Kara Bowman is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist that has found her purpose in helping people get through grief and trauma. She finds great meaning in talking with others immersed in the messiness, rawness, pain, and beauty of life. Her philosophy is that we each know, deep down, what is best for ourselves, but sometimes need help discovering what that is. By applying her knowledge both in neurobiology and mental health, Kara is able to create a specific journey for each of her clients and help them cope with the difficulties of life.
From Corporate Finance & Non Profits to Psychology
What’s interesting to note about Kara’s story is that her journey started pretty far from psychology. She was, in fact, very good at math, and she ended up getting an undergraduate degree in economics, and a graduate degree & MBA from Berkeley. The perfect education to step into the corporate world of finance. What she discovered though, is that in the early 80s, corporate finance was a male-dominated world, moreover, Kara realized that working in corporate had a lack of meaning for her, which made her transition to nonprofit management.
She ended up opening her own daycare center in Portland, with which she had found a purpose. Everything was going in the right direction when a series of challenging and tragic events happened, one after the other. All the struggle and pain would have consumed most people, but Kara found the strength to carry on and learned how to cope with her pain. Having spent a lot of time in hospitals, she developed tremendous empathy for people, and she decided that her new mission would have been helping people get through grief and trauma. She went back to school, became a therapist, and immediately specialized in grief and trauma to be ready to help people.
And now here’s Kara Bowman.
Full transcript below
Video on Helping People Get Through Grief & Trauma
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Podcast with Kara Bowman. Helping People Get Through Grief & Trauma.
people, therapist, therapy, trauma, clients, grief, life, called, poems, kara, support, read, happened, thought, teaches, book, depression, understand, person, kids
Mike Malatesta, Kara Bowman
Mike Malatesta 00:17
Hey everybody welcome back to the How did happen podcast I’m so grateful to have you listening today. And I’m also grateful that you come back every week, and listen because I get so much energy out of talking to the wonderful people that I get a chance to talk to, and having you benefit from it as well just makes it. I don’t know all that more special. So, thank you so much for listening, and today I will not disappoint you as I never do. Because I’ve got Kara Bowman with me today, and Kara story her short story is that after our career in corporate and nonprofit jobs, she changed directions to become a licensed marriage and family therapist. She finds great meaning and talking with others, immersed in the messiness rawness, pain, and beauty of life, by the way, Carrie, I love that. And she’s passionate about learning and passionate about helping others heal and grow. She’s also an author, congratulations her book is called Heartbreak to hope. Poems of support for grief and loss, Kara, welcome to the show. Thank you, thank you so much for having me. Yeah, I’ve been looking forward to this because, as I was telling you before we went on, I’ve never had anyone with your skill set and background on the podcast before, which may seem exciting for me but I think it’s going to be great for the listeners because you are going to be able to share your experiences with therapy, family and marriage, and all other kinds of therapy that and practices that you do I was checking it off some of them I don’t even know what they are. And, and it’s something that resonates with everybody because we all have something in our life at some time or another that we need help dealing with and your, your you’re you’re the perfect person to help people. And so I’m grateful for this, for this opportunity. I do want to say too I read on your own. I wanted to just get this out because you, your client comments. I thought were amazing care, this. So, these are unsolicited comments from folks who people who have had the chance to work with Kara, I was seen and held with compassion and non judgment for my worries and fears that gave me the courage to, to be with them. I thought that was amazing. And the other thing what I thought was amazing though is what can I say other than you, understanding, I mean I don’t know what, how you could get a better compliment than that from someone who you’ve helped through a difficult time. So, Kara, um, I start every podcast with the same simple question, and that is how did happen for you.
Kara Bowman 03:06
How it happened for me was everything in my life, kind of came together everything personally that I’ve been through everything. Career wise that I done. One of the reasons I think I can get comments like that from clients was I have had a previous career I’ve been out there in the world, in the corporate world so I do understand the challenges of that I had I didn’t just go into therapy immediately after graduating from college so I understand what it’s like to, to hold down a job and to, and maybe a marriage and kids. And I understand what it’s like to deal with some of the challenges of life grief and loss and and stress and family problems. So, everything kind of informed, who I was and I learned along the way. And I ended up putting it all together into a career that could use everything that I learned, and been through.
Mike Malatesta 04:15
And was there something that happened in your life or along your career that was sort of the trigger for you, making the I call it Trans transforming or transformation I don’t know what you call it, but that’s what the word that came to mind when I was reading about you. Was there something that came along, specifically that made you think hmm, you know, maybe I should pivot onto a different track.
