Think You Might Have Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Do you have Seasonal Affective Disorder or are you simply sad? 

I often hear from clients that the winter months are hard. A common statement is, "I think I have Seasonal Affective Disorder." Seasonal Affective Disorder refers to having less energy and increased depressive symptoms at certain times of year, particularly during the Fall and Winter months. It is thought that less sunlight during the winter interrupts the body's cicadian rhythms and causes changes in Serotonin and Melatonin levels, causing mood changes and sleep issues. You can find more detailed information about the definition, causes, risk factors and treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder by visiting the Mayo Clinic website

Much has been written about Seasonal Affective Disorder. I invite you to consider another possible cause for this seasonal sadness. Trauma anniversaries can cause intense feelings at certain times of the year. A trauma anniversary is the date that something traumatic happened in your life. I will explain more below.

winter tree

Susan felt that her symptoms were completely unexplainable and unpredictable, but when talking in more depth about the story of her childhood and the loss of her mother, she revealed that her mother died on May 31. She also pointed out that she never had a chance to grieve her mother's death since she was too busy trying to survive in an abusive home without her only protector. Her father was not attuned to her emotional needs and he lacked the ability to cope with his own grief. 

Susan's annual experience of overwhelming depression in June makes sense when you consider that her mother died at the end of May, so that incredible pain she experienced throughout the month of June 28 years ago, when she was 12, was never processed. Trauma is held in the body, and feelings which are outside of our conscious awareness can show up seemingly at random. You can learn more about this by reading Bessel van der Kolk's book "The Body Keeps The Score," Peter Levine's "In An Unspoken Voice,"  Babette Rothschild's "The Body Remembers," and many other books on the subject of trauma and the body.

Considering whether there is any explanation which may relate to prior traumatic experiences helps us take back control of our own wellbeing.  Susan's body was reminding her every June of the deeply painful loss of her mother. She struggled all year with depression, which is common for survivors of childhood abuse, and in June it became unbearable every year. Susan was able to break this annual cycle and take back control of her emotional and physical health by working with a therapist specializing in trauma. She was able to process these traumatic experiences and she felt better than she had ever thought possible.

*Susan is not a real person. Her story is a composite of many stories clients have shared about their trauma anniversaries. 


This is by no means a comprehensive list of traumatic experiences. If you believe you have experienced trauma, and you are ready to start the healing process, find a qualified therapist who has specialized training in trauma. As difficult as it may be to begin therapy for trauma, it is so worthwhile to find out that you can feel better than you ever thought you could. I know this is true because I have personally witnessed that transformation. 

If you don't have trauma and you really do have Seasonal Affective Disorder, the article I cited above recommends getting more sunlight, taking a vacation to a sunny place (heck yeah!) and/or trying therapy or medication. If you're not sure, talk to a helping professional, whether your primary care doctor or a therapist. 


Susan's Story

Susan* had experienced depression throughout her adult life. Despite taking medication faithfully, she found herself being hospitalized for inpatient psychiatric treatment once a year -always in June - and she lived in fear of when her next depressive episode would cause this disruption in her life. When Susan was a little girl her father was an alcoholic. Her mother tried to protect her from his rage but when her dad was drinking, he often physically and sexually abused Susan. When Susan was twelve her mother died suddenly, and Susan was left alone with her father, who continued to abuse her until she was able to move out on her own at 18. The effects of her traumatic childhood continued to haunt Susan when I met her at age 40. She explained that she felt sad much of the time and her pain would build throughout the year, until in June she would have a breakdown and end up in the hospital because of suicidal thoughts. 

morning light
sunny winter light

So Do I Have Seasonal Affective Disorder or Trauma? 

So before you assume that you have Seasonal Affective Disorder, ask yourself whether there is a certain date or specific month that is especially difficult for you. Is there any event you can recall which happened at that time of year which might relate to your feelings about this? Have you experienced trauma? It's not always as obvious as we think. Some situations which can cause trauma include:

  • Loss of a parent or other primary caregiver during childhood
  • Sudden, violent or traumatic death of a loved one or close friend
  • Witnessing domestic violence in childhood or being in a physically violent relationship
  • Growing up feeling that your emotional needs weren't met, that no one was there for you
  • Experiencing physical abuse, including being "spanked" with a belt or other object, or being hit in any way when you were a child, even if you don't consider it abusive
  • Being bullied
  • Any unwanted sexual contact, from touching to intercourse without your consent or when you were incapacitated in some way
Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

If you'd like to talk to me about working together click here or send me an e-mail at laura@laurareaganlcswc.com. You can reach me by phone at (443) 510-1048. For more from me, sign up for my newsletter! I send e-mails every so often when I have something to say, and I definitely won't overwhelm your inbox. You can also follow me on TwitterFacebookPinterest and Google+. I have a weekly podcast which you can listen to here.

Source: 

Author Unknown. (2015) Retrieved on November 10, 2015 from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/definition/con-20021047

 

Wholeheartedly,

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

Forgiveness: Is It Necessary for Healing?

Forgiveness: Is It Necessary for Healing?

I recently attended a beautiful healing retreat in San Diego. I have been thinking about forgiveness a lot lately. While reflecting during the retreat I realized that I've been holding on to some resentment that has been a barrier to my relationships with important people in my life. As painful as it is to have this barrier in those relationships, I realize that it is actually creating a barrier to my own relationship with myself as well. Self-forgiveness is a key factor in being able to forgive anyone else. Taking the time to reflect helped me see that and let go of that old stuff, and as a result, I feel better and I'm relating differently to the important people in my life.

This subject frequently comes up in my therapy sessions with adults who have experienced childhood abuse, neglect, or other traumas. It's also a popular theme in our culture. Click on the image to the right to listen to Episode #10 of the Baltimore Annapolis Psychotherapy Podcast on forgiveness.In it, I discuss the concept of forgiveness and offer some thoughts on the role of forgiveness in the healing process. I also offer resources for forgiving in a way that is authentic and true. Here's a summary of what I said in the podcast:

In the last episode of the Baltimore Annapolis Psychotherapy Podcast, I asked whether you'd ever had a loss of relationship with someone with whom you were formerly very close. Something happened which led you to decide that you do not want to communicate with this person anymore. Or maybe you are setting boundaries around the role they have in your life because continuing to be close after what happened feels too painful. 

I raised the point that our culture tells us, both through religion and our popular culture, that forgiveness is a requirement for healing. But what if the person hasn't asked for your forgiveness? What if they deny that they did anything wrong? What if they have passed away, and you will never have the discussion about how their actions hurt you? What if they have apologized in a way that feels hollow? Is forgiveness really about the person who did wrong or about the person who has been hurt? Is it for your healing or theirs? Or the healing of the relationship?

Healing childhood trauma involves allowing oneself to feel the painful emotions we may have been avoiding, consciously or unconsciously.  Before jumping to forgiveness it is important to acknowledge these painful emotions. Self-compassion is extremely helpful to healing these hurts and moving the process of forgiveness forward. I offer resources for increasing self compassion in the podcast.  

