“If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”



6a3740ed036581a2919d7d447841185fWaking up a little draggy this morning I turned to RuPaul. She perked me right up, so of course I had to share!

Five more Inspirational Quotes from Momma Ru:

      • “True wealth is having the knowledge to maneuver and navigate the mental obstacles that inhibit your ability to soar.”
      • “When you become the image of your own imagination, it’s the most powerful thing you could ever do.”
      • “Rise up and be a Masai warrior. Stake your claim in this lifetime. Remember who you really are. Unleash the dragon and let these bitches have it!”
      • “…You are none of the superficial things that this world deems important. The real you is the energy force that created the entire universe!”
      • “Biggest obstacle I ever faced was my own limited perception of myself.”

And one of the best positive calls to find a good therapist I’ve ever heard:

“Learn to love yourself, ’cause if you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

Did I miss your favorite RuPaul-ism? You must share, too! Click on the Comments button above the post to pass on the wisdom. <3

Being Content to Be Okay: A Guide to Surviving Thanksgiving 2016



“He is a wise man

who does not grieve for the things which he has not,

but rejoices for those which he has.”

~Epictetus, Greek philosopher and a very wise guy

There are lots of reasons not to be crazy about this holiday. Putting up with kids that aren’t yours, in-laws who have an uncanny ability to push all your buttons, license to over-eat and over-drink, conversations that are either too intense or too boring and, my personal favorite, a lot of tongue-biting just to get through the day in one piece.

I can only imagine that for many of us this post-election 2016 Thanksgiving may rise to new heights of stressful. The confusion, grieving, fear and anger are still raw. For the sake of the children, and our own state of mind, let’s refocus. Thanksgiving is a time of healing, bringing together and above all love.

Give yourself permission to feel OK. Allowing yourself to be happy does not mean that you’ve accepted a situation you do not like, or that you are done trying to figure out your place in a changed world.

Processing the PTSD (Post-Trump Stress Disorder), figuring out what to do next will take time. For today please take the opportunity to be OK.

Here are some articles for you because there may be people who aren’t as wise as you are and won’t know when to shut up…

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

5 Tips For Therapists When PTSD* Strikes



Van Gogh*Post-Trump Stress Disorder

In therapy, when a disaster strikes it’s usually not my disaster. Usually it’s my patient’s crisis that we address. Usually I exercise my empathic superpowers to identify with them so that they are assured I understand what they’re going through. Therapeutic empathy means identifying feelings in oneself (the therapist) that nurture the working relationship while keeping clear boundaries. Your feelings are yours, not mine. The ‘Not Mine’ part keeps me emotionally detached enough to help you.

In graduate school, professors drilled into us how important it was to keep a proper clinical distance from our patients, the same way a surgeon learns to cut in and muck around in a person’s insides without feeling that person’s pain. If we don’t, our ability to do our best job to help people with their distress is compromised.

This election of 2016 made many of us feel as if we were hit by a huge Mack truck; the same Mack truck many of our patients were hit with. What do we do then?  What does a therapist do when there is little if any distinction between the trauma their patient is experiencing and their own?

First, we do not bring up any Mack truck trauma unless our client does. That’s important. If our client does not suffer from *PTSD and is feeling perfectly comfortable and satisfied with the state of the world we focus on what is important to them. But if they do, and you are having a hard time yourself, try this:

1. Be human. A little self-disclosure can be a gift to the patient, a way of saying I get it because I’m there. The therapist has to be skilled to do this with just the right touch, not too much, not too little; but when does right it can be powerful. After she disclosed her panic, I told one patient that my brain was running away with me, leaping from “this is going to happen, then this, then that, until nuclear holocaust.” She opened her arms to me in a gesture of inclusion and said with a grateful exhale, “Yes! Thank you for saying that! That’s exactly what happens to me.”

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5 Steps For An Election 2016 Recovery Plan



The ScreamHow can a mood change so radically in twenty-four hours? Mine tanked like the Dow Jones Futures as I watched election returns with my friends, mouth agape. Imagine Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream.

Therapists are loath to publicly disclose their political leanings. Tradition from Freudian times has held us to the blank slate standard. Generally we see it as unprofessional to let show anything that smacks of personal opinion. It’s key to give people the opportunity to trust us not to be judgmental. Non-judgment is a fundamental platform of a good, trusting, working, therapeutic relationship. Therapy is about you not me.

