Holistic psychology treats the total person focusing on the relationships among the mind, body, and spirit. The holistic approach is not new. In fact, over 2,500 years ago Hippocrates used the term to describe health and health care. Hippocrates emphasized the importance of looking at all aspects of a person, understanding that various factors all contribute to a person’s health. Holistic therapy educates the individual and draws from cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychoanalysis, breath work, personal growth, relaxation, imagery, and nutrition. Holistic therapy works to enhance a person’s well-being.Read More
Recently, I received a question from a reader asking how he and his partner could better communicate without judging one another. Being non-judgmental is great, but putting that into practice takes effort and, well, practice. Just like any other skill (e.g., cooking, soccer, knitting, etc.), effective communication takes practice. Whether you are currently struggling with communication or want to enhance your current communication, here are some strategies for healthy, non-judgmental communication in relationships, with colleagues, with family and neighbors, etc.:Read More
The metaphor for self-care. We've all experienced it or at least heard it...as part of the standard pre-flight announcements, the flight attendant instructs that, "if there should be a change in cabin pressure...put your oxygen mask on first before helping others." I get the importance of this if your plane is in free-fall, but it is not a good metaphor for self-care in everyday life. Why? Because that example is an extreme emergency. If we waited for extreme emergencies to start implementing self-care we'd be burnt out, have autoimmune issues, develop cancer, be overweight, be depressed, anxious, and in pain, etc. Oh wait, THAT is actually happening!!Read More
Meaning. We've all likely mused about it or thought about engaging in more pursuits that feel meaningful; however, soccer practice, needing to provide a steady income for the little things like a roof over your head, food on the table, healthcare, etc. sometimes fly in the face of a Mother Teresa-like image of making meaning. The bad news...one of the biggest regrets of the dying is not cultivating meaning and lack of meaning makes folks want to kill themselves. The good news...cultivating meaning can be done in little ways, every day.Read More
How do you, as a therapist, deal with hearing people’s trauma and problems?
That’s a great question. I enjoy working with others and that often does involve listening to others talk about what is troubling them. I feel compassion for what my clients are going through currently and the past struggles they've had; however, I know that it is not my job to "fix" them. In fact, I can't "fix" anyone, even if I wanted to. They are their own best healer. My job is to provide a supportive and judgment-free space for them to share their experiences, worries, and trauma; to teach them strategies and techniques to help them become healthier; and to remind them the ways they can feel most connected to life, to others, and to themselves. When working with others, I focus on the positive and their strengths, and reflect that back to them. All jobs have their stresses, and as a therapist, we are trained in techniques to help others; however, the training for taking care of ourselves was lacking. I’ve taught general self-care techniques for providers. I’ve also pursued resources to help me better manage the stress specific to the job of a therapist. I use specific visualizations and then take care of myself using the same self-care techniques that I teach my clients.
· I meditate daily (even if it is only for 3 minutes).
· I stay active and move my body several times a week with walks or weight-lifting. As a working mom, I focus on activity over trying to maintain a perfect exercise routine.
· I spend time in nature when I can.
· I do my best to practice mindfulness and be present when I am with my family.
· I spend time with friends inside and outside of the field.
· I pursue hobbies that don’t have anything to do with my work.
· I sleep 7-8 hours per night (most nights).
· I say No to things that don’t fulfill me.
This self-care plan has been a work in progress, and it’s definitely not perfect, but that’s okay. It’s a self-care practice which means I’m always working on it.
What do a sprained ankle, asthma, acne, depression, and Alzheimer’s all have in common?
Inflammation is a natural, innate response to injury, stress, illness, pain, etc. It’s our body’s way of bringing attention to an area that needs some attention/healing so that other parts of the vascular system and the immune system can be notified and work to reduce the inflammation. Acute inflammation is good. Think of times in which inflammation helped you. Any ideas? Have you had an infection? Have you sprained your ankle? Have you had a paper cut? In those instances, inflammation can be helpful, but when inflammation doesn’t stop at acute injury, it can take over the body. Widespread inflammation leads to a host of illnesses, but you can make changes to reduce inflammationRead More
Countless articles have been written about how to balance having a career and being a parent. I know because I've read them, and I've fallen short of the expectation that balancing was possible. What happens when you release the expectation that you should be able to balance it all and ease into the murky abyss of blending your career passions with the humans you love the most?Read More
In this disease-focused society, diagnoses are given out like chocolate on Halloween night. But what if we looked at the paradigm a bit differently? What if we saw anxiety as a messenger…as a friend? What if anxious feelings were really just our body and mind talking to us, trying to get us to listen, urging us to make a little or a big change? Anxious feelings like shallow, rapid breathing, dry mouth, and/or a racing heartbeat may be signs urging us to do something. Here are a few things that anxiety might be trying to tell you…Read More
One of my dearest friends just broke up with her long-term boyfriend mere months before their planned, year-long travel adventure. One of my colleagues lost both of her parents in the past 8 months. And yet another friend lost a job she thought she’d be in for the long-haul. What do these women have in common…besides wanting to listen to some sappy music and eat some good chocolate? They now have the OPPORTUNITY to truly figure out what they want to do with their lives on their own terms.Read More
The mind-body connection is vital, but often, when there is a problem like stress, anxiety, depression, or trauma (e.g., PTSD), the issue is thought to be housed solely in the brain/mind; therefore, the solution is thought to be drugs and talk therapy that focus on the neurochemistry and belief systems of the brain/mind. That is an incomplete answer. Due to the mechanisms by which trauma, stress reactions, etc. become lodged in the brain (a vast topic of recent research), therapies that access the body are often helpful at tapping into the areas of the brain where the trauma and stress get stuck, thus assisting with resolving the issue.Read More
Is it weird that as a seasoned professional I always feel “impostor syndrome” when I attempt something new? Is this normal as a mature adult?