Researcher Kristin Neff, PhD has researched and written extensively on the subject of self compassion. I highly recommend her book, "Self Compassion," and her website: http://www.selfcompassion.org/ to facilitate healing and allow forgiveness of yourself and those who have hurt you. 

If you're in the Baltimore area and looking for a therapist to begin or continue your journey of healing childhood trauma, get in touch with me at (443) 510-1048 or laura@laurareaganlcswc.com to talk about how I can help. See below for places to get more of what I have to say. 

Find me on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Google +You can listen to my podcast here and sign up for my e-mail newsletter here.  Check out my website, www.laurareaganlcswc.com for information on upcoming workshopsgroups and retreats. I'd love to talk about how we can work together!  

 

                      What does asking for forgiveness look like?

                     What does asking for forgiveness look like?


Click on the image to listen to the podcast episode on forgiveness.

Click on the image to listen to the podcast episode on forgiveness.

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor, Podcaster, Consultant

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor, Podcaster, Consultant

Mourning the Loss of An Important Relationship

Is there someone in your life with whom you used to be close, but you are no longer on speaking terms? Or maybe you still talk, but rather than the close connection you used to have, things feel strained between you. There is so much unsaid that the tension is palpable. The holidays are coming, and challenging family relationships often come to a head at this time of year. 

In my psychotherapy practice I work with adults who feel worthless, despite success and high achievement in their professional lives. They have everything anyone could want - great jobs, wonderful spouses, children who seem to have it all together...they are the envy of their friends and neighbors.  For many of these clients pain from childhood hurts continues to be a barrier to having close relationships with their families of origin, even into their 40's and 50's. 

I'm not talking about being upset because your big sister wouldn't let you ride her bike, but deeper hurts, like childhood abuse. I'm talking about feeling as a child that your needs weren't being metFeeling like you never mattered, and you may still question whether you are lovable because of it. Deep, painful emotions. Despite trying to "just get over it" and "put the past behind you" as people often advise, these feelings aren't getting better.

Read on below!

In this episode of the Baltimore Annapolis Psychotherapy Podcast I talk about the issue of being estranged from someone who used to be so important in your life, whether it is a parent, sibling or friend. Most people who experience the loss of those important relationships feel hurt by the estrangement, even though they may try to avoid thinking about it. In the podcast I talk about some of these feelings and offer some journal prompts to help get to the bottom of what is really felt inside.

Our society tells us forgiveness is key to feeling better in these situations. However, I think sometimes we rush to claim that we have forgiven someone for hurting us without acknowledging to ourselves how hurt we really feel. It's the "right thing to do." But I question whether true forgiveness is possible without first healing the hurt. My next podcast episode will discuss forgiveness in more detail. In the meantime, I'd love to hear your feedback. Have you had this type of rupture in one of your important relationships? Were you able to resolve it? 

Therapy can help if you are struggling to heal from the hurt of a broken relationship with important people. If you're in Maryland, get in touch with me via e-mail at laura@laurareaganlcswc.com, by phone at (443) 510-1048 or send me a message through my website.    

Want to know more? Find me on FacebookTwitterPinterest andGoogle +You can listen to my podcast here and sign up for my e-mail newsletter here.  Check out my website,www.laurareaganlcswc.com for information on upcoming workshopsgroups and retreats. I'd love to talk about how we can work together!  

Wholeheartedly,

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

 

Click on the image above to listen to the podcast episode. 


For more episodes, click on the image above. If you like what you hear, please consider subscribing and leaving an honest review on iTunes! 

 

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C 

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C 

What Is An Integrative Psychotherapy Practice?

What is an Integrative Psychotherapy Practice?

My Interview With Cathy Canfield, LCSW of Counseling of Alexandria

Earlier this year I began a blog series on integrative psychotherapy. What is integrative psychotherapy, you ask? It's psychotherapy which addresses the mind-body-spirit connection through use of non-verbal, expressive and somatic (body-based) therapies. Today's podcast episode features Cathy Canfield, LCSW, owner of Counseling of Alexandria in Virginia. Cathy was interviewed for my blog earlier this year to talk about how she uses EMDR in her practice. You can read the blog post here

In this podcast episode Cathy was able to talk more in-depth with me about her work. In her practice she offers play therapy, sandtray, EMDR and reiki, and one of her associates is an art therapist. You can listen to the podcast episode by clicking on the image below.

Click on the image below to listen to Cathy's interview.

I hope you'll enjoy what I thought was a fascinating conversation about how Cathy has created an integrative psychotherapy practice. I'd love to hear your comments, please leave them below! 

Want to know more? Find me on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Google +You can listen to my podcast here and sign up for my e-mail newsletter here.  Check out my website, www.laurareaganlcswc.com for information on upcoming workshops, groups and retreats. I'd love to talk about how we can work together! 

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

 

Click on the image above to listen to past podcast episodes.

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C - Psychotherapist, Blogger, Podcaster, Clinical Supervisor, Consultant

Call me: (443) 510-1048

E-mail me: laura@laurareaganlcswc.com  Click my photo to visit my website.

When You Can't Let Go Of Your Adult Child

Growing Up Is Hard To Do: When You Can't Let Go Of Your College-Aged Child

To Listen to Part 1 on the podcast click here.

Click here to read Part 1 on the blog. 

Letting Go, Part 2 - When You Can't Let Go 

You did it! You successfully launched your adult child. He or she was admitted to the college of his or her dreams and is on the way to a great four years of making lifelong friends, expanding horizons and learning everything he or she will need to know to start a great career or go to grad school. After dropping your child at college, it's your turn to sit back and relax knowing your work is done and your kid, who is now growing up, is ready to take it from here. Time for getting back to being you, instead of feeling like your only purpose in life is raising children. 

There's just one problem. While your child said goodbye and seemingly hasn't looked back, you cried the whole way home and you haven't slept for days. You find yourself having panic attacks when you think about your child living without you there to help. Your child seems to feel ready for this transition, but you? Not so much.

Or maybe that's not you. Maybe you're not crying yourself to sleep in your child's bed every night, but you're dealing with the other extreme. You don't feel much of anything. You've lost your appetite and you feel nauseous most of the time. You have unexplained headaches, feel tired all day long but can't sleep at night, and you're obsessed with texting and calling your child to find out how he or she is doing.  You and your spouse don't seem to have much to talk about, and you when you do try to talk to one another, it frequently ends in an argument. You're not interested in socializing with friends or doing anything, really, except finding out what is really going on with your college-aged kid. Like, obsessing about it. Like, you can't get anything done at work because you're wondering how your child is and what he or she is doing at college.  Or you are home with a long to-do list but you find yourself on Facebook or watching TV all day and ending the day feeling no more accomplished than when you started. You're drinking more alcohol than usual, your exercise routine is long forgotten, and you feel like you don't know who you are anymore

Losing Your Identity As An Individual

When your child is away at college

When raising children has been our focus for eighteen years or more, parents can feel as if we have lost our identity as individuals once the children leave the nest. In fact, we may not even know who we are anymore. Throwing all of your emotional and mental resources into being a wonderful parent to your child feels fine until the child begins the normal developmental process of beginning to individuate - separating from childhood and moving toward independent adulthood - and he or she needs you less and less. That means you have done your job well! But it can be very painful for the parent to let go. It might feel like - if my child doesn't need me the same way anymore, what is my purpose? These existential questions might seem cliché but when you're experiencing this, it can bring about a very real sense of aimlessness, hopelessness and despair. 

