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Trauma Sufferers – Yoga and Therapy Can Help You Heal

Monday, July 06, 2015


yoga and therapy can help heal traumatic stressWhen a person experiences a traumatic event, such as a terrorist attack, a car wreck or sexual abuse, the body from head to toe shifts into the fight or flight mode. Hormones and chemicals race through your body as everything shifts into high gear and hyper-vigilance. Your entire body becomes involved to save your life.

Interestingly, brain scans are now showing what trauma does to the body so that we can tailor treatments that help the person holistically. A key finding is that the speech center shuts down during the traumatic event, which helps explain why many people can’t describe what happened.

Also the part of the brain responsible for experiencing the present moment—the medial prefrontal cortex—shuts down during stress. People who’ve experienced trauma therefore have difficulty processing that information.

Many are finding that a combination of yoga and therapy is helping trauma sufferers to heal.

According to Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, a clinical psychiatrist, founder of the Trauma Center in Brookline, Massachusetts and a leader in the field of posttraumatic stress:

“Fundamentally, the effect of trauma is in relationship to one’s body. One’s body gives the signal that it’s not safe, and your body keeps fighting an existing enemy… The clinical research and treatment program showed that doing yoga was a more effective treatment for traumatized people...than any medication that had ever been studied. Opening up that relationship with your body, opening up your body to breathe, and to feel your body is very important.

It’s great to be able to put your feelings into words, and feeling that somebody understands your suffering is enormously comforting. But it doesn’t make your body know that you are safe. The real method is resetting your physiology.”

However Dr Bessel van der Kolk recommends yoga in conjunction with working with a person who has special trauma therapy training. “None of my patients have been able to tolerate a yoga program if they weren’t in therapy at the same time. Too much painful stuff comes up.” If you’re ready to try this treatment and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

For more information on my website: Therapy FAQ and Depression and Stress.

Are You Working with Toxic People? The Science Behind Rude Behavior

Monday, June 29, 2015


rude behavior can harm you “Stick and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Like myself, you may have grown up with that nursery rhyme and later found out it’s not true. Words can really hurt. Especially when they’re said intentionally to strike our vulnerabilities or when we’re constantly barraged with subtle digs all day long.

It would be nice if we could just let every rude remark and unkind action roll off of us. Yet that’s not how we generally react. More often than not, people immediately withdraw into themselves, feeling hurt and rejected. Then they replay, rehash and relive the experience for the rest of the day, if not longer.

As people become more and more rude and intolerant, it begs us to consider: How are rudeness, incivility and bad manners affecting your long-term health and the health of your business?

Recently I read an excellent New York Times article on how rudeness is becoming an increasingly destructive influence in the workplace and in the health of the victims. Yes, I said victims. Rudeness and bad manners are forms of bullying and emotional attacks on another person’s sense of wellbeing.

For 20 years, Christine Porath an associate professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business has been studying this subject. She’s compiled a number of studies that illustrate the damage rudeness causes. A few of her findings include:

Experiencing or just seeing uncivil incidents elevate levels of hormones called glucocorticoids potentially leading to health problems such as obesity and heart disease.

Rudeness stifles creativity and innovation, because people are afraid to stick their necks out for fear of becoming the next target.

It reduces the ability to concentrate and see solutions that are right in front of you.

It hampers efficiency because people are always on the alert to avoid the rude person.

It damages customer relations, because if treated badly (or if they see someone treated badly) people take their business elsewhere.

Court cases have been lost solely because the jury is appalled by a lawyer’s rudeness. Shockingly, one study showed that patients have died in hospitals where the medical staff was demoralized by the attending doctor, which resulted in fatal errors.

