June Oil of the Month: Lavender!

I’m so excited to be able to talk to you all each week about essential oils and how they can have a profound impact on trauma recovery and emotional wellness. This month, I want to focus on the “king” of all essential oils- lavender! It’s so versatile- it can help with cuts and burns, cleaning, and tons of household uses.

For the sake of staying aligned with my purpose, I want to focus mostly on using essential oils for emotional healing and trauma recovery. I’ll likely touch on the other uses of essential oils at some point in my blogging journey, but that’s because I’m a holistic health practitioner who also recognizes the need for general self-care.

Lavender is known for its calming benefits. According to Sayorwan W., et al, lavender can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature. This can greatly decrease nervous system arousal by using the olfactory glands to stimulate the amygdala. Amygdala stimulation sends a message to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the mechanism in the brain which allows you to calm down after your brain has detected a threat and responded with the fight-or-flight response. The fight-or-flight response is ultimately activated by the amygdala as well, so it’s easy to see why aromatherapy, especially lavender essential oil, is so beneficial for grounding when a trauma survivor is triggered.

Isn’t it gorgeous?!

Isn’t it gorgeous?!

According to Essential Emotions, LLC, people become disconnected from themselves due to trauma and trying to manage the brain’s response to trauma. If you are working to improve communication and connect to yourself in a deeper way, lavender can be a wonderful supplement to support your practice. I can’t stress enough that these oils are not magic cure-alls; they’re also not “snake oil.” The onus is still on the user to be doing other things, such as meditating, journaling, therapy/coaching, and exercise/yoga which will allow for this healing to take place. Essential oils in general, but especially lavender, can be grounding and calming while going into this deep healing work.

If you are someone with a lengthy history of not expressing yourself for fear of rejection or shame, there’s a strong chance (sometimes, but not always) that you may have some attachment trauma and learned this from interactional patterns in your childhood. Lavender is wonderful for calming the internal chatter you’re experiencing enough so that you can heal these wounds, feel confident, and love yourself in the way you’ve been longing to.

If you want to learn more about doing this healing work, contact me for a coaching consultation at Rebecca@nestcoaching.org!

If you’re interested in purchasing lavender or other essential oils to incorporate into your healing journey, click here.

Next week, I’ll be discussing some of doTERRA’s blends which contain lavender and why they are beneficial to emotional healing and trauma recovery. If you’re on a wellness journey, you can’t miss it!

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 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.

When People Show You Who They Are, Pay Attention!

“When people show you who they are, pay attention.” This is a simple line that means that we often work to see the best in others, sometimes at the expense of ourselves. We ignore the very real and valid feelings we may have about the way others are treating us. We allow ourselves to be taken advantage of, ignore our intuition, and become resentful. 

This is your invitation to ask yourself where this tendency to ignore your intuition came from. Why do you feel the need to always give others the benefit of the doubt? How can you tell they’re deserving? What if some people just aren’t respectful of you and therefore are deserving of a strong dose of reality, so that they can grow? What if that doesn’t mean anything about you or them, and you’re allowed to speak up or not be so damn accommodating all the time?

Lisa Nicholls, personal empowerment guru, tells us we need to show the world how to love us. It’s our job to be the first example of how people should be treating us and how they should behave around us. What message is it sending if you accept less than you deserve? What is your bare minimum expectation for how the ones you love or value most to treat you? How does this differ from how you are willing to treat yourself? What’s a better way to show the world how to love you, and what are the barriers to making that happen? How do you show you how to love you, and how does that carry over into the rest of the world?

If you need help learning to love yourself, and learning to show the world how to love you, please reach out to me directly at either rebecca@nestcoaching.org(for coaching support) or rebecca@mhccholistichealth.hush.comfor more formal psychotherapy (which can be covered by insurance depending on your individual benefits).

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.

How to Supercharge Your Growth in Between Sessions!

Therapy and coaching both require the client do some healvy lifting outside of sessions, in very different ways. Reality is, those appointments are 60-90 minutes at most, and it’s really hard to cram everything from the last 1-2 or several weeks into such a small amount of time.