You don't have to feel this way. 

In part 3 of this series on Letting Go I will talk about issues from our past which can interfere with a "clean break" when our kids leave the nest. For now, know that you don't have to settle for feeling like this. Talk to a trusted friend, especially if you know someone else whose child is away at college. Talking to parents who have been through it can be helpful. If you tend to compare yourself to your friends, and they never let down the facade that everything is perfect, you might want to talk to an objective outsider. A therapist can help you process and move through these feelings.

Here's a hint. If it feels this way now, you will probably have a hard time as your child moves through each milestone of his or her adult life, and it will be easier for your child and for you - short term and long term -  if you address what you're feeling. The goal is to raise a well-adjusted adult who is able to have happy, secure relationships. If you want this for your child, it's important to let go. And if letting go is too hard, you have some feelings which deserve your attention. Attending to our own needs is easier said than done when we've spent the past 18 or more years putting our own needs last. But it's not too late to focus on what you want and need.

Working With Me 

There are several ways you can work with me if you're having trouble letting go. We can do individual psychotherapy if you can come to my office in the Baltimore area. You can attend one of my in person workshops or retreats. I can also offer coaching to help you develop a self care plan. You'll learn techniques to take care of your emotional and physical wellbeing and these coaching consultations are available either in personal or virtually. Give me a call at 443-510-1048 or send me an e-mail at laura@laurareaganlcswc.com if you'd like to discuss getting started. 

If you need psychotherapy outside of Maryland, I urge you to find someone you connect with and trust to help you with these feelings. It's better for you and for your child if you can let go and allow him or her to become an adult. You will be there if he or she needs you, but you will be allowing him or her to live and learn, just like  you did.  Your child will be okay, and you can be too.

I'm also on social media on FacebookTwitterPinterest,  and Google +You can listen to my podcast here and sign up for my e-mail newsletter here. 

Warmly,

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

 

How The Daring Way™ Helped Me & How It Can Help You Too!

How The Daring Way™ Helped Me & How It Can Help You Too! 

Today I'm sharing my most recent episode of The Baltimore Annapolis Psychotherapy Podcast, about how making the decision to attend The Daring Way™ training changed my life. I hope you will find it interesting!

If you haven't heard, bestselling author and thought leader Brené Brown, someone whose work I follow closely, published a new book last week. It's called Rising Strong, and I highly recommend reading it.  For more information on the book from Amazon click here (non-affiliate link). 

If you've read my blog or listened to previous episodes of my podcast, you realize that Brené Brown's books and teachings have been deeply impactful in my life and my work.  In this episode of the podcast, I talk about how I made the decision to become a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator (best decision of my professional life! - so far anyway), what it was like to learn The Daring Way™ model experientially and two specific changes in the way I handle my emotions which came about as a direct result of the experience. This work has been transformative in the way I show up in my personal life and in my work with clients.

I happened upon the training by chance as I was seeking ways to dig deeper after watching Brené Brown's TED Talks on vulnerability and shame and reading her books. I recorded this episode to let you know about how working with a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator can take you deeper along the journey to wholehearted living. 

Certified Daring Way™ Facilitators (CDWFs) are around the U.S. and in international locations as well. You can find someone who brings a particular flavor to his/her work using this curriculum that resonates well with you. Look at the list of upcoming groups, workshops and intensive weekends by visiting The Daring Way™ website, and there is also an option to find a CDWF in your area. Here in Maryland, I have two opportunities coming up in the near future. 

I'm offering a One Day Introduction to The Daring Way™ workshop on Friday, September 18, 2015 and I have a weekend intensive retreat for a small group of up to 6 women scheduled for October 2-4, 2015Space is still available in both events and more information is available here. If you're reading this after October, 2015, you can still find information on my website about what's ahead. I'm planning some beautiful retreats in 2016 and all information will be posted on my site. I'm also super excited that the new Rising Strong™ curriculum will invite new inquiry into our stories and ways to apply Brené Brown's teaching to our lives. 

Contact me if you'd like to discuss working together. There are many ways to get in touch with me, including via e-mail at laura@laurareaganlcswc.com; by phone at (443) 510-1048; or through my website: www.laurareaganlcswc.com. You can also follow me on social media using Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ and Facebook. Please listen, subscribe and post honest reviews of the podcast on iTunes! I'd love to hear from you in the comments as well. 

Wholeheartedly,

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

The Baltimore Annapolis Psychotherapy Podcast
 
Click on the image to listen to the podcast episode! 

Click on the image to listen to the podcast episode! 

Click on the image above to listen to the podcast episode about how The Daring Way™ helped me and how it can help you!

 

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

 

How Self Care Helps Me Succeed in Business

If you have read my blog, you're probably aware that I talk about self care frequently. Click here to read my past posts on the subject of self care. Today I posted a video on Periscope, a new mobile social media platform which allows live broadcasting of videos that are posted for a limited amount of time on the site. This video, which I have posted below, was recorded live and without editing, so please be aware it's pretty raw! 

In the video I talk about how I use working and non-working retreats to grow as a person and thrive as a business owner. By working on my personal growth I am able to bring my best self to work with my clients as a psychotherapist, consultant, clinical supervisor, blogger and podcaster

(For information on my upcoming podcast visit www.laurareaganlcswc.com/podcast!) 

I am excited for you to hear one of my upcoming podcast interviews episodes in which I interviewed a psychotherapist and coach who offers international retreats to promote self care. It can be exciting and somewhat scary to consider spending money to give ourselves time and space for addressing our own needs. 

I felt intimidated about spending money and taking time away from my business in order to work on my own personal and professional growth, but I made the scary decision last September to fly to San Antonio, Texas for training in The Daring Way™. It was one of the best things I've done for myself and for my business. The experience took me way out of my comfort zone, which is a very vulnerable space, and tested my capacity to trust myself and my fellow participants as we learned this model experientially. It affected me profoundly and I continue to feel the effects of this experience almost a year later.  

Fast forward to today, where I write this post from a hotel room in Las Vegas. I'm in my last full day of a working retreat which has allowed me to focus on wrapping up the last steps needed to launch the podcast. Taking time and space away from my routine is key to unlocking my creativity. Later today I hope to hike in Red Rocks State Park, which I know will be a spiritual experience. I love my work as a psychotherapist (and all the other hats I wear in my professional life) and having experiences of taking time and space for wonder, joy and gratitude as when I am in nature makes me love my work even more. It helps me get grounded and centered.

If you're considering whether a retreat might help you get back to connection with yourself, check out my retreats page for the latest on what I'm offering. My next Daring Way™ retreat starts October 2 and I would love to talk to you about participating! 

Until next time! 

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C



Being Grounded Is A Good Thing!

How grounded are you?

Do you know what it means to be "grounded"? Not like when your parents said you weren't allowed to go outside and play with your friends. Being grounded means being present in your body. Being in the here and now. Knowing where you are and what is happening around you.

