Using Movement to Heal from Trauma

It appears every time we tune into the news, something catastrophic is happening. We are all exposed to trauma on many levels, multiple times a day. As traumatic events seem to be more and more prevalent (or perhaps just more publicized), there is a need to understand how to cope with traumatic experiences—whether first-hand or secondary. Trauma can affect us physically, change our behaviors, intensify our emotions, and transform our psyches.  Often, our reactions to trauma can include denial, anxiety, fear and helplessness. Beliefs, views and relationships can be challenged. Healing from trauma is possible, and this healing can be fostered by bringing the body into the therapeutic process.  As we know, processing feelings and emotions is central to the therapeutic process. Such expression can freely occur, or it can be blocked in the body. Such blocks often occur as the result of trauma, and working through the body can help to foster expression.

Why focus on the body and movement?

Using approaches like breath work, mindfulness, meditation, relaxation techniques, and dance/movement therapy can directly affect symptoms a person might experience following traumatic exposure, including hyperarousal, numbing, dissociation, isolation, depression, anxiety, and feeling out of control.

In a body-based therapy session, you might expect to learn the following:

Several additional therapies and approaches have also been successful in trauma treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), hypnosis, exposure therapy, group therapy, sensorimotor psychotherapy, and the creative arts therapies.

Additional resources:

References:

About the Author

Gail Gogliotti, LCPC, BC-DMT is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Gail works with adults and couples. Gail’s specialties include dance/movement therapy, body/mind integration, trauma, mood disorders, and stress management. If you are interested in working with Gail, send an email today!

Navigating and Understanding Your Child’s Anger

Have you ever wondered why your child seems so angry or feared that they might need anger management?  Does your child often seem irritated, agitated, moody or quickly seems as though they will turn into the Hulk? Well, you are not alone.  Parents often express their concern that their child appears too angry and that they appear to struggle with managing their anger. It is important to remember that Anger is a healthy and very normal emotion. This article aims to provide information about anger and tips to for parents to better assist your child with managing their anger.

Again, anger is a normal and healthy emotion. However, anger is known as a secondary emotion. This basically means that another emotion typically is present first. For example, your child is working on their homework and you ask if they need support and they respond to you with anger. They most likely could be feeling frustrated that they do not already know the answer which is also often accompanied by negative self talk. They might also feel embarrassed that they do not know the answer or they might simply be feeling drowsy or even anxious.  Anger tends to be a much easier emotion for children and even adults to express and identify. Have you ever felt inadequate at something? It tends to be much easier and more of a habit to respond with anger than to say ‘ I am feeling inadequate and do not know how to handle this issue ‘.

So what can you do to assist your child and minimize the chaos that anger tends to create? Talk to your child about feelings and emotions when they are in a calm state and able to engage. Informing them of all the different feelings that are out there also helps to normalize them. Also, when one is able to identify their emotion and feelings than they are more likely able to identify ways to cope with them.

Also, talk to them about your feelings. It can be very powerful for a child to know that their parents also feel worried, scared, embarrassed, frustrated and that they might express anger in healthy and unhealthy ways. If they are identifying anger and expressing anger try and assist them with figuring out what other emotion or emotions might be present.

Here are some quick tips to keep in mind:

-Teach your child about emotions and feelings to better assist them with identifying their own feelings

– If they are expressing anger assist them or encourage them to identify another emotion that might have been present before.

-Discuss coping skills. There are healthy coping skills and unhealthy coping skills. It is not healthy or safe to express your anger by hitting or other aggressive acts but it is okay to express your anger by taking a break, creating art, going for a walk or taking deep breath.

-Empathize with them and validate their feelings. Feelings are part of what makes us human and regardless of age, race, gender or culture we all experience both good and bad feelings. Even if they identify they are anger it is okay to validate the anger. We all want to feel heard, validated and connected.

Anger is a part of life and all humans feel anger along with many other emotions each day. Teaching children how to express their feelings and cope with their feelings can be powerful and minimize chaos in your home.