It’s definitely helpful to spend some time before your appointment thinking about what you want to work on so that you can make the best use of your session. It’s also a great idea to take notes in your session (sometimes I’m even nice enough to do this for my clients if it means they stay in the moment and keep processing but will need to refer back to something later on). If in therapy, you can ask your therapist for homework or use your notes to expand on your processing between sessions.

If you’re working with a coach, your coach should be asking thought-provoking questions that help you generate an action plan for your own self. They should also be providing accountability and encouragement, and helping you to decide how you will reach out for support if needed. Some people choose to work with both a therapist and a coach at the same time for an extra opportunity to grow in different ways. 

I’m also a big fan of journaling (for myself and for my clients) in between sessions. I like to track my own progress, and journaling does help me reveal new insights. Sometimes, it’s also nice to refer back to old journal entries to see how far I’ve come and keep me moving into new directions. As a therapist, I love it when my clients bring in their journals to read off what they processed that felt significant, as it amplifies therapeutic growth and sometimes gives great material for us to process in session if needed.

I encourage clients to journal at both of my businesses. I encourage them to pick a thought and follow it for at least 10-15 minutes, to see what they get and to go below the surface a little. I invite them to explore what may be bothering them and what they notice happening to their bodies, why that information is relevant, and what they plan to do with what they’ve learned. I also direct them with journal questions or takeaway thought-provoking statements from our sessions where doing so is appropriate and helpful. For some clients, I encourage Pinterest or journal prompt books such as “Practice You,” “List Yourself,” and “The Life Organizer.”

I hope this is helpful in getting you inspired to journal, write, and take control of your own growth both in sessions and outside of sessions.

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 4

I’d like to wrap up our First Annual Social Media Awareness Month with a list of fun, inspirational social media accounts to follow for positivity or just plain fun!

Instagram:

@soulshineastrology

@gypsyon_

@annacardosoyoga

@prettyandwell

@naturechola

@sophie.jaffe

Facebook:

Pero Like

GoodTherapy

The Gottman Institute

Psychology Today

The Onion

The Animal Rescue Site

Awaken Self & Love

Naughty Shaman

The Red Barn in Durham

The Trauma Project

Thinking Minds

Humans of New York

Unfortunately, I rarely use Pinterest for these purposes (mostly just recipes and hairstyles to be honest), and I have never had a Twitter account, so I can’t offer very many social media accounts that would be useful there but feel free to comment and add your own! I love adding to the list of resources!

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.

March is Social Media Awareness Month- Week 2

This week, in the spirit of the Social Media Awareness Month we’ve created for March, I want to discuss our individual social media personas. First, Dictionary.com defines “persona” as “the aspect of someone’s character that is presented to or perceived by others.” We all have different personas to get through our days- I think most of us can agree that we are different at work than at home or with our friends. With the advent of social media, it has become the norm to engage with the world from behind screens, picking and choosing the best parts of ourselves to show the world.

The result? We sit with our insecurities while we watch everyone’s highlight reels, taking the things they choose to share for the gospel truth, while comparing ourselves to everyone else. And other people probably aren’t trying to make anyone feel inferior, they’re just proud to show their cute selfie or their new house or car or baby or puppy. But the result is the same.

And don’t even get me started on public comments sections. People find any excuse to bash each other, and turn a mistake, grammatical error, or opinion into a judgement on that person as a whole (and it’s usually a negative one). It’s enough to scare anyone out of commenting or having any sort of opinion on anything. Throw in the misinformation that’s constantly tossed around, and it soon becomes hard to decipher what’s real and what’s not.

So this week, I want to invite you to be mindful of the social media persona you are cultivating through your shares and your comments. Are you being authentic? If not, why? How representative is your social media persona of your true life? Are you compensating for something? What is the intention behind what you’re sharing? Are you finding yourself arguing with or attacking people in the comments? Why? If you’re feeling attacked, what would help you feel better? Do you need to take a break from social media, or set limits with yourself around the time you spend on social media? Are you using it for an intended purpose, or is it just part of a routine/time filler? Is there something you’d rather be doing with that time instead?