For people who have experienced trauma, sometimes being grounded and present in our bodies is not as easy as it sounds. If you have ever felt like you are floating around above your body, then you know what I mean. Or if you never feel anything in your body, it's just numb. Or if you find yourself zoning out and missing what's happening around you. If the person you are talking to says, "Hello, are you listening to me?" and you suddenly snap back to reality and think Where did I just go? 

I'm talking about dissociating, and some people do it more often than others. It's a great way of coping with negative emotions when we have no other way to escape. For that reason, many of us who were abused or neglected in childhood, or have experienced any other type of traumatic event over our lives may find this happening. Or we may not know it's happening, which can be scary. In spite of how effective dissociation can be in helping us avoid our unpleasant feelings, it can get in the way when we want to be focused at work, at home and in relationships.

Sometimes trauma survivors find unwanted thoughts or feelings coming into our heads when we don't want them to. We may even have flashbacks, in which we feel as if we are reliving the event. People often describe this as feeling as if they are watching what happened to them all over again - like a movie. However, unlike a movie that you want to see, this is one that brings up the same feelings of horror, helplessness and fear that you felt when the traumatic event occurred. It can be confusing and sometimes people have panic attacks when flashbacks come up unexpectedly.

It's important to feel grounded.

If any of these things are happening to you, I want you to know that while these are typical responses to trauma, you do not have to suffer alone. Help is available. My practice is focused on helping people who have experienced trauma to recover from the effects.  Below is an infographic I created which describes a simple, free and commonly used grounding technique. 

Grounding yourself in your body

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

Feeling less than grounded? Let's talk!

I hope you find this simple grounding technique to be helpful if you, or someone you know, needs to get grounded in the body. If you need additional support, contact me by phone at (443) 510-1048, by e-mail: laurareaganlcswc@gmail.com or via my website. I would be happy to talk about how therapy can help you get more grounded and focused. 

Warmly,

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

It's Easier Not to Care - Or Is It?

Feelings are hard.

Tomorrow is going to be hard. I'm having my dog euthanized.

I'm so sad about this but I know it's time.

I don't want to do this! As tears stream down my face I'm thinking, "I don't want to deal with this. I don't want to deal with this!" 

Why have a pet when you know they will die at some point? I mean, why did I even open up my heart to a new puppy 11 years ago, when I knew I would eventually have to say goodbye? I'm remembering when we had to put down our other dog (10 years ago). It was so sad, definitely one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. And now we are doing it again tomorrow, and this time our kids are old enough to understand. Crap. I don't want to feel these feelings!

This is part of life. Part of love. Life is not just the happy times, or even the neutral times when we are just chugging along - not really happy or sad. Life is filled with ups and downs. Overall, I've noticed it's more ups than downs. But the downs stand out more! 

Can I just not feel this?

This is hard. I wish I didn't have to feel this and that I could protect my family from having to feel this. Tomorrow is going to be SO HARD. Not having our dog anymore is going to be so sad. 

Part of me would prefer to pretend this isn't happening. Part of me would like to look online for puppies to adopt through a rescue organization and pretend my dog is already gone. You know that scene in the movie "American Beauty" when Annette Bening's character cries and screams for about 10 seconds and then fixes her makeup and acts like nothing happened? Part of me wants to do that. 

I want to numb my feelings. The problem is, as Brené Brown says, "We cannot selectively numb emotion. Numb the dark and you numb the light." 

Numb the Dark and You Numb the Light - Brené Brown

It's not possible to truly enjoy the companionship of your dog or cat (or your people) if you avoid opening your heart to him or her. When you do open your heart you can have countless hours of fun and mutual companionship with your pet over his or her lifespan. But the price you pay for opening your heart is that you must feel the pain of loss at some point.

Love hurts.

Isn't that true of all of our relationships? We never know when they'll be lost, but at some point they will. One of the people in the relationship will die and the other will experience loss. We never know when this will happen, but at some point it will. Wouldn't be easier just to keep our hearts closed off, protected, guarded by barbed wire, and never let anyone in? 

Well, yes, easier...if you don't mind feeling alone and lonely for your whole life. But we humans aren't made for that. We are social creatures and we need connection to survive, beginning at birth. The key to tolerating the pain of loss is the make sure to enjoy the good moments, really feel them and experience gratitude for them. And even in the neutral moments, can you find something to be grateful for? There is always something. It helps make the ups of life stand out as much as the downs.

So I will do this hard thing tomorrow. I will treasure my last hours with my dog, whom I love, and tomorrow I will take her to the vet so she will not suffer anymore. I don't want to do it and I wish I didn't have to. But I will. And I will open up my heart to another puppy (maybe two!) because it's worth it. I choose to feel because that's what life is.

"Carry on, warrior."

This morning I discovered that Glennon Doyle, Melton author of "Carry On Warrior," has a TED Talk. I have followed her blog, Momastery, but I haven't read her book yet. I watched the TED Talk today and - full disclosure - I cried through the whole thing. Maybe I'm just extra raw because I'm saying goodbye to my dog tomorrow, but I'm sharing it here because I feel pretty sure you will find it meaningful too. 

I think I need to read Glennon's book. It might take my mind off of being sad (or I will cry more - a win/win situation). I'd love to know what you think of the video and of this post in general. Please comment below!

And if you believe that risking heartbreak in the pursuit of connection is worthwhile, you'll probably want to read more of my posts. If you want support in opening your heart, get in touch with me by phone (443-510-1048), e-mail (laurareaganlcswc@gmail.com); or click "Work With Me" on my website to discover what I offer that can be of help to you.

Vulnerability Is Courage

I'm a psychotherapist, consultant, clinical supervisor and Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator. And a mother, wife, sister and friend. Although it was uncomfortable to do so, I made this video to tell you about my work offering The Daring Way™. As you will see, it's not a fancy, glossy, high production value video. It's just me. Therapists are just people who want to help people. We have specialized training in helping people with emotional pain and we can use our own experiences of struggle to relate to the suffering of others. And we are regular people. 

I want you to know that I offer The Daring Way™, based on the research of Brené Brown, because this model has changed my life. That's a big statement! In fact, before reading Brené Brown's books I probably wouldn't have said that out loud for fear that people would have thought my statement was stupid. That's exactly the point of this article. When I attended The Daring Way™ training, I was able to experience the model myself, and it changed me both personally and professionally. I've written more about how Brené Brown's work has changed me, and you can read it here

If you want to live a life that feels more authentic and build deep, meaningful connections with the important people in your life, The Daring Way™ might be a good fit for you. I'm offering this model in the Baltimore Annapolis area and I invite you to get in touch with me if you want to know more. 

(Click here for information on my upcoming weekend intensive. Early Bird Registration Discount ends June 15th!)

So although it felt vulnerable to make this video, I posted it anyway. It's what Brené Brown calls an "Arena Moment" in her book Daring Greatly. I posted the video even though:

  • I don't look perfect. (You're going to find that out sometime...might as well be now!)
  • I filmed it myself on my iPad - it's not glossy and professional-looking.
  • I don't sound as "smooth" and "cool" as I'd probably like to. 

