My 6 Favorite Podcasts Right Now

Looking for some new podcasts to listen to?

I'm on a bit of a holiday hiatus from new episodes of Therapy Chat podcast. In the meantime, I wanted to tell you about some other podcasts I love. Here are 6 podcasts I'm listening to and recommending frequently! I hope you will check them out and please comment with your favorite podcast!

[Click here to listen to this post in podcast episode format]

Click here for all episodes of Women In Depth!

Click here for all episodes of Women In Depth!

1. Women In-Depth with Dr. Lourdes Viado, MFT - I love this podcast because my friend and colleague Lourdes Viado conducts interesting and (as the name implies) in-depth interviews on topics that people don't usually talk about. Lourdes is a depth psychologist who was mentored by Jungian analyst and author Dr. James Hollis. She is so knowledgeable about her work and I love listening to her soothing voice. The podcast is fantastic and I recommend it without reservation! Some of the episodes I frequently recommend to my clients include:

Episode 10: Spiritual Abuse: What It Is & Why It Matters with Tamara Powell, LMHC

Episode 23: Understanding Spiritual Abuse (Part 2) with Tamara Powell, LMHC

Episode 14: Women and the Midlife Crisis with Diann Wingert, LCSW

Episode 21: Healing the Mother Wound with Bethany Webster

Women In-Depth covers subjects that people may consider off-limits or taboo, such as infidelity, sexual abuse, staying in an unhappy marriage, and much more. I hope you'll check it out! Let me know what you think! 

I must add, Lourdes has been a guest on Therapy Chat too. I frequently tell people about her episode, which was about "The Shadow." To listen to that episode click here! I've also been a guest on her podcast.

Click on the image to listen to Mom and Mind!

Click on the image to listen to Mom and Mind!

2. Mom & Mind with Dr. Kat Kaeni - Dr. Kat is a clinical psychologist who specializes in maternal mental health. She is knowledgeable, skilled and experienced at helping people who are struggling with infertility, emotional health related to pregnancy - including pregnancy loss, and post-partum stress like depression, anxiety, OCD and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Her podcast is a fabulous resource offering information to pregnant and parenting moms, fathers and people who are trying to conceive as well as healthcare providers and psychotherapists. I have learned so much from Dr. Kat and her podcast and I recommend it frequently! Start out with these episodes:

Episode 1: My Postpartum Story: Anxiety and Depression

Episode 3: Resources for PPD Healing and Learning

Episode 7: The Good Mother

Mom and Mind is a great resource. Stay tuned to my podcast to hear an upcoming interview with Dr. Kat. I can't wait to share her with my audience! 

Click on the image to listen to all the episodes of Galactic Vibrations!

Click on the image to listen to all the episodes of Galactic Vibrations!

3. Galactic Vibrations with Keri Nola and Lloyd Burnett - if you've listened to my podcast you've heard Keri Nola there. She's been on twice, talking about intuition and the Shadow. I am a huge fan of both Keri and Lloyd, who are amazing energy healers and coaches. Their podcast is brand new (it came out less than a month ago) and it is a huge hit already. If you are into the "woo woo" stuff like I am, you'll enjoy hearing their energetic forecasts, oracle card readings, and so much more.  Get started by listening to these three episodes:

Episode 1: Understanding & Healing the Energy of Denial

Episode 2: Using the Energy of Fear to Unlock the Mystery of Ascension

Episode 3: The Shadow of Force, the Truth of New Years Resolutions, and People Pleasing

I've done coaching for business and personal growth with both Keri and Lloyd. They're great at what they do! And as I mentioned, Keri has been on my podcast. She talked about using intuition in therapy in Episode 11, back when my podcast was called The Baltimore Annapolis Psychotherapy Podcast. And she contributed to my series of episodes on the Shadow (after Lourdes's episode, mentioned above) in Episode 42.

Click on the image to listen to Launching Your Daughter!

Click on the image to listen to Launching Your Daughter!

4. Launching Your Daughter with Nicole Burgess, LMFT - My friend and colleague Nicole Burgess, LMFT, practices in Indianapolis, Indiana with a focus on teen girls and women. Nicole is super passionate about her work and it comes through when you listen to her podcast.

She has been kind enough to have me on her podcast twice!  Once I talked about The Daring Way™ and the second time was about helping your daughter (or son) if they experience sexual violence. Nicole's podcast covers a wide variety of topics related to the issues of parenting girls.

Here's a sampling of some of her episodes that I've enjoyed:

Episode 34: How Art Therapy Can Be Effective With Teens

Episode 33: How to Create Healthy Boundaries In Your Family

Episode 31: Ways Parents & Teens Can Receive Support Around Suicide Prevention

I hope you'll enjoy listening to Launching Your Daughter as much as I do.

These last two podcasts are super amazing ones for therapists who are building private practices. Both of the podcasters are my buddies - they've both helped me in tons of different ways and if you're a therapist you probably already know of them. If not - prepare to have your mind blown!

Click on the image to listen to Selling the Couch!

Click on the image to listen to Selling the Couch!

5. Selling The Couch with Dr. Melvin Varghese - Melvin is an awesome psychologist in Philadelphia who wanted to start his own private practice so like any good student, he set out to learn from people who have already done it. Melvin has interviewed dozens upon dozens of therapists and other experts in practice-building to learn how they have managed to build successful private practices and other types of businesses. Melvin has interviewed experts on marketing, multiple income streams, running groups, building websites, creating Psychology Today profiles, writing books, mindset shifts, and so much more. He's had over 100 episodes so far and his podcast is listed in the top 100 business podcasts on iTunes, which is a pretty significant accomplishment! I'm super excited for Melvin as he's now building his private practice, following all that great advice he's received, and I know he will help many people! Here are a few of his most recent episodes. There are so many - if you're a therapist trying to build your private practice I recommend you listen to every episode - but here are a few to get you started:

Episode 93: How Comparison Can Steal Your Joy

Episode 92: My Morning Routine & Productivity

Episode 85: Saying No As a Private Practice Owner

Melvin was on my podcast talking about how therapists can use podcasting to grow their practices. He knows his stuff. He taught me pretty much everything I know about podcasting. Podcasting has enriched my life in so many ways and it's mainly Melvin who I have to thank for it. Here's Episode 49 of Therapy Chat with Melvin Varghese.