The presidential election season of 2016 turned that standard on its head. Many well-respected psychotherapists across the country and the world felt they had to say something. This election was like no other in so many ways; this was on of them. Therapists spoke their truth out-loud due to their sense of civic duty.

I did this quietly one person at a time. If someone asked me a question directly, “Who are you voting for?” I told them. Hillary. Often the talk, regardless of which candidate my patient was for, quickly turned to anxiety. Everyone expressed worry of the outcome. There were plenty of stories in the news media about anxiety being the dominant mood in the electorate. So much, in fact, that I chose not to write about it here, on this blog.

I’m sorry about that. I feel like I let you down.

No more. We need to live on. We have people who depend on us. We need to take care of our kids. We need to work. We need to take care of our homes and parents, our clients and businesses.

To do this under the weight of the unbelievable becoming real, we need to take care of ourselves, too. I want to help. So I will share with you my recovery plan which I am sort of making up on the fly.

Read More...

Don’t Boo, Panic or Despair – Vote!



IMG_3032This morning I went to vote.

The New York weather was perfect. The autumn sun back-lit the golden leaves, the air just cool enough for a sweater. I’ve never seen so many people crowding the church hall. The positive energy in the air made me hopeful.

It was the antidote to election stress and anxiety I needed.

I love my polling place. The people who run it are wonderful, efficient, well-organized and so nice! This is where I’ve always voted ever since moving to Western New York. It’s where my children learned about voting. They would crowd into the voting booth with me, help me click in my choices and pull the lever together with one final satisfying ka-chunk!

My neighborhood is suburban so you might be surprised to hear it is also amazingly diverse. My neighbors are African American, East Indian, Christian, Jewish,  Muslim, Daughters of the American Revolution, hunters and gun owners. They are parents, grand-parents, care-givers, teachers, doctors and business owners. We are Democrats and Republicans. We all get along and we all love our country.

fullsizeoutput_be0So when I entered my polling place to see the crowd I was so happy to feel the excitement, the sense of unity and goodness in together doing our civic duty. I pray it is this way across the country.

Afterward, I went to the bake sale in the room next door. The church where I vote always has a bake sale going on Election Day. What better or more American way to treat yo’self after voting than with some cookies and an apple pie?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Dr. Amy Brook & the ACT on Depression Workshop!



BrookFrom Dr. Aletta: EWN continues to grow! The latest member of our team, Dr. Amy Brook, brings with her seasoned knowledge and experience helping people who fight the demons of depression, anxiety and trauma. Her new workshop “ACT on Depression” provides a model for anyone who has recovered from a major depressive episode and want an effective and kind way to maintain a healthy perspective.

Here she is in her own words:

“I believe that sometimes healing involves telling your story to a compassionate, skilled listener, and that sometimes being stuck in the story is part of the problem. I meet each person I work with where they are in their process and offer skilled collaboration and support in deepening their awareness of their own internal experience in ways that facilitate healing and living a fuller, more satisfying life. I have a general practice with a specialty in trauma treatment and am happy to consult to other professionals.

I draw on mindfulness based approaches to treatment ranging from the skills-based, behavioral strategies of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) to the values-driven approach of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Somatic Experiencing offers a powerful way to access the body’s organic intelligence and restore balance after trauma.

My work at Explore What’s Next will focus on groups and workshops rather than individual therapy. In early November I will be starting an exciting new group, ACT On Depression, based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy with a focus on teaching skills to heal from depression.”

For more information or to schedule a thirty minute screening session with Dr. Brook, please contact her directly at drbrook@explorewhatsnext.com or 307.278.9040.

Meet Dr. Alla Andelman, New Explore What’s Next Therapist



Alla's head shotA note from Dr. Aletta:  I am so happy to introduce you to Dr. Alla Andelman. She joins the Explore What’s Next Team as a seasoned psychologist with in-depth knowledge and training in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Her passionate caring for her patients, appreciation for the fullness of life and good sense of humor fits right in. So that you can get to know her, I asked her a few questions…

Why did you decide to become a psychologist?