And I like myself anyway! In fact, I'm an expert in the work I do and anyone who decides to work with me is going to see my imperfections eventually. I could try to present you with some kind of mask to make you like me more...but it would show through because I'd be playing a role instead of being authentic. How safe would you feel in a therapy session with a therapist who is hiding behind a mask of "being the expert" and trying to hide his/her imperfections from you? 

As Brené Brown says, "I am imperfect and I am enough." I am, and so are you. So even though I've said a lot about myself, this isn't really about me. It's about you. 

Do you want to show up and be seen as your true self? Are you ready to take off your mask and see what happens when you connect with other people from a place of authenticity? The Daring Women Weekend Intensive takes place July 17, 18 and 19, 2015. You can save $50 on the cost if you register by June 15th! The group is limited to six women and participants will be screened to ensure a good fit with the group. You can find all the details on this special intensive, the only one I'm planning for this year, at this link.  And if you're not ready to try a group setting, I use the model in my work with individuals and couples as well. To get started, give me a call at (443) 510-1048 or send me an e-mail at laurareaganlcswc@gmail.com to talk about how we can work together using The Daring Way™. 

If you want to read more of what I share, you can follow me on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest, and sign up for my e-mail newsletter (I won't spam you). 

Wholeheartedly,

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

Vulnerability Is Courage - Brené Brown
 

What If You Could Show Up and Be Seen As You Really Are?

Today's post explores the first of Brené Brown's "Guideposts for Wholehearted Living" from her book The Gifts of Imperfection. If you're reading the book title and thinking, "How could imperfection possibly be a gift?!!" then this is a great book for you to read. I thought the same thing at first, and I absolutely love this book. I frequently recommend it to my clients. So if you're interested in understanding how the Guideposts can help you live your life more wholeheartedly, then read on! 

What If You Could Show Up For Who You Really Are?

In my last post of this series on living an authentic life, I listed the Guideposts and how I (and many other people) have used them to help me live my life in a more fulfilling and joyful way.  The first Guidepost is: Cultivating Authenticity - Letting Go of What People Think. That can be a tough one. What does it mean to you? 

Here in the greater Annapolis area, where I live and work with clients, it can be really hard to let go of worrying about what other people think. Conformity is prized in our community, and fitting in feels better than being excluded. I think that is true no matter where you live. But what if you aren't the same as everyone else? I'm kidding. None of us is the same as everyone else! We're all unique, and our differences are what make us who we are. For some reason, though, we tend to hide what makes us unique in order to fit in with the group. 

If you want to dig deeper into Brené Brown's work, join me July 17-19 when 6 women will use The Daring Way™ model to discover how connecting with their most authentic selves can help them build meaningful relationships and live wholeheartedly. Click here for details.

When you don't like who you really are it can be tempting to hide, pretending to be someone you're not. You might find yourself trying on different personas until you find one that people respond to in a positive manner. This often starts in childhood, and some of us are so skilled at it that we don't even realize we're doing it anymore. It becomes automatic, like a chameleon changing color to fit its surroundings. Eventually you may wonder, "Who am I, really?"

There are many common strategies that are used by people to get by. One of these strategies is going along with things that you don't really want to do. You may hate playing golf, but you do it to fit in with your work friends because it seems to be expected. Another strategy that many people use is participating in social gatherings with people who don't talk about meaningful subjects, instead limiting conversation to surface matters. There is a time and place for this, but if these interactions are your only social relationships, it can feel lonely and hollow to feel as if you have no one to talk to who understands what you're going through.  It's isolating, and you may even think that you are the only one who wants to talk about anything more than the weather, what home improvements your neighbors have done recently, and which Kindergarten teacher you want your child to have next year. 

Many women compensate for such feelings by anticipating other people's needs and trying to meet them before the person asks. Our society emphasizes women's role as caregivers, and sometimes this helps us avoid thinking about our own needs. It's usually met with a positive reaction from others, too. Are you the woman who always brings the perfect dish to the neighborhood gathering and the first one to start cleaning up for the hostess when the evening comes to an end?  Do you have a hostess gift every time you show up for an informal happy hour at your neighbor's house and send a thank you note as soon as you get home that evening? Are you the one who is always doing favors for everyone else in the community? There's no doubt that you have impeccable manners and others probably appreciate everything you do for them. But are you doing this because you want to, or because you want to be liked? Don't get me wrong, I want to be liked too - we all do - but I would prefer to be liked for who I really am, rather than how good I can make the other person feel about themselves. What about you? Would you rather be liked for your true, authentic self (even if you don't always have time to send a thank you note right away) or for your ability to change your behavior to suit the other person? People pleasing and hiding our true selves can create a prison with us trapped inside. How can you ask for help when you need it (and we all need it at times) if you are too busy taking care of everyone else?

What would it take for you to believe that your own combination of unique qualities is what makes you special? Think about it. What do people like about you? Is it your outrageous sense of humor? Your joyful laugh? Your artistic ability? Do you have a great singing voice? Maybe you make the best oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Do you have a family recipe that you have mastered but you never cook it for your friends because it represents your family's cultural heritage which is embarrassing to you? It might be hard to imagine showing your neighbors, friends and co-workers your true self. Are you afraid they wouldn't like the real you? Or worse, do you feel like you don't even know the real you anymore?

For many of us it can be difficult to imagine being accepted as we are, with the pretense stripped away. It might be easier if you imagine a child. Whether you have children of your own, or you have children in your family - nieces, nephews, cousins - or your neighborhood. What would you tell a child about being the same as everyone else? Can we agree that each child is unique and special exactly as he or she is? Sometimes it's easier to believe that when thinking about children than ourselves. But let's remember that we all started out as children too, and our special qualities didn't stop being valuable just because we have grown up. 

It's important for your own well-being and that of your children, if you have them, that you understand that you are just right, right now, exactly as you are.  If you have trouble believing that, and want to work on connecting with your authentic self so you can feel confident showing up as you really are, get in touch with me! I would love to work with you on this. I am certified to use The Daring Way™ method, based on the research of Brené Brown, to build shame resiliency and help you remember what you loved about yourself when you were a child.  You deserve to love yourself for who you are, and to stop hiding your true self from the important people in your life! To work with me see below for contact info.

If you want to dig deeper into Brené Brown's work, join me July 17-19 when 6 women will use The Daring Way™ model to discover how connecting with their most authentic selves can help them build meaningful relationships and live wholeheartedly. Click here for details.

Brené Brown's Guideposts to Wholehearted Living

Thanks for reading this installment of the blog series on living authentically. If you like what I've written here, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for more. You can also sign up for my e-mail newsletter, which is sent every so often with updates on new offerings including workshops, groups and intensives, as well as recent blog posts and news about the practice.

Have you ever wondered whether you'd still be accepted if people knew the real you? If you're afraid of the answer, but brave enough to want to find out anyway, then 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 appointment

Source:

Brown, B. (2010). The gifts of imperfection: Let go of who you think you're supposed to be and embrace who you are. Center City, MN: Hazelden.

