Copy of Self-Care Guilt- How Does it Impact You?

I’m storytelling in this one, in hopes that some of you may be able to identify some harmful patterns in your own lives that you’re absolutely able to take control of now!

So, in last week’s blog post we discussed the difference between self-love and self-care. Today I want to piggyback on those ideas and discuss the unspoken guilt about self-care in our society.

            I don’t know about you, but I know that in the past when I’ve needed a day off from work or school for the purpose of preserving my own mental health, I’ve had to lie. Is it not just as important to ensure that my mind and spirit are healthy, the way I would need to ensure my body was healthy before returning to life as usual after the flu or a cold? I recall never being able to understand this even as a teenager, and was disappointed to see that it carried through my years in college, graduate school, and every job I’ve ever had (even while working in the mental health field!). While I certainly had some bosses who would have been more than understanding if I had just said I needed a mental health day (and some were- one would even set an example and take a mental health day now and again), I still had coworkers, clients, or upper-level administration whom would not have been so gracious. This often made me feel as though I needed validation from others that I was “ill enough” to justify missing a shift at work. This got me thinking- why should I be putting work ahead of my own well-being, especially when I’m preaching self-care to my clients?

            This is the depth of disregard for mental health and self-care our work has. I know everyone’s experience is their own, but I’ll go ahead and use myself as an example hoping that others can relate. The day-to-day reality of internalized shame patterns around my own self-care looked something like this: 

·     Ignore and repress my own feelings until they reached a boiling point, at which time I would have a meltdown. This would often result in me not taking good care of myself until I got sick or injured, which was essentially my body trying to get my attention and tell me I needed to slow down.

·     Completely shut down for a day or two, because I couldn’t focus on anything else, but I wasn’t doing anything to recharge either.

·     While I was in that shut down state, I wasn’t even able to fully recharge my battery because I was vacillating between checking out and being anxious about the things I wasn’t doing because I just didn’t have the energy or mental capacity. My body, mind, and soul felt completely separate from each other and I had no clue how to begin bringing them back together and restoring a sense of normalcy. I thus would sink further into helplessness, which just made me want to shut down more. It would also take significantly more energy to repress whatever emotions were coming up, which they were more often because I was so burnt out.

·      I thus became irritable, and got to a point where I didn’t know what to do with myself outside of work. I allowed people to treat me in ways I didn’t deserve to be treated, because I was too exhausted and shut off from myself to demand or seek something better. The actions of those people just reinforced my belief that something was wrong with me. And guess what? Something WAS wrong with me. Guilt and negative self-beliefs were getting in the way of engaging in useful, productive self-care.

 

With a significant amount of my own work in therapy and dharma school, meeting with life and business coaches, biting the bullet and getting out of toxic work environments and into self-employment, a daily yoga practice, breaks from social media, reading, audiobooks/podcasts, and regular journaling and meditation, I’ve been able to engage in much better self-care. But it was not overnight, and it was in spite of the cultural messages I was receiving about self-care both at work and outside of work. To most of my friends throughout my twenties, “self-care” looked like thinly veiled binge drinking or just checking out on Netflix for hours and taking naps. While these things can sometimes help us shut our brains off to recharge, I couldn’t do it all the time. I knew I needed more.

            This is an invitation to you to pay attention to your own self-care: is it actually recharging you? What messages are your receiving in your daily life about self-care? Are they congruent with your values around self-care? While it’s certainly noble to work hard and make ends meet, there’s no glory in completely draining yourself and becoming irritable and reactive towards the people around you, or withdrawing into victimhood. This means you’re hurting people by lashing out at them, and hurting the community by not sharing your gifts.

            If you’re a woman who is local to Central CT and want to change your self-care, January 2019 is the time for you! I will be running a six-week Goddess group designed around the Goddess archetypes, how they apply to the modern woman, and how women can come together in community. We will specifically be addressing how self-care guilt is culturally passed on to women in the USA, and how to make small mindset/realistic lifestyle changes to live a life connected to purpose. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact me directly at rebecca@mhccholistichealth.hush.com.

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

What is Holism?

Holism is a word that is starting to sound like some sort of fad, and it doesn’t seem very clear other than the fact that it flies in the face of some Western treatment models. I hope to provide some actually useful information to help you decide what holism looks like in your life.

 

According to Dictionary.com, holism is “the theory that parts of a whole are in intimate interconnection, such that they cannot exist independently of the whole, or cannot be understood without reference to the whole, which is thus regarded as greater than the sum of its parts. Holism is often applied to mental states, language, and ecology. In medicine: the treating of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the physical symptoms of a disease.”

 

This is a term that is starting to become popular in behavioral health treatment as the USA begins to recognize a need to integrate the various, interwoven components of health to understand and conceptualize symptoms/complaints/health in a newer, more complete way. It often means that providers are looking to meet the client where they are at, whether that means wanting/needing western medications, and doing whatever they can to help the client heal themselves. This can mean, in behavioral health, having conversations about spiritual health as well as mental/emotional/physical, and exhausting all options before referring clients for medication evaluations, unless they require such. It means providers are challenging themselves to collaborate with clients on mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, and financial levels to ensure optimal health and healing. It may mean energy healing, spiritual healing, acupuncture, referrals for massage/non-traditional therapies, dietary changes, and encouraging a yoga/meditation/sound healing regimen. It may sound like “woo woo” therapies, or considering some of the medicinal uses of cannabis/CBD oil/vitamins/herbs, consulting astrological charts, or self-help books as well to supplement. 

 

If you’re not sure what holism looks like for you, contact me directly! We can have a discussion about what you feel is missing, and whether counseling or coaching can help fill those gaps.

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

March is Social Media Awareness Month- Week 3

The last two weeks I have been talking about many of the negative aspects of social media, including harmful comments people make, comparing ourselves to other people’s highlight reels, and being inauthentic with our own social media personas. We have challenged ourselves to be more mindful with how we use social media. There are also many gifts that social media can offer us. I am connected to many professional groups related to my various fields though Facebook, and I learn so many new things every day. I find myself inspired by the relatively easy connection to other professionals in my field, who have such fantastic ideas. I also have a personal Instagram account, and I love it for the fact that I can curate most of the content I see and I can be open to all kinds of different inspiration from yoga accounts, silly comedy accounts, artistic accounts, music accounts, etc.

