Friday, August 22, 2014

What is Woman Centered & LGBTQ Affirmative Counseling?

Woman centered and LGBTQ affirmative counseling is understanding, belonging, and support with awareness of the unique challenges that women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals face. I envision communities where we are safe and accepted for who we are, regardless of our sexuality or gender identity; this is the guiding principle of Many Colors Counseling. To this end, I will be at tomorrow's "Back to Cool" event to meet, connect with, and support our community.

I invite you to join in this free community event. Here's a snapshot of my favorite dorm room poster, which can be yours to take home from my booth tomorrow.

Not to mention, I snagged this beautiful rainbow American flag from our very own Junkman's Daughter's Brother earlier this week. Sign up to win it. 

Of course, there will be opportunities to engage. Write a message to a neighbor and take away your own handwritten note from a fellow community member.

I don't claim to be an expert as a young therapist but I do seek to advocate for a happier healthier world. This means getting out of the therapy room and working together, every once in awhile. Have a safe and wonderful weekend and remember...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Grounding and Centering 101

One of my favorite tools to share with people, especially when we're feeling helpless and overwhelmed, is grounding. The curriculum I use for my women's trauma treatment group defines grounding as "detaching from emotional pain." We practice grounding in order to stay calm and be better able to respond to what is happening around us. Grounding, or centering, is a practical skill because it can be used anytime anywhere. The more you practice it, the more your body remembers it. Grounding is not a relaxation exercise or meditation practice. It's closer to useful distraction. I hope the following two examples illustrate the usefulness of this skill.
  • Sara, who experienced panic attacks in the past, felt a familiar panicky sensation coming over her while walking to work. She knew from experience that worrying about these sensations would only make it worse. So, instead, she focused on counting her footsteps and on the pavement beneath her feet. This allowed her to ride out her symptoms.
  • Terry hated it when people raised their voices but she didn't want her co-worker, who had a habit of raising her voice, to have the power to make her feel hopeless at work. So, when her colleague raised her voice, she focused her attention on the presence of her supportive co-workers and the thoughts, "she's just being herself" and "it's not my problem." 
Ready for a taste? Answer the following questions and notice your experience.
  • Mental grounding orients you to time and place. What day is it today? What is the time? Date? Year? What is your current location? What objects are around you in your environment, right now? How many colors do you see? Are there doors or windows around you? If so, how many? 
  • Physical grounding shifts your focus to your physical surroundings. Are you sitting down? If so, what are you sitting on? Is it hard or soft? What is its temperature? Select a nearby object and notice everything you can about it- it's texture, color, weight, temperature, size, shape, etc.
  • Soothing grounding has do to with creative visualization. What is your favorite song? Sing the lyrics to yourself. Think of a favorite person or animal who brings you comfort. Visualize this being in as much detail as possible. Bring to mind a calm place and what it is like to be there. 
Did you notice your attention shift away from your internal experience as you focused even stronger on your external environment? This is the usefulness of grounding, which can be effective before, during, or after stressful events. To take a common fear, public speaking, think of what it would be like to focus on feeling your feet on the floor before giving a speech, on the audience's desire for you to do well during the speech, and on the comforting words of a mentor or friend afterwards...

Have a grounded day! Who knows, your presence may help to ground someone else.