Click on the image to listen to the Blissful Practice Podcast!

Click on the image to listen to the Blissful Practice Podcast!

6. Blissful Practice Podcast with Dr. Agnes Wainman - this is another brand new podcast. Disclaimer - I was the first guest on this podcast. But I don't love it only because I've been on it. Agnes is a psychologist in Ontario, Canada who has learned the hard way how to create a private practice that feels blissful. She spent time at the other end of that spectrum, feeling burned out, and she wants to help therapists who are building private practices find their own bliss.  On her podcast, Agnes talks to therapists about their journeys to private practice. I love her perspective and I think you'll love her podcast. Check it out here:

Episode 3: Why I Became A Therapist

Episode 2: Networking Guru Allison Salmon Puryear

Episode 1: Therapists Can Change the World: A Discussion with Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

Agnes was one of my early guests on Therapy Chat (back when it wasn't called that). Check out our interview here!

Click here to listen to Therapy Chat!

Click here to listen to Therapy Chat!

So now you have my list of 6 podcasts I'm loving right now. When you have downtime this holiday season, check them out! I am sure you'll find at least one that you really love. 

Of course, you're always welcome to listen to Therapy Chat, there are 64 episodes counting the podcast version of this blog post, and I would love for you to listen, subscribe and leave a rating and review! 

If you want to read more of what I write, follow me on TwitterFacebookInstagram and Pinterest. You can also visit iTunes to subscribe to Therapy Chat. There you'll hear me talking about what I talk about and interviewing other people about what I'm interested to discuss. Or you can listen to Therapy Chat on my website, or on iHeartRadioStitcher or Google Play.

If you're in Maryland, and you want therapy to explore the vulnerable parts of yourself that are in need of healing, check out my website. Therapists can learn about my Trauma Therapist Community by clicking here.

You can also call me at 443-510-1048 or e-mail me at laura@laurareaganlcswc.com. I look forward to connecting! In the meantime, take care and I hope you enjoy the holidays!

 Warmly,

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

Therapy Chat Podcast Episode 24: Vicarious Trauma

Therapy Chat Podcast Episode 24: Vicarious Trauma

Welcome! Today’s topic is one that’s important to therapy professionals and to first responders, too - for anyone who works with people who are suffering, Vicarious Trauma is important. I just attended a workshop on this topic by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, the author of Trauma Stewardship

Here’s what you’ll hear in this episode:

  • The terms Vicarious Trauma and Secondary Traumatic Stress are interchangeable as I'm using them here.
  • Therapists bear witness to the traumatic stories of clients and are affected by them.
  • The nature of therapy work requires empathy; it’s honorable, brave, and important work intended to make the world a better place.
  • There are small ways to lessen the impact of trauma, by mindfully checking in with yourself and using positive coping methods.
  • As a therapist, how much are you “numbing?” We discuss examples.
  • Laura recommends spending 12-60 minutes each day, for six days a week, working out to the degree of breaking a sweat.
  • We owe it to the people we help to take care of our Vicarious Trauma, and regular exercise is one way to do that.
  • Isolation is common in trauma work, because we feel like “nobody understands.”
  • The American Counseling Association lists several signs of Vicarious Trauma, including:
    • Having difficulty talking about feelings
    • Feeling diminished joy
    • Feeling trapped by work
    • Limited range of emotions
    • Exaggerated startle reflex
    • Hopelessness
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Exhaustion
    • Conflict with other staff
    • Trouble with intimacy
    • Feeling withdrawn and isolated
    • Impatience, apathy
    • A change in worldview
  • What can you do to make a difference?
    • Have a mindful presence
    • Exercise (12-60 min. several days each week)
    • Cultivate connection with yourself and others
    • Enrich your life by doing things you love, apart from work
    • Make meaning

Resources:

ACA Fact Sheet on Vicarious Trauma

Trauma Stewardship by Laura Van Dernoot Lipsky

Trauma Stewardship Institute 

I also shared information on my new community for trauma therapists! Registration begins soon and if you want to be notified when registration starts, you can sign up here!  

If you liked this episode, please visit iTunes to download episodes, rate and review! You can also listen on Stitcher and Google Play (available now in some areas). And for more of what I'm doing, please  sign up for my newsletter, and follow me TwitterFacebookPinterest, Instagram & Google+. I look forward to connecting!

Wholeheartedly,

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

Coming Home To Yourself: My Interview With Mara Glatzel

Podcast Episode 23: Coming Home To Yourself

March 11, 2016

Listen here! or click on the image to the right.

Welcome! Today’s guest is Mara Glatzell, MSW. She is an intuitive guide and energy healer for women who facilitates daily conversations about intention, truth, and celebration. A creative leader, Mara is expert at living in her own skin with grace and ease. At the core of her work is the desire to live a well-intentioned life, which means more joy, grit, and vibrant imperfection to spare. She is MY kind of person—how about you? Her website makes you feel warm, glittery, and nurturing, and her writings and programs are truly inspiring. Want to learn more? Join us!

