The Interplay of Acupuncture and Psychotherapy

The body and mind are full of connections (synapses, neurons, joints, tissues, organs, systems).  The body-mind also has an energy system.  By energy system, I mean that there is something we can’t quite see literally, but often operates outside of our ordinary awareness.   We feel this energetic system when we are tired, sick, injured, depressed, anxious and overwhelmed.  If we pay attention, we notice peaks, valleys, and plains in our level of energy.  When we are depressed, we may sleep a lot more than normal.  When we are anxious, we may have difficulty sleeping.  When we feel balanced, we notice a good balance of not too tired, not too anxious and that feeling of being just right.  Often when we are not feeling right, it is our energy system reporting an imbalance.

Looking at the body-mind as a connected system of energy is not new to Chinese Medicine, especially the practice of acupuncture.    Throughout the lifespan, we encounter stress and trauma which we respond to in various ways that at the time serve to aid in survival.  These methods of coping create imbalances in our body-mind energy system.  If we experienced an abusive childhood or great losses at any point in our life, our energy system is affected.   Acupuncture assists in reconnecting the body to a balanced state where one can find peace and not be so anxious or depressed.  Acupuncture utilizes needles to tap into our energy system unblocking the blocks created by stress, trauma and illness.

The same holds true for the examination of our past and present in counseling and psychotherapy.  Often a therapist will ask questions that take us back to a difficult situation or trauma in life or have us recall a time when we felt more balanced (like our old selves).  This recollection helps the client to get a sense of what it was like to feel balanced and what may have thrown us out of balance.  This insight may help identify ways to pull us back into a state of balance.  In meditative therapy, we are often able to observe at the level of imagination any blocks in our thoughts and emotions that are problematic.  By noticing thought patterns and emotional states, we are often better equipped to reconnect to a state free of these patterns.

Both acupuncture and psychotherapy have the ability to help us return to a balanced state.  Consider using these therapies together for a powerful way to combat the effects of stress and trauma.

What I Learned from Speaking at the Body Love Conference

With JP, who co-presented mental health workshop with me at the Body Love Conference!

I’m lucky. What happened for me when I read Jes Baker’s letter to Abercrombie & Finch’s CEO happened very fast. I know it was a journey long before that time, but her energy flipped a switch inside me… I suddenly no longer cared what people thought or said to me (what they say to my kids is another story).  I know that this is an anomaly… but it’s still weird look back and remember what it felt like leading to that change.

The Body Love Conference did that for me.

I met women on every stage of their journey, some there on a whim. Some there for school, not even thinking it was a spot that they needed to be at, and many who had embraced the role of activist with much more vigor than I. Some people wouldn’t believe it, but I am a wallflower… these women were not. These are the women I want to grow up to be like:

1. Jes Baker

Jes is just as personable in real life. Honestly, ever moment around her I felt like we were old friends. She’s awesome.

2. Jen McLellan

Jen is an activist in the truest sense. She is an incredible motivator to find healthcare professionals who will do more than overlook weight. I spent a lot of time talking with her at the conference learning about all that she does to keep women informed of their choices.

3. Shanna Katz

Shanna is a board certified sexologist (talk about a crazy job!) and an awesome person. She also did a workshop on health needs that I’m sorry I missed. But in talking with her during lunch, Shanna shared a story with me about a woman with OI who made a choice to go in to a wheelchair to protect herself. I think that story alone will impact how I deal with my health… It’s not about everything that I need to do to fit societal norms- it’s about how I need to take care of myself so I can continue to be awesome 🙂

4. Jennifer Chambers

Jennifer is an amazing woman, with an amazing story. I suggest that you all go read about it and find out what it’s like to have a traumatic brain injury and have to relearn your whole life. On a personal level, though, she is amazing. I just want to have enough energy to do midnight swims before and after speaking at a conference someday!

5. Elizabeth Denneau

I’ve met Liz before… she’s the one who made the cute matching dresses for my girls and I 🙂 (you have to look closely, but the pattern is made of skulls!)