May is Mental Health Month!

Happy Mental Health Month! I think many of us can't relate to the words "Mental Health" as we associate them with negative images we have seen and heard on TV and in the movies. Do you have a loved one who has had a mental health problem? I do. If you don't, then that means neither you, nor anyone you care about has ever struggled with anxiety or depression, or experienced a traumatic event. Most of us have. I certainly have. 

Mental Health is a positive term, actually. Think about it - what if May was Physical Health Month? That sounds nice, doesn't it? Well, our bodies and minds are functioning at their best when we are experiencing mental and physical wellness. And there's a connection between our physical health and our mental health, because our mind, body and spirit all interact to make us the individual beings that we are.

Mental Health Month for 2015 is focused on recognizing when one needs help before the symptoms become so severe as to require intensive interaction, such as hospitalization. What does this mean to you and me? To me, it means three things.

Understand the effects of traumatic events.

I think my purpose in life is to help people who have experienced trauma and spread the word about the effects of trauma. Despite extensive research on the prevalence of childhood trauma and its effects on the physical and emotional well-being of humans throughout the lifespan, it seems that most people don't recognize the importance of addressing the effects of trauma. I feel sad about the amount of suffering so many of us endure before realizing that it doesn't have to be this way. If you've experienced a traumatic event, help is available! I've seen the positive outcomes for people who have participated in trauma-focused therapy. 

Practice Self Care

This is one of my favorite subjects, and I've begun a blog series on the topic. You can read the articles I've written thus far here. The key is to treat yourself as you would someone you love. It sounds very simple, but for many of us, it is easier said than done. In general, women in our culture are raised to take care of others, and men are raised to suppress their feelings. Our culture doesn't encourage us to take care of ourselves, but it is the only way to truly take care of anyone else. Check out what Brené Brown said about this on Oprah's Lifeclass. 

Know When To Seek Professional Help

Do you know the signs that a mental health problem is serious enough to require professional help? Many people are uncomfortable asking for help due to the stigma of mental health. This can contribute to waiting to seek help until we feel completely overwhelmed. Here's a link to a page listing symptoms of various types of mental health disorders.  There's no shame in admitting that you've reached the limits of how well you are able to manage a problem on your own. We all have these moments at times. I view therapy as a part of being well throughout the lifespan. There have been times when I have needed professional help to move through some difficult times, and I'm not ashamed to say so! Without this help I wouldn't be where I am today, in a position to help others.   If you think you might have a mental health disorder, here's a simple screening tool which can help you identify whether you'd benefit from professional assistance.   Here is a link to find help, wherever you are. 

I hope you'll join me in challenging the stigma of asking for help. It is truly a sign of strength to admit that a problem has grown past your ability to handle it alone. Please share this post to show your support for ending stigma! If you choose to share it on social media, please use the hashtag #B4Stage4. 

Wholeheartedly,

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

May is Mental Health Month! #B4Stage4


Sources:

Burke, N.B. (2015, February 17). How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime. Retrieved on May 2, 2015 from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95ovIJ3dsNk 

Mental Health America (n.d.). Mental health screening tools. Retrieved on May 2, 2015 from: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/mental-health-screening-tools

National Alliance on Mental Illness (n.d.). Mental health by the numbers. Retrieved on May 2, 2015 from https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers

Harpo, Inc. (n.d.). Oprah's Lifeclass: are you judging those who ask for help? Retrieved on May 2, 2015 from: http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/Dr-Brene-Brown-on-Judging-Those-Who-Ask-for-Help-Video#

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (n.d.). How to get help. Retrieved on May 2, 2015 from: http://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/ 

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (n.d.). What to look for. Retrieved on May 2, 2015 from: http://www.mentalhealth.gov/what-to-look-for/index.html

Self Care Blog Series Round Up

To make it easier for you to find the series of articles on self care I've collected them on this page. I will add to the list as new articles are posted. 

Rethinking Self Care 

Therapists Share Their Self Care Tips

Self Care Apps Recommended By Therapists 

Self Care is Essential for Health

 

Feel free to share these if you think someone you know will benefit, and post them on social media! You can also follow me on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. I look forward to connecting with you! To talk about working together in therapy contact me at (443) 510-1048 or by clicking here to send me a message.

Are Some People More Authentic Than Others?

This blog was originally published in April, 2015 but I have updated it to include some new information as well as the link to the episode of the Baltimore Annapolis Psychotherapy Podcast released in September, 2015 related to the Guideposts and an upcoming workshop. You can always find up to date information on events I'm hosting on my website: www.laurareaganlcswc.com

Welcome to the second post in the blog series on creating a life that feels authentic, using Brené Brown's "Guideposts to Wholehearted Living," which she describes in detail in her book The Gifts of Imperfection (one of my very favorites!), her last bestseller, Daring Greatly and her newest bestseller Rising Strong.  This blog was originally published in April, 2015 but I have updated it to include some new information as well as the link to the podcast episode released in September, 2015 on this subject.

If you're interested in going deeper with Brené Brown's work, join me for an intensive weekend in Severna Park where 6 women will use the Daring Way™ to build deep connection so they can show up authentically in relationships and live more wholeheartedly.

I won't pretend that this blog series will achieve the level of detail included in Dr. Brown's books - which I highly recommend you read - but I hope it can serve as an introduction to help you think about how you can move toward a more authentic and wholehearted lifeAt the end of this post I will tell you about how you can work with me using The Daring Way™, based on the research of Brené Brown, to develop authentic connection with yourself and others. 

I often talk about living authentically and wholeheartedly. I aspire to live my life in a way that makes me feel as if my soul purpose and my actions are aligned. That's not an easy task in a world that tells us to look and act a certain way in order to be accepted. Sometimes it feels like there is little space for showing up as our true selves. Of course, I'm a unique individual, just like you are, and what makes us who we are is what's special about us. There is no one else like you or me. So why is it so tempting to hide our true selves so we can fit in

For me, hiding how I feel inside is a skill I've practiced for 43 years so far (though for the past 10 years I've been working on changing that habit). I got to be good enough at doing it that I didn't even notice when it was happening. In fact, there was a time when I didn't even know how I felt inside. It was all just kind of jumbled up, leaving me with a general sense of malaise that I didn't really understand. How did I perfect the ability to block out my feelings? It helped that I was frequently counseled not to be "so sensitive" as a child, and I picked up our societal message that it's not a good idea to cry in public when I was quite young. Even when the message wasn't directed toward me, I saw the horror and disgust on others' faces when someone would cry in school. I vowed at an early age that would not be me! How sad. Crying is a normal response to feeling sad, mad, confused, scared, or overwhelmed. Or all of the above!

As I continued on the journey of my life. the various disappointments and tragedies I experienced (as we all do, inevitably) caused me pain that I didn't want to feel. Do you like pain? No, neither do I. Even joyful experiences can bring pain. Having children is wonderful, but once you allow your heart to feel that much love, you have so much more to lose if anything were to happen to them! And when something causes them pain and you can't do anything to make it better? Ouch! 

