Podcast: Katie Markley

Gina Thorne:                      Hi, everyone. Welcome to The Harmony Foundation Podcast series. I’m pleased today to be joined with Katie Markley with Resilience Therapy out of Boulder, Colorado. Welcome.

Katie Markley:                  Thank you.

Gina Thorne:                      So good to have you here. Really excited to learn more about resilience therapy and the program itself, but we want to learn a little bit about you first. You have a unique path to working in the field. On your website, when I was checking it out, you spend a lot of time talking about this idea of resiliency and trauma. One thing that I thought was really fascinating is that you have found yourself at the base of Mount Everest. How does that experience contribute to the work that you’re doing today around resiliency and trauma?

Katie Markley:                  That’s a great question, and I appreciate you doing that research and knowing a little bit more about me. I think that, for me, I had to really, and at a young age, discover how to find my own resilience and to build that up as a life resource for myself. I had a traumatic event happen when I was in high school still and had to work through a lot of grief very early on, so that made me interested in spirituality, finding my own relationship to a higher power. For me, I found that in nature, in looking at other cultures and understanding some of the big questions about life by really observing and also learning from different wisdom traditions. I went to Naropa University, and what compelled me to go there was the way that they integrate Buddhist philosophy into psychotherapy and how they make that actually really practical.

Working through some of my own struggles, also having a lot of addiction in my own family history and seeing how important it is to in being a psychotherapist relate to all the things that are really relevant for the most amount of people that are going to be coming through the door. I was like, “Wow, addiction is so prevalent in almost everyone’s life,” whether you’re talking about substances or process addictions, and similarly, trauma. Trauma is just everywhere. Some people might not consider themselves to be traumatized because they might not have big “T” traumas in their life. They might have a lot of small “t” traumas, things that continually happen to them that inform their belief about themselves.

Gina Thorne:                      That’s so true, and I think that that’s where the field is really changing is people are seeing that more and more, that you can’t really address addiction, similarly to the mental health. You can’t address the addiction without looking at the mental health the same with trauma. You really can’t, and however people define it, whether it’s a significant traumatic even by some people’s standards could be equally so for someone else who might’ve had something that wasn’t as big. I completely agree with you. Very exciting to hear that you spent some time at Mount Everest. That must’ve been … On another time, I’d love to hear more about the specifics around-

Katie Markley:                  Yeah.

Gina Thorne:                      … that experience. That must’ve been very cool.

Katie Markley:                  I think it helped me to understand, like I needed to understand for myself what I was made of and how deep I could dig, and so that helped me to be in touch with my own resilience and also know what it was like to go through hard times and learn to rely on myself.

Gina Thorne:                      Yeah.

Katie Markley:                  Yeah.

Gina Thorne:                      Exciting. You’ve focused your training on trauma because you believe it’s the source of much of our suffering based on what you’ve shared on your website. How does this play out in the work that you do with clients? What specifically are you doing with your clients around trauma that’s helping them really look at that issue?

Katie Markley:                  Yeah, I’m basically helping them in a couple ways that I can think of now. One would be identify the core beliefs that they’ve developed about themselves or the world based on what’s happened to them. If somebody grew up and in a small “t” trauma kind of way was always told they weren’t worthwhile, then they might not even realize that that’s a story running in the background, and even though we call that a small “t” trauma, it is so pervasive in their worldview and their personal view that you really have to dismantle that to get at some deep healing.

We’re looking at those. We’re working to desensitize any triggers that they have around some of those beliefs. I work with EMDR and somatic experiencing, and so when I’m helping clients to work with addictions and trauma, I’m also helping them to get in touch with their bodies and really to identify what they’re feeling. We just live in this very cognitive world, I believe, where we’re so used to talking about things, but we’re actually not used to knowing how to relate to our emotions. Learning the tools for sincerely relating to our emotions, unpacking that, and unloading it so that we’re not walking around feeling so much and not knowing how to manage it.

Gina Thorne:                      That’s great because I think we all have become very numb. I think we’ve allowed outside influences to really affect the ability to feel to the core from a cellular level. I agree with that.

Katie Markley:                  Yeah.

Gina Thorne:                      In addition to the many hats that you wear, you also are a young adult mentor. Obviously, you like to do a lot of things. Why is that important to today for young people to have mentors? Why is that important do you think?

Katie Markley:                  That’s a great question too, I mean, so I worked for many years in young adult transitional living program and I think found that passion for working with young adults there because I just saw, I mean, how malleable they still were and how much there was still so much potential for change and empowerment. I think that you have to, well, one, when you’re being helped, you have to not feel like there is a huge difference between the helper and the one that is being helped. You don’t want to feel like you’re just a client or you’re just a patient. You want to feel like you’re really being with someone. I think that people need mentors so that they can feel like they’re being related to, that they can have someone that says, “I’ve lived this experience, and here’s what I found,” someone that can drop the professionalism and just be very real with people. I think that having a mentor gives somebody support, it gives somebody a sense of direction and hope and a role model.

