Interview with Deborah Feinsilver
How would you define counseling?
REVEAL: Get to the core of what is problematic or causing the problem/s.
RELEASE: Forgive others or forgive self in order to move forward.
REPAIR or RECONSTRUCT: Replace behaviors that are not working with those that better serve.
What motivates people to come into counseling?
RECOGNITION that life shouldn’t be so difficult or that there must be something else.
Can you tell us about how your journalism background influences counseling?
I want to explore the story, and the stories behind the story.
How did you transition into counseling?
Quite simply I did a RE-WRITE or edit of my own life. As I matured and experienced my three children maturing I knew there was a better way to use what I had learned.
Do you have a favorite quote and why?
This is one I often discuss with clients. I don’t know where I found it, and I don’t know the author, but I think it speaks to all of us . . .
Courage doesn’t always roar . . . Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day That says . . . I’ll try again tomorrow.
What are some lessons you’ve learned from the people you’ve counseled over the last 21 years?
Ahh . . . people are infinitely resilient. And have so much courage. Maybe that’s why I love that quote.
What can we find you doing in your free time?
I like to be with my family and friends. But also fee that my creativity can be my best friend, too.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Thea is a 14 year old who was recently diagnosed with social anxiety and depression. Her symptoms started about 6-months ago when she became increasingly anxious about going to school and other public places. She is overly concerned about the size of her nose, and believes it is larger than other people’s noses. She goes to extremes to camouflage her nose by wearing oversized glasses and trying to cover her face with her hair. She is convinced that other people are staring at her nose and she feel disgusted with the way she looks. This is a fictional case for illustrative purposes only.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a body-image disorder with unrelenting and intrusive thoughts about imagined or slight defects in your appearance. The mild blemishes and/or imagined defects leave you feeling ugly, abnormal and/or deformed. BDD occurs equally in all genders and affects 2-3% of the US population, or as many as 664,000 individuals. BDD can make you feel anxious, embarrassed, even ashamed and you may avoid social situations. You may spend hours checking your appearance in a mirror or asking others for reassurance about your appearance. This can cause significant distress and negatively affect your ability to function on a daily basis.
Experts do not know the causes BDD, like other conditions it may result from a combination of things, such as family history, abnormalities in the brain (serotonin), personality traits, and negative life experiences such as child trauma. Typically, the age of onset is during the early teenage years.
People with BDD may fixate on one or more areas of their body, including the skin and hair. People with BDD may engage in compulsive and time-consuming behaviors that appear to be similar to OCD compulsions, such as constant grooming and reassurance seeking. Sometimes individuals with BDD will seek cosmetic surgery in an attempt to correct the perceived flaw. However, BDD is a neurobiological disorder not a physical defect. Cosmetic procedures do not cure BDD and can often make the symptoms worse.
The most common and effective treatment for BDD is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) with Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). CBT is a type of therapy that helps identify distorted and harmful thoughts and behavior patterns, improving emotion regulation and distress tolerance. ERP is a type of CBT that can help the person with BDD learn to reduce the compulsions that cause so much distress in their lives. Additionally, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a type of CBT that focuses on making room for, or tolerate negative thoughts and symptoms, rather than trying to change or eliminate them. Finally, perception training (or visual training) can help individuals with BDD learn to be nonjudgmental towards themselves and their reflection in a mirror.
If you suspect you or a loved one has BDD, consider talking with a therapist for an assessment and to discuss treatment options. The therapies listed above can help you reduce your symptoms and learn to manage BDD.
If you are feeling suicidal, thinking of harming yourself, or are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It is a free, 24-hour hotline (800) 273 TALK (8255).
Disclaimer: The content in this publication is intended to serve as educational purposes only and is not a replacement for therapy. For treatment-related questions, please ask a licensed therapist. If you do not have a therapist and would like to talk to someone about therapy, call
Francesca Beilharz, David J. Castle, Andrea Phillipou, & Susan L. Rossell. Visual training program for body dysmorphic disorder: protocol for a novel intervention pilot and feasibility trial. Pilot and Feasibility Studies, (2018)
Amy Harrison, Lorena Fernández de la Cruz, Jesper Enander, Joaquim Radua, & David Matix-Cols. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for body dysmorphic disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clinical Psychology Review, (2016)
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. www.aada.org
International OCD Foundation, Body Dysmorphic Disorder page. www.bdd.iocdf.org
Christine Block PhD, LCSW
Marriage and Family
Mother Theresa once said, “Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home. If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”
Some may ask, why say … go home and love your family?