What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • Mara works with women who want to live with more intention and responsibility.
  • She likes to take nebulous concepts that are hidden in layers and break them down into tangible, relatable pieces.
  • Mara’s work isn’t like other therapies or focused on symptoms, but is based on self-love and self-compassion.
  • Mara found this niche after finding herself “not fitting into” the standard therapy role.
  • She knows what it means to struggle with body image, fears, and trusting yourself.
  • When we sacrifice ourselves in order to “belong” to the world around us, then loneliness is the result.
  • You can have all the “right” things happening in your life, and be MISERABLE!
  • Mara’s writing background flows perfectly into her intimate newsletter offerings, which happens to be her very favorite place to write!
  • Mara is gifted in being able to talk about difficult topics in ways that people can receive them.
  • Her newsletter features the unusual option, “Click here if you want me to read this to you.” People love it!
  • “Why aren’t there MORE spaces in which people are lovingly spoken to?”
  • Mara’s “Open to Receive” program is offered at certain times throughout the year, but is now being offered as an on-demand resource on her website with daily audio to support and nurture.
  • Mara offers classes, e-courses,  workshops, online resources, and events. She loves group work and one-on-one work, too!
  • Sign up for her “The Ferocious Truth” event, starting in two days! “The Deep Exhale” comes later in the spring. Visit www.maraglatzel.com/newsletter for more info about events, resources, and more!

If you liked this episode, please visit iTunes to download episodes, rate and review! You can also listen on Stitcher and when Google Play supports podcasting, it will be available there too! And for more of what I'm doing please sign up for my newsletter, and follow me TwitterFacebookPinterest Instagram & Google+. I look forward to connecting!

Therapy Chat Podcast

Wholeheartedly,

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

The Parent Coach Who Doesn't Have It All Figured Out

My Podcast Interview with Washington Post Parenting Expert Meghan Leahy

Meghan Leahy is a parenting expert who writes a weekly column for the Washington Post. She's a parent coach helping parents who are overwhelmed with their children's behavior. Yet she is the first to admit that she gets overwhelmed with her children's behavior too. Does this seem counterintuitive? Not if you talk to Meghan. 

Meghan states that her job is not to tell parents what to do. Her job is to teach parents what their children need She teaches that the problematic behavior is the child's developmentally appropriate way of telling the parent what he or she needs.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO PODCAST EPISODE 20 OF THE BALTIMORE ANNAPOLIS PSYCHOTHERAPY PODCAST!

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO PODCAST EPISODE 20 OF THE BALTIMORE ANNAPOLIS PSYCHOTHERAPY PODCAST!

Listen in to this fascinating interview in which Meghan shares why she doesn't tell parents what to do, why self care is important - hint: it's NOT so we can take better care of our kids! - and tells us about the theory informing her work. 

Find out more about working with Meghan by visiting her website

And if you like the podcast, please visit iTunes and download episodes, subscribe and leave a rating and review.

You can also find the podcast on Stitcher, Google Play and on my website at www.laurareaganlcswc.com/podcast.

I'd love to hear your comments on this episode! Comment below!

Wholeheartedly,

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

 


9 Things I'll be Talking About in 2016: What to Expect on the Podcast In the Year Ahead

At the end of the year we tend to take stock and notice themes. In the beginning of the year we tend to plan and look ahead. So I've taken stock and looked ahead.  CLICK HERE OR ON THE IMAGE BELOW TO LISTEN TO PODCAST EPISODE #17!

Over the past year there have been certain themes that have been really prevalent in my practice and because of that I want to talk about them more on the podcast in the year ahead. There are several big issues - I actually made a list - and came up with the nine things that have been common themes in my practice this year and I feel will be important to discuss on the podcast in 2016.

The first theme that’s really been prevalent in my practice is body image. Men, women and children in my practice talk about wanting to have a more loving relationship with their bodies. As you may know, most people I work with have experienced trauma. I think there is a link between healing trauma and having a loving relationship with one’s body, because we know trauma is stored in the body.

A second theme which has been really prevalent in my practice over the past year is craving deep, meaningful and authentic connection. I live in a wonderful community where people tend to gather with neighbors and friends and people are very kind, but relationships tend to stay at a surface level rather than delving into feelings. People say they wish for friendships in which they feel truly seen and heard. I will discuss this more on the podcast in 2016. 

Along with the theme of craving connection there’s also a theme of allowing connection. The problem is not feeling comfortable letting people in - and again, I work with a lot of people who have experienced trauma, so trust is often a major issue. When you’ve experienced relational trauma somebody has hurt you and it gives you a different perspective on whether or not it’s okay to trust people. So naturally, allowing people to really know you - showing up and being seen as who you really are - can be a challenge for people who have experienced trauma and that’ll be something I’ll be talking about more in the year ahead.

CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO LISTEN TO PODCAST EPISODE 17! 

CLICK ON THE IMAGE ABOVE TO LISTEN TO PODCAST EPISODE 17! 

The next theme I identified that I want to talk about is workaholism and perfectionism. Here in the DC/Baltimore area we are working, working, working, working, working, working, doing, doing, doing, never wanting to slow down. It never seems like enough. It can be really hard to make time for oneself - including for therapy appointments - if you feel that without you at work something is going to fall apart. Another theme that goes along with that is being distracted, avoiding, numbing, dissociating, being disconnected from your body. Again, that goes along with trauma too so I’m going to be talking about that more.

When you are avoiding your feelings by numbing, staying busy with work, never giving yourself a moment to be still, you’re not in present moment awareness and you are, as I like to say, on the fast train to burnout city. People are expressing feelings of being burned out - on work, on caregiving, on parenting - all of those things can be very stressful! So it makes sense that you would feel burned out, especially if you never give yourself a chance to rest. And our culture does not encourage that! Wanting to increase self-care but not knowing how is a big theme that I’ve been talking about with people in my practice and I want to talk about more on the podcast. Actually, it’s a pretty consistent theme on my podcasts so far and it will be in the year to come as well.

One thing that I want to change about the podcast this year is that even though I talk about the fact that I’m a trauma therapist I don’t think I really talk very much about trauma on the podcast. I guess I just expect that people really know what it is but I’m realizing that when I say trauma you may be thinking of someone who has experienced a house fire, natural disasters or combat. Those are certainly traumatic event but I’m also talking about childhood experiences of no one attending to your emotional needs or being physically abused.