So this week, I want to challenge you to think about the accounts you’re following. Are they inspiring you? Are they leading you down a road that feels like it’s worth your time? If not, what can you get rid of? What do you want to make room for? What emotions are being evoked when you see this content? What do you feel in your body when taking in this content? How will it impact the way you connect with the physical world? If you don't have a car or positive answer for any of these, what would it take to stop following this content?

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

What Do I Actually Need? Therapy vs. Coaching

There may be some confusion about how to get your needs met. You may be aware that you want help, but there is so much conflicting information available it can be hard to figure out where to turn. The over-simplified answer is: if you want to heal the past, get some therapy (which will identify the role your past is playing in the present, and is one way to heal and make changes). Coaching is a way to start making declarations and holding yourself accountable for a new way of showing up to the world- with support from someone who has expertise in a specific area.

To explain further, I am someone who does both. Often, my therapy clients have little insight into the patterns that are playing out in their daily lives. They just know their lives are beginning to feel increasingly out of their control, and that their symptoms are interfering with important areas of functioning. We have to spend a long time examining each small detail related to an issue, as it’s somewhat like a “breadcrumb” trail leading to the root of the problem. We then create therapy goals that are long-term, as well as smaller objectives to implement in effort to reach those goals. So, if I have a client whose main therapy goal is to stop experiencing trauma flashbacks, our objectives may look like: Identify and reprocess trauma memories using EMDR; build a strong coping skills repertoire; and identify a self-care regimen to decrease the likelihood of dissociation. Once we have achieved those goals, we either reassess and create new goals, or agree that the therapeutic relationship is complete and terminate accordingly. This is usually covered by health/behavioral health insurance plans.

Coaching is different. Life/relationship/business coaching is not a place to pick apart and try to heal old trauma. For starters, it’s more loose and free, so treatment plans and formal documentation are not necessary. As a result, insurance plans do not cover life/relationship/business coaching, but they may be tax deductible depending on many factors. Additionally, more of the “work” is done by the client. The life coach asks the client what they would like to spend their time focusing on, and asks a series of thought-provoking questions to help the client arrive at answers that lie within them. They help the client get out of their own heads if they can’t “see the forest for the trees.” Their questions are meant to inspire new thought and help the client incorporate new ways of thinking and approaching the world, their business, spirituality, and/or relationships.

Therapy is more focused on healing past issues, whereas coaching is more focused on supporting the client while they are taking more of the lead. Therefore, each session may have a very different focus in coaching, whereas in therapy/counseling sessions are directed by treatment plans. Coaching can also be used for accountability, but therapy/counseling has an ethical code when using therapy for this purpose while diagnosing and having active treatment plans- which are required for billing insurance.

I have two businesses where I do both. In my private practice, Mental Health Counseling & Consultation Services, LLC, I have a team of therapists who focus on clinical issues- therapy that requires diagnosis, treatment plans (very formal), insurance, therapy notes, and re-evaluation/updating of treatment plans every 90 days. Most of us focus on trauma of some sort and specialize in various types of treatment (such as EMDR). 

The life coaching business I own is called “The Nest Center for Coaching.” In my coaching business, I love to work with women who have processed their old trauma and given up their identity as someone who is ill or a victim, and need support in approaching the world as someone who is well or empowered. I also love to work with women who may have, as a result of early trauma, approached the world from a masculine perspective as a way of subconsciously identifying with those whom they view as more powerful than they are. They refuse to ever be victims again, so they are powerhouses at work but don’t understand why they don’t have the relationships/personal lives they feel they deserve.

I also love to support other clinicians as they move on from their graduate programs, make early moves in their careers, obtain their clinical licenses, and move toward private practice. There, we focus on niching and marketing as well as creating small, realistic plans the client feels are applicable to their daily lives. 

There are key differences between each of these fields, and it may seem that there is overlap between them (because there is). Point being, there are many different ways to receive the help you know you need, but first you may want to spend a little time being absolutely clear with yourself on what you need and the kind of help that would be most beneficial to you. Otherwise, there may be some confusion and a feeling of disappointment or hopelessness resulting from a mistaken belief that no one can help you!

If it sounds like my counseling practice may be able to help you, we do have immediate openings and lots of exciting events and groups happening throughout the year. Check out our website at www.mhccholistichealth.orgor email me directly at Rebecca@mhccholistichealth.hush.com. If my coaching services sound like they’re more your speed, visit my other website at www.nestcoaching.orgor email me directly at rebecca@nestcoaching.org

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Part IV: Hygge!

I am so beyond excited for this part, I’ve actually been looking forward to writing and sharing it for some time. I’m going to have to reign myself in and not ramble on, because I’ve so fallen in love with many aspects of the Hygge lifestyle (especially during those long, dark winter months). 

 

Basically, hygge (pronounced “hoo-gah”) is a Danish word and lifestyle, meaning an acknowledgement of a feeling or moment alone or with loved ones, at home or out, as cozy, charming, or special. What the lifestyle has come to mean in recent years is basically the art of getting cozy, in the present moment, and soaking up the warm and positive feeling. While hygge is a mindset to work towards, it does encourage us to think about what actions to take, as well as people and objects to surround ourselves with, in order to feel as cozy and internally warm as possible. 

 

This is the time to indulge in warm, soft sweaters, cozy sweatpants and blankets, muted lighting, cozy socks or slippers, warm and tasty beverages (like my new favorite mushroom vegan hot cocoa), and even a nice mug to drink from.

 

This is the time to enjoy those books you’ve been meaning to read, take on self-improvement projects you’ve been wanting to work on, and to turn inward to find ways to be more comfortable with one-on-one time with yourself.

 

It’s also an excellent time to reconnect with friends and family on a more intimate level. Consider having or attending a small gathering for coffee, a glass of wine, book club, cookie swap, a crochet/quilting group, a card game, or any other activity to help you feel more connected to yourself and others. 