Below are a few websites and books that I often recommend that parents utilize to gain additional information about emotions and that can assist in educating their children about emotions and ways to cope. If you feel your child is uncomfortable talking to you about their feelings or if you feel uncertain about how to approach the subject therapy services can also be highly beneficial.

What to Do When Your Temper Flares: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Problems with Anger By: Dawn Huebner, PH.D

 

About the Author

Lauren Fontana, LCSW is a therapist and the Clinical Director at our Edison Park location. Lauren works with children, teens, families, adults. Lauren’s specialties include trauma, relationships, DBT, anxiety, behavioral issues, school issues, and mood disorders. If you are interested in working with Lauren, send an email today!

10 Ways to Improve Social Skills in Children and Teens

In today’s society, children and teens are faced with many obstacles that previous generations might not have experienced. In a world where social media and technology take over, it is important to look at the ways in which social interactions are changing.

In sessions I often hear statements such as, “It is weird to talk over the phone; no one ever does that,” or “I can’t tell what people are thinking about me.”

I have been putting lots of thought into the question, “How can we, as parents, clinicians, or educators, help to teach the younger generation appropriate social skills in a world that gives them every opportunity to reduce face to face interactions?” Below I have created a list of a few ways in which we can encourage and promote healthy social skills in younger generations.

In children:

In teens:

 

About the Author

Dana Rivera Dana Rivera, LCPC is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Dana works with children, teens, and adults. Dana’s specialties include self-esteem and personal growth, behavior modification, and anxiety. If you are interested in working with Dana, send an email today!

Regaining Our Sense of Self

Often times we hit a bump in the road where we just do not feel like ourselves. Many different life events can trigger such a feeling. Some of those things may be a loss of a loved one, a break up, having limited time for ourselves, losing a job, and the list can go on and on. We tend to quickly find excuses as to the why we do not have time for the things we often need. There is no better time than right now, in this moment, to work on getting back to feeling like YOU again. I like to encourage my clients to create lists and this would be one of those times. First, we want to start thinking about the question, “What are some areas you want to begin focusing more attention on?” The only restriction you have for creating this list is that the focus has to be brought back to YOU and you alone!

Below I have provided you with a few possible suggestions just to get your wheels spinning! Being creative and customizing your list to YOU is the most important part.

      • We are often so busy in our day to day activities that we forget to stop and take in the beauty the world has to offer. Seriously, look outside your window. I am sure you can find one thing that is beautiful in your eyes. It is a great way to help you find a sense of peace. Try going for a walk, enjoy some time at the beach, or find a spot to watch the sun rise or set!
      • Cut yourself a break. We often hold ourselves to unrealistic expectations and tell ourselves we cannot make a mistake. But the truth is perfection is not a real thing. EVERYONE makes mistakes. Try not to dwell on the past. Remember, we cannot control everything, and preparation only helps so much. The more you worry about it, the less time you spend just living and enjoying this moment. Be present. Take what you have learned from any mistake, let go of what happened, and move forward.
      • Life is a ridiculous roller coaster. There are ups and downs; twists and turns. Practice just having fun. I mean pee your pants, I haven’t laughed this hard since I was a kid type of fun! When was the last time you laughed that way? Learn to laugh at yourself. I can name probably 10 funny (yet frustrating) things I have done just today. If we can laugh it off, life become easier…manageable…more fun!
      • Whether you decide you want to work out more, quit eating out as much or eat healthier choices, or give up a habit you have been trying to quit today should be the day. You decide what will help YOU feel healthier. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain that help you to feel happier. Choosing to eat better or give up a habit that has previously been a struggle will help you to feel more confident in yourself and proud of creating a healthier lifestyle.
      • Setting goals creates a positive thing you will be focusing your energy and focus on. This will not only help you to feel excitement surrounding achieving your goal, but will also be a motivating factor to remind you to stay on track. Remember, realistic obtainable goals should be the parameters when creating a goal you want to achieve. Nothing is too small to be a goal!
      • Trying something new is sometimes flat out scary. However, it can also be exciting, amazing, or exhilarating. Do something that you have maybe been interested in, have a fear of, think you may be embarrassed doing, or just something you thought you would never do. Live in the moment, say yes, travel, dance without caring who is watching. Try something new!
      • Holding onto things will often eat us up; it can consume us. We can feel an emotion causing tension in our shoulders, or maybe an overall agitated feeling. Sometimes we do not even realize we are holding on to things. Listen to yourself. Allow yourself the opportunity to cry, be sad or angry. Give yourself time (when needed) to experience your emotion, and then let it go. Feel it and move forward.
      • As we continue to be filled with obligations in our life, we often notice we may limit our social interactions. Making time to do fun activities with your friends could be rejuvenating. Make time to be you with the people who love you.
    • We all are unique individuals. This world would be a boring place if this was not true. Embrace what makes you, YOU. You are wonderful, special, unique, loved, and important. You have something to contribute to this world. You have a special way you share yourself with the world-whether that be your favorite choice of clothing, color of your hair, personality, and so much more. What do you like? What makes you you? Show us!! The world is special because each of us is unique…corny I know … but never the less true.