Babies, whose mothers hold them close, cuddle them and consistently respond to their needs, develop a trusting relationship and a healthy attachment to the caregiver. This sets the stage for the child to have healthy relationships with other pe“ople and experience and express a full range of emotions. Conversely, when this bonding does not occur, the ability to form healthy relationships is greatly affected.
The family/home is the child’s first teacher. Ideally it is here we are taught the dynamics of how to navigate relationships. Children’s sense of who they are is intimately associated with their relationships – both with other people and the context in which they live. When relationships do not give them what is needed, they lose their sense of comfort and confidence. Powerful psychological processes then come into play. Much distress/mental illnesses are as a result of these processes.
Many people have children without fully realizing the Herculean task they have undertaken. Parents have a duty to provide and cater to the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual development of the child. This entails helping them inculcate sound morals and values, giving praise when warranted, knowing when to say “No” and consistently enforcing established rules. Talking to children and taking an active interest in their lives and the things that matter to them is also necessary, however, it is crucial that parents lead by example and practice what they want children to emulate.
The statement above, lends itself to the topic of marriage and relationships. As a therapist who has been married for the past 35 years and offers marriage counseling incorporating the Gottman principles, I can safely say that marriage requires HARD WORK to be fulfilling and lasting. People get married as a way of expressing their love and devotion to each other. It is necessary to keep that love alive because neglect and time can cause the strongest of marriages to decline. What once seemed like heaven can be later perceived as hell and bondage.
I do not know of anyone who is happy all the time, but when couples come into therapy, I sometimes ask, “Do you still love each other? How do you feel when you see each other at the end of a workday? How do you show your love for each other?”
The answers are not usually what one would expect. Many couples are frustrated, disconnected and sad. Partners often feel invisible, not validated or have unmet needs. They live like two business partners who are taking care of children and other chores, instead of two people who are connecting, loving, appreciating, forgiving and supporting each other on a deeper level.
When couples are hurt, bitter, angry and frustrated, there is a ripple effect which is often easily visible in their attitude at work, the way they drive, react to daily challenges or interact with others. It may manifest as arguments with hurtful words, fights with partners and many times, abuse directed at children, which begins the destructive cycle of dysfunction.
This cycle does not have to be perpetuated. We all need to help break this vicious cycle which can be achieved if we make the choice to work on ourselves. Some can do this without external help, but many of us need to enlist the support of therapists and other qualified professionals. We owe it to ourselves and to future generations to do the work on our relationships while there is still hope and a desire to stay together. When we make our homes a refuge of peace, it gives us a place to lay our burdens down, refuel, find comfort and reenergize to face another day.
Make that choice today to create peace in your home, so you can help paint the bigger picture, which is, the change you want to see in the world.
Liz Malcolm, M.Ed., LPC.
Podcast Interview with Dr. Bob Beare with DeepWaters Recovery in Austin Texas
Episode 32: Parenting, Recovery, and Spirituality with Bryant Packard
Change, Transformation and Recovery
Change, true transformational change comes to everyone eventually. You may find the need for change thrust upon you from recovering from addictions, traumas, new or childhood or simply from leading an unsatisfying life. Getting to long lasting positive change, requires a toll, building upon your resilience, growth in unexpected ways, and need to create a sense of deep self-acceptance. The good news is at some point you may realize you are worthy and begin living a life that you love, maybe even being a person, you can love.
Often our life experiences and the tools, walls, coping skills we developed over time to protect ourselves become the very things that keep us stuck, slowly killing ourselves. These things now starving us from meaningful connections to not only our spiritual selves, but others and ultimately the one that needs us most, our wounded inner self!
Recovery is a great point from which to begin the journey of self-discovery. In fact, I often find I recommend people to participate in 12-step programs. One that I find effective for so many regardless of your identified issue is ACA or Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families. At its core it focuses on the need to learn to “reparent” ourselves. If we pause here, I would imagine not one of us could not find some sliver of ourselves where an appropriate level of acceptance or nurturing would not have aided us in developing a greater maturity? Some of those areas can be so significant as to leave us nearly incapable of sustaining relationships, sobriety or just plain having a life I want to be living.
