Welcome Bridgid O’Connell, LSW

How did you learn about the Green House?

I discovered the Green House program while researching internship opportunities for my last year of graduate school. I am a recent graduate of the Jane Addams College of Social Work program at the University of Illinois, at Chicago. I received my Masters of Social Work degree, with a concentration in mental health in 2018. I was also referred to Lifeworks Psychotherapy by Rena McDaniel at Practical Audacity.

What drew you to the Green House? 

It is important to me to work with therapists who emphasize diversity, creativity, and inclusion within a progressive practice. I believe that a sex-positive approach in psychotherapy is vital when working with the LGB, TQ, CNN, kink, and BDSM populations. It is my goal to expand my clinical skills by learning how to utilize my strengths effectively and to enhance my identity as a therapist, while working within my community.

I am deeply committed to working with the LGBTQ+ community, and I strive to enhance my knowledge of the integral effects of the larger societal and cultural environment in which identity and relationships around sex, sexual orientation, and class are shaped.

What are you hoping to gain by being in the Green House and how do you imagine it will impact your future?

With the SESTA/FOSTA legislation (read more about this here) and cultural backlash against already marginalized peoples, it is imperative for clinicians to have the ability to support and understand the kink and BDSM communities by recognizing that sex politics can be expansive and multifaceted. In our contemporary climate of oppression, having the ability to foster an open and safe therapeutic alliance is paramount. The Green House program’s emphasis on inclusion and diversity will enhance my knowledge around the pathology of people within the sexual spectrum.

The trauma associated with oppression can be a powerful tool when it validates a person’s accurate perception of injustice and the feelings elicited by such treatment. It is my goal to help clients identify an understanding within themselves by promoting self-awareness and compassion through mindfulness. I truly believe that these things foster a reduction in avoidance behaviors and automatic emotional reactivity and have the ability to cultivate self-esteem.

I am very excited about learning experientially, to enhance my knowledge around depth psychotherapy, and to build my therapist identity. Depth psychotherapy is important when working with the LGBTQ+ community because it helps therapists correctly recognize a client’s place in time and culture and the influences of those factors on the development of intrapsychic mechanisms. It has the ability to assist clients in consciously developing adaptive strategies for addressing ongoing forms of social trauma. Lastly, it illuminates unconscious meanings of developmental and social experiences through the client’s own narrative.

I believe that this program will help me learn to trust myself and strengthen my capability to do the work that I know I am meant to do.

In the short amount of time, since you joined the Green House, what has surprised you most and why?

This program is extremely unique, in that the training and supervision provided allows those within the program to deepen their identities through experiential learning. Supportive supervision is integral to strengthening one’s clinical skills through empathetic feedback and self-exploration. This type of supervision experience is unfortunately not a typical one that graduate students endure while working within internship placements.

I feel honored to be a part of a program with people who are genuinely interested in my thoughts. I have received a tremendous amount of respect and trust from my peers. The exchange of knowledge within this practice has shown me that my experiences and learning hold value. The enlightenment I have received from therapists who have been working in the field for years is invaluable. The therapists at Lifeworks truly care for their clients and this truth is evident throughout. Learning to simply being present with a client has enhanced my awareness about the therapeutic experience. There is an incredible amount of insight within the unknown and I have realized just how natural it feels for me to lean into it.

Anything  else professionally that you are particularly looking forward to this year?

Vulnerability is key when working with people. Having the ability to access vulnerability within myself fosters a reciprocity and trust with clients. I believe that the Green House program will strengthen my therapeutic skills and deepen my relationships with clients by further developing my analytical competencies in creative ways. I hope to maximize my clinical skills around integrating race, gender, and affirmative perspectives in therapy dialogue.

I know and understand trauma and I am able to recognize it within others. I believe that this program will fuse my lived experience with clinical knowledge to strengthen my use of self and enable me to work effectively with clients in a therapy setting. I truly believe that it is my calling to help others see that it is possible to move forward, and that one’s past does not define their future. I know that this program will place me on the path to do the work that I was always meant to do and teach me to trust myself.

Read more about Bridgid.

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About Cindy Trawinski, Psy.D., Dipl. PW

Cindy Trawinski is a licensed clinical psychologist, a Diplomate in Process-oriented Psychology (also known as Process Work) and a certified Imago Relationship Therapist. She is a founding partner of LifeWorks Psychotherapy Center and North Shore Psychotherapy Associates and has offices in Skokie, IL. Cindy is the former CEO of the Process Work Institute, in Portland, OR and a member of the International Association of Process-oriented Psychology (IAPOP), in Zurich, Switzerland. Cindy is a frequent speaker on topics including: Diversity and Multicultural Issues; Sex Positivity; Rank & Power; Therapist Bias; and Polyamory.

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