I got into psychology for two reasons. First, I attribute my love of understanding people to a children’s book that I read in 2nd grade. It was called “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, by A. Wolf.” This little book tells a story we know very well, but from the point of view of the villain, who, in this story, is not a villain at all, but rather a reasonable character who shares reasons for his actions and how they were misinterpreted. The concept of figuring out the other side of the story blew me away! From then on, I argued for the villains in various books and movies in debates with friends. More importantly, I think it began my development of empathy, which is such an important part of being a psychologist, which is to say, being able to put myself in other people’s shoes and understand their experience from their eyes.

The second reason for going into this profession was somewhat of a fluke. My love of understanding people led to my continued love of reading and writing stories. I was in a Humanities program in high school which required taking extra English and History courses. I chose AP Psychology because I thought it might be interesting and would get me out of Physics! I missed the deadline for applications, but my advisor put me into the class anyway. Needless to say, my mind was blown for the second time in that class. This led to my struggle of choosing between English and Psychology for my college major. Ultimately, real life stories won out over those on the page.

Who do you like to work with?

I love working with a wide range of diverse people. This includes adults and teens who are in a transitional stage of their life. I work with anyone “in between” trying to figure who they are in the new phase they find themselves in. Every phase of life comes with its own challenges. Depression or anxiety often accompanies the confusion and stress of going through puberty, starting college, launching into adulthood, figuring out gender identity or transitioning. Same goes for older adults, looking for a career change, recently widowed or divorced, retirees who are seeking to redefine their lives, all kinds of situations.

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New Workshop! Journey Into Mindfulness



JIM BLOG PIC

Nicole Chumsky, LMHC, is forming a new educational workshop series for anyone who wishes to learn how to step back and tap into the innate wisdom everyone has if they just pause long enough to listen.

The first workshop is a six week introductory course in mindfulness and meditation.

You will learn:

      • What mindfulness is really about,
      • How to practice formal and informal meditation,
      • How to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life and
      • Learn new attitudes to look at life with serenity!

Tuesdays from 5:30-7PM at the EWN Amherst offices.

Starts second week in October.

Space is limited!!! Call Nicole to register today!

585.737.4564

Click here to learn more.

When Life Becomes A Competition



Photo courtesy Sofia Francesca Photography

“Playing House” – Photo courtesy Sofia Francesca Photography

One night I was out running and thinking about how my wedding engagement set off an intense ripple effect in our friend group. Girlfriends started pressuring their boyfriends about wedding rings and houses. All of a sudden we had four weddings to attend before our own! Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to be proud of these things and to share it with people you love, but was it just me or did everything start to feel like a competition all of a sudden?

With this on my mind, I became aware of the neighborhood I was running through. It was a new development with expensive houses, white picket fences, two new cars in the driveways, kids toys on the lawns, swing sets in the backyards. They all looked the same and reinforced even more that sense of completion.

We start to feel pressured around our 20’s and 30’s to have that ticky-tacky lifestyle. Somehow we are made to feel as if there’s something wrong with us if we don’t get into the competition.

I’m not immune to the competition stress. Even though, I am married I still don’t have the house, two nice cars or kids. Should I feel bad about that? Was I doing something wrong? The pressure was getting to me.

Being sucked into this race didn’t feel like me, but there I was. I struggled to remind myself to stay present and focused on what I have instead of what I don’t have yet. As much as I might wish I had more control, few things in life can be forced; things, especially the important things, tend to unfold in its own time, when the conditions are right. My timeline doesn’t look like everyone else’s. Just like other people’s timeline doesn’t look like mine. That doesn’t make it wrong or make me or anyone else a failure at adulting. Learning to be comfortable, patient and confident while we find our own path is a process, like so much of life.

What helps me is to stay mindful, aware and present in the moment. I try to remind myself:

“I’m exactly where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.”

I hope this helps you, too. If you can relate to any of this or have your own ways that help you deal with this “life competition”, please leave me a comment! I would love to hear your story.

Choosing A Pleasurable Life



Roman Flowers

Courtesy Sofia Francesca

“I don’t know if it’s a function of age or temperament, but I’m no longer seeking those major exclamation points of pleasure. I want a life that has pleasure contained within it.”

~Terry Gross

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