I’m Baaaaack!

Those folks who read this blog with any regularity noticed that I dropped off the map sometime in July. No, I didn’t decide to race sled dogs in Alaska instead. Though, that does sound fun and I’m adding it to my life wish list. Nope, I had a wonderful baby boy, and have been away from my practice enjoying him immensely.

Now, however, I am slowly starting to accept clients into my practice again in the evenings and on Saturdays. Those folks who contacted me while I was out on leave are more than welcome to try me again now that I am back in the office.

Free, Free, and Costs You a Little

My mama tells me I didn’t go to a really expensive graduate school to give free services. And, while she’s right, (my husband and son would probably like to continue to live under a roof) I do sometimes give away my therapy and life coaching services. I do this in the form of gift certificate donations to community events that I support. If you are in business for yourself, I really encourage you to do the same. It’s a fantastic way to be charitable that doesn’t require Oprah-type money in your bank account ready to be mailed. Whatever you’re doing, I promise that someone would love to win that for free. I’m especially talking to you house painters, dog walkers, and massage therapists. I need a legion of all three these days! If you need some suggestions about what kind of organizations could use your help, please feel free to contact me and I’ll tell you a few of my favorites. Alternatively, if you would like me to donate a gift certificate to your event, please do let me know that as well.

But, gift certificate raffles are not the only way you can get a good deal here at Lotus Therapy Center. Below are a few ways you can get free or lower-cost services at this practice.

1) “Wine for Whiskers”:The next worthy cause you can support for a chance to win 2 free sessions with me is the SPCA “Wine for Whiskers” event on July 24th, at the Orlando Marriott Downtown. You can check out the details here: http://www.ohs-spca.org/. Our local SPCA works overtime to help some of Orange County’s finest furry citizens find new homes. Please turn out and show that Central Florida has the biggest collective heart anywhere in the state.

2) Free Pet Loss Support Group: I am in the process of organizing a FREE group for individuals who have suffered the loss of a pet. If you know anyone who may be interested in this, please contact me for further details.

3) Reduced Rates for College Students: I particularly enjoy working with college students of any age. So, I cut my rate in half with proof of current enrollment in any of our fine institutions of higher learning. If you believe that you could use some help with depression, anxiety, or any number of concerns, please don’t hesitate to give me a ring or send me an email.

Your Partner in Healing,    Holly

If you would like to schedule an appointment or a phone consultation please call 407.913.4988 or email me at holly@lotustherapycenter.com

Therapy and MacGyver

I know I’m dating myself here, but does anyone but me remember MacGyver? For those of you who are uninitiated in TV of the late 80’s and early 90’s, he was the dude you called in if your butt was in the biggest of slings. MacGyver wasn’t just a hard-core, beat-‘em-up super hero. He was also a scientist, a thinker and an ingeniously creative problem solver. Now that I have given you that introduction, get someone somewhere to help you find the classics for goodness sakes!

 

The reason that I bring him up (other than to shame you into admitting you remember him) is to point out that we therapists are hired to be the big guns of the psychological world. Clients, in essence, ask us to wave our magic wands, use our greater preponderance of knowledge, and MacGyver out the particularly persnickety problems in their lives. Though this is helpful for our career longevity, I’m sorry to say that it is not entirely practical. Asking someone else to get rid of the parts of yourself that you experience as “other” will not work. Rather, ask him or her how to help you integrate those symptoms into your life in a holistic way. This is not a cue to put up with unpleasant symptoms. Rather, it is an invitation to situate them into a context that demonstrates them to be what they more appropriately are: important communications from inside you that want to be examined, not simply excised.

 

 Here are a few tips to make the point:

 

    1. I see dead people: Symptoms (particularly somatic ones like panic attacks) can seem like persistent ghosts intent on jumping out to say “boo” when we least want to see them. Eventually, the ghost doesn’t need to jump out at all; you’re so afraid of being afraid or out of control that you set the necessary physiological context for feeling terrified and panicky all on your own. Bummer. However, the panic attacks most likely started to address a situation in which your body felt you needed to pay extra attention. This may have been because some part of your body or your emotional personhood was, at some point under attack. This can happen through car crashes, rapes or other personal attacks, or even simply through repeated emotional trauma. Though this is a blog for another day, individuals in our society are consistently encouraged to cut off from their bodies and ‘manage’ its weight, looks, health, and sexuality from a one-off stance. This is exacerbated by the tendency for well-meaning health professionals (including we psychotherapists) to prescribe pills in isolation to whip the body-mind connection back into working order. Now doesn’t that sound silly? While psychiatric drugs can be very helpful or even essential to some individuals’ well-being, it must be a dual-pronged approach. The only way to find a way back from the boogie monsters of panic and anxiety is to reintegrate the felt experience with the mind-spirit.
    1. Mr. Clean, Mr. Clean: Let’s talk for a moment about how we get our way in relationships. Usually it’s one of these ways: power, dependency, or sexuality. Of course, there are other creative means to drive your relationships, but this tends to be the triumvirate of favorite methods. Here’s a secret though. You probably don’t see yours. And, most people don’t really want to confront the internal dialog that helps them reduce anxiety by engaging in their favorite method. This is because you’re running on a blueprint that got loaded onto your hard drive a long time ago. It’s auto-pilot and you and I both go looking for folks who have a measure of fit to our own style. This goes awry in therapy when folks want to fix the problems without examining the emotional infrastructures that support their choices. They would prefer to do the work without getting dirty. But, in order to clean up the biggest messes one must sometimes get a hand in the dust. It’s normal, and very brave. When you can not only change the behaviors, but regard yourself with forgiveness and love for doing the best you can with the tools you had at the time, you’re ready for a change. You’re integrating the thoughts and the behavioral responses.
  1. Something’s Always Wrong: What if change in and of itself is not something you feel ready to do? Often, it makes sense to avoid changing behaviors or circumstances if some part of you really believes that this equates to failure or giving up too soon. Many of the battered women with whom I work are not gluttons for punishment. Sometimes, they don’t hate themselves, or even have terribly low self-esteem. Rather, they have a commitment to the principles of marriage or loyalty, and they would rather stay in a relationship that hurts than view themselves as someone who quits when the going gets tough. Far from the stance of helplessness with which most people regard battered women, this is a rather interesting way to represent bravery and commitment. The work in therapy comes from allowing the construction of new definitions of success, loyalty to self, and loving boundaries. What problems in your own life do you complain about and wrestle with but are secretly ambivalent about changing?