Deep transformational work is a must if I want to change the root cause of the things that keep me stuck. Keep me using. Keep me hurting those around me. Keep me hurting those inner parts of myself that really need light and being seen and loved. For many those first steps are just the beginning. ACA for instance says right out loud, if you need help with your drinking, go to AA, if you need help in other ways hire a therapist. Recognizing that my best thinking got me “here” and that I am not likely to get out unscathed on my own, it is time to find help. There are many fantastic and powerful organizations and people out there that can help me create meaningful and lasting change and finding that life again I can enjoy and is worth living. Even the bible states that starting to plow the field is fifty percent of the work. That first step is the hardest in the world because it will take half of everything you have left in you to take it. The rewards in this work are exponential and profound because you have no idea who that beautiful person you are, will be, as you continue to evolve and unfurl your wings! Fly my friend!
Bryant Packard MS., LMFTA, PMP
Elizabeth Malcolm MEd, LPC.
Current international trends almost dictate that we make an effort to understand the differences in each other, in order to foster a climate of acceptance and peace.
Many people are wounded because they are “the other” and different. Different is at times seen as being distasteful, foreign, dismissible, not in our social class or less than. Different is “not like us” and so we cannot understand “them” and don’t bother to try because “they” are foreigners, disabled, poor, Arab, female, gay etc.
In a country that was built by “different” immigrants, how much do we really know about Culture and Acculturation?
Culture has been defined as the attitudes, habits, norms, beliefs, styles, customs, rituals and artifacts shared by group members and passed on over time.
Culture does not only apply to people from a country. It can refer to people from a particular state, town, company, group or ethnicity.
Acculturation refers to the meeting of 2 different cultures. It has been thought of as an individual’s socialization into a different group’s ways. It is referred to as a second – culture acquisition.
Through Acculturation individuals take on some of the manners, speech patterns, dress, values and tastes of the culture to which they are exposed, while maintaining some of their original culture’s expression and norms. It has been noted that the majority culture also adopts elements of the minority culture which is why we enjoy Texmex, Chinese food, pizza etc.
Each year many people leave their country of origin and make the decision to migrate to another country in search of better opportunities for themselves and their families.
Being an immigrant in any country can be daunting. It requires strength, resilience and tenacity in order to succeed. As an immigrant myself, I have lived through this challenging process, which can be ongoing.
According to studies, there are many ways that immigrants navigate the acculturation process.
Some immigrants place very little importance on maintaining their original culture. They prefer to be absorbed into the new culture and no longer identify with their original culture.
Others maintain their own culture and do not embrace the new culture. This is common in racially segregated societies.
There are immigrants who place no importance on maintaining the old or adjusting to the new culture and these people often become marginalized by society. This is seen in cultures which make integration difficult.
Many immigrants who live in multicultural societies have opted to retain their original culture yet embrace the new culture and they navigate comfortably through both.
There is yet another method of acculturation where there is value placed on both the original culture and the new culture. In this process, the cultures are fused and a third culture is created.
Despite the method used in the acculturation process, moving from one country to another is not as easy as many envisage. The excitement soon wears off and is replaced by reality. Many immigrants never discuss their struggle with the loneliness they endure when they leave lifelong friends, family and support system behind to move to a country where they know no one and the lifestyle and customs are different. They never openly acknowledge their fears, apprehension or anger they feel, when they are judged as “different” and sometimes ostracized because of the way they look, dress or speak. These acts of unkindness and rejection increase the daily challenges that face many immigrants.
Each day every one of us has a choice. We can choose to be different and improve the quality of our interactions with the people we meet and make a difference in their lives.
Some ways we can do this is to:
Be aware of your prejudices and make an effort to challenge them when they surface.
Be cognizant of how your own culture impacts your choices, values, biases, manners and privileges.
Be comfortable with cultural differences.
Realize that each of us has a duty to question the status quo, to examine the morality of power and to work to make every society more just and equitable.
Let’s all strive to create a culture of inclusivity, so our children can live in peace with each other.