Kara Bowman 04:41
Absolutely. So if you’ve got a minute, I’ll tell you a little story. my way to corporate worlds right out of college, mostly because I was told I shouldn’t do that I was really good at math, I ended up getting an undergraduate in economics and a graduate degree and MBA from from Berkeley, and I went into corporate finance and leveraged buyouts sand and consulting, and that whole world in San Francisco, and then later in Portland. And I didn’t didn’t enjoy it a part of what I didn’t enjoy was being a woman in a male dominated world, this was, this was the early 80s, and partly what I didn’t enjoy was the lack of meaning and had for me. Even though I really did enjoy numbers. So I found myself doing that, and moved into nonprofit management and looking for more meaning and moved into opening my own Daycare Center in Portland, which was a very large operation that had 215 kids enrolled and 26 teachers and and found a lot of meaning in that enjoyed management, won a lot of awards for mainstreaming differently abled kids for working with the foster care system, felt like I was doing a lot of good but the stresses the financial stresses were just constant. And I didn’t enjoy that part of it and I ended up moving back to California and found that after years of doing that job I wasn’t qualified to to own a daycare center, or director Daycare Center in California, which was rather shocking. They had different roles down here. Ended up. I don’t want to get too much into this part of the story but ended up homeschooling my kids I pulled them out of, out of a private school in the middle of the year and found that much to my chagrin, they didn’t want to go back to school next year, and ended up homeschooling my children which was a little wiggle in my career that I didn’t expect Okay, and was kind of looking for the next chapter of my life trying to figure out what I wanted to do when an unbelievable series of events occurred. And this began with our best friend’s husband and wife being murdered, and absolutely shocking. Out of nowhere, and then shortly afterward. My husband developed h1 N one, which was swine flu and was in the hospital for it was in the intensive care unit, with an induced coma for 42 days, and I don’t know whether he was going to live or die. He, they brought me in six times to say goodbye to him because they thought he was imminently dying. Immediately after that. My, my son developed to cancer, lymphoma, we had multiple friends die to a cancer, one of a tree falling on him. One of suicide. One of multiple sclerosis. And then my daughter developed a different kind of cancer.
Mike Malatesta 08:51
Oh my gosh. And
Kara Bowman 08:54
I have I have three children so two of the three developed cancers, this was in a five year period. And then my husband developed cancer, leukemia. So, when you sit asked if something happened I smiled. Yes, some, you could say some, something happened. Yeah, A few things happen. So before, before this period I had been just with a lot of people in his life dabbling a little bit and self growth and and learning a little bit about myself and going to some workshops and seminars reading books that kind of thing. And when this happened, I kind of saw that I had been through boot camp and I had some of the knowledge, and now I was thrown into war, and I had to take some of the knowledge I had that was theoretical and use it. And I remember, for example, when they told me, didn’t. For the first time it didn’t look like my husband was gonna live my head was swimming and I sat down on the floor in the hallway in the hospital, and I said to myself, Kara, you can handle this. In the old way that you’ve always handled things, which is kind of overwhelm and panic and trying to control, or you can handle this in a new way, and my new way was presence, it was not going to the future. It was not not inducing anxiety by worrying about what was going to happen. It was not looking at the past, what should I have done Should I, should I have gotten him to the doctor sooner. Should he have not gone to this meeting where he taught this. But it was, what do I know now how do I feel now, what, what, I know that he’s alive, right in this minute. I know that I am sitting here on the floor of the hospital. I know that I’m safe. I know that I know that my heart’s beating, I know you know, these are the things that I went back to my breath, my heart. My body temperature field, touching him feeling him, his body. And that’s how I got through the 42 days and then the recovery afterwards, his muscles had wasted away they couldn’t walk. He, he had a feeding tube he had a, he was on at one point 22 I think IV IV so it was just incredible. The amount of intervention. So he had a long recovery from that. And then we went to the murder trial for our friends. What happened was, the family didn’t want to go for their own reasons and the lawyer told us that it didn’t look good to the jury if nobody showed up to represent the people who were murdered people in the audience kind of stood in for them. It kind of looked as though nobody cared about them, nobody showed up so we went to that. It was horrific. And I’ve got through that the same way with presence with just dealing with whatever I had to deal with in that moment, and giving myself compassion for whatever was was happening in that moment. So, through the stress of all of these situations my children’s cancer my husband’s cancer. I, it’s kind of like forging a diamond under pressure. I forged a new way of going through life. I, instead of going toward my old coping mechanisms, I learned to the present, and I learned to have self compassion. And I did it through. They call it post traumatic growth, you can actually grow through trauma, as well as be scarred by trauma and I was scarred by trauma too, but I actually grew through trauma because I chose to use it. Had you already happened to me. Yeah,
Mike Malatesta 13:21
okay, well there’s a lot of horrible in that, but it’s horrible. Yeah. But your husband, your children are doing fine, or
Kara Bowman 13:29
Children are considered cured my husband’s cancer is not curable, it’s kind of long term prognosis, and he has to be treated repeatedly so. So he, he’s kind of back and forth between illness and this this pandemic was very hard on us we isolated more than anyone I ever knew I’m very fortunate that I could do my job well isolated because I could do it on Zoom, and we isolated we were, we were watching our groceries long after everybody else had given up on that, but we couldn’t take a risk of one little German getting in because he’s extremely new compromised. So he, he still has health challenges, but for now he’s, he’s doing. He’s doing fine. Yeah, so, So what happened was my, my, I went through all of that, and developed tremendous empathy for people and what they what they went through in grief and trauma. And, and, as I had been looking around for what else to do with my life, knew that I’d always been interested in psychology and always read about it and decided to go back to school and become a therapist, and did it in a way I’ve never done anything I’m always a researcher and I just did it on a whim and immediately was drawn to grief and trauma work most therapists don’t specialize most therapists, kind of see the gamut of whatever’s out there, but I specialized immediately and started working with hospice, and did some advanced certifications, I have an advanced certification in grief. I have an advanced certification in trauma and advanced certification, something called planetology which is the study of death and dying. And then along the way, I also became a certified trainer and nonviolent communication, which is a method of learning more about yourself and your needs and, and how to connect with others in their needs.
