When I was a budding therapist, right out of social work school, I started the process of healing from complex trauma through EMDR. My therapist suggested that I read “Facing Codependence” by Pia Mellody. I was instantly hooked. I had, of course, been familiar with the concept of codependence through previous therapeutic work and through the writing of Melody Beaty.

There was something strikingly different about Pia’s writing. From the get go, Pia’s voice as an author spoke to me from a sense of her lived experience about the demons of codependence. When an author shares authentically from their own lived experience, that authenticity comes through in the writing. « Facing Codependence » immediately resonated in me because Pia wrote from a sense of humanity that all human beings experience when faced with pain and suffering. I love memoirs for the same reason and it is one of the reasons that am writing my own memoir. That humanity touches that fiber in us that relates to story telling the way that gifted storytellers do. Pia Mellody’s writing still resonates with readers today for the same reasons. Her writing also imparts a way of organizing the mess and confusion that survivors of dysfunctional families live with until they receive therapy. Her book made a profound impact on my psyche and mind. It continues to do so today.

A year later after reading “Facing Codependence”, I worked for a therapist that dealt with chemical dependency in her caseload. She referred clients to the Meadows, one of the premier treatment center for addiction in the country, that used to be the psychiatric hospital that Pia Mellody worked at as a nurse and then as a clinician. Soon enough, when I started my own private practice a year later, I naturally continued to treat clients with different addictions, either chemical dependency or process addictions such as sex addiction. So I started naturally referring clients to the Meadows. One day, the Meadows offered me a spot in a Post Induction Therapy (PIT) workshop with Pia Mellody I immediately jumped on the opportunity and never regretted it!

It is not to say that as a clinician, I was immediately enamored of Pia as a person during the training. Funny enough, it was quite the opposite. Pia, at that time, had another clinician helping her with the training. Her friend, a fellow clinician, was originally from Greece. Her friend being European, having immigrated to the United States as I did, immediately created a safety bond for me with her. Pia, for me at that time, was quintessentially American. As I was still developing skills as a therapist at that time, certain American cultural precepts proved more challenging than others. I really appreciated my good fortune of having her fellow clinician in the training because it helped me bridge some of that cultural divide.

I loved the training! I have to admit though that I came away from that first training a little bit judgmental about Pia as a person. The Universe, however, had a sense of humor with me and held a mirror to my mind about my preconceptions. Two years after attending the workshop, I attended a wonderful conference sponsored by the Meadows. The best clinicians, well known published authors and clinicians themselves gave lectures at the conference. Among them, to name a few, were Bessel Van der Kolk, Peter Levine, John Bradshaw and of course Pia Mellody. At the end of the first day, I went to dinner with several other PIT trained therapists. As I sat next to Stephanie, the therapy friend trained with me during my training, Stephanie exclaimed:

“By the way Engracia! I did another training with Pia on the Inner Child during which she shared that she had joined the meditation path that you are on. Her fellow therapist that helped at our joint training brought her to the grounds of Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades!”

I was too stunned to say anything! I immediately reflect on the irony about this “mirror” put in front of awareness by the Universe. I barely have time to think about it when Pia enters the restaurant and joins the other staff from the Meadows at a nearby table.

“Hey Pia!” Stephanie interpells Pia. “Do you remember Engracia that was in my first PIT training with you? Remember that she has done some of the same meditation training that you are following right now?”

Pia immediately gets up and comes over to me. She sits by me. She is completely earnest. She peppers me with questions that I do my best to answer. Then completely satisfied, she leaves us to rejoin her group. I am still quite stunned. However, the realization that the Universe has an exquisite sense of humor at my expense totally dawns on me after that moment. Of course, that experience completely reset my perception and understanding of the person that Pia is. I partook of other PIT trainings over the years and then I had a completely different experience of Pia in these trainings. Of course, I was then aware of the lesson that the Universe taught me and I am forever humbled by it.

Pia also relayed during the first training that she received a “download of the PIT model while vacuuming”! I did not really understand what she meant by that at the time. However, I never forgot it. Over the years, after working with the model for many years, I came to understand what she meant. What she meant was that while vacuuming, she got a clear insight into organizing clinical concepts and thoughts developmental immaturity issues in family systems. I continue to this day to deeply appreciate both the intuitive understanding and the cognitive conceptualization that the PIT model has imparted to me as a clinician. I also love that Pia’s books and insights are so digestible to clients. Developmental immaturity issues are pervasive, they are transmitted from generations to generations diagnosing. I have now been in practice for 23 years and I continually recommend her body of work.

Today, Pia Mellody is one of those authors and clinical teachers that I still gravitate to. Her writing has a universal quality that resonates with everyone who has the privilege of reading her books. I am forever grateful for her profound contributions to the field of transgenerational issues of relational trauma. When a person understands how to release deep seated (carried) shame, a person releases the claws of inauthenticity and frees oneself to live authentically in their own self. That is the gift that Pia’s body of work has given to the world.