In my second free session my brain kinda went haywire with all the choices, so I ended up in Liz’s workshop, and was totally amazed. I must have heard her say it before (or we have some weird mind link) but her message is that when clothes don’t work for you, it’s not your fault- there’s something wrong with the clothes. I love her.

6. Ivy Ross

I met Ivy at the mixer before the conference. What a beautiful spirit! Ivy is a yoga teacher and a musician, and just a comforting person to be around. I could have sat with her all night.

7. Meghan Tonjes

I wouldn’t have known who Meghan was without this conference… but her YouTube channel is very addicting. I highly recommend it.

8. Sonya Renee

Sonya not only had an amazing message… she also had these amazing shoes. I was totally jealous! Her message is inspiring and definitely worth reading.

9. Michelle Merritt

Michelle gave a talk on surviving sexual assault that impacted the entire conference. Women were bringing it up in my second session, a mental health panel, at the end of the day. I hope someday to have the same impact.

10. Chrystal Bougon

And Chrystal of Curvy Girl Lingerie… I don’t think I need to say any more about her other than that Curvy Girl is awesome.

 

From these women, and the 400 others who were there, I realized something very important… we ALL need Body Positivity and we all need to talk about it.

…Women and Men…

…Fat and Thin…

…The Wallflowers and the Gregarious…

…The Students and the Teachers…

I learned more from these women and being part of this community than I can express, and I can’t wait to do it again next year!

Managing your distress in the aftermath of a shooting

Managing your distress in the aftermath of a shooting

You may be struggling to understand how a shooting could occur and why such a terrible thing would happen. There may never be satisfactory answers to these questions.

We do know, though, that it is typical for people to experience a variety of emotions following such a traumatic event. These feelings can include shock, sorrow, numbness, fear, anger, disillusionment, grief and others. You may find that you have trouble sleeping, concentrating, eating or remembering even simple tasks. This is common and should pass after a while. Over time, the caring support of family and friends can help to lessen the emotional impact and ultimately make the changes brought about by the tragedy more manageable. You may feel that the world is a more dangerous place today than you did yesterday. It will take some time to recover your sense of equilibrium.

Meanwhile, you may wonder how to go on living your daily life. You can strengthen your resilience — the ability to adapt well in the face of adversity — in the days and weeks ahead.

Here are some tips:

  • Talk about it. Ask for support from people who care about you and who will listen to your concerns. Receiving support and care can be comforting and reassuring. It often helps to speak with others who have shared your experience so you do not feel so different or alone.
  • Strive for balance. When a tragedy occurs, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and have a negative or pessimistic outlook. Balance that viewpoint by reminding yourself of people and events which are meaningful and comforting, even encouraging. Striving for balance empowers you and allows for a healthier perspective on yourself and the world around you.
  • Turn it off and take a break. You may want to keep informed, but try to limit the amount of news you take in whether it’s from the Internet, television, newspapers or magazines. While getting the news informs you, being overexposed to it can actually increase your stress. The images can be very powerful in reawakening your feeling of distress. Also, schedule some breaks to distract yourself from thinking about the incident and focus instead on something you enjoy. Try to do something that will lift your spirits.
  • Honor your feelings. Remember that it is common to have a range of emotions after a traumatic incident. You may experience intense stress similar to the effects of a physical injury. For example, you may feel exhausted, sore or off balance.
  • Take care of yourself. Engage in healthy behaviors to enhance your ability to cope with excessive stress. Eat well-balanced meals, get plenty of rest and build physical activity into your day. Avoid alcohol and drugs because they can suppress your feelings rather than help you to manage and lessen your distress. In addition, alcohol and drugs may intensify your emotional or physical pain. Establish or re-establish routines such as eating meals at regular times and following an exercise program. If you are having trouble sleeping, try some relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga.
  • Help others or do something productive. Locate resources in your community on ways that you can help people who have been affected by this incident, or have other needs. Helping someone else often has the benefit of making you feel better, too.
  • If you have recently lost friends or family in this or other tragedies. Remember that grief is a long process. Give yourself time to experience your feelings and to recover. For some, this might involve staying at home; for others it may mean getting back to your daily routine. Dealing with the shock and trauma of such an event will take time. It is typical to expect many ups and downs, including “survivor guilt” — feeling bad that you escaped the tragedy while others did not.