 

Other ideas to connect with a hygge lifestyle: 

            -Bring the outdoors in! This is a major tenet of hygge, because often it’s too cold/dark/the weather is too bad to enjoy nature the way we normally do. As humans, we’re hard-wired to respond positively to nature. Plants recycle energy and oxygen and remind you that things are alive, especially in those late winter months when we’re tired of looking outside at things that appear to be dead or dormant. Add some small plants to your indoor décor where you will see them every day! I also like to have rocks from some favorite places I’ve visited (looking at you, Block Island!), birch coasters, and flowers. It may not seem like much, but nature has a major positive effect on the psyche!

            - Get a fire going or turn up the heat! I have a small space heater that has a faux flame in my office, which adds to the coziness factor, along with the quilts on the walls. Just make sure you’re aware of fire hazards! Sitting next to a fire reading, journaling, or connecting with loved ones feels incredibly intimate and is guaranteed to raise your spirits! Weighted blankets offer warmth and slight pressure that can be extremely comforting for many people, and can even lead to better sleep according to one of my friends who uses one.

 

Since we’re talking about intimacy, it’s time to de-clutter your space. This will help you feel more organized and relaxed, rather than chaotic and trapped inside. What can you get rid of? What is in your way or no longer serving you? If you haven’t used or worn something in six months, is there someone who may get more benefit from it? 

 

It’s also suggested in this Mental Floss article ( http://mentalfloss.com/article/91378/10-ways-master-danish-art-hygge-your-home ) to surround yourself with things that are meaningful to you, rather than mass-produced items. So if you’re reaching for a soft blanket, why not try to make one? Or maybe cover yourself in an afghan or quilt made by a loved one? The item will be associated with memories, which will feel much cozier and more nostalgic.

 

The Mental Floss article further suggests that sharing meals in the winter is an intimate practice that everyone involved benefits from. Have your friends over for a small meal and some warm drinks, or meet them out at a cozy, intimate restaurant with muted lighting, soft music, and a hearty seasonal menu. Put your phones on “Do Not Disturb” and really commit to spending time connecting!

 

Once you start incorporating some of these hacks into your lifestyle, you’ll see why they’re so popular and how the practices can help you to overcome some of the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Who knows? You may even find yourself adopting these practices year-round!

 

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Mindful Monday!

Any of my clients would probably tell you I talk about yoga ad nauseam, especially in regards to trauma-related dissociation. It’s a wonderful way to repair your relationship with your body (and let’s face it, even those of us without severe trauma are probably not very kind to our bodies day-to-day). It calms down our over-stimulated nervous systems and helps us relax and move with intention. Here’s some research supporting the amazing impacts of yoga for your Mindful Monday!

http://time.com/4695558/yoga-breathing-depression/?fbclid=IwAR0ifmPRf3FCsDfljzLU15dZUZYxMTpxcmUkH4loN3T362zfq9dxI7B-Jsw

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

 

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Series Part III: Natural Remedies

In this third part of the four-part series addressing Seasonal Affective Disorder in the winter, I will discuss some things anyone can do to mitigate the severity of SAD symptoms without needing to add medications. If you are already taking medications, these strategies may add to the benefits you may be feeling or looking to feel with your current regimen. 

 

1.)  Natural Light- align your schedule as much as possible with the sun. Wake up at sunrise, or even a little before, and spend the time meditating, stretching your body, moving your body in some other way, or even reading/listening to soft music. I don’t recommend starting your day with the news or scrolling through social media. Take the time to be alone with yourself and appreciate the sunrise before having to launch into your day. Sometimes a nice, warm beverage is great too!

a.    Take every opportunity to expose yourself to sunlight throughout each day. Sit next to windows at work if you can. Take lunch breaks in your car if you must! Bundle up and go for walks or enjoy some light yardwork- anything to give you more access to light!

2.)  Other options for light- amber bulbs, especially those that mimic light are preferable over LED bulbs (link: https://www.amazon.com/MiracleLED-604592-Replacing-Replicate-Organically/dp/B07DB4KWSG/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1542046093&sr=8-4&keywords=amber+light+bulbs+sunrise). They block blue light, which can be harmful for your eyes over time, and send mixed messages to your brain about how awake you should be. 

a.    Happy Lamps or other similar products are inexpensive and are a great idea to expose yourself to some natural-simulation light. I use one to wake up as my alarm clock, and it mimics the gradual light of the sunrise. This means a much more natural wakeup process, so by the time my alarm actually goes off I feel rested and ready to wake up. It’s great for those pre-sunrise workout wakeups! 

(link: https://www.amazon.com/Sunrise-Nature-Sounds-Bedside-Simulator/dp/B07FFW8GPX/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1542046222&sr=8-7&keywords=sunrise+alarm+clock+wake+up+light&dpID=41X8Y97jmZL&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch)

3.)  Mitigate blue light- as mentioned, blue light sends the message that you should be wide awake, which can be harmful to your eyes first thing in the morning and can keep you awake longer at night. Devices, such as TV, computer, phones, and tablets, are a major source of blue light. If you’re trying to sync your body’s rhythms up with the sun, exposing yourself to devices after dark can be a major roadblock. Since it’s getting dark by 5 pm where I’m from, screen exposure after dark is basically unavoidable. There are blue light cancelling glasses that can be worn while having post-sunset screen time in the earlier part of the evening (link: https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Light-Blocking-Glasses-Artificial/dp/B07CXYT17C/ref=sr_1_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1542046398&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=blue+light+blocking+glasses&psc=1).

a.    Many electronics also have settings where light can be turned down. I have Apple products and can even set a timer each day where the light turns down to a softer amber color, which is less harmful for eyes and allows for better sleep.

4.)  Go to bed earlier! This may be a challenge for many, and falling asleep earlier may be difficult at first. It may be helpful to discuss with your medical professional some vitamins or natural supplements to help you sleep. I take a magnesium gelcap before bed and I wake up feeling fairly refreshed, however it’s important to discuss this with your professional beforehand as everyone’s needs are different, and different bodies will respond differently. Plus, I’m not a medical professional. So don’t take my word for anything- do your research and speak with your doctor!

a.    When it gets dark so early, it’s easy to lose track of time and go to sleep too late. This is a change to get cozy (more on that next week- I’m so excited for that part!), turn off the TV, and grab a book, put on some meditation music, and do whatever you need to do to release your day and embrace sleep. 

