Get to Know Michelle Weiss Kagel
"It doesn't matter what kind of baggage you have,
what matters is that you have a matched set."
While this statement may seem rather glib, it is a very simple way to understand the kind of therapy that Michelle does with her couples, individuals and families. She listens to what each person brings into their relationship, and helps them figure out the ways to have them fit together in more productive and healthful ways. Sometimes, this means understanding why the baggage is there. Sometimes, this means understanding a different way to fit the baggage into the trunk of the car. And sometimes it means making some tough decisions and figuring out how to pack one's baggage more efficiently so that the couple can get on the road together!
Everyone has baggage, and while we might admire survivalists who require nothing more than a knife and an antibiotic cream, for most of us we need more to make our travels enriching rather than stressful. We might take a jacket to keep us warm and dry, or sneakers to allow us to walk long distances, or a picture of our loved ones to keep us from feeling lonely. In this metaphor, under-packing is the equivalent of not having the skills that one needs to do what one needs to do, so we figure out a work-around that is not as efficient, and might be bad for us in the long run. Not packing that raincoat might lead one to being cold and wet, susceptible to illness. Overpacking is when we bring everything we might need and then some, weighing us down and keeping us from enjoying the moment. Four pairs of shoes for a four day trip may be fashionable, but carrying around that extra weight is exhausting and keeps us from enjoying the trip. Similarly, memories of past hurts can weigh us down and keep us from being able to engage in the moment with our loved ones.
So what do we do with all of this baggage? We can pack lighter, by letting go of some of the hurts. We can shift things around, by learning to trust our partner more deeply. We can get better luggage, which might be relationship tools that allow us to carry that baggage more efficiently. We might need to buy more luggage, and develop some new relationship skills all together.
When you begin your work with Michelle, she will start by really listening to your story - where are you going? What are your goals? What will you need for your journey? What are your strengths? What are your squeaky wheels? What are your areas for growth? From there, you will work together to figure out what will make the most sense for your future.
Michelle adapts her style of therapy to her client, and will always keep your needs at the forefront of her mind. While she is always on your side, she will also challenge you and ask you the tough questions you're probably avoiding asking yourself. She's been known to make some pop culture references in session, and is not afraid to let her geek flag fly. She might be a cross between Agent Carter, Dr. Ruth and your favorite teacher. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking with local ingredients, traveling and action movies.
Michelle is available to speak to your community or group about many topics, including grief, chronic illness, relationship health and interfaith relationships. Some of her topics include:
- how a community can support a family experiencing chronic or terminal illness
- how to support caregivers, and how caregivers can support themselves
- how to survive and thrive in your child's interfaith relationship
- how to turn na-sayers into allies regarding your interfaith relationship
- healthy relationships - the key to your religious community's future
- The Values of Tradition: How understanding your traditions can enhance your family
- Interfaith relationships - The Questions You don't want to think about, but really should
She is also available to speak with children's groups ages 5 through 18 about healthy relationships, working with groups from 5 to 80.
- Our Whole Lives Certified Educator
- Jewish Educators Assembly
- Alpha Eta Society