9 topics for the Baltimore Annapolis Psychotherapy Podcast in 2016

Many people don’t consider some experiences that they may have had as physical abuse even though they may qualify, like being hit with a hairbrush, being slapped, punched, spanked with a belt...whether or not it would be something that a court would prosecute a parent for doing when you were younger (because it may have been seen as normal then), the effect is traumatic for child. I think there’s an under-recognition of how serious the problem of trauma is, how much it affects so many of us. I will be talking a lot more about the effects of childhood trauma, the Adverse Childhood Experiences study, and things that I talk about in therapy sessions but I haven’t mentioned much here on the podcast.

The last theme that I want to cover on the podcast more in 2016 is negotiating relationships with family of origin when one has had an unhappy childhood. It’s a problem for so many people and one that people don’t frequently speak about. We have this American cultural ideal that families are always there for each other, families come first, etcetera. But if you had an abusive childhood and you are uncomfortable being around your family, where do you fit into our American cultural ideal if that’s your life? It’s true for so many people. We’ll be talking more about that in the podcast this year.

So these are the themes that I’ve heard about in my practice over the past year and want to talk about more in the podcast in the coming year. I would love to hear your thoughts about these topics and any other themes that you may be interested in hearing covered on the podcast so please leave comments on this post!

Baltimore Annapolis Psychotherapy Podcast

I would love to hear your feedback! If you like the podcast, please consider subscribing on iTunes and leaving a rating and review. This helps iTunes know that people are enjoying the podcast and it makes it easier for people to find it when there’re more ratings and reviews and subscriptions because that’s how they decide how popular it is.

As always, if you like what I'm doing, please find me on social media! You can follow me  on TwitterFacebookPinterestInstagram and Google+. To listen to my podcast, search the Baltimore Annapolis Psychotherapy Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and (coming soon) Google Play. Or click here to listen via my website. You can also subscribe to my occasional e-mail newsletter by clicking here. I only publish them when I have something new to tell you about. 

Here's to an interesting 2016!

Wholeheartedly,

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

 

Connecting With Your Own Needs: Vulnerability in Action

Connecting With Your Own Needs: Vulnerability in Action An Interview with Dr. Agnes Wainman, the Self Care Activist

Recently I was fortunate that Dr. Agnes Wainman of London Psychological Services in Ontario, Canada - also known as The Self Care Activist - allowed me to interview her about self care for The Baltimore Annapolis Psychotherapy Podcast. 

Agnes and I had an interesting (and funny, in my opinion) interview in which we discussed society's unreasonable, unrealistic and unattainable expectations of women which encourage us to neglect our own needs and see self care as indulgent. We talked about how social media can make our relationships with our children, our partners, our friends and ourselves more difficult than they need to be. Agnes shared her own journey from "burned out to blissed out" as a mother of newborn twins and doctoral student and the lessons she learned about vulnerability and authentic connection. She shocked me by telling me what Canada does to support new mothers! 

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO LISTEN TO PODCAST EPISODE #16 WITH DR. AGNES WAINMAN

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO LISTEN TO PODCAST EPISODE #16 WITH DR. AGNES WAINMAN

Click on the image to listen to Episode 16 of the podcast and if you'd like to hear more of what Agnes has to say, check out her website: www.londonps.ca or visit her YouTube channel where she shares tips and tricks to incorporate self care into your life.  

What did you think of this episode? I'd love to hear your comments! You can also rate and review the podcast on iTunes by clicking here. And if you'd like to hear more from me you can sign up for my occasional newsletter! I don’t send them out unless I have something I want you to know, and you can unsubscribe any time you want. You can also follow me  on TwitterFacebookPinterestInstagram and Google+. To listen to my weekly podcast, search the Baltimore Annapolis Psychotherapy Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and (coming soon) Google Play. Or click here to listen via my website. 

Wholeheartedly,

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

Using Self Care to Nourish Your Soul & Fall In Love With Yourself

Using Self Care to Nourish Your Soul & Fall In Love With Yourself

The Baltimore Annapolis Psychotherapy Podcast Interview With Herbalist & Healer Chonteau McElvin

If you've read my blog before now you might remember my series on holistic and alternative practices that can complement traditional psychotherapy approaches. I interviewed Chonteau McElvin, a life coach, herbalist and healer who was trained as a social worker, for that series. Her interview is here.   I'm honored that Chonteau also agreed to appear on the podcast to speak more in depth about how self care can be used to nourish your soul and help you fall in love with yourself. 

In our conversation, Chonteau and I discussed how we as helpers - whether social worker, life coach, psychotherapist, counselor, pastor, body worker, physician, nurse, firefighter, physical therapist, teacher, parent, caregiver or friend - tend to place a high value on taking care of others while our own self care is neglected. This is not new information - we have all heard about the need to take care of ourselves so we can take care of others.

But do you really get it on a soul level? Chonteau does. She speaks about how she uses herbal tinctures and blends, together with parts work and energy healing methods to help you fall in love with yourself so you can use self care to nourish your soul. She works with clients in person in Central Florida and online. 

You can find more information on working with Chonteau on her beautiful website which lists her offerings in detail. I hope you will enjoy listening to this fascinating conversation about self care! 

Click on the image below to listen to the episode. 

 

You can find more episodes of the Baltimore Washington Psychotherapy Podcast by clicking here to listen on iTunes. You can listen directly from your PC by clicking here.  If you like what you hear on the podcast, please consider subscribing on iTunes so you will be updated when each new episode is posted! I'd also be honored if you would take a moment to write an honest review. 

Please feel free to comment and let me know what you think of my interview with Chonteau! I'd love your feedback about the podcast and any future topics you'd like to hear discussed. I also love connecting on social media. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google +! You can sign up here to receive my occasional e-mail newsletters. I can't wait to hear from you!

