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Celebrating the Change in Seasons and the Desire for Change

October 6, 2014


“The season for enjoying the fullness of life — partaking of the harvest, sharing the harvest with others, and reinvesting and saving portions of the harvest for yet another season of growth.”

-Denis Waitley


Here in Southern California, where the daytime temperatures still hover in the 90’s, one must pay extra close attention to notice the subtleties of the change in seasons as we again move from summer to fall: early mornings and late evenings the air is surely just a bit cooler, the leaves are crunching under our feet, winter squash, apples and pears are replacing the peaches and strawberries at the Farmer’s Markets.

With another change of seasons, I am again in awe of the strength and courage of the patients we encounter who make a commitment toward change.   Vista Hill SmartCare’s program is a brief program of intervention, yet week after week, month after month, patients commit to face their fears by learning anxiety management skills, commit to a day of sobriety, commit to managing or reversing diabetes by changing their eating habits and activity level, or commit to living another day by contracting for safety, increasing their support network and developing new coping skills.

By being visible and accessible in their communities, by building on their strengths and by encouraging our patients in a most non-judgmental way, our teams are able to support our patients’ commitment to change.

But although the change of seasons is inevitable, the motivation for change, as we know, is not. In our setting, a patient may be referred by their primary health provider, with suggestions (direction?) that he or she should work on reducing their weight, quit smoking, reduce their use of anti-anxiety medications, etc.   Ultimately, however, if the patient decides to work with us, it is up to the patient and the SmartCare team member what they will address with the sessions they have.

I suggest that only when a patient’s situation or issue’s discomfort outweighs the benefits of keeping the “status quo”, does the patient’s motivation for change kick in.   And when there is that motivation, we see it as our role to partner with that person to help to nurture and support that motivation:  help her or him to set an intention, however big or small, and help her or him to identify and use their strengths to incorporate that change into their life as they move forward, by helping them to identify the steps it will take to create the change.

It is also important to recognize and anticipate what may be the challenges along the way, and to support them when it’s time to step back and be mindful of the process.

And whether the changes are large or small, that is truly something to celebrate.

Pamela Sachs, LCSW



“Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.”

-Elizabeth Lawrence

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