For many people, using the tips and strategies mentioned above may be sufficient to get through the current crisis. At times, however an individual can get stuck or have difficulty managing intense reactions. A licensed mental health professional such as a psychologist can assist you in developing an appropriate strategy for moving forward. It is important to get professional help if you feel like you are unable to function or perform basic activities of daily living.

Recovering from such a tragic event may seem difficult to imagine. Persevere and trust in your ability to get through the challenging days ahead. Taking the steps in this guide can help you cope at this very difficult time.

If you are struggling to understand or to overcome fears, a licensed therapist can help. Schedule an appointment today.

Original article may be found at: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/mass-shooting.aspx
This tip sheet was made possible with help from the following APA members: Dewey Cornell, PhD, Richard A. Heaps, PhD, Jana Martin, PhD, H. Katherine O’Neill, PhD, Karen Settle, PhD, Peter Sheras, PhD, Phyllis Koch-Sheras, PhD, and members of Division 17.

In the wake of tragedy

On Friday, December 14th, 2012 a gunman walked into a Connecticut elementary school and changed the way every parent in the nation looked at their child that night.

In the wake of the most deadly school shooting most are stunned, and saddened, or even outraged. We wear these emotions and our children are affected by our response. There’s no way to go about your day and act as if nothing has happened when we are all holding our kids a little closer today. We must find a way to do something with these feelings, however. Our children are learning from our actions how they should behave after something so tragic has occurred.

Is it healthy to watch the news and see these images over and over? Most likely not, especially for younger children who are still forming their ideas of where they are safe.

Is it a good idea to cry outwardly in front of our children? To a degree yes, they need to see that you are affected and you mourn for the losses of other parents.

Should you talk to them about the shooting? Yes. Simply because they are going to hear about it, and if you don’t talk to them you can’t control what they understand. Make sure to be supportive when you do and validate their feelings.

Will it hurt them if you do nothing? No, but it will teach them that when others hurt it’s okay to sit on the sidelines and watch.

Mr. Rodgers is quoted to have said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

Definitely look for the helpers, but I say take it a step further. Show your children that you are not powerless to the evils of the world; you can stand up and help others. Be a helper yourself. Find a way you can support and help those in need.

Be empowered to make changes in this world.

If you or your child is struggling to understand or to overcome fears, a licensed therapist can help. Schedule an appointment today.