Mike Malatesta 15:51
Okay so basically a way to express yourself in a non violent way but still be able to get your point across is that, or,
Kara Bowman 15:59
yeah, that’s, that’s a good way to quit nonviolent is kind of used in the 1960s way of equality of power, rather than actual physical violence. It’s more of a compassionate, communication is another,
Mike Malatesta 16:15
another thing it’s sometimes called. So Carrie, you, you mentioned as you were talking there that you, as a result of going through all of these things you develop empathy for others. And I’m wondering, as you said that I thought to myself, how did you develop the empathy for yourself. How did you figure out how to, you know, change so get away, you know, in a lot of life being future focused is good but going through what you were going through your future focus was not good because you could only imagine a future that wasn’t as good as right now. So, you know, being present, you said and how did it sounded like your natural sort of proclivity was to, you know, look to the future and go on, but But you somehow you figured out how to put that aside. Did that happen on your own or did you have some help yourself doing that or was it something your family was was helping you with, because, like you, I’m sure thinking like, you know someone’s saying you calm down, relax, it’s gonna be fine. And that’s the last thing I want to hear is calm down, relax, it’s gonna be fine because I have to change my mind in order to accept that I know I’m not in a position to accept that right now so what, what, what, how did you go through it.
Kara Bowman 17:34
No, it’s a great question in our culture, absolutely does not teach us how to deal with difficult emotions when teacher does just a shot of the side beat and move forward. It teaches us how to be in our minds, not are not our hearts, and so it was something I had to learn. And I learned it, not all at once, but in, in many different small ways. And I had a lot of help. I had helped in therapy, but I also am just a learner, and so I, I, I learned it through nonviolent communication, and so that was started by Marshall Rosenberg, and anyone who can learn that and that was a that was a big piece of my personal development. I learned it through something called focusing which was started by Eugene gendlin in the 1960s, and that has to do with getting to know your own your own self and your own wisdom from the bottom up through your emotional knowledge and wisdom rather than your head. We tend to just stay in our heads, and, and we have a lot of wisdom in our emotional reactions and he teaches you how to tap into that in a very how to way. Also through Tara Brock. She is a Western psychologist and Buddhist teacher and she has online weekly talks, and she has a system that she’s developed that teaches self compassion, and through other methods to her there’s a woman called Byron Katie and she has a way of dealing with thoughts. So there are a lot of different teachers out there and what I tended to do was read or, or watch or learn and apply one thing to my life, for maybe weeks until I felt like I had integrated it maybe a gratitude journal or maybe a presence, practice, and then once I felt like I integrated that, and I would move on to something else. And I, I’ve been doing that for years and years and years now. And so slowly, it’s I think of it as, as shifting the trajectory of an ocean liner slowly I’m shifting the trajectory of my ocean to move someplace else and it’s through a lot of little practices that become habits. Okay.