Wholeheartedly,

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

 

Letting Go Part 1

Letting Go (Part 1)

This week is an exciting one for our family, as our oldest child graduates from high school in a few days. It's a joyful and exciting time - but there are some underlying feelings of sadness and loss which have caught me by surprise.  I know that many of you are experiencing a similar transition in the life of your family, as graduation and wedding season begin. I thought I'd share my thoughts and feelings, and how I'm coping with the changes, in hopes that it will be helpful to you, too. 

Update: Click here to listen to my podcast episode on this subject! 

My thoughts

As I've been eagerly anticipating his graduation I've been very proud and excited for my child. My thoughts are that this is a wonderful milestone in his life.  I'm so happy that he has successfully completed his high school career and that he plans to go to college in the Fall. I have high hopes for what this young man will accomplish as he matures. I am looking forward to seeing what he decides to do for his career after college. I know that this is a normal developmental process, in which my child will leave the nest to become  a fully realized adult. Although it does not happen overnight with this event, this milestone is an extremely important rite of passage in our culture. I want him to move through this process, because it's what is right for him developmentally. But...he's my baby!

Then...there are the feelings. Feelings? What feelings?

I knew something was wrong when I noticed that I didn't seem to have any feelings about the graduation. I actually felt kind of numb. I knew intellectually that I felt happy and excited and maybe a little sad because he won't be living at home with us for most of the next four years. But I didn't feel it. In fact I was telling myself that it is not time to feel sad yet, because graduation is a happy time, and going away to college is something that will happen later this summer, so I can feel it then. Ha ha! Joke's on me!  

I noticed that I was feeling a little detached, as if I've been going through each day - being in the moment, yes - but just crossing each passing day off the list like a countdown to the Big Day. Meanwhile, I had agreed to do something important for a friend and when the day came I completely forgot to do it, which is very much out of character for me. I know myself well enough to recognize this as a clue that something else was occupying my mind.

What's really going on here?

As a therapist I teach my clients to notice how they feel and connect the feelings to their present and past experiences. To be able to teach this, I have to know how to do it myself. It takes work! Therapists, just like everyone else, have difficult times in our lives that we have to work through.  

Our defense mechanisms, the strategies we employ to help us avoid feeling uncomfortable or painful emotions, spring into action when feelings arise that we don't like. The defense which I was unconsciously using to deal with my feelings about this transition is called intellectualizing. Intellectualizing is when you try to understand something cognitively (using your thoughts and the logical part of your brain) as a way to avoid feeling it. Defenses are, by nature, mostly outside of our conscious awareness. It's helpful to know your go-to defenses, which makes it easier to notice when they kick in, and ask yourself what you need help with.

Examples of intellectualizing include thoughts like "I shouldn't feel upset about this, it happened a long time ago." Or in my case, "I shouldn't feel sad about my son's graduation, it is a happy occasion and he's not going away to school until August." As if I can't start feeling sad about something happening in August two months earlier! And anyway, my emotions are not following the rules that the logical part of my brain is trying to set about how I am supposed to feel and when. How I feel is how I feel, and it is real and valid, no matter whether I like it or not. 

But I don't want to feel this way.

Since I don't like the feelings, because they're painful, maybe I can just "skip" feeling them and keep going through the motions. After all, this isn't about me. It's my son's big day, and I don't want to take away from his enjoyment of the celebration. That sounds very selfless, doesn't it? Those of us who are super great at taking care of others and lousy at taking care of ourselves feel most comfortable stuffing away our feelings and focusing on everyone else.  You know who you are!

But that doesn't work for me, and it's not going to work for you, long term.  In the moment it might seem like the best way to handle overwhelming feelings. But when you do this, the feelings are still there. You can't feel them, so you aren't aware of them - like me when I felt numb - but since you can't control them, they're controlling you. For example, me forgetting to do that important thing I promised my friend. And there are some other ways they were running the show that I wouldn't like to admit to myself - eating less healthfully, exercising less frequently, having trouble sleeping. I've told myself I'm just really busy. Insidious, isn't it? 

So what do you do with these feelings you can't feel?

So if our defenses are blocking us from feeling our feelings, what can we do? The only way out is through, as they say. We have to break through the defenses and let the feelings out. How to do that? I will tell you what helped me. I've often recommended these strategies to clients, and they can be very powerful. Read more after the image below.

Image credit: Pixabay

Image credit: Pixabay

Journaling

Knowing that I needed to get down to what was really going on, I started by taking the time to write in a journal. When you do this, one way to begin is to start writing whatever comes to mind. You can also use prompts such as "How am I feeling right now?" or "What is blocking me from feeling my emotions?" I asked myself how I felt about the graduation. As you write, pay attention to your body. Are you noticing any sensations? Write down what you notice and continue to examine the process while you write. Doing this regularly can help you understand emotionally, as well as intellectually, what is happening in your mind and body.  

Art journaling is another option. If you feel inclined to create art in a journal, rather than writing narrative-style, you can try collaging or drawing your responses to the prompts. Or pick up your favorite medium - pencil, chalk, paint, marker, or something else - and see what happens when you try to connect with the feeling.

Meditation

Meditation, whether self-directed or guided, can be helpful in getting you grounded. Being grounded means that you are fully in your body with awareness of your thoughts and feelings. You are not blocking out body sensations or emotions. There are three guided meditations I find very helpful and frequently recommend to clients who are attempting to process difficult emotions. All of them are available for free on the website of the wonderful Dr. Kristin Neff, a researcher who focuses on Self Compassion. 

The first one is called "Soften, Soothe, Allow"  and it is great for helping you connect with the feeling in your body, allow  yourself to feel it, and comfort yourself. The other two are a Loving Kindness meditation, and a Self Compassion/Loving Kindness meditation.  She also offers exercises for Self Compassion on the site.

