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What is the Window of Tolerance?

As a trauma therapist, I spend a lot of time talking about the "Window of Tolerance." This is a term that was originally coined by Dr. Dan Siegel (who is a really cool guy, you should check him out!).  This metaphorical window represents our capacity to manage stress and emotions effectively. Let's take a deep dive into understanding and working within your Window of Tolerance. We'll explore the concepts of hypoarousal, hyperarousal, and self-regulation and provide techniques to help you stay inside your window, get back in when you drift out, and appreciate the variations in the width of individual windows. Your Window of Tolerance, illustrated above as that green space labeled "optimal arousal zone," is that sweet spot where you can comfortably navigate life's challenges and stressors. It's the zone where you feel grounded, present, and capable. However, trauma can make this window feel elusive. Understanding the dynamics of your window is the firs
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Navigating the New Year: A Trauma Therapist's Guide to Goal Setting

 As a trauma therapist, I understand that setting and achieving goals can be a powerful tool for healing and growth, especially for those who have experienced trauma or PTSD. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to reflect on our intentions and aspirations. In today's post, we'll explore the process of goal setting, and how to navigate some of the tricky (and sometimes toxic!) beliefs about goals and self-improvement.  1. Creating a Vision Board: Connecting with Your Inner World One valuable approach to goal setting is the creation of a vision board. I LOVE a good vision board. I made my first one last year and hung it above my desk where I see it every day.  A vision board is a visual representation of your aspirations and dreams. It serves as a powerful tool to connect with your inner world and help set meaningful goals.  Here's how to go about it:   Before you dive into creating your vision board, take some time to reflect on your core values. Trauma, depressi

I'm Turning 34. Here's 34 Things I Wish I Knew 10 Years Ago.

 It's my birthday! Happy birthday to me! :)  I love birthdays. I love to pack the whole month of October full of festivities. My family and friends will tell you that I'm a little over the top when it comes to birthdays, but I can't help it! It's a time for celebration and reflection.  Today, I turn 34 years old. I'd like to publicly reflect on a list of 34 things I wish I'd known 10 years ago. Just a few life lessons. I'd like to share these with you because, as a therapist, I know how healing it can be to practice reflections like this, and I want to share a little wisdom that I'd like to impart to my younger self. I hope you find these lessons resonate with you, too.  1. You, in fact, can trust yourself 2. Grounding yourself before you react to something upsetting ensures you remain in control, rather than your emotions.  3. Diets don’t work, and they ruin your relationship with food and your body.  4. Therapy is one of the most useful tools available

What to Expect After Your First EMDR Session

So you're about to start EMDR therapy. You might be feeling one or more of these things: nervousness, fear, excitement, curiosity, dread. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a powerful and effective treatment approach for individuals dealing with trauma, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. After completing an EMDR session, it's essential to understand what to expect in the hours, days, and weeks that follow. In this blog post, we'll guide you through the post-EMDR experience, focusing on the potential emotional responses and self-care strategies to support your healing journey. Initial Feelings of Relief Immediately following an EMDR session, many individuals report a sense of relief. They may feel lighter, as if a heavy burden has been lifted. This initial feeling of relief is a positive sign that the therapy is beginning to work, but it's only the beginning of the healing process. Increased Awareness EMDR therapy can bring up inten

How to Support Someone With Suicidal Thoughts

September is National Suicide Prevention Month.  Approximately 6 million Americans struggle with suicidal ideation (SAMHSA). In 2019, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death for people in the US (CDC). If you or someone you know struggles with suicidal ideation, you are not alone. Treatment can help. You can access life-saving crisis support 24/7 by contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988. Suicidal thoughts and behaviors are serious and require immediate attention and support. If someone you care about is struggling with suicidal thoughts, it can be an incredibly scary and emotionally challenging situation. However, just being present and showing compassion for their situation can make a significant difference in their life. Here are some quick tips about supporting someone with suicidal thoughts: 1. Recognize the Signs The first step in supporting someone who is suicidal is to recognize the signs. While these signs can vary from person to person, common

Mindfulness Meditation: A Trauma Sensitive Lens

Mindfulness meditation has become a bit of a buzzword over the last few decades--and for good reason! Mindfulness is a powerful, evidenced-based tool for stress reduction and has a rightful place in mental health treatment. However, let's embark on this path with awareness, particularly if you have experienced trauma or are dealing with PTSD. While the benefits from this practice are wonderful for your mental and physical health, I want to encourage you to explore the potential challenges that many people face when they begin to explore meditation for the first time, and empower you to skillfully navigate these obstacles with the gentleness of self-compassion.  The Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation: Soothing Stress and Anxiety: Mindfulness meditation invites you to anchor your attention in the present moment. This shift from dwelling on the past or worrying about the future can be a source of tranquility, easing the grip of anxiety.  Embracing Emotional Equilibrium: Through mindfu

Death Anxiety

Death and grief have been on my mind lately, perhaps because I recently attended a funeral to pay my respects and to support my husband and his family in their grief. Funerals are always uncomfortable, and yet they are a very normal part of our culture. The great psychotherapist Irvin Yalom writes in his book Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death that events such as funerals and deaths of loved ones serve as "awakening experiences," or moments in time in which we are reminded of our own mortality and inevitable death. Our own death anxiety manifests in a variety of awakening experiences. Such experiences could be as obvious as having a near death experience, or as subtle as attending a high school reunion and seeing how your classmates have aged. Awakening experiences can be jarring. They arrive rather suddenly, and shake us out of our blissful distraction, bringing us back to the awareness of our own eventual demise.  This can leave us feeling utterly terrified