In the type of therapy I practice, there are three main tenets by which client and therapist work:
These are definitely not easy to engage for most people, but with constant, gentle reminders they truly hold keys to allowing the work to unfold, for the client to get exactly what they need from session to session.
Working in this way offers a release on the layers of stress in the nervous system. We come to rest in this invisible place of trust, peace and listening to the wisdom of what the work itself is about, with that curiosity, non attachment and non-judgmental head space. In essence, we make friends with the trauma and offer an opportunity for alchemy to take place, allowing space for the work to guide the client where the greatest healing resides. Dropping judgement can allow one to make friends with oneself and with others.
Judgement aka "the critic" sees but a very narrow, separating view from a fear-based perspective. The critic keeps us alone in our corners because the critic is scared of not belonging, scared of connecting, scared of not being good enough. The critic chooses not to see the full picture because the full picture is SCARY. It's safer to hide and not connect, no? But then what can happen? Isolation, loneliness, depression, etc. That's no good!
So how do we get there when that's all we know? Setting a conscious intention to release judgement is a great place to start. First thing in the morning say out loud or to yourself something like "Today during (this visit with my sister, dinner with parents, trip to the mall…) I utilize my power of choice and practice releasing any judgement." See if you can do it, catch yourself when you do, just notice with curiosity, and let it go. This is the internal process of bringing what's unconscious to the conscious. Once things are brought out into the daylight, they can be healed.
Speaking of daylight, this summer I have found a great place to practice non-judgementalism, THE SWIM PARK! Wow do our scantily clad human bodies create an opportunity for the good 'ol inner critic to leap forward and take over. At the swim park we are complete strangers walking around in undergarment-like clothing, displaying our cellulite jiggles, hidden tattoos, bulging bellies and funny-looking bare feet. It's a paradox of sorts, as we are all in the same boat in our bathing suits baring our skin, so what good does a judge do at a swim park? But no doubt it's there, draining our somas of energy as much as the day in the sun. Practice releasing those separating, lower vibrational thoughts that the critic holds. What do we know about the journey of a stranger? What do they know about ours? Is there really room for divisive criticism in your precious head space? Simply put, nope, there's not.
My point here is this: when the inner critic is gone, we then may fully experience the full meaning and richness that the interaction holds. The practice of letting that go can open us up to a smorgasbord of opportunities and a buffet of possibilities. Notice the shift in your energy as you make this choice. There is freedom in living a critic-free life. Let the swim park show you the way.
So maybe you know in your heart of hearts that it's time to ask for help in handling your day to day stresses. Maybe your anxiety level has become paralyzing, or your panic attacks are more frequent. Maybe your depression isn't lifting as fast as it used to, or you feel like you're doing the same thing expecting different results, and continuing to get no results. Maybe your energy is depleted and you're tired on emotional, physical, spiritual levels and things are not getting better as the days go on, they are getting worse. Maybe big life events have happened that are the source of your stress, or maybe it's just in general getting harder and harder to BE, to stay committed to your promises, to face the world at all. Maybe its all just too much to carry alone.
Then a tiny voice inside of you says "maybe I should get help" and then maybe that louder, leader voice enters your thoughts and says "therapy is for losers" or "therapy is scary" or "therapy doesn't work" or "only sissies get therapy" and this voice blocks any action toward reaching out for that help. Then maybe you go back to doing nothing about it, and now years are passing and the cycle continues…and here you find yourself reading this blog and something resonates with you.
Taking any step to getting help is a mixed bag. Stepping into the unknown IS scary. Facing the shadow of ourselves and bringing to light what has been kept in the dark can be intimidating and overwhelming. It can also be like going on an excavation, exciting and full of adventure. Beginning the soul's journey of healing old wounds and facing patterns that no longer serve us is a process that mingles with internal bravery, compassion and a warrior-like attitude. The stigma around getting therapy holding that "therapy is for sissies." It is quite the opposite. Therapy is for warriors, therapy is for wisdom keepers, therapy is for the strongest of the community, and definitely not the weakest.
Notice if your internal voice communicates a message of shame around seeking help, or a message of curiosity. Chances are, shame is there from outside forces - from culture, community or old family rules. A lot of us are from a "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" mentality as that was a strong family trait from generations past. There is truth to this message, no doubt we all must find the strength to go on when the going gets tough. Yet when it comes to mental and emotional health, having a fresh perspective and someone to really listen, someone who sees you and offers professional support, shining the way like a flashlight on the darkest days, can be just what the doctor ordered.