Find your way back to you. Listen to your needs, be creative. But most importantly have fun.

 

 

About the Author

Dana Rivera Dana Rivera, LCPC is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Dana works with children, teens, and adults. Dana’s specialties include self-esteem and personal growth, behavior modification, and anxiety. If you are interested in working with Dana, send an email today!

Art Therapy Demystified and Explained

Art therapy is a form of counseling utilized in a therapeutic setting to begin a personal journey encompassing emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing through art. Art therapists are trained in counseling, art therapy, and art. Think counseling with the added bonus of having an additional specialty, say like someone that specializes in Addictions, EMDR, or Family Therapy. They have the knowledge of counseling with an added expertise, achieved through additional training and supervision.

Art therapy involves the use of art making as a unique expression of every individual, and therefore holds special meaning that can lead to insight into problem solving, emotional expression, conflict resolution, and self-awareness. It can enhance communication or be the sole form of communication. It can reduce stress, instill confidence, and provide an element of control over personal struggles.

There are different practices and integrations of art therapy. Art as therapy, defines the process of creating as therapeutic in itself, and art psychotherapy, in which the imagery created is used as a healing tool. The symbols and images that emerge through art making can be utilized by a trained professional to evoke meaning through the journey of the client, through their eyes and voice. Art as therapy evokes spontaneous art making which intertwines the entire mind body experience to allow the energy of making art to be healing. The creative process, symbolism, metaphors, and the communication between client and therapist can all be aspects of the art therapy process.

Myths about art therapy:

Myth: Art therapy is only for children.

Short answer: Art therapy can help anyone. Those of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities.

Longer answer: Kids tend to communicate with less words and easily explore their senses and emotions through the art making materials. They let their creativity shine with spontaneous image and mark making. Their story radiates through the way they approach their art, their relationship with the art process, and what emerges in metaphor.

Adults tend to talk out their problems and seek relief in this manner. They sometimes find art making childish, which inhibits their perspective on how it can be useful. Adults often worry that they are not good at art and therefore cannot participate in this type of therapy. Often times this stems from an upsetting experience in a school art class that discouraged their creativity by shaming the art in some sort of way. Adults can benefit greatly from tapping into their creative souls, much like children, by using art as a form of communication to reduce stress and conquer struggles.

Myth: I have to be good at art.

Art therapy is not about making paintings to submit to an art gallery show, and no one is grading you on your artwork. One does not need to be good at art or know anything about art to engage in this practice. Instead this process involves your inner experience with no limitations. It involves you, and only you. For you, and only you.

Myth: An art therapist interprets art work. Not exactly.