5.)  Sleep hygiene- This is important any time of year, but if you don’t want to feel like you’re losing it, it’s even more important in the winter. Some helpful tips:

a.    Try to keep your phone away from your bed or in another room if you can

b.    Maintain a similar routine each day, and commit yourself to it! This means avoiding sleeping late on days off, because your body needs the consistency.

c.     It’s OK to say no to activities if you’re tired. 

d.    Don’t drink anything caffeinated in the afternoon.

e.    Get cozy! Make your bedroom a sanctuary where you want to be! Do this with aromatherapy (just please don’t fall asleep with candles on!), soft sounds, soft lighting, comfy/soft blankets and pillows, and don’t do anything in your bedroom other than sleeping. Keep food and work out of your room- you have other rooms in the house that can be used for that!

f.     Mitigate disturbing noise (anywhere but especially in your bedroom). At night, use theta waves and binaural beats or guided meditations to relax before going to sleep. They basically act as a massage for your brain and nervous system (I’ll get into it more on a later date). This is the only time I advocate for keeping your phone near you at night- using Youtube or apps such as Insight Timer to access these is instrumental in helping me get to sleep each night.

g.    Journaling- I look at this as a “brain dump” of all the things I found myself still carrying from my day. It’s just a nice way to let it all out, process my day and package it all up so that I’m done with it (good or bad) and ready to rest before starting again the next day. 

 

I hope this list has been helpful! Next week we’ll get into my favorite part of this series- the art of getting cozy!

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Series Part II: How SAD Impacts Other Conditions

Last week, I briefly defined Seasonal Affective Disorder and the very basics of how it works in the winter, and I outlined some of the symptoms most people tend to complain of. This week, I think it’s important to touch on how SAD can impact other conditions.

 

SAD is sometimes tricky because it can have a temporary impact on other mental health conditions. Those suffering from psychotic symptoms, for example, may notice increases in hallucinations, difficulty focusing, harder time waking up (which can be further impacted by medications), weight gain (also an impacted side-effect of medications), or general lethargy. In my practice, I work almost exclusively with clients suffering from PTSD. A hallmark of PTSD can be extended periods of anxiety or depression, which can also be worsened with less access to natural light. In the earlier part of the winter, around the holidays, many of my clients also face trauma/loss anniversaries, triggers from difficult family dynamics, feeling drained by fuller-than-normal social calendars, end-of-year work stuff, etc. And those suffering from bipolar or other mood disorders are even more at risk of depressive periods despite sticking to strict medication, diet, supplement, and exercise regimens. 

 

Maybe reading this information is teaching you something for the first time, or maybe it’s validating something you’ve experienced or are presently experiencing. Either way, these difficulties can make functioning that much more difficult. Now, let’s take a look at some of the impacts of SAD on physical health:

            -weight gain- lethargy, desire to sleep more, and carb/sugar cravings all contribute. This can have lasting impacts on those at risk for diabetes, heart disease, and thyroid issues. 

            -joint pain- For those with fibromyalgia, tick-bourne diseases such as Lyme, arthritis, lupus, etc., winter can be excruciating. We as humans also just have less natural desire to move around in the winter, because it’s way better to stay indoors where it’s warm and bright, which can increase pain. This can be super frustrating to individuals who are used to a more active lifestyle, which can increase hopelessness, frustration, moodiness, and in extreme cases, suicidality. Check on your friends, help them shovel, and make extra effort to connect with those you love whom are struggling, even if it’s not in person (I will get more into natural remedies in next week’s blog). 

            -Headaches- lack of light, wanting to sleep, dietary changes all create the recipe for headaches!

            -other sleep disturbances- because it gets darker earlier, we expose ourselves to more unnatural/blue light after the sun has gone down, especially with technology. This can severely impact sleep (I’ll discuss this more next week as well). Sleep disturbance can cause further weight gain and lethargy during the day, which impacts all areas of functioning and over time, raises cortisol levels in the blood and creates massive health issues.

 

While many doctors recommend medications, I will get into natural remedies and some of the strategies I use to combat the fatigue and moodiness next week! Please stay tuned, and if any of this sounds like you, know that you’re not alone!

 

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Mindful Monday!

Today’s Mindful Monday resource comes from the incredible Brene Brown (seriously, if you haven’t read her work, you should!). She discusses blame, how it impacts our relationships, and what we can do to change this pattern!

https://www.mindful.org/two-lessons-on-blame-from-brene-brown/?fbclid=IwAR3TB_l_IeRGTjanYTvLT-KisGzqAlOECQP_Ko8J8328gBzUNzgWC54atus

If you’re interested in breaking the blame cycle, reach out to us at MHCC! Email me at rebecca@mhccholistichealth.hush.com to get connected with a therapist today!

Clinician's Corner

Today’s Clinician’s Corner resource comes from this month’s featured clinician, Julie Wood. Julie specializes in mental health and vocational rehab, and has a major passion for working with the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Julie shares this resource on self-care, mental wellness, and helping to identify when there may be a crisis. Enjoy!

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Seasonal Affective Disorder Series Part I: What is it? How Does it Work?

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a very common shift in energy and mood that typically begins and ends around the same time each year. Most people experience an increase in depressive symptoms in the late fall/winter, but others can also experience a sharp increase in energy once the sun returns in the late spring and early summer.

 

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include: carb and sugar cravings, lethargy, moodiness, and just feeling “in a funk,” according to the Mayo Clinic

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651

In the winter, this can be amplified by holiday-related triggers that can remind us of traumatic or recent losses, tricky family dynamics (especially the ones that leave us having to expend more time and energy on upholding boundaries, and the demands of the holiday social schedule can leave us feeling zapped, moody, and overwhelmed, especially with the ever- decreasing access to light in the winter. 

 

Also, according to the Mayo Clinic, other symptoms can include feelings of hopelessness, guilt, trouble concentrating, changes in weight/appetite, trouble sleeping or oversleeping, and loss of interest in preferred activities.