There are things we can do to improve our situation. Are you in a position of leadership and want to create better work environment at your business? Or are you receiving this type of demoralizing behavior and want it to stop? Many have found that consulting with a trained therapist and business coach has helped them find positive solutions. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Two Ways to Become More Resilient

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


how to bounce back after a setback with resiliency and a can-do attitudeWhen negative life events arise, how do you handle them? Whether they’re severe job setbacks, health issues, or relationship problems, do you get stuck in negative self-pity or rise above the situation by resiliently moving forward? Why is it that some people seem to become stronger through adversity while others tend to develop psychological disorders such as PTSD, anxiety, substance abuse or depression?

Psychology Today recently discussed a study led by Heather Rusch of the National Institute of Nursing Research at Bethesda, Maryland, which discloses two factors that characterize resilient people. Knowing what they are and how to acquire them will give you skills so you can be more resilient too. What are they?

Factor #1 Mastery

Feeling like you have control and influence over your circumstances promotes better physical and mental health, which in turn helps you become more resilient in the face of adverse circumstances.

When you daily spend time on things you do well, this reinforces your sense of mastery. It trains your brain in the “can-do attitude”. Psychotherapy also promotes greater mastery by helping people move through negative thoughts and memories rather than getting stuck in saying, “I can’t”.

Factor #2 Social Support

When you build strong, supportive social ties you’ll be less likely to develop psychological disorders and more likely to resiliently recover from traumas. Daily seek out positive friends, family, or coworkers who encourage you to openly talk about your feelings.

Resiliency is the ability to spring back or recover quickly from difficulties. If you’re in optimal mental and physical health, your resiliency will be stronger than if you’re in weakened or compromised health. Many people find that consulting with a trained therapist helps them to improve their capacity for resilience. If you feel this is the right option for you and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more on my website: Mind & Body Health and Therapy FAQ.

10 Surprising Signs You May Need To See a Therapist

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


signs you may need therapy“I don’t need a therapist. I’m not crazy!” Have you ever hear someone say that? I’ve heard it many times. Often from people who are, for the most part, mentally sound and on the surface appear happy. But after conversing with them, I find that many of them want their lives to be better in one area or another. That’s a natural desire.

Did you realize that we turn to our friends and loved ones for therapy daily? Think about the last time you were really worried…didn’t you feel so much better after talking with a trusted friend? Or when you suffered a severe loss, like the death of a loved one. Didn’t their loving embraces, shared tears, and gentle words soothe you?

The difference between that kind of care and professional therapy is that psychologists and mental health professionals:

  • Can be more objective, since they see all sides of the story.
  • Have the freedom to tell you the truth, since they’re not worried about hurting your feelings.
  • Have greater experience, since they deal with issues like yours every day.
  • Have more insight, since they’ve seen what works and what doesn’t work.
  • Have professional training to help you make permanent change.

If there is a difference between what you would like your life to be and how your life actually is, then why not fix it so you can enjoy happiness and contentment right now?

But, you might say, “I’m not that bad off.” On the contrary, your body may be telling you that’s not strictly true. Whenever we sense a lack in our lives, we’re likely to react with the following responses:

  • Dramatic mood shifts
  • Constant fatigue
  • A drastic change in eating habits
  • Persistent guilt feelings
  • Insomnia
  • Recurring, irrational sense of panic
  • Persistent, overwhelming feeling of doom
  • Constant headaches, rashes, or backaches
  • Relationship problems
  • Excessive drinking or drug abuse

Do they sound familiar? Would your close family members or friends recognize any of these symptoms in you? Why not ask them? You might be surprised at their observations. Life is too precious to waste time on feeling less than your best.

When your emotional problems occupy your thoughts several hours a day, you should consider seeking professional help. A mental health professional will help you explore and assess your options. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. Is it time to make some changes?

Learn more on my website: When to Seek Help and Therapy FAQs.

Seven Psychological Traits of Highly Successful Entrepreneurs

Wednesday, April 01, 2015


7 psychological traits of highly successful entrepreneursHas your family embraced the entrepreneurial spirit? Have you blazed your own entrepreneurial trail and grown a business that supports you in a full and satisfying life? 