Practicing Gratitude

When you are mindfully present in the moment and aware of how you feel, you can lean into joy by practicing gratitude. This is a simple practice that anyone can do at any time. You can repeat the things you're grateful for in your head when feeling vulnerable.  I keep in mind that no matter what is going on, I woke up today and I'm still here. That's a starting point and something I can always be grateful for - until I can't - which is exactly the point! You can also keep a gratitude journal. I have a wonderful daily planner I use to keep track of my schedule and it has a little box at the bottom of each page where I can write down what I am grateful for every day. During times like these, when my coping resources are stretched, it is more important than ever to be mindful of the many reasons I am grateful. Have you tried incorporating a daily gratitude practice into your meditation time? Some people enjoy using a  special journal solely for practicing gratitude.   Do whatever works best for you.

After following my own advice, I'm more aware of how I really feel about this transition in my family's life. It's possible to feel happy and sad at the same time, and knowing I feel this way I can be more compassionate toward myself - which allows me to be more mindfully present at home and at work. Consequently I'm more available to offer the support my son will need as he weathers this huge life transition.  If I stayed checked out and numb, I wouldn't be as aware of his needs. So while my first instinct as a helper might be to try to ignore my own feelings and take care of his, it is the very act of taking care of how I feel that allows me to be there for him when he needs me. This is true all the time, not only when a family is experiencing a transition. We parents and caregivers must take care of ourselves in order to offer support to others. Remember that life transitions, even positive ones, include the loss of how things were before. Sometimes we have to take the time to grieve so we can move forward.

Stay tuned for Part 2! 

In Part 2 I will talk about why it's so important for us as parents to let go and allow our children to  grow up, even when we want to hold on to them and keep them safely in the nest. If you're finding it difficult to let go, or to take care of your own needs, get in touch with me. You can call me at (443) 510-1048, send me an e-mail at laurareaganlcswc@gmail.com, or visit my website for more information and to schedule an appointmentWe can talk about working together to help you find strategies to improve your self compassion skills. You can also read more by following me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and by subscribing to my e-mail newsletter.

Source:

Neff, K. (n.d.). Self compassion guided meditations and exercises. Retrieved on May 22, 2015 from: http://self-compassion.org/category/exercises/#guided-meditations 

The only way out is through

Self-Care Apps Recommended by Therapists

I've been surprised to realize how many apps are out there which can help support self care. Did you know? If you've visited this blog before, you know that I often talk about ways to treat oneself with nurturing, love and compassion. This is the latest post in my blog series on self care

I have a few apps I use to facilitate my personal self care practice, which I've listed below. I asked a few of my colleagues to share some they have tried as well. I'd love to hear your suggestions! Please comment below with your favorites! Read on below the photo for the recommendations! 

Therapists Share Favorite Self Care Apps

Apps for Mindfulness

Insight Timer  Susan Faurot, MSC, LMFT in California recommends this app. It is available for Apple and Android. You can set the timer for the period you want to meditate, and the app rings a Tibetan singing bowl sound to let you know when the time is up.

Another who recommends this app is Helen Caldwell, LCSW in Long Beach, CA. Helen states, "Insight Timer is a wonderful app for mindfulness meditation for beginners through those with more practice experience. I love that you can pick different styles of meditation bells to prompt the beginning and end of your silent meditation. The app also includes guided meditations by experts in the field."

Calm I learned about this app from Kelly Higdon, LMFT in Laguna Hills, California. Can I just say...I LOVE THIS APP!!! It's a new favorite. As I wrote this article I wanted to do a little research on the app - Kelly didn't say much about it - so I looked up the website (www.calm.com) and immediately I was drawn in. 

I'm a huge fan of the beach. It's definitely my happy place, where I feel relaxed, peaceful, calm, joyful and carefree. I was able to select a beach scene depicting an ocean at sunset, complete with the sights and sounds of waves crashing and seagulls. I was hooked immediately. You may have a different happy place and that's okay, because there are over a dozen to choose from. I'd like to have this on my computer screen at all times, but I fear I'd doze off because it is just so darn relaxing. In fact, I am listening to the waves crashing as I type this and I'm feeling very blissful. So thank you Kelly!

I hope you enjoy the app as much as I do, whether you use it on your mobile device or on your computer.  In addition to the relaxing sights and sounds of the app, you can choose to use it for meditation. For beginners there is a 7 day introduction to mindfulness which guides you through starting a daily meditation practice and includes daily reminders. I started the 7 day intro today, since I do not meditate as regularly as I would like. Look for an update in a future post on how well that worked for me.

Study - recommended by Amy Sugeno, LCSW in Marble Falls, Texas, who says, "Study (free for Android and Apple)..is 45 minutes of nature and bird sounds that are supposed to help relieve stress, block out distractions (like at work or school), and increase productivity. After 45 minutes, it suggests you take a short break - sometimes it helps to just have that reminder!"  

Looking for more recommendations?  Also, Mindful magazine posted this list which includes their review of Headspace along with a couple others.

Apps for Sleep

Relax Melodies - recommended by Fresno, CA therapist Patty Behrens, LMFT, who states, " Relax Melodies is an app I have recommended to clients to calm themselves and for sleep. It has a variety of different sounds you can layer onto each other, binaural beats for relaxation or concentration and a timer to go off on its own." Sounds like another one I'd like to try!

Omvana - this is one I have used personally and I often recommend to clients. You can choose from several different relaxing sounds of varying lengths, put them on a timer so your device isn't running the app all night long, and it has a mixer. Some of the content is free and additional content can be downloaded for a fee. The app includes guided meditations in addition to the soothing sleep sounds. 

Sleep Cycle and Sleep Bot - both of these are recommended by my colleague Erin Findley, Psy.D., in San Francisco, CA. Erin writes, "I really like Sleep Cycle and Sleep Bot. Personally, I prefer Sleep Cycle, but the two useful things Sleep Bot does that Sleep Cycle doesn't is it tracks your sleep debt, and it also can record sound above a certain level at night if you're wondering if you're snoring, sleep talking, etc."

Apps for Fitness

Keeping our bodies healthy is such an important part of self care. After all, if your body stops working, you are forced to take care of it, whether you want to or not. Better yet, keep it healthy day after day and hopefully it will be strong for you throughout your lifetime. This is something I can do better with, but I try to remain focused on getting regular exercise. When I'm consistent with exercise I reap the rewards physically and emotionally. It's never too late to start or re-start healthy habits. 

