Black Sheep: When our people are not Our People.

We kind of land wherever we land in this life, and it doesn’t always make a great deal of sense.

We are born to certain people, in particular neighborhoods, in cities or suburbs, into cultures and value and religious systems, and we don’t really get a whole lot of say in the matter. We just sort of end up somewhere, and sometimes, the people with whom we’ve landed aren’t really Our People. 

As a therapist, I am frequently confronted with the problem of the “Black Sheep” in the family system – the individuals who feel that the people in their family or community don’t really like, understand, or accept them for who they are. These individuals feel different, either because of their own internal processes (“I don’t think I belong here”) or the way they have been treated by family and community (“We don’t think you belong here”).

Either way, the experience of being an outsider can be deeply unsettling, when people discover they are a part of a system that doesn’t feel like “home” to them.

Take Time To Grieve

Within this experience, there is often an intense desire for acceptance and connection, even (especially) from people who have rejected us. And, of course this is so!

It is normal to want to be connected to, accepted, and loved by our parents and other family and community members. This is something we look for from childhood to help us feel safe and secure. It fair to grieve the absence of that love and acceptance, or the experience of love looking differently than we might expect or hope for. Sometimes it takes us a long time to acknowledge that loss, and begin to cope with it. That is okay.

The Chosen Family

There is great liberation in recognizing that the systems into which we are born are not static; and they are not necessarily the systems that we will end up in later on. The idea of adopting a “chosen family” lends relief to those of us who feel that we might never fit in within the confines of our original systems. There’s a place for us! We can create new groups for ourselves, full of people who love and accept us in ways that feel right and true, and provide for some of the needs that our original systems may not have addressed.

The Beauty of the Black Sheep

Finally, we can be confident that we have something important, unique, and useful to offer to the world, even if it’s different than what our original systems might have wanted for us.

I’ve found that individuals who identify as a “Black Sheep” in their families are often highly resilient, creative, and empathetic. They are doing the work of learning to love and accept themselves; those that fit naturally into their systems are never pushed to do this work. Those of us that do this work are better for it – we are more in touch with ourselves, more truly able to identify what we do and do not want out of this life, and more likely to actively pursue those things.

If you aren’t currently living in it, know that there is a system in which you belong. If you don’t already know Your People, have faith that they exist, and that you will find them if you try, and please do try!

You authentic Self is worth knowing. You have much to offer. Go find Your People!


Originally posted on my blog, Common Humanity, at Psych To read more, visit


Useful Information

Some frequently asked questions and useful answers.

Online therapy works in the same way as in-office therapy, but is done online, similar to a Skype or FaceTime conversation. Clients are able to have sessions from home, work, or any other convenient location. We meet with clients using a HIPAA-compliant secure platform.

Online therapy allows you to work with us from the comfort of home, or any private location of your choosing. For some, the screen provides an added layer of comfort that makes the challenging work of being vulnerable in therapy a little easier.

Online therapy also creates the unique opportunity for you to work with us without the constraints of proximity! The practice was born in Keene, New Hampshire, but has since grown to service clients anywhere in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, Florida, and New Hampshire.

Online therapy is a great option for clients that travel for work, for college students that go home during the summertime and do not want a break in their sessions, and for anyone with a challenging or inconsistent day-to-day schedule. It is an excellent choice for clients seeking a therapist with a particular specialty that they are unable to find support for locally. Some of our clients report that online therapy makes the vulnerability element of therapy a bit less intimidating.

No. For some clients with more complex symptoms or safety concerns, having a local therapist that is readily available is important in case of crisis or the need for a higher level of care. Online therapy is also a challenge for clients that do not have access to a private, quiet space to be “in session” for the hour, or for those that do not have adequate internet connectivity.

There are several reasons why we don’t accept insurance. The most important are:

Confidentiality. Insurance companies require that your information be shared with them in order to pay for services. We prefer that clients’ information is kept as confidential as possible.

The pressure to diagnose. Insurance companies require that clients are given a mental health diagnosis in order to pay for therapy. We have found that many clients benefit from therapy, but do not meet criteria for a diagnosis. Not using insurance allows clients to access therapy without being given a mental health diagnosis.

Flexibility and freedom. Insurance companies dictate the length and number of sessions they will authorize, as well as when a client is no longer eligible for the benefits of therapy. Because we do not work with insurance panels, you and we can collaborate to determine your individual needs regarding session length, frequency of sessions, and when to terminate therapy.

While we do not accept insurance, many clients choose to submit receipts to their insurance companies to receive reimbursement via out-of-network benefits. We are happy to provide these receipts for you! Please check with your insurance company for details on your benefits.



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