Mike Malatesta 20:21
when your husband was in this medically induced coma. How you so you’re taking, you know you’re worrying about him, you’re also taking care of, you’ve got three kids at this time right and so you’re trying to be strong for them and how did you, did, did they rally around you and help I’m just trying to understand, because I’ve never been in that situation and mean nothing close. And in the end it’s not just that you’ve got these other things happening to your friends and all it’s like how do you. Yeah, and your schooling that maybe I don’t know, you’re still schooling them. It’s just like so much
Kara Bowman 21:04
time that happened if I had my son was in high school and my two daughters were in college so, oh God, so they it wasn’t, I wasn’t quite as actively involved in their lives, but it was not fine because that’s the type of life that kids would normally be separated from their parents and our family really came back together. My kids came home from college and we’re in the hospital every day, because the doctors told us, they should come home look like he wasn’t going to make it right. So, I tried to do that differently too. In the past, when I was raising them, I thought a good parent had all the answers, and I thought when they came to me not knowing that I should reassure them by having all the answers and what I did was I told them, you know, we’re all going to respond to this differently, and that’s okay. Why not I didn’t want to be in the hospital once much, my son wanted to be in the hospital as much as he possibly could. Some. Some people like to distract a lot, and other people like to really go toward. And I said, however we handle this is okay let’s not judge each other. And I also said, when my kids got sick, I said, I’m going to try to support you, the best I can. And sometimes I’m going to overstep and and jump in when you don’t want me there, and other times I’m going to probably back up and try to give you independence because they were young adults, and when you, you would rather have more support, and please just let me know, and help me adjust. So I just tried to lay it out on the table that I was doing my best, and I was going to mess up, mess up and ask for them to be on my side, and, and to help me support them, rather than judge me and push me away, it’s very easy to take your own hard emotions and project them onto somebody else and push away the people that we love and need painful times, and so I was really glad I had a I had a few skills under my belt, not as many as I wish but a few.
Mike Malatesta 23:36
Okay that sounds like you had more than a few. So when you on a you use, you described it as making a decision, you know, sort of deciding on a whim that you were going to, you know, pursue an education and in therapy and was that this probably a dumb question, but now that we’re sort of been in the pandemic and on online all the time. I’m wondering was that was, was your schooling then, something you went to was it went to school.
Kara Bowman 24:08
Yeah my schooling was two thirds of a person and 1/3 online. Okay. Yeah. And it was an evening program because that was the program that that just happened to be the one that was a program that was near nearest to me, basically I’m, I’m in a small town I’m in Santa Cruz wasn’t working in the days, and it worked out pretty well. I, what was interesting is, I was thinking when I signed up for the program about learning more than I was thinking about becoming a therapist, and when I got out, I found that the job didn’t fit me exactly and so this is something that some of your listeners might really relate to it’s, it can be really hard to find a career that fits you. And I found that especially working in grief and trauma, it was overwhelming to sit with people full time, the way I wanted to sit with people being fully present and really empathizing, in a felt way with wherever they were. And so I was setting up my website and looking at other websites for example and I came, I stumbled upon a woman’s website. And I noticed that she therapy was one of several things that she did, and I decided to use that as an example for myself that I was going to do therapy, part time, And I was going to pursue other interests network tangential therapy with the rest of my time. And so, I also volunteer at hospice I train. I train other volunteers I train group leaders and I train therapists at hospice and I sometimes see individual clients, if somebody’s got very high acuity, and I also do trainings for therapists in the community. I also speak both to community groups and to therapists, and then I’ve written this book, I’ve set up a website to help people who have some PTSD and they start off, they have a startle reflex, so I’ve kind of spread myself into a lot of different projects, and that interests me and therapy is only one piece of that, so that I can get myself totally to therapy without being too overwhelmed by it or burned out by it.
Mike Malatesta 26:49
Okay, well I’m glad you explained that because I was. I mean I think it’s natural, like I was thinking, how did you deal with those five years that you were talking about. And then I was thinking, Boy, oh boy after you deal with that, how do you deal with, you know, helping people. Oh, you know through. I don’t even want to guess, all the different things that you’ve helped people through, but you know you only have so much energy in a day and you as a human, you can’t just, you can’t just put that folder away and that thing is done until the next time the person comes so that was interesting how you explained that you, it sounded to me like you were saying reading in between the lines you preserve your energy for helping people by not helping people full time by doing other things that compliment. You know, your mission to help people but but but take you out of the environment where you’re sort of directly one on one, doing therapy with someone, do I have the my anywhere close to that being, like, your rationale for
Kara Bowman 28:00
that. That’s exactly right. For me, I really like to be emotionally present with people and so that that can be draining. If it’s too many hours a week. I also deal with that piece of it. It’s your perspective and so I’m really proactive. When I was at hospice, seeing clients in my training, every time I touch the door on my way and I would remind myself that there are 7 billion people in the world. And the vast majority of them didn’t die yesterday, because you can lose perspective, I think that everybody’s dying all the
Mike Malatesta 28:42
time. Right, okay, sure, especially with hospice right because that’s what people are doing when they’re in hospice they’re dying, typically.
