I’m Judy Stone-Goldman, and my story has multiple threads coming together to create my life today. First, I have been a certified speech-language pathologist for over 30 years, working with children and adults who have communication disorders. For many of those years I taught at the University of Washington in Seattle, working with undergraduate and graduate students in speech-language pathology. Teaching has always been—and remains—a passion of mine.
Early in my career I began studying counseling and the psychology of families. My motivation came from both seeing the needs of families in my clinical work and also going through life struggles around my own family. I quickly bumped into the reality that speech-language pathologists—as well as other helping professionals—were in a tricky situation: we formed important relationships with families, but we weren’t, for the most part, trained as professional counselors. So how were we to manage the boundary challenges and the demanding situations that inevitably arose?
My studies led to a master’s in psychology and a license as a mental health counselor. My mission became to help specialists in rehabilitation and education—speech-language pathologists, audiologists, occupational and physical therapists, teachers—learn counseling and relationship skills appropriate to their professional contexts. I began teaching workshops around the country, and I quickly learned how common the themes were among those of us who strive to form supportive, beneficial relationships in our work helping others.
In all this work, I supported people in reflecting on their roles and relationships, but I wasn’t yet focused on reflective practice as a strategy. That emerged in 2008 after I left the University of Washington and opened a small private practice where I worked with young children with speech and language delays. Perhaps because I was more isolated, working alone in an office, I felt the stressors of working with people more acutely. I struggled with one particular family and became very ungrounded—off balance emotionally and mentally. I reacted too emotionally to our interactions, and I was distracted by my own worries, so I couldn’t concentrate on the family’s needs very well. I was increasingly anxious about whether I was doing a good job, and I began losing confidence in myself.
This is when I began a more purposeful reflective process, particularly free writing, as a way to understand myself and regain perspective. The beneficial effects of the active reflection and writing were so great, I decided to build a new dimension to my business. I wove reflective practice into my presentations and workshops, and began urging professionals to consider emotional balance as a requirement for effective clinical work. As I saw my audience grow to include people in other service roles—administrators, aides, even accountants—two things became clear: you don’t have to be on the clinical front lines to want to relate to and help people more effectively, and everyone gets unbalanced at times.
Writing comes naturally to me. I wrote a lot as a child—stories, journals, poems—and after college I worked as a technical and copy editor. I loved writing and words, and I might have stayed in publishing, but I was drawn to a career helping others. I never stopped being involved in writing, however, and it feels natural to have evolved from academic writing to reflective writing.
As I deepened reflective practice and its role in my life, I discovered that I needed different ways of reflecting on different days. Some days I needed to let my mind wander while exercising. Some days I needed quiet sitting and breathing (what some people call meditation). Some days I needed to practice mindfulness while chopping vegetables or staring at the sky. I understood that reflective practice involves varied tools, and that life calls for different types of self-awareness at different times.
As I expanded the ways I sought a reflective space and challenged myself to grow, I came to the next thread of my life: ARTbundance™. ARTbundance™ is a coaching method of inspiring awareness and growth through creativity. I first came to ARTbundance™ as a client, and its natural fit to my spirit and my goals led me to complete the ARTbundance™ Certification Program. As a new ARTbundance™ Coach, I am thrilled to be expanding my work with people who want to explore within and move in new directions. With myself and my clients, I see ARTbundance™ methods leading to bursts of emotional and creative energy. Transitions and transformation flow naturally from the inner changes.
I invite you to join me in making reflective practice and creative self-discovery a part of your life. Whether you write, meditate, draw, or exercise, you will find that focusing attention inward and inviting yourself to express yourself freely will lead you to new territory, both professionally and personally.