I would love to hear your thoughts! If you need help breaking away from social media, or want to start turning your social media persona around to connect with people in a more authentic way, please feel free to reach out directly!

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.

Questions to Ask Yourself to Find Out if Therapy/Coaching are Working For You

It can be challenging to let others in on your problems, goals, and your own perceived shortcomings in making them happen. Here is a small list of thought-provoking questions to help you determine if the process of therapy, or life coaching, is working for you.

 

Is this person hearing me?How do they show it? How do I perceive someone hearing me? Are their behaviors consistent with what I expect?

Is this person genuine? How do I find myself responding physically and emotionally to their energy?

Is this person aligning with/aware of my goals? What skills are they showing in helping me to get there?

Am I noticing changes in myself and the world?

Are their recommendations and support helping me to feel empowered outside of our sessions?

Do I feel as though I can safely share the most difficult moments of my life and the worst things I have ever believed about myself with this person? If not, what is it that feels like it’s getting in the way?

Can I be fully honest with this person?

Are they pushing me by challenging me, or are they just checking in and hearing me vent?  If the latter, is this because they want me to keep coming back for their own secondary gains, or is it because I’m hesitant to go deeper? What would help me feel safer to go deeper?

Is this person acting like they are more of an expert in my life than I am? Do I feel that they can recognize and value my strengths, skills, and struggles?It goes against most therapy and life coach teachings for the coach or therapist to act as if they are the expert in their clients’ daily lives and challenges, so if their ego is getting in the way of your work, it’s time to either confront them or find someone new.

What evaluations and methods are they using? Are they taking the time to properly educate me on them? How do I know they’re working?

How will I know that I have reached my goals?Are my own expectations and benchmarks matching up with theirs? Have we had this conversation?

Do they take the time to educate themselves on things that are important/relevant to me, or do they expect me to constantly be the one educating them?

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 mindfulness resource is a wealth of brief guided meditations to help you take control of your day before it runs away without you! These resources are great to use first thing in the morning, throughout the day when your brain needs a break or you’re getting overwhelmed, or when you’re trying to decompress after a long day. Enjoy!

https://www.mindful.org/audio-resources-for-mindfulness-meditation/

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!

Mindful Monday

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Today’s Mindful Monday resource comes to us from an article in Time Magazine. The writer delves into the benefits of yoga and its impact on depression and other symptoms of various mental illnesses! Consider this your invitation to start small, be alone with your body, and start repairing your relationship with it by first learning how to listen to it!

http://time.com/4695558/yoga-breathing-depression/?fbclid=IwAR0dTHyFBew2rIyE5kRKgH5fw53qrkjhyPiZMYG1GShJs82_8haImaJsxak

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.

Spotlight on: Julie Wood, MA. LPC Candidate

It’s my pleasure to introduce Julie Wood, who is this month’s Friday Features clinician! Julie is my supervisee at MHCC, and is in the process of becoming EMDR trained. She sees self-pay clients only, at a low sliding scale, and later this month will be running two groups for Deaf and Hard of Hearing young adults! I am so thrilled to have her on board, and anyone who spends five minutes in the same room as Julie can feel her compassion, sensitivity, and awesome sense of humor. I thought it would be fun to have Julie answer some questions about herself so you all can get to know her better, and I was definitely not disappointed!

1.) When you were a kid, what did you tell people you wanted to be when you grew up?

·     A penguin washer. You know, the people that wash the penguins at the aquarium or go to help out when there is an oil spill!

2.) When did you first know you wanted to be a therapist?

·     During graduate school. I got into the program because it was going to provide me the tools to work with the deaf population. While taking counseling classes, I realized that is what I wanted to do, mental health counseling.

3.) What is one way being a therapist has changed you?

·      I think it has made me more aware. What I mean by that is maybe more understanding to what others may be going through, or that someone may be going through something and that is why they act the way they do. When I am out driving, and someone gives me the finger because they perceive that I cut them off, I am able to remember that that is their stuff, not mine.

4.) What is a population you’re passionate about working with?

·     The deaf, especially youth transitioning from high school to college or work

5.) How did working with that population come to be a passion for you (no client details, please)?

