After thousands of clinical hours and extensive work with all kinds of organizations people from many diverse backgrounds, Desyree developed a deep understanding of identity and its importance to both daily functioning and overall quality of life. 

Ironically, identity is easily overlooked or entirely unseen not because of its insignificance, but rather due its centrality to so much of who we are, what we do and how we feel.

What is Identity and why is it important?

The concept of identity relates to our sense of self. It is essentially the answer to the question, "Who are you?" Few of us choose our identity. It is heavily influenced not only by our experiences but also by our relationships, cultural norms and societal values.

Identity is important because it can literally impact every major aspect of our lives - our choices both big and small, relationships, careers, spirituality, sense of purpose in life and overall happiness.

What is Core Identity?

Because so much of our identity, our sense of self, is the result of external influences that most of us don't choose, there can often be a disconnect between the questions "Who are you?" and "Who are you, really?" 

Similarly, there can often be a disconnect between the questions "Who am I?" and "Who do you want to be?" When people ask, "Who am I, really?" they are trying to understand their sense of self absent the layers of influences that they didn't choose. The identity that remains after these layers are figuratively peeled away is the "core" identity.

Certain social characteristics, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, for example, can significantly impact core identity. This is because societies often define what we should and shouldn't do based on these characteristics; or societal stereotypes influence beliefs about the traits and behavior of people with these characteristics. Societal narratives have a profound impact on our sense of self. Accordingly, we call these characteristics "Core Identity Factors."™

Be Who You Is™

The key to having a joyful life is to be who you is.

Blanche White, 1909 - 2000

One day when I was much younger, I was having a conversation with my grandmother about my future. I wasn't sure about what I wanted to be in terms of a career, but the one thing I was certain about was that I wanted to have a joyful life. How to attain that was a big mystery to me, but not to her. She told me almost matter-of-factly that the secret to having a joyful life is to be who you is.

At the time I didn't fully understand the significance of her words, but now I realize she was telling me to be my authentic self. Authenticity is the sense that your choices and the way you live your life are aligned with your core identity. 

Feeling a disconnect between who you are and who you want to be can be a source of great inner conflict and a major catalyst for change. It is a reason why many people come to therapy. Self-determination, or acting in accordance with one's core self, is ranked by some psychological experts as one of three basic psychological needs, along with competence and relatedness.

Psychology Today, Identity,

At Bolton Therapy, we help clients discover and manifest their authentic selves in as many spaces as possible. If you want to be more authentic, or in the words of my grandmother, be who you is™, click the button for more information.

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Mirror in the Body™

In treating trauma, we use a variety of therapeutic modalities to help clients access and process traumatic memories. It is well documented that we hold onto traumatic memories in our bodies. A triggering memory can cause rapid heartbeat, tightness in our chests and stomach, and discomfort in other parts of the body. 

Somatic techniques like EMDR and BrainSpotting tend to yield better, faster results than talk therapy alone. Clients who don’t have the words to describe the connection between their depression or anxiety and past or current trauma can describe what their body is feeling. They don’t even have to tell me what their body is feeling. Clients often make profound discoveries just by sitting quietly and observing the internal connection between what their body is feeling and their thoughts.

This is how we learned that for most people with marginalized core identity factors, trauma is deeply intertwined with core identity. Clients would surprise themselves and their therapist by making observations that linked their depression and anxiety to experiences associated with their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, poverty, and so on.

When there is a disconnect between how society sees a person and how the person sees their authentic self, this discomfort is often felt in the body. Some clients find it difficult to look in a mirror or see themselves reflected on screen during a video call. They may see an image that raises uncomfortable feelings. They may say, "That's not the real me."

They may feel like the person looking back at them in their external mirror isn’t who they really are. Using somatic techniques, we can find the person they really are by looking inside them. We follow the path forged in their bodies by trauma and it leads us to the true aspects of their personality. Clients can find and reconstruct their whole authentic selves, and see that person reflected, internally. 

For many of us with marginalized core identity factors, the mirror that matters, the mirror that gives the true reflection of who they are, is the mirror in the body™.

If you want to use somatic therapies to make the journey within, to see your authentic self as reflected by the mirror in the body™, click the button for more information.

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