Congratulations! Not everyone can do that.

I’ve often puzzled over the question: what makes some entrepreneurs and family businesses succeed while others do not? I’ve come up with the following seven psychological traits that seem to define those who thrive. How do you measure up?

1. You spot opportunities that others don’t see. Your ability to do a lot of work is based upon efficiency and vision. Because you already see where you're going and are constantly scanning the environment for improvements, you’re a marvel at being in the right place at the right time.


2. You’re a big picture thinker. You’re a visionary who sees the outcome before the average person. While the details are important in creating the outcome, without the vision, your life can become nothing but maintaining the details of life.


3. You stay ahead of the competition and make things happen. You’re a bundle of energy that few can keep up with. You take quick action and attend to what is immediately necessary to accomplish your dream. You’ve honed efficiency to a fine science. You’re constantly looking for the next opportunity or the next problem to solve.


4. You’re a great leader. Because of your uncanny insight and charisma you motivate those around you. People admire you for your talents and want to share in your good fortune by helping in some small way.

5. You view adversity as a challenge. You look on “failing” as an opportunity to prove what you’re made of. The adversity may not be pleasant, but conquering it is a thrill. In a crisis, you’re the hero. (Caveat: Some survivor entrepreneurs keep creating crises in their lives, often unconsciously, so that they can get the thrill of mastering the crisis. The entrepreneur may be able to handle this excitement but your family and friends may tire quickly of the emotional roller coaster.)


6. You harness the brainpower of others. You learn from people who know. You’re impatient with details, but you know that detail-oriented people help you turn your dreams into reality, so you value them.

7. You give back. You treat your employees, vendors and customers with generosity and gratitude. You know it’s important to take the time to stop and smell the roses with the ones you love.

Is the situation hopeless if you or your spouse doesn’t inherently possess all of these skills? Not at all. A qualified business coach can help you develop these skills and if work with your spouse even better because you can work of each other’s strengths! If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. If you live elsewhere check out video education as a way to get my advice on how to not just survive but thrive as an entrepreneurial couple.

The Search for Happiness Begins with You

Friday, March 20, 2015


happiness begins with youAre you a happy person by nature? The real answer may surprise you. Your general disposition may tend toward happiness, yet science is discovering that people aren’t hardwired to be happy or not.

This is just one fascination fact you’ll learn from WebMD’s Happiness Quiz. Here are some other things you’ll learn:

  • What’s the happiest country in the world based on life satisfaction and work-life balance? (Hint: It’s not the U.S.)
  • Which has more power – negative or positive emotions?
  • What personality traits contribute toward more happiness?
  • What age group is the happiest?
  • What brain chemicals affect your happiness level and how do you activate them?
  • Should you always keep a stiff upper lip in order to become a happy person?
  • Which creates longer lasting happiness – pleasure or gratitude?
  • Is your health and happiness affected by the movies you watch?

I encourage you to have some fun today and take this quiz. If you want more information on happiness, I’ve compiled a list of some of my past articles for your convenience.

Happiness Is Up To YOU!
The Two Types of Happiness and How They Affect You
What 40 Years of Science Reveals About Happiness
In a Bad Mood? It Could Be Coming from Reading Social Media
If You Want to Be Happy Take a Risk
Are You Happy with the Money You Earn?
How to Be a Happier Person - Watch Less Television
How to Create an Inner Joy that Lasts Despite Upsetting Circumstances
Tips to Experiencing Happiness on a Daily Basis
Three Ways to Avoid Toxic Life Choices

Everyone wants happiness, yet it’s so elusive for many in the U.S. Here in Oregon and Washington, we have dreary, rainy days that contribute towards depression. Economic struggles, family strife, and other external factors add to unhappiness. Yet you can learn techniques to successfully deal with all of these challenges as you remain hopeful and positive. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. It’s time to feel happy again.

Take the WebMD Happiness Quiz. It will stretch your understanding of happiness. I didn’t even get 100%. When you’re done, come over to my Facebook page and tell us how you did.

