Hi! My name is Tina Harlow. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the founder of Guiding Bright. Over the last 30 years, I have had the honor of working with numerous children and families in a variety of settings including outpatient, day treatment, residential programs, intensive family treatment, child welfare, private practice and even a performing arts camp. In 2008, I received the top Excellence in Practice Award from the Colorado Department of Human Services for my work with children and families. That is my professional journey.
It was my personal journey that led me here.
After feeling scattered and less-than-bright for years, I realized that I have many characteristics that our society labels "ADHD" as well as a heightened way of experiencing the world. Through that process, I stumbled upon the fact that I am also gifted. I had been identified as “gifted” as a child, but that went away when my family moved to a new school so I never really saw myself in that light.
I started talking with close friends about this and learned that many of them, as children, had been identified as "gifted" as well. How could I not have known this? Well it turns out that it is a rather taboo subject. We don't talk about it. In keeping with societal norms, we minimize our gifts and focus on our detriments. The result: We are disconnected from our authentic selves and that incongruence creates a great deal of anxiety.
But that was just the beginning of my learning.
Along the way I encountered Dr. Kazimierz Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration. It was through this lens that I was able to fully understand and embrace all of the complex pieces that make me who I am. In addition, I gleaned a better understanding of my family of origin, as well as my two children. It turns out that this stuff does indeed run in families.
I set out to learn how to cope with the perfectionism, intensity and sensitivities that shape my experience on this planet. Initially, I felt a bit like an oddball. Then I began to look at my successes, not in spite of my neurological differences, but because of them. I took it upon myself to "dis" the word disorder and call it “difference.”
I studied ad nauseam and began experimenting with a variety of approaches and strategies. In addition to my new strength-based lens, I discovered a number of tools that help me, as well as my children, to manage each of our specific challenges. My ongoing quest for personal insight and acceptance has been pivotal in helping me understand how to best support my children as well as the young clients with whom I am so blessed to work.
Now all is not perfect. I remind myself daily that I am a work in progress. But I know what to do when one of my children is refusing to do their homework or having a major meltdown. I no longer worry that I am a bad parent or believe that the future success of my children rests in my hands.
This journey has ignited a passion within me to create avenues for bright children and their parents to recognize, understand and accept themselves and to learn strategies for managing their accompanying challenges.
To the next chapter of your journey and mine…