Dear Reader, You are normal, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be :) You can take action to change the beliefs and thinking fueling your imposter syndrome!Read More
When I answered my phone late on a Thursday afternoon, the voice that responded to my greeting was defeated and irritable. Lisa, as I would soon learn, was randomly calling therapists, and I was the fourth therapist she’d seen this month. She didn’t know what questions to ask me or how to search for a therapist who was a good fit for her. The following six strategies can save you time and energy by finding a great therapist for you.Read More
By this point, the list of providers that I had seen was longer than my son’s Christmas list (and that’s saying something). As you might imagine, I was/am feeling beyond frustrated that none of these providers could help me. And it’s not so much that I expect one to have the magic wand to fix everything, but having someone who cared enough to put the emotional and physical pieces together and examine the whole me…not just what is going on at the space in my spine between L4 and L5 (the results of the MRI indicated a bulging disc on the opposite side of my pain), but to also look at my history of SI joint issues exacerbated by pregnancy, and to note that my hamstring muscle seems to be tight and twisted which might be related to why my ankle keeps swelling…and I haven’t even touched acknowledging the role that stress and muscle tension might be having in this whole mess.Read More
Prenote: I’m not comfortable with vulnerability (especially public vulnerability!!), but I have learned much from Brene Brown’s work and think that vulnerability is part of healing, so here we go…
My pride pushed back on the idea of a mind-body syndrome such as tension myositis syndrome (TMS) causing my pain. I’m a mind body psychologist! How could my back/glute/hamstring pain be related to the mind-body? Well, it's a thing called blind spots...we often don’t see the things in ourselves that are so seemingly obvious in others!Read More
Many of my favorite health and personal development professionals have said that they’ve had an “on my knees” moment of dark despair (e.g., Christine Hassler, Elizabeth Gilbert) or a health crisis (e.g., Christa Orecchio, Chris Kresser) that caused them to pursue their personal healing path and, subsequently, to teach others how to be healthier…both in mind and body. These professionals wrote about their experiences once they were safely on the other side of the crisis. I admired that but was simultaneously grateful that I had no such health crisis or "on my knees" moment of despair…until December 10th. And I am writing this while still very much in the midst of the crisis.Read More
If there were a substance that could reduce inflammation, boost energy, improve thyroid function, aid in nutrient absorption, improve brain function, and tastes delicious, you would probably want to know how to get your hands on some of this amazing substance, right? The substance is something you might already have in your pantry, or if not, you’d certainly be able to find it at your local grocery store. That substance is…coconut oil!Read More
Several months ago I participated in a clinician training for Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART). According to The Rosenzweig Center for Rapid Recovery, ART is “a form of psychotherapy with roots in existing evidence-based therapies but shown to achieve benefits much more rapidly (usually within 1-5 sessions). Clients with depression, anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, sexual abuse and many other mental and physical conditions can experience remarkable benefits starting in the first session.”
Sounds too good to be true, right? I thought so, too, until I tried it.Read More
I love books. For real. And I even like writing book reports, so when I found out that I could obtain continuing education units for my nutritional therapy certification by writing book reports, I was all in!
The book that I reviewed was Dr. Kellyann's Bone Broth Diet by Kellyann Petrucci, MD, ND. I chose this book for several reasons. First, many of my clients want to know how to lose weight, and some of them are ready to take drastic measures to drop some pounds. Second, it's cold here in the mid-Atlantic, and a cup of hot bone broth sounds really good on a rainy 30 degree day. Third, I've heard Dr. Kellyann on a number of podcasts, and she seems very relate-able plus she looks AMAZING, so she must be doing something right :)Read More
I've never been a fan of diagnoses. (More on that in future blog posts!). From my early days in graduate school when we learned which symptoms combine together to create a diagnosis, the process never quite felt right to me. Two people with the same diagnosis could have very different underlying issues causing their symptoms. Diagnoses are labels. Labels can be helpful in some cases, but they also can have negative ramifications. Labels can limit the belief about the ability to return to health.Read More
Behaviors are quite far downstream. We don’t often just “behave’ without a long string of underlying beliefs about ourselves and the world, thoughts, and emotions driving those behaviors. The behaviors can seem to “just happen” because our core beliefs (i.e., basic assumptions about the world) and thoughts that determine our self-worth operate at the unconscious level; we can’t see them working as a program behind the scenes to inform our every behavior. So, when we make healthy changes that are inconsistent with unhealthy beliefs and thoughts, we can’t sustain them because our unhealthy beliefs and thoughts are still working against the healthy way of behaving. We haven’t updated the program to feed the healthy behaviors. This results in falling off the wagon.Read More