Kara Bowman 28:50
Right. And so, I remind myself of my client’s resilience. I remind myself that the people I’m seeing are not representative of everybody in the world. I remind myself that I’m seeing people when they are struggling and need help, and when they’re feeling better, that’s what I see. I remind myself that I got through things and I had the strength to get through things with support, and they can also through things with support. It’s easy to take a, a still shot of the worst moment for example when somebody dies and think, oh my gosh, that person is crushed, how are they ever going to get through this. And I remind myself to keep the camera moving, and that it’s a video that is six months in one year, in two years and five years, that the person will be in a different place. So I very proactively, give myself that perspective, so that I don’t get stuck in the worst moment. Okay. And then I think the client my clients can feed off of that because they can get stuck in their worst moment, and if I have hope,
Mike Malatesta 30:08
they can have hope. Okay, love that and I can totally appreciate how you get stuck in your worst moment because. But, to me, that reminds me what I was saying earlier you’re looking out towards tomorrow and the next day and the next day your future and you’re thinking, oh my gosh it’s going to be just like today and today’s sucks I don’t want that, you know I can’t deal with that. Instead of, okay, you know, today, sucks for these reasons, so how can I look at these, I’m not trying to be a therapist. I’m just trying to understand kind of how the mindset goes.
Kara Bowman 30:45
That’s exactly right and and people say to me all the time How can you work in grief and trauma and to me it’s, there are two of the most helpful fields to work in because people tend to get better. With help with me in Trump. We need to take your tend to get better, right, disorders like depression can be very entrenched, and, and I feel like with grief and trauma can help people unstick themselves and get better.
Mike Malatesta 31:11
And is that because it’s typically those types of things are typically caused by a singular or a series of specific events, as opposed to depression which may you may not know why you’re depressed Cara, or, or there’s something more to it than that.
Kara Bowman 31:35
It’s so complex, I’m not sure that we actually know the answer. You know that the mind and body are so interactive, back and forth. A lot of the trauma I see is some of it is, is event there’s trauma, a lot of it is what’s called developmental trauma, which is a lot of little events over a person’s childhood where there’s a lack of attunement with their, their parents, and so a lot of a lot of the trauma I see are attachment wounds. And, and what tends to happen is that people who don’t have attachment wounds, they can deal with whatever’s incoming and they’re like, for example, most soldiers in war, do not get PTSD. And they can predict with a fair amount of accuracy who’s going to get PTSD and who’s not going to get PTSD, based on the person’s background coming in.
Mike Malatesta 32:39
Oh is that right no so not what not what they actually experienced while they’re there, It’s. I did not know that. Okay. Exactly,
Kara Bowman 32:46
exactly. Um, so the, the diagnosis, I think is completely wrong, the way that PTSD is diagnosed, which is has to do with what happens to you, it actually has to do with how you experience what happens to you and that has to do with what, what, you take going into the event. And so some people in their childhoods. Learn resilience they learn that the world is a safe place, they learn that they can have difficult emotions, and they can suit themselves and other people don’t learn those skills and those are the people who are going to experience PTSD. And so those skills can be taught. And those mechanisms in the brain and in the endocrine system and the nervous system can be changed over time. It’s not a it’s not a one time event to change those but you can change your physiological reactions your biological reactions in your brain, and that’s a lot of the new neural neurobiology research that’s coming out is so exciting to me because they’re learning how people can change their brain and there’s a lot of application that’s coming out of new research depression. It’s a lot easier to help with medication. However, people who are treatment resistant who medication doesn’t work for their biology seems to just take over, maybe because of kind of a combination of inherent genetics and environment as a child, and if they’re treatment resistant that seems to be a harder pattern to break through therapy. Okay, so,
Mike Malatesta 34:42
so there could be a layman layman here, there could be chemical imbalances in that person that you know are just difficult to change. Whereas, PTSD, for example, the person may not have that they have something else that’s, that’s the childhood thing, or that’s the cause and that could be more easily understood and work through it.
Kara Bowman 35:11
Yes. So, trauma therapy is very different from other kinds of therapy it’s a, there are certain therapies that are called trauma informed therapies, and they’re really different from normal therapies, and they work specifically on the the mechanisms of trauma.
Mike Malatesta 35:28
Okay. So, when you. You mentioned you did some training a hospice when you finally decided that you were going to become a therapist what you said you were really in it for the education at the beginning when you finally decided to become it become a therapist, how were you scared like do I, you know, did you have to convince yourself that I can really help someone or did you feel like your training was sufficient enough to prepare you where you were like, Okay, let’s hang a shingle and people start booking appointments in here I go,
Kara Bowman 36:01
absolutely scared it seems like a very big responsibility. Yeah, I was fortunate that I had a few skills. One is, I was older than some of my classmates some of my classmates were right out of undergrad, and they just didn’t have the life experience I had. And the other was, I had the, I had an extensive background in nonviolent communication and in focusing and so those were some skills that I could draw in as a therapist, so I had some, some direction and experience, sitting with people, but it felt like a really big responsibility I you know, I’ve had clients who are suicidal yours, you’re responsible in some ways for somebody’s life. And it’s very scary. One thing that a lot of people don’t know is that many therapists, get have good consultation so they either have a consultation group of other therapists, or they have an more experienced therapist they consult with. And so if you have a client that you have any questions about they either feel stuck or you want to make sure that you’ve turned over every stone, you’ve got somebody to talk to so you go in and you talk to them without having any names attached or identifying information attached, you can talk to other therapists who are bound by confidentiality about a client. I never knew that when I was when I was applying but. So that does help you feel supported, but it did take me some time to feel confident, and even now I consult with a woman who is a professor at UC San Francisco. And when I whenever I want to just make sure I’m going down the right path with a client. It’s, it’s really it’s a lot of responsibility. And if, even without having somebody’s life in the balance. It’s just a lot of responsibility and people are are putting a lot of trust in you, they’re paying you a lot of money and putting a lot of hope. into into you, a lot of trust and hope and effort. And I want to honor that care when most people
Mike Malatesta 38:25
come to you would you would you say that they have an expectation that you will help them to the point where they won’t need you anymore, which I think is your goal, when you, when you have someone, or is it more like, I don’t think I can be helped. What, what, what’s the what, uh, what are people, people generally thinking when they come If there is a general thought process when they come.