THE BENEFITS OF NEUROFEEDBACK
Using neurofeedback your actions are an active part of the brain’s healing process. Whether you play a fun or competitive video game, interactive sounds or music using just your brains focus this play brings long-term change.
The setup: a read-only system attaches electrodes to your head measuring the electrical activity your brain is producing. Next you play games that require a balance of concentration and relaxation. Your brains activity influences the games performance, the clinician monitoring output can aid you in interpretation and alterations. Facilitation pattern changes in engaging some patterns and decreasing others.
The good news is that effects and benefits of training are long lasting to permanent once training has been completed. You have effectively retrained your brain, creating more efficient and optimally performing patterns, new pathways, and better self-regulation.
What our patients report is decreased anxiety and developmental trauma, enhanced memory and focus, decreased impulsivity, improved mood, better quality of sleep, better mental clarity and organizational structure, migraine reduction, among others. Not only is neurofeedback effective without side effects, while you may be targeting to improve one thing, the effects are far broader, accomplishing more than one change.
Professional athletes and executive coaches work with optimal performance enhancements to accomplish competitive advantages, visualization, attention regulation, greater insights into self and organizations, better risk management.
Multiple studies illustrate the effectiveness of neurofeedback to improve conditions such as:
- Autism Spectrum / Asperger’s
- Bipolar Disorder
- Chronic Pain
- Developmental Trauma
- Headaches and Migraines
- Memory Issues
- Sleep Quality
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Neurofeedback not only heals it can be fun!
The Brains Chemicals
Human suffering is ubiquitous. It occurs across cultures and continents and no one is immune from suffering, in one form or another. In a sense, suffering is the one absolute thing all humans have in common. Some theories on human behavior suggest our brains are hardwired for pleasure seeking and pain avoidance. Certain chemicals in our brain, or neurotransmitters, have even been identified as important in pain avoidance or pleasure-seeking behaviors. GABA, for example, appears to influence pleasure-seeking behavior. Glutamate, on the other hand, is known to be involved in trauma and fear response, and glutamate pathways are particularly strong. Substances, like drugs and alcohol, affect these neurotransmitters, increasing the effects of GABA while decreasing the effects glutamate. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that archaeological records indicate the presence of psychotropic drug use in the earliest civilizations. Humans have an ingrained drive to avoid negative emotions and increase positive emotions; ancient drugs may have been used to induce euphoria while repressing anxiety or depression, much as they are today. The nature of addiction is not based on free will alone, but has biological, psychological, and social roots. Traumatic experiences, particularly in childhood, are known to contribute to drug and alcohol use and repeated exposures to toxic stress reinforces use, leading to a spiraling cycle of addiction.
Do you think you may be addicted to drugs or alcohol? As yourself:
- Has your drug or alcohol use negatively affected your relationships with others?
- Have you ever used drugs or alcohol to improve or numb a negative mood?
- Have you ever lied to friends or family about your substance use?
- Do I have a history of traumatic experiences?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have or be at risk of developing a substance use disorder. Recognizing that you have a substance use disorder is the first step; getting help is the most important. When you are ready to move forward, we are here for you.
How does Love play into it?
Love…one of the most used, abused and misused words in our vocabulary. As we approach Valentine’s Day, many people focus on love and on the exchange of material tokens as a symbol of love. This then begs the question…What is love? What is the standard by which love is measured?
Whenever these questions are asked, regardless of one’s religion, I think of 1 Corinthians 13, which tells us that love is kind, it is not easily angered, it protects and trusts, it keeps no record of wrongs, it is not self-seeking and love NEVER fails. In a world where so many people equate love with money, lust and control, this passage gives us a new criterion we can use as our standard, both in giving and receiving love.
How many of us have ever loved or been loved like this? This is the pinnacle of unconditional love. Many would say that to love like that is not humanly possible, but most of us have goals, because goals give our lives purpose, it gives us direction and something to strive towards. I therefore challenge you, to use this standard for love as the goal towards which you aspire, and when in any relationship, debating whether it is love, use this criterion to determine your answer.
LIVE with LOVE.
Elizabeth Malcolm MEd, LPC
Trauma Sensitive Yoga
We are Glad to Announce…
The Center for Authentic Healing and Counseling
Is Offering Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TSY),
Beginning March 24, 2020, Every Tuesday Evenings from 7PM- 8PM.