As far as I can tell, there isn't one human being who hasn’t been profoundly affected by Covid 19. Work changed, home life changed, even the way we got groceries changed for a little while. It became a naturally introspective time, and even if it was initially driven by fear of THE BUG ON THE LOOSE, there was certainly some beauty that unfolded.
I invite you to consider your own "before and after" SELF as people are getting vaccinated and places are starting to come back to a sense of normalcy. Taking inventory can be a valuable part of personal growth. It offers a road map of sorts. We know where we've been, but where are we going? More importantly, how do we know when we’ve arrived?
Taking inventory helps us look more closely at the choices we make in our lives, from what or who stokes the fires and propels us forward to what or who dampens our drive and brings a dreary feeling. For some, issues around our gender or sexual identities and how we choose to show up in the world have surfaced. What about income? Is our career path feeding us or draining us? Do we love where we live, or do we feel called to establish new roots? Considering your age, you know that time is ticking, how long will you wait to step into your truth and really live in alignment with what makes YOU tick?
We all have hopes and dreams. What are you doing to create the life you want? Has the isolation and fear from the pandemic evoked a sort of pressure cooker inside of you, like it has so many others? Are you now ready to expand from that pressure into the diamond that you are? What kind of guidance do you need to take your first step?
The offerings at New Beginnings are created to support you as you take your deep dive journey into personal exploration.
We are seeking Licensed and Associate level clinicians to Join Our Team as we grow together to meet the needs for Somatic Mental Health Care in our Community. The New Beginnings Center offers a unique and collaborative group practice environment for Licensed and Associate therapists to work on the Mental Health IOP/PHP team, as well as build your own private practice. Passion for working from a somatic perspective is needed as well as experience working with eating disorders and/or complex trauma. Please refer your colleagues or send your resume and cover letter to our Director of Clinical Training, Susan Richter, SEP, CEDS at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are over a year into the Covid-19 pandemic and the majority of us have lost the thrill of working and schooling from home. In this "United States of Home Depot's America" where we take pride and ownership of rugged individuality and DIYing our dream home environments, we have come to realize the validity of the truth "you don't know what you've got until it's gone."
As much as we love to cocoon at home, in our healthy, resilient state we desire an interdependent existence through community, a sense of energetic connection, an awareness of co-existence and a basic relating between self and other. Even if in the deep recesses of our brains and bodies there is a younger aspect of ourselves who is secretly loving the "hide" aspect of a pandemic lifestyle, the novelty is clearly wearing off. Nowadays even that younger part is ready to step in to the brave new world of in-person social interactions! LET'S DO THIS, they say! I'm READY!
In order to provide these in-person experiences whether individual or in groups, New Beginnings has layers of Covid-aware precautions in place, impeccable cleanliness, ample space and an organized structure to meet this goal of safely reunifying our community. Check out our IN PERSON healing environment at New Beginnings today! And of course, all of our therapists are still offering Zoom meetings into the foreseeable future.
Let's step forward together, and reclaim our natural human desire of relating, belonging, and feeling present with one another through all of our supportive offerings at New Beginnings. We welcome you with open hearts.
This past year or so under COVID, our team decided early on that we would make decisions based what we thought best for BOTH our clinicians’ and clients’ nervous systems. We transitioned to telehealth delivery for all of our IOP/PHP services immediately in mid-March, and given the uncertainty of COVID, we’ve continued to support telehealth as the best option for balancing the needs for safety and connection. Each of our gifted clinicians have shared their talents and experience with each other to help hone our skills in providing connective, somatically-based and effective care, and to address the challenges and opportunities that telehealth provides.
I am proud to say that all of our IOP/PHP clients successfully transitioned to telehealth (from in-person) and graduated the program on their expected timelines. Our IOP/PHP has continued to thrive this past year, as we continue to listen to feedback from our clients regarding what makes doing IOP/PHP via telehealth connective and successful.
To be clear, yes, there are some challenges in doing IOP/PHP ‘at home’, such as managing privacy and transition from program to home life, finding ways to connect with other IOP/PHP clients, accountability and transparency in engaging in the program, to name a few. We spend time with our prospective IOP/PHP clients and family members to address these and other concerns you may have about the suitability of our program for your needs. Please continue to raise concerns and ask questions. It’s what makes us better clinicians and a better program.
Having said all that, we are open to discussing what services may be available to you in-person. To be transparent, I anticipate that 50% or more of your program would still be via telehealth at this time.
