Featured Changemaker: Victoria Eagle
Meet Dr. Victoria Eagle, Clinical Child Psychologist & Conscious Mama of Two
what’s your changemaking work about?
I am a licensed clinical psychologist, with a child and family focus. I provide a specialized form of trauma treatment for young children called Child Parent Psychotherapy, which supports the attachment relationship between parent and child while working through trauma-related symptoms and intergenerational trauma. I am the owner of Santa Cruz Child Therapy, a private practice located in Soquel, California that provides therapeutic support for children, adolescents and parents.
What's you core message? What are you out to create, heal or change?
I am here to bring awareness to the emotional needs of children and the tremendous importance of the parent-child relationship. I often feel like a translator between parent and child, helping each to understand and have greater compassion for themselves and for one another. I believe that as parents, we have an incredible duty in this world to gently guide our children while respecting their individuality and full expression of their spirit.
What's a story about your field of interest/industry that you feel is negative/limiting/fear-based?
I feel that all too often, children are evaluated solely by how they behave. The problem with this is that behavior is only the surface level of a person, without telling the full story. I find that negative behaviors often serve as protective mechanisms for children and that these symptoms need to be respected for the ways in which they have been of assistance. By simply removing the behavior or symptom so that the child fits in at school or with others, it can sometimes be like removing a person's armor and sending them into battle. Children are often referred to therapy in order for the child to be "fixed". In this way, the child at times becomes the scapegoat for the family or classroom for all problems to be dumped onto them as their issue. Unfortunately, I find that it is hardly ever this simple. When provided with the supportive and sometimes individualized environment that they need, children (even those with chemical imbalances from birth), are able to thrive.
What's a new story we could begin to tell about this particular subject?
I would love to see societal views of children's mental health extending beyond surface level behavior, with questions such as, "What has the child experienced in their life?", "What is the child's connection with their parent/teacher/culture?", "When is the child NOT behaving like this?" "What is the child's connection with the earth / natural world?" "What are the strengths of this family and how can family ritual be included in the care of this child's mental health?" "What is the school / teacher / principal / city / state / country willing to do to support the well-being of this child?"
As a psychologist working with young children, it is nearly impossible for me to feel effective in my work without the assistance from all who are involved in caring for the child. I would love for more children to have the feeling of a "village" surrounding them, particularly in times of need. I have found that the more deeply a child is supported by family, their cultural practices, and feel more connected with the natural world, the more likely they are to demonstrate resilience in times of great distress.
What does it mean to you to work or live seasonally?
In my practice, I find that living seasonally pertains to the breathing in and out that comes with healing. In the colder Fall and Winter months, as the light diminishes and more time is spent indoors, there are more opportunities for families to come together and also to crash into one another. The inward nature of the colder months seems to draw people into themselves and can heighten depressive symptoms. This time of year can also be a time of deep reflection and transformation, depending on the person's internal resources. It is during the colder months that it seems more families are in need of psychological assistance, especially in a crisis situation. During the Springtime, as new ideas sprout from below, there can be an influx of new coping strategies, or at least an openness to hearing about healthy alternatives. There seems to be a burst of energy toward self-help and living more fully, with more expressiveness toward achieving goals and gaining assistance. As Summer arrives, so comes the relaxation of a long breath out after months of tense activity. This is the time that I find children and families are able to work through things more easily on their own, without the need of professional assistance. The school pressure and transitional stress releases and everyone seems to become a bit more comfortable with themselves and each other. The family's coping mechanisms are more readily available as time slows down and individuals find more time to sleep and spend casual moments with one another.
What's one thing you've had to overcome to get where you are today in your life's work?
I had to overcome the thought that I must know everything there is to know about children and families in order to help them. Not only is this an impossible task, but also only acknowledges that credentials and education are important. Although I obtained a doctoral degree and gained excellent post-doctoral training, I have to say that my greatest teachers have been my own children. It is incredibly humbling to be a parent and I say periodically, as I find myself in an emotional bind with one of my children, "How in the world can I be of service to anyone else.. I clearly don't know what I am doing!" Then I laugh and remember that through these experiences of feeling like a novice in the game of life, I remain curious and open to ideas. By helping families from the perspective of, "What is going on here? Let's figure it out together." I am able to truly be of assistance by having genuine compassion for the tremendous work of parenthood and also to help parents become more curious about themselves and their children. It is through this curiosity that real connection and eventual change occurs.
What's one of the most important decisions you've ever made in your career? What do you feel especially proud of having done or decided?
I completed my post doctoral internship at UCSF's Child Trauma Research Program. I was hesitant initially when I found out that I would be working with young children (Birth through 6), as I could not imagine how one would conduct trauma therapy with a young baby. I soon found out about the unique healing mechanism of the parent-child attachment and the therapeutic ways to heal ruptures that occur therein. This two year intensive training provided me with the platform from which to view humans in general, but especially children and parents impacted by trauma. I will be forever grateful for the excellent training I received and the awareness I gained about the sacred relationship between parent and child.
If you could share 1 piece of golden advice for conscious entrepreneurs pursuing their soul's calling, what would that advice be?
Listen to your body along the way. The business world can be full of brain-based decisions that can sometimes feel confusing. You have an internal guide with you at all times that can point you in the direction of well-being. Listen to it!
How can people work with you? Do you have nay upcoming offers you want to highlight?
Visit my website, or call and I am happy to consult with you about your needs. For any general trauma-based questions, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) is a helpful resource.
Visit Victoria at her site: http://santacruzchildtherapy.com