Kara Bowman 38:51
Yeah, I see people who are all over the map. And generally I think people come in because they have a specific problem bothering them. And they get help with that, and they leave, when that problem is not bothering them so it might be. They’re, they’re grieving and they just feel in pain, Most of the time, or they feel stuck with their grief, or they. Let’s say they had sexual assaults and then they’re having sexual problems with their husband, something like that, sometimes, often they work through their original problem, and then other issues come up, we discover a mood disorder, anxiety or depression or lack of trust from childhood, something like that, and then they stay in to work on deeper issues. Sometimes people have had very horrific childhoods, and they are in therapy because they need long term support, they hopefully those people are slowly slowly getting better, and healing, but some people may need support their whole lives. I, I’d say, out of my whole caseload I only have maybe two people who fit into that, into that category. So it really varies a lot. It really varies a lot. I don’t know why what you’re saying just reminded me of this but when you’re. And I’m sorry to go back to this but it just occurred to me when your best friends were killed. Did they have children and, did you have you worked with, that I guess or they think of how they’re going through life you know after something like that happens is that, what can you say about that. Yeah, it’s a it’s a very good question. They had children, and when you’ve been nice, they were killed. Me neither. We remember that we were asked to take the children if something happened to them. And so, so did his brother, and neither of us could remember who was first and who was second. And we, we actually, we had to find the will to remember and we were actually second, okay. And they took the children directly from the house to the police station and a therapist met them there. And a therapist who was experienced with trauma. And I’m thankful for that. Just because you can get some entrenched. Negative, in terms of an event, if, if you aren’t, if there is an intervention right away. And so they were met with a therapist. That very evening, and it has been a long, long haul for them they were 1215 and 17 I think at the time, and they are all doing really really well right now. They are bonded to one another, they’re each other’s best friends, and they are, I think all either in graduate school or have graduated from graduate school. And there were some bumps along the way there were there were definitely some hard times. Along the way, but they all found their way, with the help of therapy and each other. Oh, wonderful. So it’s one of the things that I think about sometimes when I remember people’s resilience and I remember to keep the long term perspective, that people can heal. Speaking of resilience, do you mind if I go back a little bit to when you were growing up, I noticed that you went to University of Michigan, which makes me think, maybe, grew up in the Midwest, but I’m not. Not sure. I guess I want to understand kind of where you came from, and what your life was like, as you were growing up because you, you definitely got some resilience, somewhere, and you’ve been building on that since what came what can you share with us there. Yeah, I was, I was born in East Coast, on the east coast and I went there till I was six, Boston, and I say that because my parents are very east coast Jewish so that just kind of places me a little bit, and I did grow up in Michigan. My father was a professor at Michigan State, and so I was a trader and went to the University of Michigan oh
Mike Malatesta 43:59
yeah back over.