~The New Beginnings Center
If you have any questions about our programs or your individual treatment plan don't hesitate to contact us.
The Ventura County Chapter of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (VC-CAMFT) is a non-profit organization of mental health professionals (https://vc-camft.org/about-us/) . We were honored to be featured in their latest newsletter. The full-page "Spotlight" article focused on the services we offer, particularly during this time of physical distancing. Also highlighted is a summary and "unpacking" of the recent "Neurobiology of Trauma Healing" webinar from our very own Co-Owner Susan Richter, LMFT, CEDS.
As a Registered Dietitian, I was trained very traditionally, prepared to work in a hospital, as the "expert". In my 17 year career, I have had a lot of time to find a perspective that makes sense to me and supports clients to find their way to a way of eating/living that does not cause harm.
I work using principles of Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size from a place of non judgement and compassion. There are no "good" foods, there are no "bad" foods. I do not even think of food as "healthy". I believe we, the human being, are healthy. Food can lend to our health, is necessary for survival, and food contains nutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, fluid), so it is nutritious. All foods contain nutrients, so all foods are nutritious. I am not saying foods are equally nutritious (varying ratios of nutrients), but all foods provide the body with nutrients that it can use.
First steps are in an attempt to level the playing field of food. If we think of a certain food as "bad" or "unhealthy", and we eat it (we all know how many different directions we can take this!). Our culture sends all of us way too many messages regarding what we should/shouldn't do especially when it comes to food/body). My clients have full permission to eat what they want to eat, we work for the clients to reach this place for themselves. We want our clients to have adequacy, enough food, to allow for their brains and bodies to be ready for the work they do with all of us. If the brain is not nourished, there really isn't capacity to work on healing when the body is attempting to survive.
From adequacy we can see how a client's history may interfere with a positive relationship with food/body. We create a space that will allow clients to see that food is so much more than weight gain, nutrients, gluttony, etc. We also allow our clients to discover the messaging they have been receiving and be able to continue on with the belief or discard if it no longer holds true or serves them.
My belief is that when our clients can reestablish a connection with the wisdom of body, their relationship with food and body will be forever changed. When we can acknowledge/honor/respect the cues the body provides we are working with the body instead of against it. This is where the app Recovery Record comes in. We are working to reestablish connection with hunger and fullness cues and the nuance of the many levels of hunger/fullness. When we can identify if we are hungry, when we are hungry, how hungry we are or are not, we can also look at how we are feeling and determine if food is really the thing we need at that certain time.
We were all born into diet culture, we may not be aware of the messaging and the profits gained from those who create the messaging. The best way that I have heard it said is:
"We were all born into the culture without consent. I attempt to provide an alternative path for my clients. If in the end, my clients choose not to follow the path I have introduced to them, they can reenter diet culture giving consent"
The Health at Every Size component is that ALL bodies deserve respect. And that we cannot know anything about someone just by looking at them. Celebrating diversity, honoring differences, challenging assumptions (scientific and personal), valuing body knowledge and lived experiences, finding joy in movement, eating in a flexible, attuned manner valuing pleasure and honoring internal cues.
I hope that this gives a glimpse of how I work and how it contributes to the whole of our clients.
I am happy to connect with anyone who may have questions.
Happy Holidays to Everyone!!
In addition to the resources we offer at The New Beginnings Center, we also wanted to provide a list of other online mental health resources available during the Covid-19/Coronavirus pandemic and beyond. Being physically distant from friends, family, and our regular social structures can cause increased anxiety and loneliness. It is important that we care for our mental health under "normal" circumstances and even more so during these complicated times. Please make use of these websites and share with others who may benefit from this information.
None of us alone have the knowledge, experience and resources to end centuries of racism or heal the pain and trauma that has resulted from the hate, prejudice and white privilege woven through our governmental and societal structures. It is going to take all of us speaking out, listening up, advocating, creating and joining together to pave a future that closes the racial divide and heals the wounds of oppression.
We presented a two-part series entitled "All of Us. Together.” in order to learn about the origins of systemic racism and steps that can be taken to advocate for change.
Combating Racism: How To Be An Active Ally In A Society Plagued By Systemic Racism with Miaya Wright Allen & Emem Brown
We will discuss racism, its institutionalized and systemic manifestations and action steps to take in becoming well-informed as an ally in supporting African Americans
Showing Up for Racial Justice: Reflections and Resources for this moment with Nicolette Walker & Jonathan Horton
An introduction to the organization, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), sharing of resources for anyone new to social justice work and addressing “white supremacy culture.”