This mind-body movement is designed to help traumatized people to begin to release negative symptoms and find a safe place within their bodies.
Our Massachusetts Trip
Our AHC team of Gloria Froehlich, Yoga Teacher, Deborah Feinsilver, LPC, LMFT, Gina Baiamonte, LPC and owner participated in a weekend long intensive the month of February, 2020, through the Trauma Center-Trauma Sensitive Yoga at the Justice Resource Institute in Brooklyn, Massachusetts.
“We had a great time connecting with mental health practitioners and yoga instructors around the globe and experiencing Boston’s local eateries including enjoying Beverly Massachusetts, Hamilton, MA and Salem, MA. We are looking forward to sharing more of our experience with you and some research and information below about TSY.”Gina Baiamonte LPC, Owner The Center for Authentic Healing and Counseling
Yoga has become a rapidly growing practice in the United States, with millions of people enjoying and experiencing connecting with a community and awareness to their bodies. Yoga is an intricate practice comprised of diverse elements that include, but are not limited to, physical poses, breath work, meditation, spirituality, inward attention, knowledge of the self, and focus (Park, Braun, and Siegel, 2015). Yoga increases one’s ability to balance the autonomic nervous system (ANS) by calming the sympathetic and
parasympathetic systems, augmenting one’s ability to self-regulate emotions through self-soothing techniques (Simpkins & Simpkins, 2011).
What is Trauma Sensitive Yoga and How it Helps
TSY is a recent program jointly developed by psychiatrist and premiere trauma researcher, Bessel Van der Kolk, and David Emerson, a yoga teacher, with the intention of helping war veterans who have returned from war recover from trauma (Emerson & Hopper, 2011). Specifically designed to help complex trauma survivors who have endured multiple chronic traumatic events on an interpersonal level recover. TSY is a structured body-oriented yoga practice that serves the objectives of cultivating self-awareness, facilitating self-regulation, and developing a compassionate relationship with the body (Emerson & Hopper, 2011).
The Science Behind Trauma Yoga
According to research through the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute in Brooklyn, Massachusetts, yoga has greater beneficial effects in alleviating traumatic stress symptoms as the best possible prescription. In 2014, study showed with a group of women who had suffered domestic violence, and were exposed to a 12-week trauma sensitive yoga course of one class a week, showed a reduction in severity of PTSD symptoms and frequency of dissociation symptoms, and gains in vitality and body attunement.
Based on the emerging neuroscience research, a vital ingredient of trauma
recovery is to develop sensory awareness (Van der Kolk, 2014). Yoga is an evidence-based process for traumatized individuals that develop such awareness as it invites them to notice and approach a sense of their bodies. This developed sensory awareness helps traumatized individuals navigate a shift away from their traumatic experience and redevelop a compassionate relationship to themselves and their inner world (Van der Kolk, 2014).
Body Sensory Awareness – Interoception
The TSY instructor will use verbiage that will be non-directive, giving the participates choices in their movements or while helping each person to be more interoceptive. The definition of Interoception is a lesser-known sense that helps you understand and feel what’s going on inside your body. People who struggle with the interoceptive sense may have trouble knowing when they feel hungry, full, hot, cold or thirsty and or connecting their physical emotional sensations to their bodies.
Sensing our bodies is the experience of embodiment, understanding where we begin and another person ends; we are more than just thoughts, feelings and responses. We have a physical self that responds to the environment to protect and nurture us. People who have experienced developmental trauma or other negative experiences may be living inside bodies that feel unsafe and untrustworthy and attending to visceral sensations and noticing their bodies may provoke fear. TSY helps us feel safe and back in our body’s – giving us presence in the now, develop freedom and self-autonomy, reclaim self-concept and identity, being proud of oneself and one’s appearance, cultivating inner peace and tranquility and optimism for the future and a safe place to live in our bodies and re-connection with the community.
This group will include our Authentic Healing and Counseling clients, as well as their family and friends! Please, invite all who would like to benefit!
Peace be with you!
Gina Baiamonte, MS, LPC, EMDR Certified
Owner of Authentic Healing and Counseling