Kara Bowman 44:02
So I’m very Midwest, and my childhood was one of those that looked good on the outside and was difficult for me emotionally on the inside. And so it took me a long long time to claim that, and there was a lot of self blame what what’s wrong with me. Why am I feeling, all of these feelings when my childhood was good. And now I’m very wary and my ears perked up whenever anybody comes in and just says, with a blanket, absolute statement oh I had a good childhood because there’s usually more to the story, there’s more nuanced than that. So in my case, my parents were very. I don’t think they were very emotionally adept and they were extremely busy. It was the 60s and 70s and and women’s liberation and my mother was working in a career and very fulfilled in her career. And my father was very filled his career and they had friends and they had hobbies and interests and. And I was pretty much left alone under the guise of independence. And I was also advanced two years in school which they used to do back then they don’t do that anymore. So I was an extremely shy kid in with kids. A couple of years older than me in school, and still not challenged academically. So I had, I had a lot of hard feelings. A lot of anxiety a lot of depression. And a lot of self blame about that. And a lot of aloneness, a lot of the ones. And that kind of, I’ll just say this for the other lost kids out there I never graduated from high school. So it’s another one of those things I think about when it’s not only a great part in fact when, when, you know, they say, tell us something, tell us something about yourself that nobody would ever guess. It’s a great party back but it’s also, you know, it helps me have empathy for other lost, lost kids, I was a lost teenager. And at the time I didn’t know why I thought I had all the advantages and looking back, I have a lot of compassion for, for myself, at that point and why I went to college and flunked out after one year because I was, I didn’t know how to operate in that venue and nobody was helping me, and then returned to college after I think about two years I became financially independent and returned to college, so I didn’t have the straight through supported path
Mike Malatesta 47:26
that some kids had. So that’s really interesting you dropped out of college. So you were you were an exceptionally smart student school was easy for you, so much so that you accelerated grades, two times at least and and still wasn’t still weren’t challenged but but it sounded sounds like maybe, maybe that wasn’t the right path, as you said they don’t do that anymore. But you get to school you drop it’s almost like, I don’t know did you did you drop out because you didn’t have the study skills, or was it because you were thinking, This is too easy. I don’t want to waste my time with it or what was, what was that,
Kara Bowman 48:12
I think it was a combination of not having the studies fails and depression, and not knowing how to negotiate the adult world, this was this was way before Google and the ability to find out any information on my own, and I didn’t I just a very guy that didn’t know how to ask them how
Mike Malatesta 48:35
you were also like 16 years old then. If you were two years ago. Okay, yeah. Second drive and yeah. So 15 So you drop out and then two years later you’re financially independent, which means you went and work somewhere, and then you did it on your terms so you, you went back and you, that’s amazing because so many of those stories Kara and up where the I dropped out and then my life went, you know, like this instead, you know I was, I was, you know, destined to be in something else I wasn’t destined to be, you know, a college graduate or whatever the thinking might go So
Kara Bowman 49:20
absolutely, and when I look back now, I don’t know where I always had this core drive. And I don’t know where it came from. And I look at my clients, and so often, I can see that inside of them. I can see them suffering, I can see them in pain, I can see their anxiety, and I can see some core of strength that wants to wants to heal, wants to grow wants to feel better wants to be healthy. And sometimes just reflecting that to them, pointing out when I’m seeing Matt and how I’m seeing that can help them see that in themselves. And I don’t know where that comes from but we all seem to have that this desire to be whole be integrated be healthy, right. You know, if we can tap into that we can do amazing things we can become our potentials,
Mike Malatesta 50:15
right. And maybe, maybe that’s what we’re all put here for in the first place, as humans, right.
Kara Bowman 50:23
So what’s sad to me is I think we have that when we’re born, they write, and they communicate their needs and we somehow lose that, you know, we somehow lose that we learn language, and we start getting disconnected from our emotions which are our truth and start living in the world of our, of our head and our thoughts and and disconnecting from our reality. And its journey back to our truth.
Mike Malatesta 50:57
Well, you said it yourself when you at the beginning of this podcast when you were talking about going into. I don’t remember if it was venture or private equity or something and you said, you said something like, I that I did that because that’s what I was told I was supposed to do, which is exactly kind of what you’re saying. So let’s talk about your book for for a little bit this heartbreak to hope. Poems of support for grief and loss, these are poems that you’ve written. And what was, what were you just writing poems as a result of, you know your interactions with people in your that you were helping or did it come with did it start earlier, Or did it begin for some other reason. How did this come together.
Kara Bowman 51:43
Well, I hadn’t written a poem since high school English class. And what happened was I was sitting with all these crazy people who wanted support, and they just didn’t have the mental bandwidth to read books, people kept getting the books and I would recommend books and they would even ask me for recommendations, and the books would pile up under nightstands on read, they just couldn’t focus on reading books, And I thought, how could they get support in a way that they could take it in. And I thought poetry was the perfect avenue for that. Especially short poems that were easy to understand. i I’ve never been a lover of poetry that was needed a lot of interpretation was hard to understand. So, I thought I’m just gonna see if I can write this or not, and write some of these or not, and I would wake up in the middle of the night with a poem or some words or some phrases in my head and Jacqueline down. And what I would try to do is capture one little aspect of grief in each poem. And so I would think of a client right think of my own grave. And I would just, I thought of it almost like a kaleidoscope, and capturing one color, or one little picture one little scene, so that people could feel recognized, they could feel like they had words for something they were feeling that they didn’t have words for, and maybe that they would feel less alone because if this was in writing, somebody else has felt this before. So, it’s a book kind of wrote itself, it just flowed out of me. And then I thought, well, I’ll, I’ll self publish this so I can give it to my clients if, but maybe I’ll see if I can get a publisher first, and if somebody picked it up almost immediately. And then they moved up the publication date because of COVID because, unfortunately, COVID has really impacted the death rate in this country. So, it all happened very quickly. I could reach your opponent if
Mike Malatesta 54:12
you’d like. Sure, yeah, that’d be great.