·      I worked for the state as a Vocation Rehabilitation counselor and witnessed the lack of counseling and support that students receive while they go through the transition and when they graduate is appalling. I want to help these kids realize what they can do, what the “real world” means and how to navigate their disability while in it.

6.) What’s one challenge in your life that you’re proud of overcoming?

·     Depression. It is still something I struggle with, but I have survived a particularly terrible episode when it seemed like there was no way out.

7.) What is the best client feedback you’ve ever received?

·     That I took the time to listen and follow through for the client, when no one else did.

8.) What do you wish clients would ask you in an intake?

·     What will be expected from them, or how can they make the most out of their work with me? 

9.) What is the funniest thing you’ve ever said in session that you never thought you would say?

·      I love using humor and personal anecdotes to connect with clients. There is very little I will not say, if I feel that the person is in a place to hear it. I had a client who worked at a gym that my friend went to. He happened to be in one of her pictures she posted on Facebook. When I told him I saw the picture he said something about me coming to workout there. I told him, “Screw that! My wedding is over, I am done with the gym and on to carbs.”  

10.) What is your favorite food/flavor of ice cream?

·     Tacos are life in the Wood household. We celebrate every Tuesday! I do not really like ice cream. Before you gather your pitchforks, I am lactose intolerant and ice cream is one of the foods I really CANNOT tolerate! 

11.) What is your favorite self-care activity?

·     Shopping! But when it is not pay week, I love reading!

12.) What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not at work?

·      I love going to the movies. My husband and I always wear comfy clothes, get popcorn and candy and only go to theaters with the comfy seats so we can really relax. 

13.) What is your favorite book?

·      I have read so many, it is hard to pick!

14.) What is your most recommended book to clients?

·      I would recommend Crazy by Peter Earley. He talks about the societal issues with mental illness, and what we are not doing to help those who experience it. I love what he has to say and how he says it.

15.) Finally, what is a meaningful/favorite quote you’d like to leave our audience with?

·     The quote that I live by, whether in my personal life or professional life, is a Polish proverb, “Not my circus, not my monkeys”. Simply put it means “not my problem”. We spend so much time worrying about what we are doing and how we can help others. I am going to help my clients to the best of my ability, but I can only do so much. I urge everyone to remember these words when there is something that is out of your control, even though you want to do all you can to help. Sometimes, you simply can’t. 

Julie loves working with hearing clients as well! If you like what you read, please contact Julie directly at Juliana@mhccholistichealth.hush.com or 860-431-3825!  Julie is a Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate, under the direct supervision of Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC who can be reached at rebecca@mhccholistichealth.hush.com

Julie loves working with hearing clients as well! If you like what you read, please contact Julie directly at Juliana@mhccholistichealth.hush.com or 860-431-3825!

Julie is a Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate, under the direct supervision of Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC who can be reached at rebecca@mhccholistichealth.hush.com

Supervision and Consultation Membership!

I am thrilled to announce my expansion into clinical supervision! I have always been passionate about education, and now I am taking an opportunity to educate other counselors as they go through their graduate and post-graduation journeys. I am excited to introduce my supervision monthly membership package!

Who is this for ?

Current graduate-level Counseling students, upcoming grads, or recent grads! If you’re frustrated by what you feel are gaping holes in your education, aren’t feeling heard at your institution, or have fear that working in the counseling field won’t align with your dream of helping others, you have a home with us!

What will we be doing?

We will be going through case consultations to identify ways in which to build rapport, create a differential diagnosis, and build treatment goals and measurable plans in case simulations. We will also be learning some specific interventions by example and identifying our own barriers to confidence and smashing them together! We will also discuss niching and private practice, networking, and I will be providing resources, my expertise, and experience in agencies, risk assessment, private practice, and group practice ownership.

What do I get?

With the basic package, you will get

-one two-hour group supervision session (they will run each week, and you can drop in on the session of your choice)

-one individual supervision/consultation session with me per year

-discounts on group and individual sessions beyond the ones included in the membership, FOR LIFE!!!

