never really did … I just didn’t announce them or claim them or admit that that was what I was up to … with similar results.

And whose beliefs were those, anyway?  Where did I make myself think I needed to weigh...

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That thing about money …

money tools Aug 21, 2019

My family always had a thing about money.  

Sometimes we had it, sometimes we didn’t.  And during the times that we didn’t, we never let on … it was a secret.  We kept up the appearances of having it and nobody was to know.  

Money was not that big a deal to my dad.  His point of view was if he had it, he spent it … and if he didn’t have it, he still figured out a way to spend other people’s … they would either loan him money (which he rarely repaid) or gift it to him.   For my mom, appearances were important.

I grew up in an affluent suburb of Boston, in a beautiful old house, surrounded by fields and woods, with a river just over the hill.  My childhood consisted of private schools in Boston, summer camp in the French Alps, a boarding school in central France, and multiple trips to Paris and to the south of France. By all appearances, we had money.

And yet, there was always an undercurrent … a...

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Dementia – Escape or Beginning?

Uncategorized May 05, 2019

My mother came to live with us for the last two years of her life.  She had profound dementia and was medically fragile, requiring in-home hospice services for the last 18 months of her life.

She and I had always been very close.  Despite our occasional ups and down, we were fond of each other and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.  Ours was the kind of relationship that had never been dependent on physical proximity.  There were times where we communicated almost daily and times where we didn’t.  

As the dementia progressed, several things occurred.  She became less and less able to recall recent events or conversations, which among other things, created an almost childlike delight in her daily life.  For her, everything was new, so if it was something she enjoyed, she was delighted each time, as if it was the first time!  “Why, it’s been years since I’ve had corn on the cob!” she would exclaim...

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