Is Your Teen Being Held Captive by an Eating Disorder?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


is your teen being held captive by an eating disorderHave you heard about the young woman who was held captive and starved to death? We are horrified by this brutal and inhumane treatment. And no, I’m not referring to any one woman in particular. I’m talking about the thousands of beautiful young women and men in our communities here in Oregon and Washington who are punishing themselves with this cruel behavior! Across the nation there are millions of people who are afflicted with insidious eating disorders. The exact number is impossible to ascertain because this problem is surrounded by secrecy and shame.

Eating Disorders take many shapes. Most of them are connected to poor body or self-image and feelings of being out of control, guilty and ashamed. The good news is – they are treatable. February is Eating Disorder Awareness month, so let’s become more aware of the following eating disorders:

Anorexia nervosa – Because people have an intense fear of being fat, even when they’re not, they starve and exercise themselves to death.

Bulimia nervosa – People uncontrollably eat a large quantity of food and then purge themselves by vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, or enemas or go on extreme diets and extreme exercise routines. Because they are trying to hide what they’re doing, they may maintain their weight, so there are no easily apparent signs of the eating disorder.

Binge Eating – People make a practice of rapidly consume a large amount of food at one sitting, which leaves them feeling uncomfortably full, ashamed and depressed.

While the following are not officially classified as eating disorders they also need to be addressed.

Binge Drinking – consuming in one incident four or more drinks for females and five or more drinks for males, has been tied to liver damage, brain damage, risky sexual conduct, immune system suppression, dementia and so many more health hazards.

Obesity – affects at least one third of the US population. While there are medical reasons for obesity, there are also psychological reasons such as using it as an excuse not to achieve more, as a way to ward off sexual advances, and more.

Compulsive, emotional eating – may be used as a distraction to cope with stress and anxiety.

Parents, I urge you to eat together as a family, and if you notice a problem with your children, don’t think they’ll “outgrow this phase”. The longer this behavior goes untreated the more deeply ingrained it becomes. The sooner it’s treated the better the chances are for recovery.

Therapy is very effective for treating eating disorders as it addresses the complex interaction of social, biological and psychological factors involved. The important thing is get help now. Please contact a mental health professional near you today. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment to get on the road to recovery.

How Much Do You Know About Memory?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


how much do you know about memoryMemory is such an important part of our lives. It helps define who we are. It assists us in our relationships with others. And it definitely affects the decisions we make. So much of this is done without our even thinking about it. That is…until we start to lose our ability to remember. Then we wish we could do something to decrease memory loss. The good news is that there are things you can do to support your brain’s memory functions.

First, though, WebMD has a fun and interesting memory quiz to test how much you already know about how memory works and what affect our choices have on the quality of memory. You’ll learn the answers to the following questions:

Can sex trigger amnesia?
Does pregnancy cause “baby brain”?
How long do memory problems due to smoking marijuana last?
How does déjà vu work?
At what age do we start losing brain cells?
Why can you remember a song from your youth, but can’t remember someone’s name?
Why and how does – skipping breakfast, poor eyesight, working crosswords, drinking alcohol, taking statin drugs, antihistamines and sleeping pills – affect your memory?
Why does a sudden, high-stress event boost your memory?
Is the memory loss from perimenopause permanent?
Why does rest or sleep enhance memory?
What foods can boost memory?
Why do some diseases cause “brain fog”?

The function of the brain can be improved by holistic health choices that help you control memory-damaging stress, getting enough exercise, keeping your mind active and improving your concentration. A NET practitioner can help you not only protect your brain but even retrain your brain to cope with the brain fog caused by painful illnesses such as fibromyalgia. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment.

Read more about memory on Psychology Today and PsychCentral.

Think Yourself Younger – Is It Possible?