-discounted rates on future trainings, workshops, and groups, FOR LIFE!!!

-I will sign off on licensure hours if applicable

-access to our super-secret Facebook group where further resources, inspiration, and discussions will be shared (note that it violates our policy to post clinical information on this platform), where I will respond to every post

-a network of friends that feel more like family

-coaching through writing resumes, cover letters, and interviewing within the counseling field

-access to every resource I know about

-opportunities to be a guest blogger/be included in my social media presence and marketing, which would promote you and increase your likelihood of being seen by your ideal clients.

-inspiration, encouragement, and empowerment as you enter the field as a new clinician!

Who else will be there?

Other supervises of mine, counselors-in-training who demand the best out of their educational experience, and are driven by a passion to help others learn how to heal themselves! And me. I will be there facilitating the whole thing!

What does it cost?

Monthly Cost of Supervision Group Basic Package:

Before February 1, 2019: $75

After February 1, 2019: $100

Please know that there is no minimum monthly requirement, however cancellation is required as billing is automatic.

Non-Member Supervision Pricing:

EMDR Individual Consultation:*Please note that I am an EMDRIA consultant-in-training until October 2019, at which point my rates will increase: $40 per hour per person (for both individual and group)

Non-EMDR Individual Supervision/Consultation: $100 per hour

Non-EMDR Group (3 or more) Supervision/Consultation: $60 per hour per person

Member Supervision Pricing:

EMDR Individual Consultation:*Please note that I am an EMDRIA consultant-in-training until October 2019, at which point my rates will increase: $40 per hour per person (for both individual and group), separate from monthly membership fee

Non-EMDR Individual Supervision/Consultation: $80 per hour after the free annual individual session, unlimited for life

Non-EMDR Group (3 or more) Supervision/Consultation: $40 per hour per person after the first two-hour group session included in membership

**note: if you are looking to have me sign off on licensure hours for you, please ensure that your state’s requirements allow me to do so as a Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Connecticut.

If you would like to obtain this membership before prices increase, please contact me directly at rebecca@mhccholistichealth.hush.com!

Rebecca Toner 10-17-18_0089 EDIT-WEB.jpg

Preparing For Your First Therapy Session: Part 2

This is the second in a three-part blog series geared to help you prepare for your first session in therapy ever, or just with a new therapist for the first time in a while. This article will cover what to expect from your first session (also called an intake), as well as some things the therapist is assessing for during an intake.

(Bet you didn’t think there was so much to consider before you even walk in the door for your first session! But, you’ve made it this far. So, let’s say you’ve followed some of the advice laid out in the first edition of this topic, you’ve found one or more therapists who seem like they might be the right fit, and maybe you’ve even reached out and scheduled an intake or two. What’s next?

What to Expect in an Intake:

Your therapist is going to have a LOT to get through within the first session. They have to cover intake documents, informed consent, limitations of privacy laws, and tell you all about how they tend to operate and what the attendance expectations are. Then there’s the fact that they have to get an idea of what you’d like to achieve in therapy, and assess your supports, strengths, coping skills, safety, connection to community resources, your day-to-day life, and establish rapport while simultaneously being as genuine as possible and starting to formulate rough ideas for goals and treatment plans if you choose to continue beyond the intake. They also have to make sure they get releases to talk to doctors/lawyers/agencies/other providers if necessary, and assess whether they are the best fit for you and your needs. That’s a TON to get through! Needless to say, it often takes two or three sessions to get a basic idea of what therapy with the clinician would actually be like. To help with some of the time management, many practices are starting to require electronic signatures of paperwork prior to the first session, then quickly covering the necessary points during the intake. My practice does this, and requires the paperwork to be completed with insurance and credit card information submitted electronically a minimum of 24 hours prior to the scheduled appointment, or the appointment will be cancelled. 

            For the rest of the rapport building, treatment planning, clinical assessment, and collaboration on goals- the process can be several sessions long. I have many clients on my caseload for several months where we focus on establishing trust, rapport, and safety- often because there is significant attachment trauma and they need to experience me as consistent and nurturing for a length of time before they’ll truly feel safe exploring further and doing some of the deeper work. Be patient, trust the process, and don’t expect to be cured or even given an idea of how many sessions need to happen before you feel relief from your symptoms. You get out of therapy what you put into it. Don’t give up on the potential right fit therapist before you have a chance to actually start doing the real work to meet your goals. 