Later, as a social worker/counselor in training during college and grad school, I felt it was very important to avoid showing how upsetting the stories of abuse, oppression and injustice were for me because I wanted to prove I was tough (not weak!). While it's true that one must maintain professionalism in the role of a social worker or counselor, there is a time and place for letting those feelings out in supervision, consultation and personal psychotherapy. Pretending something doesn't bother us is not an effective way to avoid feeling the pain.   I associated vulnerability (letting my guard down) with weakness. Have you ever felt this way?

So what's the deal? Are some people just simply more authentic than others? Why can some people show the world who they really are, in every situation?  And are these people happier than the rest of us? These are some of the questions Brené Brown's research was able to answer and her answers are summarized in the 10 Guideposts. In The Gifts of Imperfection, Dr. Brown defines authenticity as "the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we really are." The Guideposts explain what people who live wholeheartedly do differently from the rest of us.

Brené Brown's Guideposts to Wholehearted Living from the Gifts of Imperfection:

1. Cultivating Authenticity - Letting Go of What People Think

2. Cultivating Self-Compassion - Letting Go of Perfectionism

3. Cultivating A Resilient Spirit - Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness

4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy - Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark

5. Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith Letting Go of the Need for Certainty

6.  Cultivating Creativity - Letting Go of Comparison

7. Cultivating Play and Rest - Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth

8. Cultivating Calm and Stillness - Letting Go of Anxiety As a Lifestyle

9. Cultivating Meaningful Work Letting Go of Self-Doubt and "Supposed To"

10. Cultivating Laughter, Song and Dance - Letting Go of Being Cool and "Always In Control"

This blog series will discuss each of the Guideposts in more detail with future posts. As you read the list, what feelings come up for you? Does this resonate? It certainly did with me when I read it for the first time. Do you follow the Guideposts in your life? Do you want to find a way to incorporate them?

I've shared with you some of the challenges which have interfered with living my life as authentically as I'd like, in hopes that you will see that I'm not here to tell you what you "should" do to live wholeheartedly - I'm on this journey too.  The Daring Way™ training, which I attended in September 2014, changed me and I want to share it with as many people as possible.

I am a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator and I'm excited to be able to offer this model in individual therapy, with groups and in workshops. I also use the model in Clinical Supervision for Maryland social workersIf you want to dig deeper with this work, click here to find out about the Daring Women Weekend Intensive for a small group of women. Discounts are available for two people who register together.  I am offering an introductory 1 Day Workshop and I plan to offer the Rising Strong™ method in the near future. You can also read about the special intensive Couple's Workshop opportunity. And for a more in-depth discussion of perfectionism and the Guideposts

What did you think of this podcast 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 podcast, search the Baltimore Annapolis Psychotherapy Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and (coming soon) Google Play. Or click here to listen via my website. 

Cheers!

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C

 

Click on the image below to listen to the podcast episode on the Guideposts.

Click on the image below to listen to all the podcast episodes released thus far. If you like it, please subscribe on iTunes and leave an honest review!

Click on this image to listen to the podcast.

Click on this image to listen to the podcast.

To find out more give me a call at (443) 510-1048e-mail me at laura@laurareaganlcswc.com; follow me on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest, and sign up for my e-mail newsletter for updates.  You can hear more from me by listening to The Baltimore Annapolis Psychotherapy PodcastIf you enjoy the podcast, please subscribe on iTunes and consider leaving an honest review.

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C, CDWF     Psychotherapist, Consultant, Clinical Supervisor, Blogger, Podcaster

Laura Reagan, LCSW-C, CDWF

Psychotherapist, Consultant, Clinical Supervisor, Blogger, Podcaster

Connect with Your Authentic Self!
 

Using Flower Essences to Promote Emotional Well-being: My Interview with Beth Terrence

This installment of the blog series on holistic methods complementing traditional talk therapy includes an interview with local healer Beth Terrence, who is a Holistic Health Practitioner, Shaman, recovery coach and offers many wonderful one on one and group experiences to help you on your life's journey. I attended one of Beth's workshops and for me it was a very meaningful experience that I'd recommend to anyone. Today Beth agreed to be interviewed about her work as a Bach Flower Registered Practitioner

If you're not familiar with Bach Flower Remedies (I wasn't), you can find more information about these homeopathic remedies here. The British Homeopathic Association provides information about them at this link.  Read on below the image for Beth's interview! 

Bach Flower Remedies Interview with Beth Terrence

Tell me about your work. What are Bach Flower Remedies?  

I have been working in the field of Holistic Health and Wellness for over nineteen years providing Integrative Holistic Healing Sessions & Programs for individuals, groups and organizations.  

The Bach Flower Remedies are a flower essence system that supports emotional balance and wellbeing.  Created by British Dr. Edward Bach, the system is comprised of 38 flower essences used in conjunction with spiritual and holistic healing principles.  Dr. Bach understood the importance of treating the whole person, not just their disease. 

Early in his career, Dr. Bach observed how an individuals emotional state and personality traits affected their health even on a physical level. He was also very attuned to nature and able to correlate the energies of different flowers with various emotional states.  The remedies work vibrationally; similarly to homeopathic medicine.  

What benefits are expected with Bach Flower Remedies? Are there any risks? Who is a good candidate for Bach Flower Remedies? Who should not participate in treatment with Bach Flower Remedies? 

The Bach Flower Remedies support the process of transformation on many levels.  Essentially, they help to transmute emotions and long-held patterns that are out of balance; and to foster positive emotions and new healthier patterns for living.  Some areas the Bach Flower Remedies may provide support in addressing include:

     Life Transitions

     Loss/Grief

     Trauma/Abuse

     Anxiety

     Depression

     Life Direction & Purpose

     Energetic & Emotional Sensitivity

     Fatigue

     ADD/ADHD

     Self-Confidence

The Bach Flower Remedies are gentle and effective; there are no side effects and they can do no harm.  The remedies can be beneficial for adults, teens, children, pregnant women, babies and animals.   As treatment remedies are customized for the individual, responses vary but often include:

     a greater sense of balance

     a more positive attitude

     a release of feelings, patterns and beliefs that no longer serve

     feeling more able to move fluidly in the world

     having healthier relationships

     feeling more joy and ease of well-being.

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

Of the 38 Bach Flower Remedies, there are quite a few that address trauma, anxiety and depression specifically.  The beauty of the remedies is that they support the individual and how these challenges manifest for them personally.  For instance, if depression is a concern, we might explore the following questions:

     Do you feel a sense of discouragement from setbacks, delays, failures or difficulties? Are you feeling despondent?

     Do you feel hopeless?

     Are you experiencing sadness, loss or grief? Have you experienced trauma recently or in the past?

     Do you have a black cloud depression that comes and goes for no known reason?

     Do you feel a sense of anguish as if you can't bear anymore?  Do you cry uncontrollably?

During evaluation, practitioner and client are working collaboratively to determine core issues and the best treatment remedies for that time.  Usually, a combination of 5 - 7 remedies is blended, which are taken orally or through a topical spray for 3 - 4 weeks.  Depending on the person and the length of the patterns, a number of treatment periods may be needed to support a shift.

What else do you want people to know about yourself and the services you offer?