 

The reason is believed to be due to the lack of light- in winter, New England (where I live) is dark more hours of the day than it is light. This, coupled with snowstorms, frigid temperatures, and ugly words like “wind chill factor” can make even the most well-adjusted person feel despondent and isolated. Plus, winter can start as early as October/November and last all the way until mid-April. It can feel like it will never end and like it has been cold and dark forever!

 

I don’t want you thinking that this blog is intended to create more hopelessness about the winter than you may already have. The good news is, there are tons of tips for battling SAD in the winter that I will be touching on in this upcoming blog series. That way, you can hopefully look forward to at least one small part of your day and find the energy and tools to create some meaningful daily practices to leave you feeling more hopeful and fulfilled.

 

In the next several weeks, join us on the blog to discuss how SAD can impact pre-existing mental and physical health conditions, natural remedies to ease symptoms of SAD, and some ways to remind yourself of some of the best parts of winter, even if you hate the cold weather! If you find that you need to connect with someone to manage more acute symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out!

 

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Clinician's Corner: Julie: Take Care of You: You Are the Only One We've Got!

Mental health. Everyone’s favorite topic to do nothing about. 

 

Mental health has such a stigma attached to it despite the knowledge that we need to take care of ours, of others’. But why? We all have our stuff to work through and without that extra help it can become a beast. I have recently started back up my own journey of self-care which includes a weekly dose of therapy. We, in the helping profession, cannot help others before helping ourselves. Hence, don’t put others’ oxygen mask on before yours is on!!

 

Throughout my education I was asked to read a variety of books to help gain a better understanding of a variety of mental illnesses. After all, someday these could be the clients I am working with, right?! Those books turned into so much more than that. Here is a list of the ones that helped me the most. Even though I myself am not diagnosed with any of the topics the books cover they all left something behind, something for me to learn and understand about a person who isdiagnosed with borderline, bipolar, PTSD… 

 

·      “Crazy” by Peter Earley:Former Washington Post reporter Pete Earley had written extensively about the criminal justice system. But it was only when his own son- in the throes of a manic episode-broke into a neighbor's house that he learned what happens to mentally ill people who break a law. This is the Earley family's compelling story, a troubling look at bureaucratic apathy and the countless thousands who suffer confinement instead of care, brutal conditions instead of treatment, in the "revolving doors" between hospital and jail. With mass deinstitutionalization, large numbers of state mental patients are homeless or in jail-an experience little better than the horrors of a century ago. Earley takes us directly into that experience-and into that of a father and award-winning journalist trying to fight for a better way.

·      “The Buddha and the Borderline” by Kiera Van Gelder:Kiera Van Gelder's first suicide attempt at the age of twelve marked the onset of her struggles with drug addiction, depression, post-traumatic stress, self-harm, and chaotic romantic relationships-all of which eventually led to doctors' belated diagnosis of borderline personality disorder twenty years later. The Buddha and the Borderline is a window into this mysterious and debilitating condition, an unblinking portrayal of one woman's fight against the emotional devastation of borderline personality disorder. This haunting, intimate memoir chronicles both the devastating period that led to Kiera's eventual diagnosis and her inspirational recovery through therapy, Buddhist spirituality, and a few online dates gone wrong. Kiera's story sheds light on the private struggle to transform suffering into compassion for herself and others, and is essential reading for all seeking to understand what it truly means to recover and reclaim the desire to live.

·      “Tribe” by Sebastian Junger:Decades before the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin lamented that English settlers were constantly fleeing over to the Indians-but Indians almost never did the same. Tribal society has been exerting an almost gravitational pull on Westerners for hundreds of years, and the reason lies deep in our evolutionary past as a communal species. The most recent example of that attraction is combat veterans who come home to find themselves missing the incredibly intimate bonds of platoon life. The loss of closeness that comes at the end of deployment may explain the high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by military veterans today. Combining history, psychology, and anthropology, TRIBE explores what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty, belonging, and the eternal human quest for meaning. It explains the irony that-for many veterans as well as civilians-war feels better than peace, adversity can turn out to be a blessing, and disasters are sometimes remembered more fondly than weddings or tropical vacations. TRIBE explains why we are stronger when we come together, and how that can be achieved even in today's divided world.

·      How to Deal with a Crisis: I just came across this video, and it amazing. Especially for my deafies! Watch it, learn from it, do it.

 

Here is a book that may help those who are lovin’ on someone with a mental illness: When Someone You Love has a Mental Illness by Rebecca Woolis

 

Sometimes you just need to know you are on the right path, that you are doing the best you can despite all of the obstacles life has thrown at you. I often look to Pintrest for inspirational quotes when I need a little pick-me-up, just to remind myself that I am doing a-okay. Here are a couple of favorites from my Pintrest board:

 

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Please reach out for help when you feel like life is too much. We are here to enjoy life and live it to the fullest. If you ever feel that you or someone you know is no longer doing that, do something. Go for a walk, talk to your friend, call your mother. We only get this one life, let’s have a great time while we are here!

I can be reached by phone at 860-431-3825 and email at Juliana@mhccholistichealth.hush.com. Let’s chat!

 Until next time--

Julie Wood, MA, LPC Candidate

How Therapy Helps Unlearn Procedural Learning

Previously in a social media post, I touched very briefly about procedural learning and its implications with trauma. I realize that can sound like a death sentence, and I wanted the chance to explain a little more as someone who works with this material every day. Basically, procedural learning can work both ways- negative things can be unlearned, and then new learning can be put in its place. 

For a solid example and recap of how general procedural learning works, follow this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFzDaBzBlL0

 

As we become adults, our brains are less plastic than they were when we were kids, meaning it’s somewhat harder to learn new things because our brains are fully formed. Basically, due to our ages as adults, there’s more information to sift through and unlearn. There has to be more time to reinforce that which we know, which means the negative procedural learning of trauma patterns have had more time to be ingrained into our brains.

 

How does the process of unlearning procedural learning begin? Well, we do it small ways fairly often on our own. When we’re trying to do something one way and it doesn’t work, we try a new sequence or new approach until we are able to achieve the results we want.