Yoga Studio  Another app recommended by Helen Caldwell, LCSW. "This is a wonderful app that allows you to take a yoga class from the comfort of your home, office or anywhere you have your smart phone or tablet. You can take a quick 15 minute, 30 minute, or hour class at varying levels. You can even make up your own class based on your favorite poses," Helen explains. This sounds very useful, definitely something I'd like to try! 

Up Alicia Taverner, LMFT in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, recommends this app. Alicia says, "I use the jawbone up24 with the app and I absolutely love it! It tracks your sleep patterns and steps throughout the day and vibrates to remind you when you need to get moving." I actually have the Jawbone Up fitness tracker as well, and was using it with the app for a while, but I got off track. Time to get back to it!  

My Fitness Pal is another app I've used for tracking healthy eating and exercise. It works with various trackers but you can use it without them as well, by entering the information manually. It also has exercise routines, tips and healthy recipes. 

Apps for Inspiration

Louise Hay's Affirmation Meditations I use this app personally and with clients. Affirmations can be very effective at injecting some positive self-talk into the constant chatter going on in our heads. Many people know Louise Hay as a founder of the self-help movement. She has done so much to promote positive thinking and healing, and I find this app to be easy to use, effective and inspirational. It is free but some paid content is available as well.

5 Minute Journal: A third recommendation by Helen Caldwell, LCSW in California.  Helen says, "I often recommend the practice of journaling but some clients find the practice daunting and benefit from prompts. This app requires little time. Under 5 minutes!  The app prompts you to write in the morning and then again in the evening. There's an inspiring quote as soon as you open the app. The app focuses on gratitude, positive affirmations and short term goal setting."

I love the focus on gratitude, which is a path to joy and can be a type of mindfulness practice, as well. And I'm a sucker for inspirational quotes. I'm definitely downloading this one.

Other Apps for Self Care

Intend - Susan Faurot, MSC, LMFT recommends this one, saying "Intend is really cool!" As I understand it, Intend helps remind you of intentions you set. For example, if your intention is to feel more confident, you can program the app to send you random reminders throughout the day such as, "be confident."  

Virtual Hope Box This app, which was developed by the Department of Defense and the VA, is pretty awesome. I can't believe it is free, considering the breadth of what it offers. Amy Sugeno, LCSW praised this app, saying, "I love the Virtual Hope Box by t2Health for Android and Apple (free). It gives several immediate options for coping with stress and regulating your emotions - distraction, meditation, relaxation, etc." 

I have to agree with Amy. I've recommended this app to clients for help coping with trauma symptoms. You can upload photos of important people, your favorite songs, inspirational quotes, videos, and so much more to personalize the app with things that you find comforting. 

Mindfulness Fitness Sleep Inspiration Self Care

I would love to hear about any apps you have tried for promoting self care. Did you love them? Hate them? Share in the comments below!

Disclaimer: I have received no compensation for sharing information about these apps. Please use your own judgment before downloading any apps. I don't know for sure if you will like them! Of course, no app can substitute for mental health treatment when needed. I hope this list is useful to you. I welcome your feedback. 

To read more of what I share, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. You can also sign up for my e-mail newsletter for updates on groups, intensives and workshops as well as recent blog posts. 

 

 

Nourish Your Soul: My Interview with Folk Healer Chonteau McElvin

Welcome to today's edition of my blog series on holistic and alternative methods complementing traditional talk therapy. I use a holistic perspective in my work with clients to address the needs of mind, body and spirit. My interviews with a number of therapists and healers have taught me that a variety of methods are available to help us heal from the inside out

Chonteau McElvin was trained as a social worker, and she now practices as a naturalist, energy worker, life coach, folk healer and herbalist. I was fascinated to interview her and hear how she helps her clients nourish their souls by cultivating self-care practices. This is one of my passions and the subject of another blog series. Read on below the photo for the full interview with Chonteau! 

Image copyright Laura Reagan, LCSW-C Psychotherapy Services, LLC 2015

Image copyright Laura Reagan, LCSW-C Psychotherapy Services, LLC 2015

Tell me about your work. How do you incorporate being a Social Worker,  Naturalist, Energy Worker, Folk Healer and Herbalist into your work with clients? 

What I love about mixing my "medicines," medicines being our talents and good offerings we offer our community, is I get to pull in nontraditional schools of thought into each soul recovery session. I am of the belief that the absence of spirituality in our lives perpetuates the illusion that we are not all connected. When I say ALL I mean all things including nature, people and things. If this is true, that we are all connected, then how can I leave any part of the ALL out of the experience of healing. My social work degree was merely a piece of paper that said I can do what I was born to do. However, by having that piece of paper I was able to work with some pretty incredible populations which further reminded me of my life's calling. Much of my work is very intuitive in nature. There are not set rules that need to be followed, it really is about both parties showing up and trusting the process. Some of my clients pull on all of my skills while others may require only one or two of my offerings.

What benefits are expected with Herbalism? Are there any risks? Who is a good candidate for this work? Who should not participate in Herbalism? 

When I refer to herbalism I am referring to folk herbalism which is different than clinical herbalism.  I do not use herbs like drugs. I encourage the development of relationships to any plant you are going to journey with.  My view of folk herbalism is understanding what plants grow around you and  introducing yourself to those plants slowly and with deep respect.  When done in this way herbs tend not be be harmful.  I do not use herbs as pills, but in ways one can still taste the plant or experience its essence such as in herbal teas, bath blends or extracts.  Every client I meet with in person, we always have a cup of herbal tea.  Before they come to my office I will get an impression of what herbal blend will support their healing. If I am working with someone through correspondence I will often send them a personal blend to support our work.  Herbs are not for everyone and not everyone drinks the tea I make and that is fine. Remember I trust the process and I trust the Spirit of that person to know what is best for them.  I have seen herbal formulas support my clients  emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  I am not a doctor so I can never say herbs should replace what you have been prescribed.  I am able to say that herbs are here for us to get to know and begin to explore how they can support our whole being.