Monday, December 22, 2014


our attitude toward aging Do you feel your biological age? Some days do you feel like your 18 again and others you could be 100? A recent CNN article discussed new research published by JAMA Internal Medicine online about our attitude toward aging and how it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. (Check out their slide show of 10 centenarians and their amazing accomplishments during “old age” like running a marathon and competing in the AU World Masters Games.) The way you perceive your health, limitations and wellbeing can greatly affect your mortality.

Researchers found that those who feel younger than their chronological age live longer than those who feel their age or feel older. While they don’t fully understand why, the researchers have noticed the following similar traits among the long-lived:

  • This “youthful” group keeps more active.
  • They maintain a healthy weight.
  • They nurture their happyinterest in life.
  • They engage in healthy behavior instead of risky behavior.
  • They feel more in control.
  • They have greater resilience.
  • They have good social relationships.
  • They keep a positive, optimistic attitude.
  • They are content with their lives.

The two main characteristics that seem to help people live a longer life are consciousness and optimism. While the findings of this latest research are not new, it does reinforce that our conscious choices shape our quality of life. So what does your future look like?

It’s never too late to start living a more meaningful and happy life. I had the privilege of having one of my essays published in a wonderful book entitled, Sixty Things To Do When You Turn Sixty. (You can purchase a copy of the book here.) The big 6-0 is just the beginning! Do you have any stories of people who have accomplished remarkable things in their 80’s, 90’s, and 100’s? Please come to my Facebook page and share them with us.

Morning Person or Night Owl – Which Are You? Does It Matter?

Thursday, December 18, 2014


this woman is a night owl who is sleeping inHave you ever heard the word chronotype? It’s a way of classifying whether your internal circadian clock is set for you to be a night owl or a morning person. Our society is greatly shaped by the belief that early risers will be the movers and shakers and those who are night owls are the partiers and are more creative. We’ve all heard this sentiment in sayings such as “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” or “The early bird gets the worm”.

The Harvard Review carries an article by Christoph Randler, a professor of biology at the University of Education in Heidelberg, Germany on his study of morning people verses evening people and their role in job performance. He found that there’s a genetic predisposition to whether you’re a morning person or night owl. And those who wake up early are more likely to be productive. Morning people anticipate problems and try to minimize them. Evening people, on the other hand, tend to be more creative.

The Huffington Post has an article by Dr. Michael Breus, clinical psychologist and board certified sleep specialist, and he reports that the brain structure actually differs between night owls and early risers. “Compared to early risers and intermediates, night owls showed reduced integrity of white matter in several areas of the brain. White matter is fatty tissue in the brain that facilitates communication among nerve cells. Diminished integrity of the brain's white matter has been linked to depression and to disruptions of normal cognitive function.” The article also said night owls are prone to significant tobacco and alcohol use. They are inclined to eat more and have less healthful diets. On the positive side, they tend to be more analytical and have more stamina.

Can a person change from night owl to morning person? According to a recent CNN article, there are 19 ways to trick yourself into becoming a morning person. They involve creating a new routine and having a definite goal in mind. Some of them include:

  • Make the change in 15-minute increments.
  • Turn off the electronics at least 1 hour before bedtime.
  • Use that hour to prepare for the next day.
  • Write out your to-do list and get those things off of your mind.
  • Create an environment conducive to sleep – darken the room, turn the temperature down to 65˚F.
  • Avoid eating or drinking a lot before going to bed.
  • Don’t hit the snooze button, but get up. Going back to sleep may put you into a deep sleep stage, which will make you really groggy.

A good sleep routine is crucial to optimum health, job performance, and quality of life. A night owl trying to fit into a morning person society may suffer from sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can have serious long-term effects as it can escalate into psychological disorders like depression and anxiety. If you feel this is a problem for you, please contact a mental health care professional in your area. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, please contact my office and schedule an appointment today.

By proactively managing your sleep pattern, you could create an extra hour in your day. How would you use it? Please join me on my Facebook page and tell me about it.



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