People often ask me how I came to work with the Bach Flower Remedies.  They were one of the most important holistic tools that helped me in my recovery initially from Fibromyalgia and ultimately from the effects of Trauma on my life.  Through my own healing journey, I discovered the importance of exploring a variety of holistic tools to find those that best supported me in the change and healing I was trying to create. 

I offer Integrative Holistic Healing Programs to assist others in their journey of transformation.  I have found an Integrative Approach supports each individual in understanding where they are and in moving towards where they would like to be.  The foundational tools of my practice include The Bach Flower Remedies, Shamanic Healing and Body/EnergyTherapies such as Zero Balancing.  Additional modalities may be incorporated depending on individual focus and needs.  Sessions are available in Annapolis, MD or by Phone/Skype. I also offer classes and workshops locally in the MD/DC area and virtually by teleseminar.  

Want to learn more from Beth? Click here to listen to "Beat The Seasonal Blues With The Bach Flower Remedies" on Soundcloud. 

Beth Terrence is a trained Shaman, Holistic Health Practitioner, Speaker, Writer & Recovery Coach. She is a Bach Flower Registered Practitioner with the Bach Centre in the UK.  Beth has been working in the field of holistic healing and transformation for over nineteen years.  Her mission is to support others in living a heart-centered, balanced and joyful life through discovering the healer within.  To learn more, visit www.bethterrence.com or contact Beth at 443-223-0838 to explore whats possible!

I'm honored that Beth was willing to be interviewed about the helpful services she offers in Annapolis and virtually.  I hope you learned something new, as I did! 

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Holistic Blog Interviews


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. 

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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

Reiki and Crystal Healing for Self Love & Self Acceptance

In today's post for the series on integrative mental health I'm excited to bring you an interview with Nina Gallant, LMT, a fabulous healer who practices in Annapolis and New York. Nina agreed to answer my questions about Reiki and Crystal Healing. You can get some background on Reiki by clicking here. This article provides some information about crystal healing, although there are admittedly few informative websites on this subject.

Reiki and Crystal Healing Mind Body Spirit

My interview with Nina Gallant begins below! 

 

Tell me about your work. How do you use Reiki and crystal healing?  In what setting does it take place? 

As a healer, I use many techniques to help my clients experience greater peace, wellness and vitalityReiki and crystal healing energy work are two of the methods I use.  Reiki is a hands-on healing art that allows life force energy (also sometimes called unconditional love, prana or chi) to flow to where it is most needed physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Crystal healing is a guided meditation that helps harmonize the chakras and other vibrational fields to support the purification, amplification and elevation of the energies of the mind, body and spirit.  Both healing techniques are done with the receiver of the energy lying on a massage table, comfortable in receiving these gifts of healing.

What benefits are offered by Reiki and crystal healing? Are there any risks? Who is a good candidate for this work? Who should not participate in these methods? 

The benefits of Reiki and crystal healing run broad and deep – they really are both quite exciting!  Emotionally and cognitively, they support self-acceptance, self-love and self-healing, leading to an increased sense of self-empowerment and capability.  They also both help expand consciousness, enhance spiritual growth, increase clarity of thought and purpose and connection to our intuition and higher selves, facilitate the setting of healthy boundaries – the list goes on!  Physically, they also offer broad benefits – immune system support, digestive health, and healthy sleep patterns, to name just a few. 

There are no real risks to receiving Reiki, unless you have the rare case of having an unset broken bone!  If Reiki were to be applied before the bones were properly aligned, they would be encouraged to set in a broken configuration rather than following healthy anatomical structure.  Generally, the divine intelligence of Reiki energy knows where it is needed, and it will go there – the practitioner is a conduit focusing this life-giving energy on the recipient.

Like Reiki, most everyone can benefit from crystal healing, though a word of encouragement to work with an experienced practitioner.  The resonance of different crystals will amplify different functions of the body, heart and mind.  Malachite, for example, is known to magnify energies already manifest in an individual – wonderful, if one’s mood is on the upswing, and potentially not so great if the spiral is downward.  For someone with growing despondency, an appropriate selection (among many) would be citrine, a stone known to bring joy and rid negativity and gloom to those interacting with it.  Another example: amber, stimulating cell reproduction, would not be suitable for use with cancer.  Rutilated quartz is a good choice, as it stimulates immunity, directs boosted energy to areas in need of rejuvenation, and its golden fibers support protection from radiation.  Working with someone who has awareness of these nuances of the healing energy of the stones is important, as crystal healing is not always as naturally innocuous as Reiki healing can be.

Read on for more of the interview with Nina! 

Reiki Crystal Healing Self Love Acceptance Healing

Many people who come to me for therapy services are affected by trauma, anxiety and depression. Is Reiki beneficial to people with these issues? What about crystal healing?

These gentle therapies are non-invasive and very nurturing, and can greatly benefit those who have experienced trauma and are living with anxiety, low spirit and other blocks to well-being.  I conduct a thorough intake session that helps reveal issues of importance and areas on which to focus attention.  Also, the person receiving the healing energy remains clothed on the table, which often adds to feelings of security. 

During crystal healing sessions, my clients and I work together to develop positive affirmations that truly resonate with their desires.  It is a collaborative effort that is rewarding for all.  I am always honored and excited to partner with individuals who are taking a proactive approach to their healing and well-being!  And very often, that proactivity presents simply as an increasing ability to be open to receive the gifts of healing

This is surprisingly not always an easy task in our culture – one that rewards humans doing and contributing over humans being and receiving, but both qualities are equally important in balance – the yin and the yang of it, so to speak. 

What else would you like to tell us about your work and the services you offer?

In addition to Reiki and crystal healing, I am licensed in therapeutic bodywork, offering deep tissue and Swedish massage, and CranioSacral therapy.  I’m also a certified Trager® practitionerBardo Dance, a conscious dance modality I developed, offers healing through movement.  Classes are and have been held regularly in Annapolis and at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY for many years.  I would love to see you there sometime!

For more information, please feel free to contact me at nina@exuberantyes.com, visit my website at www.exuberantyes.com (it's currently being updated), or give me a call at (410) 991-3508.  I would love to connect with you! 

Thanks so much to Nina for taking the time to answer my questions! I've learned more about these methods from her, and I have tried some of them myself as well! More on that in a future post. Did you learn something new about Reiki and crystal healing? Have you tried these methods? Comment below, I would love to hear your thoughts! 

Contact Nina via e-mail (nina@exuberantyes.com) or phone at (410) 991-3508 for more information on Reiki, crystal healing, Bardo dance (awesome!) and her bodywork as well as the Trager® approach. If you are looking for a psychotherapist offering an integrative approach to address the needs of mind, body and spirit, call me at (443) 510-1048. You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. I try to share useful information on all three sites with minimal duplication of posts. 

Sources:

Author Unknown. (n.d.) Crystal healing. Retrieved from: http://www.altmd.com/Articles/Crystal-Healing--Encyclopedia-of-Alternative-Medic

International Center for Reiki Training. (n.d.) Reiki, questions and answers. Retrieved from: http://www.reiki.org/faq/questions&answers.html