Gina Thorne:                      They certainly need more of those good ones, I think-

Katie Markley:                  Totally.

Gina Thorne:                      … as I have a budding young adult in my home. I feel that’s probably more and more imperative. Interesting though, when I ask him about mentors, he doesn’t feel like he needs one, and I don’t know if he’s still in that adolescence stage where he feels like he can handle it on his own, but I see that more and more young adults are seeking out people that they can really call to for insight and support in a different way than your parents or your teachers.

Katie Markley:                  Yeah. I also have a 16-year-old stepdaughter, and I can see how that might for young adults that it’s actually just not something that’s culturally, it’s not in the norm, and how cool would it be if it was, that we all had to seek out mentors and value that importance because, in my intake, I always ask clients, “Who were your mentors when you were young? Do you feel like you had somebody that really shaped your life besides your parents?” I often find people get actually emotional when I ask that question because they either didn’t, which is emotional, or they really did, and those people were so important to them. I actually feel kind of teary even talking about it, so yeah.

Gina Thorne:                      Well, and the truth is, sometimes we don’t think about them in that capacity. We don’t think about them that way, and they really are instrumental in helping us, for sure. I agree with that. That’s very interesting.

I really like to get to know about the person behind the program, and so I’m going to ask you an unorthodox question. If you had a billboard and you could put any phrase or slogan on it for the world to see, what would it say?

Katie Markley:                  Oh, that’s really interesting. I was actually, I just had this thing happen the other day. I was driving, and … Let me see if I can remember what it was. Actually, can I look it up real quick. Can we pause?

Gina Thorne:                      Yeah. Go ahead. Absolutely. We’ve had all sorts of interesting responses from people over the years, so yeah.

Katie Markley:                  I actually, I made a little Canva. It’s like a resource you have online to make your own meme. I made a Canva about it the other day because I was like, “Oh, I gotta capture that.” The Internet here’s not so great.

Gina Thorne:                      I’m going to pause here.

Katie Markley:                  I guess the billboard for me personally would have to be something about how healing is not something that happens to us but that it’s a relationship that we have to actively participate in. I think that that “actively participating” part is so important because we have to believe in the fact that healing is possible for us, which I think is a big hurdle for a lot of people because they’ve been suffering for so long, so that you have to believe it, and then that belief becomes a source of determination and inspiration that carries you forward in the hard times.

I think that I really see a clear distinction in the people I work with sometimes, those that believe healing is possible and those that don’t. I think sometimes people are looking for that silver bullet. They’re looking for someone to come tell them what’s wrong with them and guide them through it, and I think you definitely do need people to be your allies in healing, but you have to feel empowered that you can get healing because you’re engaged with a process that you-

Gina Thorne:                      That you own it, right?

Katie Markley:                  Yeah, but it’s an alchemy that actually, that you can impact yourself, so.

Gina Thorne:                      That’s interesting. I was just on the phone with somebody having that very conversation, and we talked just about how it’s important to be able to own the process because it’s yours and not have somebody just dictate to you what the problem is but to know-

Katie Markley:                  Right.

Gina Thorne:                      … that your healing is part of your journey. I like that. I like a lot.

Katie Markley:                  I think a lot of times when people come out of a program like Harmony, they might feel really inspired and start to have that spark, but the aftercare and how they’re engaged in their life after a program is about catching them in that phase of inspiration and how things guide them through.

Gina Thorne:                      I like that slogan a lot. Thank you for sharing that. If you were to play out the idea of the word of harmony, what do you think it means to live a life in harmony?

Katie Markley:                  I think it’s a life where you’re at peace with yourself, where you can accept where you’ve been, who you are, where you come from, and own your own unique path, your unique identity and sort of in that working with any shame that we might’ve internalized, any sense of isolation in the world and come to find that our own unique path is what makes us us and own it.

Gina Thorne:                      That’s great. Thank you. Katie, if someone wanted to access services at your program at Resilience Therapy, how could they get in touch with you?

Katie Markley:                  The best thing to do is to check out my website. I think that there’s a lot of information on there, and you really get a sense of what working with me might be like. My website is katiemarkley.com, K-A-T-I-E M-A-R-K-L-E-Y. You can also call me. My number’s on the site, but it’s also 541-513-7769.

Gina Thorne:                      Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to visit us up here at Harmony. Congratulations on your new baby.

Katie Markley:                  Thank you.

Gina Thorne:                      It’s so great.

Katie Markley:                  Yeah.

Gina Thorne:                      Oh, my goodness. We are looking forward to partnering with you and all the great work that you do for our clients who are leaving Harmony who need access to your services, so thanks again.

Katie Markley:                  Thanks so much.