Surviving the Holidays When You’re Grieving

By Guest Author Sandy Green NCC LAC
Don’t plan to skip the holidays.  It’s impossible to wish the day away.  It will come, no matter what you do.  Instead of trying to ignore the holidays and hiding your feelings, accept that it’s normal to feel sad and blue during these days.  Meet your feelings head on and work out some strategies to help prepare you, as much as possible, for the holidays and parties.
Plan Ahead.  When you are grieving, no doubt you do not like to be surprised. After all, your emotions are already like a roller coaster, up and down, and unpredictable.  Plan ahead. Ask your family members and friends to tell you about the festivities they are planning so you know what to expect. Strategize about who you will go with and which parts of the planned festivities you feel you can participate in comfortably.  Predictability reduces the element of surprise and increases coping skills. When you don’t feel comfortable, tell a trusted friend or family member about your feelings and ask them to support your decision not to participate or ask them to help you find an alternative way to make it more comfortable.
Make tentative plans.  Because your emotions are so unpredictable during the time of grieving, it is hard to know ahead of time if you will be having a good day tomorrow, or next week.  When you are invited to a party or other holiday gathering, tell your host, “I would like to come, put me down as a “maybe”.  This way you are not obligated to go if you change your mind because you’re having a tough day.
Give yourself grace. Do only those activities which are special and meaningful to you.  What do you feel comfortable doing? Which activities do find supporting? Do only those things.   It’s your grieving period, it’s okay to put yourself first. Be kind to yourself. Get plenty of rest and eat healthy foods. Don’t take on any more than you can manage. If you need to be alone, give yourself permission to do so. If you want the love and support of others, ask for it. Do whatever it is that gives you the comfort and support you need.
Shop early or by catalog or online.  When you’re grieving, you may see the world through skewed glasses.  If you have lost a spouse, you may feel as if everyone around you is in a happy, healthy, and loving relationship. If you have lost a child, everywhere you look you will see only joyful active children with smiling, reassuring, and loving parents.   You see malls overflowing bustling shoppers, Christmas music, blinking lights, and delightful smells of pumpkin spice and pine trees.  These sights, sounds, and smells can heighten a grieving person’s depression. You may feel “obligated” to smile because “everyone else is”, stirring up feelings of guilt about being “phony” which brings on more depression because you don’t feel congruent.
Talk through it.  When asked, “How are you?’, be truthful.  The only way through grief is to grieve. You can’t go around it. You friends likely don’t know how to best support someone who is grieving.  Tell them how you feel.  “Today is tough for me”; “I’m feeling vulnerable right now”;  “I’d like to sit here and reflect a bit”;  “I’d like someone to just sit with me for a while”. Sharing your feelings will help to bring on the healing. You need people who are willing to listen. Choose friends who you are comfortable with and ones who will not be uncomfortable with your tears. Friends and family may think talking about your grief will only remind you of your losses, so they may avoid talking about it. Let them know talking is what you need. Tell them how they can best support you, whether it be listening, remembering with you, or participating in an activity which brings you comfort. Talking with a counselor may also be needed in order to help with the healing process.
Ask for help and accept it. This is not the time to pretend you are strong. You need the help and support of family and friends. You are not a burden. Your loved ones will be happy to help someone they care for and your allowing them to help will give the gift of purpose and meaning. If you find people are not helping you, it is likely that they do not know how to help you. Make your needs known. If you need someone to help you with decorating, meals, shopping, or planning, let them know. Most will be delighted to know they are helping in a meaningful way.
Find a support group. Friends and family can be supportive when you’re grief, but they may have their own grief from the same loss. Or they may have other challenges in their lives which won’t allow them to help you as much as they would like. Support groups for the bereaved usually easy to find during the holiday season. Ask about them at local churches, community centers, hospice agencies and search the internet to find a group that is right for you. It’s very comforting to be a part of a group whose members are grieving losses similar to your own. The friends you meet there will likely be a source of friendship for years to come.
Stop comparing. During the holidays, you may be tempted to believe that everyone is thoroughly enjoying the holidays. Don’t allow yourself to make these comparisons because in reality holidays are very stressful for most people. Holidays are rarely the picture perfect scenes you see in holiday movies or even in television commercials.  Count your blessings instead of comparing what you have to what you think everyone else has.
Take care of yourself.  Resist over-eating and be sure to get the nourishment you need.  Alcoholic beverages tend to be abundant during the holidays.  Carefully monitor how much you are drinking. Numbing your feelings and your pain with alcohol will only serve to slow the healing and grieving process; it will also bring other unwanted problems which could lead depression, relationship issues, or legal problems. Get plenty of rest and don’t neglect you exercise routine.
Make a Difference. Helping others during the holiday season can be immensely satisfying. Buy a gift for someone in need or donate to your favorite organization. Helping others in times of grief can help take the focus off your pain and help you to feel better about yourself. Volunteering at a, hospital, children’s shelter, nursing home or holiday meal kitchen can be healing during times of pain. Helping friends or family in need can be therapeutic.
Be a survivor. Even though it is very hard for you right now, you will survive. You will come through the holidays. Even though it is undoubtedly the most difficult season during your time of grieving, this will pass. When come out at the end of season you will likely be stronger than you were before you experienced the loss of your loved one.
Be true to yourself. You don’t have to enjoy everything about the holidays. You don’t even have to go through the motions pretending to enjoy season. But, it’s also okay to have a good time even though you’re grieving. If happiness sneaks in, brace it and enjoy it. You won’t be betraying your loved one by experiencing joy. The best gift you can give anyone you love, even someone you have lost, is being true to yourself and living your life to the fullest.
Remember.  “Relationships don’t end, they only change in nature.”  You are still impacted by your loved one’s love, their words still play in your mind, the wisdom they shared still guides, and you still feel their presence.  Honor and remember them in whatever way you feel is appropriate: write a letter or card to them, get them a gift, or light a candle in their memory. The relationship will never stop being important to you.
A licensed therapist can help you through this difficult time. Call 520-366-8083 to set up an appointment with Sandy Green to talk through your grief and loss or visit her website at www.healingleavescounseling.com.
Or Schedule an appointment with Dr. Jessica today.