An art therapists job is to elicit information from you the creator, to help make connections by understanding healthy patterns, and not so healthy patterns, similar to the goals of talk therapy. The difference lies in the use of creative energy used for healing, and the use of image and symbol as meaningful experience. The imagery created is unique because it emerges from the depths of the mind, a place where it is impossible to lie, make stuff up, or pretend. Unlike talk therapy, art therapy provides a tangible element to reflect on. Something created by you. Even if you set out initially to avoid confronting your personal struggle, the art and process can lend information to healing properties, regardless of your intent. The art therapy process taps into things hidden from our awareness. Repressed items that were filed under “do not enter.” That’s what makes this information so unique and pure. We store away images, memories, emotions, and experience, and art making can communicate with this part of the mind to bring it to the surface. Exploration of the content and/or how the art making process evolved is the structure to continue the journey for personal wellbeing.

Is art therapy right for me?

Art therapy can provide relief by giving form to thoughts and feelings. Self-expression through art making is a viable option to gather information and insight into the healing process and further self-discovery.

About the Author

Andrea Picard Andrea Picard, LCPC, ATR is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Andrea works with adults, families, teens, children, and moms/caregivers. Andrea’s specialties include art therapy, parent + child relationships, anger, addiction, and anxiety. If you’re interested in working with Andrea, send an email today!

Parenting A-Z: Keeping it simple.

Parenting is an indescribable job that changes at any moment, without permission or readiness. Here are a few friendly reminders that raising a human being can be tricky from time to time, but workable.

A-Argue less. Lots of stuff can be angering…if you let it be. It takes more energy to be angry, and you’re already tired. Acknowledge, and then try to let the emotion pass.

B-Blow bubbles. Bubbles are beautiful and will make you and the kids smile.

C-Clear the clutter. Whether it’s in your head or on the dining room table it needs to go.

D-Delegate. Give the kids chores. Help them recognize the importance of contributing to the family.

E-Elephant in the room. Don’t let uncomfortable topics disappear or avoid an opportunity to talk with your child.

F-Forgiveness. Every day, all the time. Don’t hold a grudge.

G-Give back. Do kind things for others with your kids.

H-Hugs. Always hug those little muffins and wrap them in your arms for no reason.

I-Independence. Kids need to learn how to butter toast and how to clean up the crumbs.

J-Juggler. Laundry, homework, work, laundry, dishes, dinner, bath, more laundry. Don’t try to solve everything in one day.

K-Ketchup. Kids seem to love ketchup on everything. This has always been a mystery to me. Tap into what makes your kid tick.

LLaugh. Kids can be absurdly funny, teens are witty and angst. Use this to your advantage and have a good laugh.

M-Mustard. Kids don’t like mustard, or foods you spend a whole lot of time making.

N-Noisy. Kids are loud. Sometimes it seems like you can’t think straight. Don’t forget to breathe, leave the room, consider buying earplugs.

O-Open minded. Your child may be someone different than you expected. Work with it, not against it.

P-Porcupines. Remember your child has feelings to, and sometimes they’re not pleasant.

Q-Quest. Set out on an adventure, even if it’s just taking a walk down the block.

R-Remember. Remember your friends? Go hang out with them!

S-Saying sorry. Let your kids know you make mistakes to, and are willing to admit your weaknesses.

T-Tickle. Tickling little ones can cure almost anything.

U-Underground. Mainstream hype can be overwhelming and pressuring. Trust your instinct.

V-Veggie Value. Bravery to try new things is a lifelong practice. Might as well start early with spinach.

W-Within reason. Kids need to know that everything has a respectable limit.

X-X-ray. What lies beneath is often over looked. Look beyond the surface.

Y-You. You are amazing.

Z-Zonked out. Sleep is good. Recharge your heart and spirit.

 

About the Author

Andrea Picard Andrea Picard, LCPC, ATR is a therapist at our Edison Park location. Andrea works with adults, families, teens, children, and moms/caregivers. Andrea’s specialties include art therapy, parent + child relationships, anger, addiction, and anxiety. If you’re interested in working with Andrea, send an email today!

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Urban Wellness

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