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:

  1. Has your drug or alcohol use negatively affected your relationships with others?
  2. Have you ever used drugs or alcohol to improve or numb a negative mood?
  3. Have you ever lied to friends or family about your substance use?
  4. 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.


Love Scrabble and Roses

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.


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.

Child's Pose Yoga

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