Merry Christmas (or whichever holiday you celebrate)! I hope you enjoy this video.

The holiday season is a wonderful time to enjoy the company of our loved ones, but for many of us (and our clients), it can be more stressful than enjoyable. How can we offer support to ourselves, our family and friends, and our clients during this busy time?

A lot of our relationship patterning gets encoded into our bodies via implicit (unconscious) memory. It influences us behind the scenes. So how do you know when your implicit memory is being triggered?

When your client reverts to those old behaviors from their childhood, you’ll know they’re being triggered. If your client says something like, “I always _____________, but I wish I wouldn’t,” you might ask if the two of you can focus on changing one or two patterns in a therapy session. That way, the client can react in a more positive, constructive way the next time their trigger appears.

You might also take note of your client’s Attachment style and how that style affects their relationships and familial interactions. For instance, Avoidants can go into withdrawal mode when life gets hectic. They might park themselves on the couch when they arrive at a family gathering and barely get up for the entirety of the visit. The goal of your therapy session with an Avoidant, then, would be to help them develop a plan for the gathering. What can they do to avoid automatically reverting to their old patterns? How can they experience more ease and flow between connection and alone time?

So what about you, the therapist? How can you create more meaningful connections during your own family gatherings?

I suggest engaging everyone in activities with a joint focus, such as playing a game or taking a walk together. This can double as self-care, but it’s also a rare opportunity to build and strengthen connections. Most of us don’t see our families that often, so let’s see if we can make this year’s get-together a different, happier experience!

Let’s keep our stress to a minimum this December and stay as securely attached as possible, even when things get crazy. My wish for you is deep compassion, goodwill, health and healing for yourself and others. I look forward to reading your feedback on this video and hearing from you in 2016!