Over the years I’ve noticed that my clients who are struggling the most in terms of mental and emotional pain are often the clients who also have the most trouble getting good sleep. Indeed, difficulty sleeping and nightmares are both criteria used for officially diagnosing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). So for the 8th interview in this series, I decided to look into the link between trauma and sleep.Read More
I speak to a lot of people in a lot of different contexts about sexual consent. I always advocate for asking before you engage someone in any kind of physical contact. A lot of people tell me that they don't like to directly ask, especially when it comes to kissing or sex. It spoils the mood, they tell me. And it's awkward.
Here's the thing, though. If you do want consent (which I hope you do!), and if you don't directly ask your partner if what you are doing is OK with them, then the main way you can know whether you have their consent is by their body language. But body language is notoriously unclear.Read More
As a kid of the 70s, I grew up on tuna casseroles and Kool Aid. No one talked about connections between what we ate and our moods back then. These days there is an increasing understanding that diet is important not only for physical health, but also for mental health. So I thought I would finally look more deeply into how we may all be able to support healing from trauma and general mental health through what we eat (or don’t).
On a recent sunny Saturday afternoon I met with Mary Kay Irving at Fresh Thymes (my new favorite restaurant – thank you Mary Kay!). Mary Kay is a certified nutrition therapist and licensed clinical social worker in Boulder. She works at Mental Health Partners, and also has a private practice in which she offers psychotherapy and holistic nutrition coaching. I was intrigued by this combination and excited to learn more about what she had to say about nutrition and mental health.Read More
For this installment, I am pleased to introduce a practice called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). I interviewed Janet Solyntjes, who is a local MBSR instructor and a leader of various types of mindfulness and meditation retreats and workshops. Janet was kind enough to invite me to her home in Longmont, Colorado for tea and a delightful conversation.Read More
Unfortunately, the 2016 election season has become filled with material that is potentially triggering to sex assault survivors. I hear from many of my clients that they are struggling to cope. If you are feeling like living in our world these days is a minefield, here are some quick tips to help protect yourself.Read More
This week the election drama took a turn toward something close to home for me, when Donald Trump made some statements about PTSD. As with most significant things the candidates say these days, this statement is being extensively quoted both with and without its larger context. I wanted to take a minute to explain the effect that Trump’s statement has had on me and some of my clients.Read More
Last Friday, the halftime show of the Rice University Marching Owl Band (MOB) focused on their opponent Baylor’s recent title IX violations. This turned out to be a controversial move, with some viewers outraged over the MOB’s insensitivity and others pleased to see attention paid to such an important topic. I decided to delve deeper and draw my own conclusions.Read More
Many of my therapy clients have been people struggling with non-consensual sexual experiences. Even people who come to me with different types of issues (anxiety, depression, grief) frequently describe difficult sexual experiences in which consent was absent or unclear. One of the most common things I hear about is women who have ended up having sexual experiences with someone in whom they had a romantic or sexual interest, but with whom they were not ready to have sex. Often they are unclear about whether they actually consented. They may not have fought back, or yelled "no". As a result, they often they feel that they must have consented. And yet, they did not enjoy the sex, or want it to happen, and they feel scared and violated afterwards. We often talk about whether that experience was rape.Read More
For this post, I want to discuss something that has been getting a lot of attention in the trauma therapy community lately, but which I’ve found difficult to understand: Neurofeedback. In my quest to better understand neurofeedback, I spoke to a few different neurofeedback providers, did some internet research, and tried some treatments myself. To include all of that, I’m going to leave my usual interview format behind for this post.Read More
I’m delighted to introduce Arianna Stout, a Pilates instructor in Boulder who teaches from her own private studio and also through the Boulder Parks and Rec Pilates program. This interview was especially fun for me, because I have done Pilates for many years, most recently with Arianna. It was actually during a Pilates session with Arianna that I had the brainstorm for this interview series! As I was working in that session, I noticed that Pilates often creates for me an experience that is just the type of healing experience that I am always striving to help my clients find.Read More
I was recently asked to describe what it's like for a therapist when a client ghosts them. I've had a few experiences of clients who have just stopped coming and don't return my phone calls after missed sessions. That has only happened for me after one or two sessions. When the therapy gets much further than that, we've usually developed enough of a relationship that clients feel comfortable letting me know that they need to stop for some reason.Read More
10 Ways to Boost Trauma Recovery: 2. The Feldenkrais Method with Erin Ferguson.
Are you in therapy to recover from a bad experience, and wish you could see more progress faster? Welcome to the second post of this blog series about different ways to boost the effectiveness of trauma therapy. I am interviewing professionals who provide services that experts recommend to help you optimize your recovery from trauma.Read More
Are you in therapy to recover from a bad experience, and wish you could see more progress faster? Well then, welcome to the first post of this blog series about different ways to boost the effectiveness of trauma therapy. I am interviewing professionals in the Boulder, CO area who provide services that experts recommend to help you optimize your recovery from trauma.Read More
I was recently asked to describe the psychological effects of sexual harassment. I have certainly worked with many individuals who have experienced sexual harassment, and I’ve seen it play out in the non-therapist parts of my life as well. I’ve noticed that the effects are very dependent on individual details about the perpetrator, the victim, their relationship, the type of harassment, the environment, etc. But in my experience, the psychological effects of being sexually harassed are usually substantial.Read More
What I love most about my work is the joy of witnessing people heal. On the flip side, I also witness a lot of suffering. To be capable of holding the suffering as well as the joy, I’ve had to deepen my understanding of self care. It is no longer good enough to get a massage or take a yoga class when I find that I’m stressed out. Those things can be great to do, but real self care, I’ve found, involves adjusting my attitude about caring for myself, as well as setting up a lifestyle in which I attend to my own needs on a much more regular basis. It's about keeping my tank filled so the needle never ends up on empty.Read More
I am delighted to announce that I have a new partner: a professional therapy dog. After graduating from our training and passing the behavioral test, Nova and I were approved and registered as a professional therapy dog team in July 2015 by Professional Therapy Dogs of Colorado.Read More
A couple of blog posts ago, I gave some tips for finding an ideal therapist in Boulder, CO. I hope it helped you narrow down your list from the thousands of therapists available in Boulder to a few who seem worth looking into further. All of them offer some kind of consultation to see if you are a good fit. But what should you ask? What should you tell them about yourself? What is appropriate at this stage?
It can be tough enough to talk about the things that we need help with in our lives, without having to do it with a stranger. Especially a stranger we’re thinking about making a big investment of time and money with. Let me help by giving you a few tips about things that are generally helpful to mention in an initial consultation with a new therapist:Read More
Despite my best intentions, sometimes I just don't get to everything on my To Do list. This week has been especially bad in that regard. With a sick child, a sick dog, and a laptop that is dead because my cat barfed all over it, I'm ending the week with lots of important things undone.
I've decided to take this experience as an opportunity to try to learn something about myself. So, upon reflection, I've identified the following internal experiences related to my undone tasks:
- First up is anxiety. I'm jittery and tense. I feel a lot of impulse to be active.
- Some of the anxiety becomes anger. That damn cat! He did this on purpose! I should take him back to the shelter. Why did everything have to go wrong at once! Why can't I ever get a break?