Meet Me.

Instead of writing a post that could only come from a place of anger, overwhelm and stress because that is how I have been feeling this week, I will share an article about me from Voyage Minnesota.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nikki DiVirgilio.

Hi Nikki, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I cannot recall when I started my Soul Reporter blog, but I started writing in a journal in my 7th grade English class. Back then I used it to write out all my fears about school, especially swim class. I found that writing allowed me to express my fears, worries, and thoughts, and doing so helped me process my emotions and understand myself. The Soul Reporter, in a way, became a public journal of my process of knowing more about myself, while also hoping to inspire and provide support for others doing the same inner work. I do not write on my blog as much as I used to but in the near future, The Soul Reporter will be combined with my business Soul Work. Soul Work is a space where I provide psychotherapy, and supervision to other mental health therapists and plan to expand into group work, consulting, and creating and publishing therapeutic material and curriculum.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I would say, yes and no. The road has been smooth in the way that the intensity of my commitment to understand myself and then help others has provided support, whether it be financial or otherwise, to allow me to continue this work. It has been difficult because doing deep inner work is difficult, and then trying to convey that inner experience through words often proves challenging. Not to mention how often I procrastinate and tell myself I will write tomorrow.

As you know, we’re big fans of Soul Work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Soul Work specializes in providing therapeutic services, primarily through psychotherapy. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker I help people to understand their internal patterning, process trauma and essentially provide a safe and protective space to understand more of who they really are and also, who they are not. As a writer/blogger I share my own experiences of the deep inner work, I call Soul Work. Soul Work plans to expand into group work, consulting and creating and publishing therapeutic material and curriculum.

We’d love to hear about any fond memories you have from when you were growing up?
My father was a great comfort to me so many of my most comforting memories come from being with him. Some of them that come to mind are sitting on his patio looking up at the night sky and asking him questions about the stars and the moon. Or when he made “A Special Day” for me and cooked spaghetti and picked some flowers for the table. I also recall listening to classical music and Peter and the Wolf on his record player or him reading to me while drinking hot tea with lemon and honey.

To continue reading, and more information, click here.

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

Fear of Adults

Did adults teach love or fear?

A few mornings ago, a deeply rooted fear approached the surface of my awareness— it may be a major source of my anxiety— the fear of adults.

Adults— these taller, authoritative and not always welcoming figures who literally, and often figuratively, look down on us when we are small. I guess it is one reason why it has been weird to be one and why, in many cases, especially in parenting, I got it wrong.

Who taught me to adult, and how was I taught?

I tried QNRT (Quantum Neuro Reset Therapy) recently and the practitioner asked— what happened between ages 9-11? Searching, mostly I came up blank, as though this entire span of my life I blacked out. However, what I do recall, an image that also came up in an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy session: little me is standing in line outside Ms. Odegard’s 3rd grade classroom. This image of my small self, being towered over by Odegard, folds inside of itself head first, as if choosing at that moment to go some place no one else would see me— EVER. Odegard was a mean, witchy-looking woman (more witch of the west, not south). She scared me, and away, inside myself, I went and stayed. Early experiences of bullying only solidified my existence there, with the added compounding affect of: I’m ugly and weird. I’m too much and I bother people just by being me. But it wasn’t me— I mean maybe the vulnerability of me likely made me a target, but it was also what I wore.

My mom gave love through buying me expensive things. She didn’t have a lot of money, just credit and expensive taste. Let’s just say I was the first person in 6th grade to have Guess jeans— the infamous triangle on the back pocket I exposed by keeping one part of my shirt tucked in at the back. Every bullying event was around something I wore from the barrettes that were pulled out of my hair and stomped on by dirty blonde-haired Allison, to the pink hat that matched an entire pink outfit that was snatched off my head by Jessica. The next day she gave it back to me in a brown paper bag. My hat was in the bag and a big clump of dog shit was in my hat.

Said pink hat and the outfit to match

I easily learned it is not okay to “show off— ” as if that is what I was doing. I was wearing what I had and loving it, until that happened.

I understand that these stories aren’t about the scary adults, but about mean kids, likely acting out because of the scary adults in their lives. Which brings me back to them, and what they mean to us when we are little.

The source of (pretty much) everything is in these young, developing years, and all around us are adults, these taller people that are supposed to know more than we do. So, we listen to them. We watch everything they do and because we are so spongy during this time we absorb a lot. In a way, we absorb them.

We can absorb their unprocessed and unregulated emotions. We can absorb the actions, behaviors and words that are done and told to us. Therefore, depending on what we are absorbing, we can believe that we are good, bad, worthy or unworthy, not enough or too much….And we can learn patterns of behaviors and thought that protect us and then as adults, harm us.

When there is a problem, there is not something to do, there is something to know.

Dr. Raymond Charles Barker

Many seem to be returning to this childhood time, realizing this is the source of the pain, the repetitive and protective patterns and habits, the suffering. Once understood, which is a process, the more pure, real parts of ourselves can risk showing up and we welcome in a new experience of adulthood. One where, instead of feeling tight and constricted within ourselves, we feel more spacious and free. It is from this spaciousness that we present as an adult that won’t scare and shame away the smaller people.

❤️🧡💛💚💙💜

Thanks for showing up,

~Nikki, The Soul Reporter

Does your therapist know who they are….?

For my graduate social work program I chose to do my research project on self-refelctive practice using myself as the both researcher and the one being researched. So far my work has been downloaded from universities and people all over the world.

When we look for a therapist, it is important that the therapist, know thyself.

I hope you’ll gain some knowledge from my work. To download click here: 

Abstract

Typically, in a social work graduate program, students are taught human behavioral theories, methods and interventions, ethical practices, policy and cultural competence among other areas. The primary tool used by social workers are themselves. Therefore, it is important the social worker is competent. The academic curriculum ensures that professionally, they are. However, how much does a social work graduate program ensure the social worker is competent personally? Theorists and current literature express the importance of a therapist possessing selfawareness— that essentially to know oneself is to know others. In this autoethnography, I aimed to enlighten the importance of self-awareness by participating in the self-reflective practices of clinical supervision and self-reflective journal writing during my graduate year as a social work intern and student. I took this data and interwove it with personal history and knowledge from social work literature and education. Through the process, I discovered the importance of the therapeutic relationship and its ability to provide relational repair, along with personal issues such as insecure attachment surfacing in order to be acknowledged and begin to be healed. Ultimately, I experienced the reason why self-reflective practice is essential in being a competent therapist. Self-reflective work brings self-awareness. Self-awareness brings self-knowledge. And, self-knowledge enhances the therapeutic relationship and increases a therapist’s overall competence and confidence.

To read the study click here.