Many people who come to me for therapy services are affected by trauma, anxiety and depression. How do you help people with these issues? 

I am not a therapist so people do not come to me for treatment of depression or anxiety. I am a Life Coach and I have a degree in Social Work which helps me be able to detect when I am not enough and therapy is needed.  I do have clients that come to see me who struggle with numerous emotional challenges and we begin with a soul self care evaluation.  Basically I listen to their story.  As they are talking I began to intuitively assess what direction we need to take in supporting that persons movement forward.  Spiritual Healing Sessions or Soul Nourishment Sessions  are very different than traditional therapy.  My approach to supporting my clients heal and  move forward, is rooted in using mindfulness, visualizations, earth-based spirituality and other shamanic methods. I teach my client the tools they need to maintain whole healthy living.   I also focus on their energetic anatomy,  they may be carrying around unwanted  energies in their field, often this acts as a barrier to forward movement.  We also work on getting in touch with and healing their archetypes or inner communities.  Everyone is different.  We trust the process.

Having worked in the Social Work field for a very long time I have a passion for supporting other practitioners.  I have seen so many of my colleagues burn out in their field and in life because they have not taken good care of themselves. The self care that I promote goes beyond the typical taking a day off or going on vacation. The self care I promote with Healers is the process  of looking within and taking the time to connect with your Spirit.  I have worked with several groups of employees of high stress professions, they have been very open to learning ways to "connect with the one precious thing called their life".

What else would you like people to know about you and your services?

I think  one of the most important things about my service is that it is organic.  There is no script or protocol that we follow. We tap into Guidance and allow for the process to unfold. This includes when I work with groups or individuals.  Everyone  comes to me for their unique needs and it is a reciprocal relationship. I  learn and expand just as much as the person or group I am guiding does.  I would also say that it does not matter if we are working in person or at a distance the benefits are still transformative.

Chonteau McElvin is a naturalist, life coach, energy worker, folk healer and herbalist based in Winter Garden, Florida. She offers services in person as well as via phone and video. To find out more, visit her website at www.chonteau.com

I'm so grateful to Chonteau for agreeing to be interviewed. I am fascinated with her approach to healing and I encourage you to visit her website for the resources available there. I found it to be a very soothing, calming site. 

Thanks for reading this latest edition of the blog series on integrative mental health! If you're interested in knowing more about what I do to help heal mind, body and spirit, contact me via phone at 443-510-1048, follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest, or subscribe to my e-mail newsletter for occasional updates! 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please leave a comment below! And if you like this article, please share it with others who might be interested!

Warmly,

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

Rethinking Self Care

As a therapist, I talk about, think about and promote self care with all of my clients. It's on my mind much of the time as I know its importance. However, it wasn't always this way for me. That's why I am beginning this blog series on self care

I first learned about the concept of self care when I worked in a Sexual Assault Crisis Center in Norfolk, Virginia. My wonderful supervisor, Kristen, taught me that self care would help survivors soothe themselves when trauma symptoms were triggered. I would ask callers to the hotline and clients in the office who were working to address the crisis after a traumatic experience, "What helps you when you are feeling upset? When you have been through tough times before this, what did you do to feel better?" Depending on which techniques had been effective for them in the past, they could use the same ones to soothe themselves or learn new ways to cope

I was learning about self care for the first time.  You just do what you do to cope, without really thinking about it, most of the time. We all do this and I was no different. I was taught some of the common self care strategies, and I had a list to use to help me make suggestions if clients were unable to think of any on their own. However, I didn't think much about my own self care strategies - in fact, for a while I didn't have any, at least none that I was really aware of. I had to learn that in the work of helping people I, too, was vulnerable to feeling the effects of secondary traumatic stress through hearing traumatic stories on a daily basis.  

Kristen, the supervisor I mentioned, had to tell me once to take a few days off when I began to exhibit the signs of secondary traumatic stress. It was difficult for me to agree to take a few days off - I think I was afraid the world would end if I wasn't there to save it. I can laugh about that now, but it didn't feel nice at the time. I was very idealistic then, and the time off gave me a chance to take care of myself so I could come back refreshed and ready to help again.  If I had kept going the way I was, I would have begun to feel like a robot, just going through the motions without emotional connection. Not only is that an unethical way to practice, it is in total contrast to the values which guide my work with clients as well as the way I want to live my life. 

Self Care Strategies

Helping professionals may experience this at one time or another. I chose to become a helping professional (first as an advocate and crisis counselor and later as a therapist) because I care about people, and over the past 13 years I have heard many stories. I have heard and witnessed many amazing examples of strength, resiliency and transformation as well as pain and struggle, and I am honored and grateful to bear witness with my clients!  Each person has touched my heart and changed me in some way. Therapy with survivors of trauma is my passion and I want to remain healthy and well for many years to continue doing this work, which is so important to me.  Self care is also crucial if you are parenting, caregiving, or if you're someone who thinks about what makes others happy more than you think about what makes you happy. 

This post is the first in a series about self care. I'm going to go in depth to share my journey from thinking self care means getting a massage or a pedicure a couple of times per year to understanding that self care is a daily practice which is essential for health and well-being. The series will include quotes from other therapists and resources you can use to develop your own self care practice. I will try new things and share with you what I've learned. I'll also share what works for me now.

I invite you to join me in cultivating self care. Let's start by sharing self care strategies you have found helpful. I would love to hear about them in the comments below. 

If you don't even know where to begin - believe me, I've been there - contact me to talk about how therapy can help you believe that you deserve to put yourself first. You can reach me at (443) 510-1048 for a phone consult. 

To read more of what I share you can follow me on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter or sign up for my newsletter

Self Care Dry Well