 

What Your Therapist is Assessing for:

This is going to vary depending on the type of therapist you’re seeing and the type of therapy you’re looking to do. But some general topics I usually assess for include:

Safety:Is this person going to be able to tolerate deep work? Are they likely to continue their work through daily practices outside of treatment appointments? Do they have the distress tolerance to handle it, or should we first focus on resourcing and rapport building through various interventions before we do the trauma work? What community and natural resources are needed outside of therapy, and how accessible are these things? Does the person need a higher level of care than I’m able to offer? What are their needs, and do they have healthy insight into some ways to get those needs met, or are they too traumatized and invested in more comfortable/maladaptive ways of meeting those needs? Who are supportive people they can turn to? Can we make a plan for when they’re feeling close to a crisis, so that they can call on those people? Are they familiar/in contact with local crisis services?

 

Goodness of Fit:

As a Licensed Professional Counselor, my licensing board and the American Counseling Association, as well as the EMDR International Association all have various versions of the same ethical requirement that states I need to refer clients elsewhere if they’re not a good fit for what I feel able to provide. Most behavioral health governing bodies have some version of this same guideline. If I feel as though my relational style or specialty is very different from what I perceive the client’s needs to be, it’s my duty to best serve the client by referring them to someone much more suited to handling that specific issue than I am. For example, while my license allows me to work with children and I have done so as a pre-licensed therapist, this is not my passion and I have not had continuing education in working with children. I know that I can probably do decent work with children, and that I have before, but I also know that there are some excellent colleagues of mine whom I would feel much more comfortable referring minor clients to (and for the record, I’m more than OK with this- I know I excel at the work I do with my adult clients and I am highly specialized in something I am passionate about). So, rather than taking on minor clients anyway, I refer them to the colleagues whose work I am familiar with, whom I trust and who specialize in working with populations I don’t. The client’s needs are thus met by a provider more equipped to give them what they need. If your new therapist is making it seem like they’re a jack of all trades but a master of none, they may be skilled and intelligent but may not be the best fit for what you specifically need. 

 

From here, the therapist’s assessment will really start to depend on the therapist you’re meeting with. For example, I am a strengths-based, person-centered trauma therapist specializing in attachment trauma and dissociation. So, I’m assessing for trauma, especially hidden or repressed trauma, certain buzzwords and telling phrases, trauma narratives, symptoms and how they are presenting in daily life, what those symptoms are interfering with that caused the client to want to meet with me in the first place, what about me stood out for them in selecting me as their therapist, feelings of being “checked out” or not being able to remember significant periods of time, and ego strength/distress tolerance. If there needs to be some ego strengthening, I’m getting an idea of how we can collaborate on that together in order to set a strong foundation for the deeper trauma work. I’m also assessing for strengths and skills because I believe those are going to provide the foundation to build up some of the things that are in need of improvement to facilitate healing. 

            Other therapists, however, will have different approaches and specialties and will be assessing along those lines. A substance abuse counselor, for example, will want to know about length of use, substances of choice, any periods of sobriety, positives that would help the client maintain sobriety, etc. Those who specialize in working with children will be looking for some indication of boundaries and expectations in the home and at school, social engagement, and possible reasons behind behavioral disturbances (depending on age). 

 

This is certainly not an exhaustive list of what each therapist assesses for or how they operate during intake sessions, but I hope it has provided some useful information that will help you prepare for your first intake. It’s also totally fine to write down some thoughts/lists of things you want to work on, and maybe make some mention of the work you’ve done to start trying to address this stuff on your own. It’s helpful for the therapist to get an idea of what’s realistically going to translate from therapy into your daily life, so this would definitely be a great tool!

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.