 

Like the guy in the backwards brain bike video, our brains need time to make new connections. As with the man in the video, this can take months, or even years, with daily practice. The same principles apply in therapy when addressing anxiety and trauma.

 

In sessions, I generally frame it like this: I like to identify a moment when a client had a panic/anxiety attack that had them feeling triggered. We then break down, moment-by-moment, what triggered the reaction and what the steps are to their reaction buildup. We look for patterns, and we discuss which parts feel the worst or most outside of the client’s control. Then, depending on the client’s treatment plan and our already established goals, we either do some sort of talk therapy to identify possible shifts in thinking and behavior that can be made while the client is still feeling like they can manage their response to the trigger. The other option I use is EMDR to reprocess the trigger and the feeling of not being in control. The eye movements in EMDR (more information at www.emdria.org) can help make new neural connections to change where certain procedural memories are stored in the brain, so that the memories can be recalled with an appropriate amount of feeling in a voluntary basis as opposed to involuntary and disproportionate reactions from re-living a trauma.

 

With something like attachment trauma, which is where I specialize, the procedural learning of the trauma reaction (anxiety, dissociation, physical reactions) often happens before the age at which a child is able to speak, and long before they can articulate what they are experiencing. This is usually before the corpus callossum is developed enough for the child to be able to self-soothe. You can imagine that the same patterns throughout that child’s lifetime can create a long, difficult, but very possible road for unlearning reactions to triggers. This process is extremely difficult, but the payoff is beyond worthwhile. It takes patience, daily practice outside of therapy appointments, strong rapport with a good clinician, solid natural supports, and the biggest undertaking of all for those who have attachment trauma- extra kindness toward oneself throughout the entire process.

Procedural learning is just that- learning. While it may take a long time and lots of patience, it can be unlearned and then re-learned. It should be noted that adults often become frustrated during the process because they forget that they are trying to unlearn one thing and re-learn something else simultaneously. I just want you to know, dear reader, that it is NEVER too late, and there is no issue that is “too far gone” if you’re willing to commit to healing and creating a strong relationship with the right therapist. If you’re ready to learn something new that feels more empowering than your usual response to triggers, if you’re ready to commit to a new practice that includes lots of self-love and patience, reach out to a therapist!

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Ritual vs. Routine, Part II

Last week, I talked about routine and asked you to write out your daily tasks to be completed, or block off your schedule on your calendar to get a visual idea of how much of your day your routine, or pursuit thereof, actually takes up. I asked you to notice what your mind does and what your body feels during that activity. Where did/does your energy want to go when writing it out and looking at it? Are you making time for yourself?

The answers to these questions may have surprised you, but also are excellent tools to consider ritual. Ritual should be some series of behaviors or activities geared towards a specific goal. Rituals can be small, daily rituals, such as prayers before bedtime to clear the mind, meditating for a few minutes before getting up in the morning, wearing a specific pair of socks to every hockey game because it may draw more luck to help your team win, or taking a power or yin yoga class. Rituals can also be more community-based and bigger or occur less frequently, such as eating turkey with family and friends on Thanksgiving while discussing what we are thankful for, or the funerals and death rituals of any culture. The point isn’t so much the activity, although that definitely matters. The true importance is the intention behind the activity, and connection to self as well as community. For example, Catholic people have funerals when a loved one dies, as a means of saying an individual goodbye, communing with Spirit, and sending off the spirit of their loved one while recapitulating and grieving together. Every culture and religion in the world has rituals around birth or death, and they exist for a reason. These rituals are obviously much bigger than what I’m addressing in the average person’s everyday life, but the takeaway message is the same- we intentionally take time out of our day to connect with ourselves and possibly others, and there may or may not be a spiritual component.

The same ritual mindset is applied to mindfulness and meditation practices, but can be applied to basically everything we do so that we are more present in the moment, and can be aware of the needs of our bodies, minds, and souls- besides only when it feels like something is lacking or there’s a crisis. Rituals can mark the passage of time, and mindful connection to even our small, mundane daily rituals can lead to a greater sense of satisfaction than simply checking items off a to-do list because we feel like we should.

While I don’t want to sound preachy, I do like to use myself as an example in this blog (good and bad, because I’m human and at the end of the day I can only ethically speak to my experience). So, if you’re looking for some ideas for how to incorporate positive rituals into your day, here are some of my favorites:

Morning coffee or other hot beverage- make sure you’re not multitasking and distracting yourself while doing this. Actually sit with yourself, notice each level of flavor, the warmth (or cold if that’s more your thing), maybe find a mantra/quote/intention for your day and think on it for a few, uninterrupted minutes. And don’t do it while you’re driving. Actually make time for yourself the way you would a beloved friend.

Yoga- different classes exist for different purposes. I like to take a power yoga class in the beginning of the day to start positive conversations with my body, and for strength/empowerment, working out anger/other lingering emotions, etc. I like yin classes at the end of my day for deep emotional release, flexibility, and relaxation after a stressful/high activity day or impactful yoga class.

Cooking- can often be like a moving meditation. When considering a meal, don’t just listen to what your taste buds are craving (which is totally one of my biggest struggles, I will admit openly!). Asking myself “what does my body need to refuel?” is a huge help, as des finding something delicious and nourishing. Then, the process of cooking the meal feels almost meditative and I can get lost in the multi-sensory experience. When I don’t have an abundance of time and energy to make food, I usually make sure I’ve prepped enough leftovers to heat up, or I’ll sometimes even treat myself to a nutritious meal out. I know that feeding myself an over-abundance of junk food won’t make me feel energized. But a small treat here or there is OK, as long as I avoid trigger foods for my immune system.

Also, I like to make sure I take care of the day-to-day stuff, like drinking my smoothies, taking my new vitamin regimen (it works miracles, I swear), and drink plenty of water and stretch throughout the day!

Exercise- walking, hiking, some weight lifting, spin classes, yoga classes, whatever! I just take extra care to make sure I’m doing these activities with the intention of loving and caring for my body, rather than punishing and hurting it or being angry at it.