 

 

Your partner in healing,    Holly

 

If you would like to schedule an appointment, or a free 15-minute phone consultation please email holly@lotustherapycenter.com or call 407.913.4988.

Driving with the Brakes on

“Driving with the brakes on,” is a rather lovely metaphor therapist Fred J. Hanna uses to describe individuals who would love to talk about their issues all day, but do not feel inclined to actively make any modifications.  I love this illustration because it defines one of the principle difficulties most individuals face at one time or another.

When you’re a new therapist, the client you hope for the most is the one who has a good deal of awareness about his or her issues and complaints. You love the individuals who present with beautifully-worded monologues about how these maladies have managed to hold them back. That is, until you realize that with many of those people the buck stops there. These are the daydreaming uber-clients who don’t really want to develop an ability to tolerate change. They just want to editorialize about it. In fact, therapy in the past may have been about endlessly analyzing the reasons for the trouble without making any concrete steps to forge a better life. We therapists can unwittingly reward this kind of perceptive client for standing still.  It’s like watching a carefully-planted garden wither and die when you’re standing right there with the watering hose. I believe that it’s that delicious moment of understanding paired with your own sense of agency that makes life really hum.

Make no mistake; sometimes, it makes good sense not to change. Life may be uncomfortable, but at least stable. You may have attached some piece of your identity to the issue that has gotten you under its thumb. Or, maybe you’re just scared. So, I challenge you to really take a look at your own self-work. Are you taking advantage of that big engine or driving with the brakes on?

Your Partner in Healing,  Holly

If you would like to scheudle and appointment or a free, 15-minute phone consultation please call 407.913.4988 or email holly@lotustherapycenter.com

Depression Decompression

Are you singing the blues? If you are, you’re not alone. Though there has been significant debate about just how many Americans are suffering with Depression, it is generally agreed to be one of the most disabling mental health maladies troubling us today. There are a wide range of mind-body approaches to managing these symptoms. Here are a few:

  1. Sing the Body Electric:
    If you have not had one recently, please go get a physical. There are numerous ailments that can masquerade as mental health problems—thyroid complaints chief among them. Tell your clinician that you are considering seeking therapy and/or psychotropic drugs to address your feelings of sadness. Let her know that you are trying to rule out any underlying conditions that might complicate your search for wellness. If you are already on psychotropic medications to address clinical depression and they are not helping, let your psychiatrist know.
  2. I Think, Therefore I Am:
    Your thoughts shape your reality and mediate how you evaluate emotions. In plain English, the more you drive in the rut, the deeper the rut gets. Many popular models of therapy (not to mention “The Secret” and “The Law of Attraction” if you lean that way) assert that what we think about and how often we allow ourselves to think about it makes our worlds go ‘round. I’m not asking you to stop thinking negative thoughts right away. Some of those pesky thoughts might be sticking around because you need to put them out in the light of day and figure out how they first got into heavy rotation in your mental Top 40. A good professional can help you do that. Once you have, you can come up with a competing thought or word to repeat every time that thought takes its habitual amble across your emotional landscape. You have to create a new rut, and new ruts take time too.
  3. Talk About It:
    You can find a good sounding board in lots of places. Therapists and clergy are usually good places to start. Depression, anxiety and sadness can talk you into believing that you are alone or that others won’t understand. It’s a lie. Some therapists will allow you to do therapy online or by phone if you don’t want to come into the office. I will contract with you for both of these, and I also offer shorter time slots for those on the run. You may not need therapy every week to get back on track.
  4. Pull Out That Etch-A-Sketch:
    Depression (or even good, old-fashioned misery) can block your creative juices. Depressed people often report feeling numb, or like they are on the outside looking in on life. Remind yourself that you are a vibrant person with the skills and strengths to pull through this. Even if your art, poems, journals or music are dark and scary, it is still one way to get some of those toxic emotions out of your emotional system and into the world. Also, research shows that activities like writing engage more parts of your brain than simply thinking about something. This promotes improved processing. You have that big brain up there—use it!
  5. Eat, Drink, and be Merry:
    It is not unusual for folks who are feeling very badly to self-medicate with sugary or fatty foods. This, compounded with a lack of exercise can exacerbate a negative mental and spiritual frame. Your body and mind do their best to mirror and support one another. If you improve your physical functioning your emotional landscape may follow suit. That’s not to mention all those fun endorphins!

This is, of course, by no means an exhaustive list. I would love to hear about creative ways you have managed your sadness or depression. I believe that each person has a wealth of creativity that will allow you (sometimes with the help of a good therapist) to generate some tailored ways to feel better.

Your Partner in Healing,  Holly

If you would like to make an appointment or schedule a free 15-minute phone conversation, please feel free to email me at holly@lotustherapycenter.com or phone at 407.913.4988.