Did you know that this week was Transgender awareness week?

Did you know that this week was Transgender awareness week?

Transgender is an umbrella term for a diverse group of people whose gender identity or expression differs from societal expectations of how they should look, act, or identify based on the sex they were assigned at birth—a person’s innate identification as a man, woman, or something else, which may or may not correspond to the person’s external body or the sex listed on their birth certificate—is separate from sexual orientation. So while it’s possible to identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual (or straight, asexual, or poly…) and be trans, they are not the same thing.

Although many people talk about the LGBT community as a whole, the transgender community—the T in LGBT—faces unique challenges in public understanding and acceptance, discrimination and legal protections, and health disparities stemming from all of the above.

For instance, 62% of transgender people have experienced depression and 41% admit to attempting suicide at some point in their lives; 37% of transgender people have reported being harassed in retail stores, and 3% report being physically assaulted; and 28% of transgender people surveyed reported postponing seeking medical care due to a fear of bias. For more information visit Fenway Focus.

If you are part of the LGBT community, as an individual or ally, know that there is support in your community. A licensed, supportive, professional can help. Schedule an appointment today or check out the Wingspan Directory for supportive resources in the Tucson area.

The Misunderstood Effects Of Mental Health Disorders

As many as one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder. Mental health disorders are personal, they limit people, and they are widely misunderstood by society. Even though doctors and researchers have made huge strides in their understanding and treatment of mental health disorders, there is still much more to be learned. Here are a few that commonly occur in our society:

  1. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral condition that causes inattentiveness, impulsivity and over-activity, or a combination of all three. ADHD is often misunderstood and there are various misconceptions about the cause of treatment of this behavioral disorder. ADHD is not a made up medical condition, and those who are diagnosed with it aren’t lazy or dumb. This condition is real and is not an indication of someone’s intelligence or unwillingness to focus. Actually, individuals with ADHD are bombarded with input and often have to sift through many thoughts and observations to decide what is important right now.
  2. Eating Disorders are a mental health condition characterized by abnormal eating behaviors, such as reduced food intake, extreme overeating and obsessive concern with diet, body weight and shape. Eating disorders are not only widely misunderstood by the public, but researchers don’t know the underlying causes of eating disorders either. Many people believe that eating disorders only occur in females, but it’s quite the contrary. An estimated 10 to 15 percent of males in the U.S. have an eating disorder. Another common misconception about eating disorders is that people do it to get attention. This is completely untrue, and for many sufferers it is a way to handle depression, stress or trauma and has little to do with beauty.
  3. Autism Spectrum & Asperger’s Syndrome are a group of developmental disorders that affects one’s social and communication skills. This mental health condition typically appears in the first three years of life and is characterized by a number of symptoms, such as trouble communicating with words, slow or non-evident language development, repetitive body movements, distressed by changes in routines, and many other behaviors. Many of the misunderstandings about this mental condition are associated with the causes of autism, which are open to much debate. One major misconception is that autism is definitely caused by vaccines. There may be various factors that cause autism, such as genetics, diet, mercury poisoning and even vaccines, but researchers have yet to determine any exact causes for these chemical and biological abnormalities.
  4. Bipolar Disorder, also known as manic-depressive disorder, is a mental health disorder characterized by extreme mood swings that range from depression to euphoria. The best explanation I’ve heard of mania is the feeling you have as a teenager- where it seems perfectly normal to do very risky things. These mood shifts generally don’t change in a single day, they come and go over weeks or months, and some people experience both depression and mania symptoms at the same time. Bipolar disorder is widely misunderstood by society as being a made up condition and an excuse people use to act irrationally and shift their moods whenever they feel like it. This couldn’t be more false because it is a real, proven medical disorder that is caused by chemical and biological differences in the brain. People with bipolar disorder don’t choose to be in a depressed or maniac state of mind, but they can reduce extreme mood swings with proper medical treatment.
  5. Borderline Personality Disorder is an emotional disorder characterized by distorted self-image and emotional instability. Those suffering from BPD often have feelings of worthlessness and think they’re fundamentally flawed. They are often seen as manipulative. They may act impulsively and engage in risky behavior. This chronic mental condition is widely misunderstood by society and has many negative stigmas. One common misconception about borderline personality disorder is that it’s not treatable, but dialectical behavior therapy has proven to be a successful treatment for BPD. People with BPD are not using it as an excuse to act out or be selfish; it’s a serious condition that cannot be ignored because symptoms may worsen and the risk of suicide increases.

