Articles

Anxiety, Embodied: The Biology of “Mental” Illness

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Anxiety, Embodied: The Biology of “Mental” Illness

It’s 1965, and a little girl is hiding behind a door. It’s recess, and the other children are jumping rope, playing tag, and laughing as children ought to be at that age, no care in the world. But not the girl, sandwiched between the brick building and the metal door to the classroom. She’s sweating, counting down the minutes until she can once again sit at the back of the class, avoiding being called on. Hoping she won’t be seen. While some of you have only lately been introduced to your capacity for anxiety: the sudden, rapid pulse, the racing thoughts, the inability to sit still,...

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Relax! The Case for Taking It Easy as a Path to Mental Wellness

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Relax! The Case for Taking It Easy as a Path to Mental Wellness

As a beginner massage therapist, I made a rookie mistake. Like many others, massage therapists who specialized in relaxation therapy were seen by me as lesser-than, doing the easy work while the rest of us studied myofascial release, zero balancing, craniosacral therapy and a host of other expensive, intensive trainings that had us moving limbs, stripping adhered tissue, and in general making our clients sweat and grit their teeth. But, by God, we HEALED! Psychotherapy is no different. As a supervisor with over twenty years under my belt as a licensed clinical social worker and more than that...

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Ready for the Holidays?

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Ready for the Holidays?

Dear Reader, I don’t need to tell you life can be hard. But during the holiday season, hardship for many of you is on steroids. For twenty years, I’ve gladly held my clients’ hands as they navigated the end of the year. Even now I ask my clients, are you ready for the holidays.  Dear Reader, are you? If you’re reading this, the answer is probably “no.” No, I’m not really ready to face my dysfunctional family, I’m not ready for spending the holidays alone, I’m dreading the shopping, the awful muzak, the cheer that all too often feels...

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The Sauna, or, How To Befriend Heated Conflict

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The Sauna, or, How To Befriend Heated Conflict

A woman walks into a sauna. Two men are assailing Hillary Clinton and her “pedophile” husband; they question rhetorically, “who would vote for that woman?!” She answers, “I would.” The fight is on. It’s not a debate. Hillary herself is attacked, and the woman responds with a few choice comments on Trump. In the corner, one man sits, saying nothing. Another man grows silent, then circles from behind for a more general attack. There are others in the room, clearly uncomfortable, and he addresses the women present as “ladies” (fingering air quotes), which the woman also...

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Good Will

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Good Will

I’m writing this on the Solstice, the shortest day of the year, but what’s really taking up emotional room for my clients, my friends, and me…is Christmas. Whether or not you celebrate this particular holiday, whether or not you’re Christian, unless you’ve been living under a rock you, by now, are inundated by the cheer, albeit sometimes false, of this Currier and Ives season. It is inescapable. The expectation, like a strange shared delusion, that families are wonderful, that bounty has been restored, that peace has already been earned. From a client of mine who cannot go home to...

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Trauma 101: Stepping Gently Into Your Body With Yoga

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Trauma 101: Stepping Gently Into Your Body With Yoga

For most of the uninitiated, yoga still belongs to the land of human pretzels and tie dyed, aging hippies. We’ve even come up with an Americanized version of this ancient and varied school of body movement, which involves some grueling combination of power and heat. Yet yoga is also one of the most commonly used and effective forms of support for those of my clients recovering from trauma. Yoga, from the Sanskrit meaning “to join, unite, or attach,” (and hopefully you know the importance of attachment to trauma; if not, click here), invites us to enter our bodies gradually, allowing...

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