Journaling- every day, even when I don’t know what to write about. Where do you think I find inspiration for blogs? Sometimes, I’ll even do a card pull from my favorite oracle decks, find an inspirational quote online, listen to an audiobook, read a poem, shamanic journey, or meditate for a few minutes for inspiration. Sometimes, tension I didn’t even realize I had gets released and things I didn’t realize I was hanging on to gets processed along the way. 

Body/Energy Work-I cannot recommend massage enough! Along with aromatherapy, energy healing/Reiki, shamanic healing session if I’m feeling off. 

I hope that this two-part series has clarified the importance of ritual within our daily routines, and how it doesn’t necessarily require a major shift in behavior, but more mindful awareness, in order to have a better connection with yourself. If you’re interested in connecting with others who are also looking to connect with themselves, there’s still time to join my Goddess group starting next week! We will be meeting for two hours on Saturdays, for six weeks, discussing our inner goddesses, learning about our needs, how to meet them in our daily lives, and journaling outside of the group to notice the changes in our lives! Contact me directly at rebecca@nestcoaching.org!

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Ritual vs. Routine: Revitalize Your Mind by Shifting Your Approach to What You're Already Doing

Lifestyle changes don’t always have to be some massive life overhaul. You don’t have to completely change everything all at once- all of a sudden changing everything in your diet, spending two hours a day doing cardio, and cutting everyone out of your life isn’t rewarding or sustainable, so it’s not likely you’ll have incentive to do it for very long. Radical changes all at once can deplete energy and are overall less sustainable than small adjustments to mindset that inspire lasting changes, because of the small rituals and the self-awareness derived from them. This can inspire other small changes, which, over time, can give you a chance to notice the benefits of the small changes and leave your life looking totally different than it used to. 

This next mini-series is meant to help you become aware of your daily routine, how you’re prioritizing and talking to yourself throughout that routine, or how completely checked out from yourself you may actually be while you’re doing all the things you’re supposed to do for your own self-care. For example, you may be spending time working out and prepping/eating healthy food, but you could be doing it out of anger and non-acceptance of your body rather than recognition of the nurturance your body needs to maintain your overall health.

Let’s start with looking at routine. Routine refers to your daily schedule, the things that must be accomplished in order to feel like your day is complete and you were successful. Too often, however, we get bogged down in the stress and to-do list, rushing around. We often lose sight of why we’re actually doing the things that are part of our routines. For instance, we get stuck in rushing the kids to school, activities, doctor appointments, and scouts. But we never ask ourselves why, other than ‘it’s for my kid’ or ‘I committed to it,’ rather than ‘it’s my purpose to give my kid a variety experiences’ or ‘it’s important to me to follow through on my commitments,’ which are more honest statements connecting us to our purposes. The main purpose in the example is fulfilling the purpose in our culture, if the individual is called to do so. 

It’s easy to let our routine run away with us, especially if we feel stuck in a rut because our routine doesn’t deviate much day-to-day. I know I’m someone who thrives from the same routine day-to-day, and it’s easy for me to also check out and get things done. I also know that my body craves routine, as evidenced by my naturally waking up before 6 am every day unless I’m sick. 

I also know how disempowering routine can be. While routine is necessary for me to get things done, stay organized, and be able to focus and stay present in my work and practices, I am also very sensitive to shifts in my routine. I just feel “off” if I wake up late and I feel more pressured to run around and get things done. This throws me way off balance, because I’m left feeling like a victim of time, I’m often angry/frustrated, have a hard time focusing, and I know I’m not doing my best work. I feel like I’m just running around rushing for no clear purpose, and I just mess things up and spend more time doing damage control for everything that gets messed up along the way, which just adds to my frustration. Therefore, it’s vital to me to have rituals and practices to incorporate into and balance out my routine. Often, this simply looks like stopping for a moment, checking in with myself, and asking myself why I’m doing what I’m doing, what I feel like I need mentally, spiritually, and physically, and seeing if I can make a little time to make that happen. Pretty soon, it’s easy to let go of the things that don’t have a clear purpose in my life because I have no true connection to them. 

I’ll get more into rituals and practices next week, but the takeaway message for today is an invitation to look at your daily routine (or, perhaps, lack thereof). When you write out what has to get done each day, or try to block off time for tasks in your calendar, what is your mind doing? What is your body feeling? Where does your energy want to go? Are you making time for yourself? If so, where are you prioritizing yourself?

We’ll build on these in the next blog in this series, but you’d be surprised at the information you may receive and benefits you may notice in just making time to ask yourself these questions.

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Types of Therapy Groups

With our discussion of the benefits of group work last week, I thought it might make sense to discuss the different types of groups that are out there so that you may better decide if group therapy is for you, and if so, what type of group appeals most to your needs. Here is a brief outline of most of the types of groups that are run by mental health professionals (and some run by non-professionals) to hopefully help you navigate!

 

Psychoeducational Groups

Psychoeducational groups tend to have a more structured learning format. It may look like a small workshop, and the goal of the facilitator is to teach new skills or information through lectures and/or experiential learning. According to mentalhelp.net contributor Carrie Steckl, Ph.D., people who do well in psychoeducational groups are usually highly functional, but “have an information deficit in a certain area” (https://www.mentalhelp.net/blogs/which-type-of-therapeutic-group-is-right-for-you/). The group leader specializes in this area and therefore functions in a more directive role. These tend to include anger management groups, coping/social skills groups, and my colleague Juliana Woods’ group for parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. There may be some discussion about how this particular information deficit is impacting individuals within the group, but the point of the group is not to create a healing process. Rather, it’s to provide information so that individuals can choose to pursue their own healing outside of the group. These groups tend to have a time limit (i.e., “8-week coping skills group for teens”), but not always.

 

Process Groups

These are also sometimes called “psychotherapy” groups or “counseling” groups. Typically, the facilitator focuses more on interpersonal issues or concerns that each member of the group may be facing to some degree. The group itself is treated as an organism, and each member of the group works together towards common group goals. The rules are usually mutually agreed-upon with each member and the facilitator, and the goals are usually geared towards something each individual has identified wanting to work in their own lives as well. Therefore, the individual interpretation of the goals usually differs from member-to-member. The group will teach members new skills in relating to other people in their personal lives by experiences within the group. A great example of a process group is Erica Wilcox’s Women’s Trauma and Healing Group in Southington, CT (www.wilcoxwellness.com for more info- she’s amazing!). The group members have various forms of trauma but a common goal for each member is to take back their power and take charge of their life stories again. 