Preparing for Your First Therapy Session: The Search (Part 1)

This is the first in a three-part series to help you in the process of beginning therapy, maybe for the first time, or maybe you’re looking for a different approach to freshen or build on therapy you’ve already been involved in. So, you may be toying with the idea of “talking to someone” in a professional capacity to handle some stressors, life adjustments, or struggles that can be going on in your life. Or, you may be feeling checked out, disconnected, or have some traumas that might need to be addressed. Either way, maybe you’re wondering now how you should go about finding a therapist. There’s a ton of information out there, and so many different kinds of therapists who do amazing work. It can be overwhelming, to say the least. So here’s your go-to guide for some of the main things you should consider in finding a therapist for yourself!

 

The Search:

Google and Psychology Today are probably some of the best guaranteed places to find a listing of local therapists who specialize in certain areas and take your insurance (if you’re choosing to use an insurance). It’s a quick way to generate a list of therapists to get into contact with, but please understand that what’s in someone’s Psychology Today profile is limited through character counts, so there’s not always the chance to capture exactly who they are as a therapist and how they work. It’s wise to continue your research into a possible therapist candidate through their websites, blogs, YouTube channels, business social media posts, etc. The whole point of therapists working so hard to create that content is so that you have a chance to connect with them and their communication style before actually reaching out to them, so use the content to your advantage! Do you feel like they’re speaking directly to you through this content? Therapists who are well-niched in private practice have worked hard to identify and market to their ideal clients. Feeling like they’ve connected with you before you’ve even spoken to them is a vital part of how they run their business and will let you know how invested and passionate the therapist would be in working with you. Somewhere there is a therapist who specializes in exactly what you need (even if you’re not fully clear on what that is yet yourself)!

Don’t: It’s poor boundaries to try to find out personal information about your therapist. Don’t try to comb through their personal social media profiles, don’t try to connect with them on LinkedIn, don’t show up at the office without an appointment (we don’t appreciate drop-ins and many therapists view this behavior as aggressive. This is the fastest way to guarantee you’ll be referred out to a clinic with security staff on hand). Don’t get too bogged down in client reviews (or lack thereof) online. Many governing bodies and licensing boards forbid solicitation of testimonials (even anonymous ones), and often clients (or former clients) leave negative reviews on social media despite warnings about their protected health information being compromised, as a passive-aggressive attack for the therapist setting a necessary boundary (such as not allowing the client to schedule with a significant balance that they haven’t made any effort to pay on, nonadherence to the attendance policy, refusal to accept clients due to inappropriate or threatening behavior on behalf of the client, etc.). Each client’s experience is their own! Be open to the possibility that someone can help you, which brings me to my next point…

Remember…

You are the consumer. You’re free to “shop around” to find the right fit for you. The first therapist(s) you meet with might not be “the one.” Or, you may meet with one for years and just find that they no longer meet your needs because you’ve grown and your needs have changed. Just keep in mind that if you’re using insurance, you may only be allotted a certain number of intakes within a discrete period of time, and additional intakes might not be approved (resulting in out-of-pocket balances that you’re required to pay). That said, I encourage a minimum of 3-5 sessions with the therapist to really determine together if you’re ready for therapy, if it seems likely this therapist can support you in reaching your goals, and if their therapeutic style matches up with your needs and your communication style. A worthwhile therapist is likely to be forthcoming with you regarding your diagnosis (at least in the field of trauma work), and they should be keen to collaborate with you on treatment goals and formulating a clear treatment plan with measurable outcomes and actionable steps, alongside their clients. 

 

Also, don’t forget to keep in mind basic therapist attributes. It’s perfectly acceptable to only want to meet with therapists of a certain gender, age, race, religion, etc. You may know, for example, that you relate to females better than males, or vice versa. Just know that this may limit your search, and sometimes being open-minded to something different can yield amazing results. So have a general idea of who your ideal therapist would be, but be open to some variations within those ideas. 

 

These are just some of the guidelines to consider when searching for a therapist, and certainly is not an all-encompassing checklist of things to consider. Any of these factors can be influenced by location, insurance, schedule, etc. and these are also valid concerns. The goal of this blog post is to discuss some of the points which many clients who are reaching out for the first time may be unaware of!

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.