The most important thing to understand with all mental health disorders is that no two persons will experience them the same. Though there is a list of symptoms, they will very in intensity and duration.

If you or a loved one suffers from a mental health disorder, know that you’re not alone. A licensed therapist can help you be understood and understand others. Schedule an appointment today.

 

Pain

Isn’t it weird how pain makes us want to stop doing things?

Whether it’s the physical pain of arthritis or the emotional pain of a break-up, pain makes us want to curl up and pull the covers over our heads. Sit in the dark for days and days. Hope that it will be better tomorrow.

But that’s not why our body experiences pain.

Think about it…

If you stopped and held your hand still when you felt the burning of a hot pan on the stove, you would hurt yourself more.

If you left your hand in a piranha tank… you would be sorry.

If you left your foot under the tire after running it over… you get the point, right?

Pain tells us to move… get up and change something… don’t just sit there and let life happen to you- you need to make life happen.

Whether it’s going out with friends so you stop thinking about your ex or making yourself stretch every hour after tweaking your back, listen to your pain, make the changes you need.

If you’re immobilized by your pain, physical or emotional, counseling can help. A licensed therapist can help you work through it and find a way to keep you moving. Schedule an appointment today.

“There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.”

(Tich Nhat Hanh, 1926-p)

It seems like human nature to struggle, persevere, and strive for happiness. It’s this goal that we long for.

But what if we looked at happiness differently?

What if happiness was the path, not the product?

It is so easy to get caught up in the ideas of the future, what possibilities and promise that lie ahead… or get sucked in to the “what-if’s” of our past… all in this hope that someday things will be ok. But if you stop for a moment and let those things go, what do you have now?

Do you have the things you need?

Do you enjoy the company of the people around you?

Are you okay with who you are?

If you are, these are all paths of happiness. These are all moments to connect to and be grateful for.

If you’re not, then change it.

A licensed therapist can help you find your path of happiness. Schedule an appointment today… learn to live for the present.

How to make them change…

In life many of us spend a lot of time trying to get our loved ones to change. Whether it’s trying to get our partners to do what’s best for themselves, or get our kids to sleep through the night… it can seem like an endless struggle.

But what if we changed the way we look at it… maybe it’s not them that need to change, just the situation.

Take the child who comes to their parent’s bed each night. It’s a struggle every night to get a restful night sleep. Yes, many people have said it’s fine to have them cry-it-out, unfortunately that doesn’t work for all parents. But you need sleep, right? Try looking at the situation in a different way. What is it that your child needs? Why are they coming into bed with you every night? Is it something that you can provide to them in a different way- like waking them up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom then taking them back to bed so they are less awake and able to fall aback asleep. Maybe it’s not something you can solve quickly and it’s more effective to change what you do- like moving another bed or beanbag into your bedroom so you can still get some sleep while meeting their needs.

What about your spouse? We know they are unhappy, they complain all the time… or are openly sullen and withdrawn. So we tell them to change it… point out the many things they can do different… support them to do something about it… yet they still stay stuck. Maybe it’s time to see the situation in a different light. What is it that they need? Complaining about their job may be because they miss their family, they miss their freedom, or they’re bored.

Look for ways to fix the things you can, because you can’t change them.

A licensed therapist can help you figure out what is at the root of your struggles. Schedule an appointment today… learn to express your solve your problems in a healthy way.