These groups tend to require some ground work on the part of the therapist to ensure that the group will work well together, so if you go into a process group expect the therapist to want to meet with you for an individual intake beforehand. They also tend to be “closed” groups, meaning that members are expected to commit to the full time period of the group (example, all six weeks of my Goddess group) and there won’t be people just “dropping in” for a session 

or two. 

 

 

 

Support Groups

These groups tend to be more open and running indefinitely- examples include twelve-step groups such as NA or AA. They tend to differ depending on the type of group being offered, and can be run by trained therapists but not always. For instance, AA and NA both value anonymity, however encourage sharing of details so that members can feel as though they are part of a group/community of other individuals struggling similarly or who have struggled similarly in the past. Support groups can exist for virtually any issue, such as substance abuse, parenting, breastfeeding, general trauma, traumatic loss, etc. and the possibilities are endless. 

 

Hybrid Groups

Hybrid groups may include a combination of any of the above listed types of groups. My Goddess group is an example of a Hybrid group- we will have some psychoeducation regarding the Goddess archetypes and how to identify the goddesses active within each of us, and the goddesses we would like to invoke to realign with our values and goals. However, we will also be doing plenty of processing and supporting each other, so it’s a combination between a psychoeducational group and a process group. 

 

Finding these groups, if you’re interested in one, may prove to be a challenge. While the Internet is a highly useful tool in getting us connected, and you might find some of these groups advertised on Facebook ads or in email marketing newsletters. I encourage you to reach out to your therapist if you have one, to get connected with the right groups for you. Most therapists, especially those in private practice, have a network of other local therapists and might be able to connect you to the right group for you. And if the ideal group for you doesn’t exist, maybe someone will be inspired to create one! Other non-Internet places to find groups can include churches, community boards, your physician, yoga studios, schools, community agencies, local libraries, or your friends!

If you’re interested in learning more about my Goddess Group, please contact me directly at rebecca@nestcoaching.org

 

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Benefits of Group Work

When most people think of going into therapy or coaching, they may be assuming that the best work for them is on an individual-only basis. However, there is significant evidence to suggest that various types of group work can be beneficial and in fact lend extra support to supercharge whatever therapy/coaching goals the individual may have. Group work can even help uncover new goals that otherwise may have been overlooked on an individual basis. If you’ve ever thought about getting into group work, or perhaps someone in your life has suggested it at one time or another, here is some helpful information about the benefits!

            One of my favorite aspects of group work is the same thing that initially intimidated me and made me feel guarded about doing it. It’s the community connection. Whether it’s a trauma healing group, a spiritual group, a social skills group for kids, a twelve-step group, or a coaching group, everyone present is there for a reason. Not only are they seeking something for themselves as individuals, but they were brought there by their own spiritual intervention for their own healing. When I attended Dharma School, I was scared as hell of sharing my story and the worst things I’ve ever believed about myself in front of a room full of strangers. But it was a requirement, and I trusted the process so I did it. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. For the first time, I allowed myself to be cradled by fellow healing souls who all showed up authentically to heal as well. I also got a chance to help and witness them in their own healing journey, which only amplified the power of my experience. According to Erica Wilcox, owner of Wilcox Wellness, LLC and leader of a women’s trauma recovery group, When a group of trauma survivors gather together for the purpose recovery, it is their unspeakable pain that initially binds them together. It is like being a part of a secret club that nobody wants to be a part of, but yet they are.They gather in their vulnerability, their bravery, their hurt.  There is a deep knowing and connection between trauma survivors that is also unspeakable. A profound dichotomy takes place at the start of any trauma recovery group. Silence is what perpetuates their pain yet it i It is their silence that also initially connects them.They know, "Me Too".  They must honor, hold space and bear witness to the pain in order to create purpose out of it so that they then can begin to re-write the story. Then, a  beautifully powerful shift starts to root itself. When they can put words their experience and know, I mean TRULY KNOW. that they are not alone, this becomes the new normal because, afterall, knowledge is power. And the power of knowing that you are not alone, that what you have experienced was indeed trauma, that your trauma is valid, that that there is hope for healing, , then, beautiful soul, then you can rebuild. Their trust in themselves and others can be restored and their lives can be renewed.” (You should check out her group, she’s amazing! Her website is www.wilcoxwellness.com)

            The sense of community in a group allows members to feel held and also to do the holding, You are a valuable, skilled individual just looking for a community of similar people to bond with- we all are. You have incredible insights and skills to offer. Group work allows you to do this!

            In a group setting, you may also learn about yourself while someone else is processing or discussing something you may not have thought to consider. For example, if you’re more of an intellectual thinker, they may approach the same topic in a very different and thought-provoking way. You may also present a practical and intellectual approach to something others may not have considered.

            Groups are also microcosms of the world at large. Conflicts that may arise between members (which is a majorly POSITIVE thing when handled correctly by the facilitator) provide a chance for two or more members to pause, consider their thoughts/feelings, communicate, and be heard. A skilled group leader will help the situation rather than allow members to berate and abuse one another, and will use the tool of conflict to help promote everyone’s healing.

            There are countless other benefits depending on the type of group and the members of it, as well as the structure of the group. The best advice I can give is to educate yourself about the group you’re considering or that is being recommended, and assess how it lines up with your values and goals.  I also strongly encourage you to talk with the facilitators and give it a try!

            In January, I will be running a women’s Goddess group, which will help members identify the goddess archetypes alive within them, what the devolved and evolved states of those archetypes look like, and how to invoke the most positive qualities of those archetypes through good self-awareness and self-care. We will have experiential exercises, sacred space, and take-home journaling exercises in this six-week group which will meet on Saturday afternoons. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact me directly at rebecca@nestcoaching.orgor rebecca@mhccholistichealth.hush.com!

 

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.