Kara Bowman 54:14
To give you an example let’s, let’s see this, This is what I consider a little bit educational. In terms of, of how to grieve, it’s called love. Take care of your precious pain. Wrap your strong arms around it, hold it against your warm chest rocket gently telling it softly that it is loved. It is needed. It is important. It makes perfect sense. And love it just as it is in all of its as beauty.
Mike Malatesta 54:54
That’s wonderful. And I like what you I like your rationale for you know people, you know, they may want to read a book and it may be helpful to read a book but if you don’t have bandwidth for a book or you can’t focus your way through a book that took you 10 seconds or so, you know to read that and that’s something I can do. Every day, I can do it over and over again to if I, if one of you know resonates with me in particular, they can just, it’s sort of like meditation. But, you know, reading something
Kara Bowman 55:27
that’s going to find people are saying, I mean they’re, they’re marking the ones that and great changes over time so certainly speak to people at different times. I find it divided up into three areas. Early grief and middle grades and later grief when you’re looking forward, and people tell me that they they mark the ones that are speaking to them at that time and making over and over. Can I help with gives people some comfort.
Mike Malatesta 55:55
Yeah, I’m sure it does it gave me comfort listening to you read that one poem, so thank you for that. Do you know, sure when you started your, your practice you were thinking about okay I’m going to work with people near where I am COVID You mentioned change that where you people couldn’t come to you anymore they had, you know, you had to adapt yoozoom and whatever, are you what are you do you work with people sort of anywhere Cara or how do you how do you manage your, your, your clients, your patients
Kara Bowman 56:27
there, yeah. In this country, therapists are licensed by state, and so you need to work with clients who are living in the same state that you’re licensed in. So I do work with a couple of people, training them and nada, communication, who work in other states or even, I get a couple of in Switzerland, I’m working with. But in terms of therapy. A, I work with people in the state but i i Actually before COVID had worked with people in, in other cities who had just heard of me through friends. So I had a little bit of an online experience before COVID I, I prefer working in the same room. Just because especially with trauma work. It’s really, there’s something just intangible about being in the same room with people, but I have found being online to be more effective than I had feared I really, really fear that, yeah. When we started so I’m seeing people all over the state, although most of the people I see are, are still in, in my area. When I said I would go back to seeing you in person when I was fully vaccinated. Only about a third of my clients wanted to come back in person because it’s so much more convenient to be online sure though that kind of surprised me before COVID They all thought they wanted to be in person and after COVID They said no this is pretty convenient. So
Mike Malatesta 58:02
believe it or not, I feel that way about a lot of things I was doing in person before as well so, but you can’t you, you could definitely do you definitely do well on in zoom I mean I feel like I’ve had a great experience with you. And, and I don’t know how much better it would be if I was sitting, you know, next year across from you in your office. So, Kara. This has been so fantastic, thank you so much for being on the show and helping us understand you and what you’ve been through and of course what you help people with as well it’s been, it wasn’t what I expected. I didn’t think I didn’t know we were going to go all those places and I’m glad we did and I’m glad that you shared and I know people can find out more about you at your website, which is Kara Bowman comm K Ra. Is there any other way that you want people to connect with you. No, I think, I think that has information about the context in which people are interested. Okay, wonderful. Well thank you so much for being on the show I’m very very grateful to have the chance to meet you and learn about you.
Kara Bowman 59:07
Yeah, I really appreciate the opportunity and I really appreciate what you’re offering to the world, the opportunity to hear from all of these people about their own journeys. Thank you. The recording has stopped. Okay. Okay, all right, I had a feeling you didn’t know what you were getting into when you ask,
Mike Malatesta 59:30
Well I’m glad I mean there was, it was fun. Yeah, I mean, cheese, but it’s but it. I mean, it made it. Not that not that anybody would want those things to happen, but just for you to have have had them happen and work your way through them. And you’re with your family and everything and then be inspired as a result to like when you said you know I have empathy for others and I immediately thought, Wow, you got to have empathy for yourself first because holy smokes it could have gone way off the rails, you know.
Kara Bowman 1:00:08
Yeah, I really hope my story. People can use it to say, if she can get through that and feel okay then I can get through what I’m going through and feel it.
Mike Malatesta 1:00:19
Yeah, exactly. I don’t know how you couldn’t. I really don’t know how you couldn’t. Wow, yeah this is fats, this was so great I’m really happy that we had this, this opportunity I really am. Yeah, thank you so much for sure. Yeah, my pleasure and I’ll let you know when this comes out, it’ll be a little while before it comes out, but I’ll let you know and, and, yeah. In the meantime, good luck with your husband and his, his, his process progress and kids, and then of course all of your patients as well I hope, I hope, I hope you help them all become not patients. Yeah, thank you very much. Okay, well, enjoy your day. Thank you. All right, Bye bye.