Feeling stagnant, stuck in life? Burdened by painful memories of the past, struggling to be present now or stride confidently into your future? Perhaps it is time … emerge from your chrysalis. Let’s work together to open the chrysalis so that you may spread your wings, allowing them to dry so that you can not only stride into your future – but fly joyously!

Welcome! And congratulations, you’re already beginning to expand those wings as you consider working with a therapist. My name is Virginia Cailleteau. As a licensed clinical social worker, my goal is to work with you, supporting you as you explore your life – past, present, and future – to identify patterns, reduce or eliminate barriers, and find solutions to current stressors. My style is lively, affirming, and inviting. A touch of humor frequently enters the mix as well! I strive to bring a non-judgmental, collaborative approach to our work together.

My office is located at Georgia Family Crisis Solutions Counseling Center, at 4145 Columbia Road, Martinez, GA 30907.  This is near the intersection of Columbia Road and Flowing Wells Road.  Our office phone number is (706) 869-7373.

Please excuse our mess while we get dressed. My site is still under development.

Yum, Yuck, and Hmm…

A few years ago, I attended a workshop where the theme could be (and actually was) boiled down to three things:  Yum, Yuck, Hmm.  These are our three basic stances in relation to the world or others around us.

Yum:  I like you, I enjoy this, I want nothing but more of this.

Yuck:  I am disgusted, I find this repellent, I have had my fill, I want nothing more to do with this.

Hmm:  I’ve had a taste.  This is different.  I haven’t made up my mind yet, but I want to keep going and I am learning, exploring.

So where are you at right now in your life?  In relationship with your partner, your family, friends, job?  Where are they in relationship to you?  If these relationships are not where you would like them to be – how might you change that stance?

I have started this practice, and this blog, because I am “Hmm”ing and “Yum”ing about my profession and my life.  I moved to this state because in some ways I was moving to the space of “Yuck” about life where I was and was struggling to change it.  This became possible because someone is “Yum”ing about me and believes that I have something “Yum” to share with others.  Just maybe, part of that “Yum” I have to share with you is that there is something “Yum” about you that it’s time to discover.  Why not have a taste?  You may find that you, indeed, “haz a flavor!”

Reporting for Duty

Over the past two days, I have been getting a bit of the fire-hose method of learning about military culture and lifestyle, how that affects individuals’ and families’ mental health, and how civilian mental health professionals can appropriately support service members, veterans, and their families.

Our presenters, who both work with the Center for Deployment Psychology and have been on active duty with military units downrange as mental health professionals, offered that “fire-hose” metaphor, and it is an apt one.  Just in that sentence, I may already have said something that made no sense to you, dear reader, if you are a civilian.  “Downrange.”  In country, in a combat zone.

It is one thing to discuss PTSD, depression, anxiety, and substance use in grad school classes and papers, to hear and to write about how these issues may be part of the military experience.  It is a whole different ballgame to go through the same training, deployment process, and real-life combat experiences alongside the many (and yet all too few compared to the whole population) men and women who now volunteer at all levels to go through these incredibly intense experiences.

It is one thing to consider, discuss, and engage with a couple’s or family’s concerns of daily life; it is another thing altogether to engage with the family in which both partners love and care about one another deeply, yet are preparing for an extended separation during which both partners know that one of them will be functioning as a single parent/head of household while the other is potentially in danger of losing their life on any given day, often unable to talk about it with the partner still at home, and that partner still at home maintains as best they can while struggling not to worry themselves or their children needlessly.  When the deployed partner returns, how will he or she reintegrate with a family and a civilian life which have grown, adapted, changed, moved forward, had to push away reminders of the deployed person’s absence … how do we in the civilian community invite this individual with his or her battle-forged strengths back into our world, honoring the sometimes wrenching choices they have had to make and opening the path forward for their return as valuable people that we still want as part of our human team?

I could go on, but here’s the point:  this is where the professional rubber meets the road for me.  The men and women who have served, and the families who love them, need and deserve the availability of mental health professionals and services that are fully aware of the unique concerns they struggle with.  More than that, they deserve professionals and services that respect their strengths and the unique energy they bring to bear in overcoming each challenge with which they are confronted.

This is why I am so proud and excited to be part of two awesome programs:  the STAR Behavioral Health Providers program, and Give an Hour.  SBHP sponsored the training I was in this week, the second of three sessions.  Georgia is just the second state in the US to offer this program, which is training willing civilian mental health professionals to effectively meet the needs of service members and their families.  The Give an Hour program allows willing mental health professionals to pledge at least one hour per week of services at no cost to OEF/OIF/OND service members, veterans, and their families who are in need of services but unable to access or afford those services through traditional means.

The men and women of our armed forces volunteer to sacrifice so much for us.  You may have seen the internet meme that soldiers, sailors, and airmen “wrote a blank check to the American people up to and including life’s blood.”  It’s quite true.  Although I have not myself served in that way, here is one thing I can do.  I will stand ready to help.  I will offer my listening ear, understanding, awareness, and skill to support you in coming back to the present and moving into the future, whoever you are and whatever your experience has been.  I will be one more person who has your 6, and be honored to do so.  Just give me the word.

Mastery Matters

I’ve been practicing more than a few new life skills lately.  We’re talking everything from operating a steam carpet cleaner, to replacing pesky little light bulbs in the car, to parenting.  The first time I try to do these things, honestly, it’s a bit of a mess.  I do things in the wrong order, I get too wrapped up in one part of the process and don’t take care of other necessary parts, I take twice as long as I “ought” to.  Guess what?  Welcome to life.

One of my colleagues recently shared a blog post about “iterative” versus “derivative” design.  Iterative design is creating a prototype, seeing how it works (or doesn’t), and redesigning over several iterations to keep improving the results.  In derivative design one uses a framework that is external to them – what worked for someone else, or an interpretation that is someone else’s creation – and changing nothing.  Of course, the funny thing here is that I’m using someone else’s framework to talk about this!  But … as my colleague pointed out, we need some of both models in life.  When I’m replacing a light bulb or operating a piece of machinery, in the task itself I’d be well advised to use derivative design.  Even there, though, the more I work in that derivative model, the more I begin to develop a sense of mastery.  I go from having no fund of knowledge or skill for the task, to having some level of competency and, eventually, command of it.  Sooner or later, the iterative model comes into play.  We develop mastery, self-efficacy, confidence. Then, life begins to “click.”