Reflections + Resources to Honor the Tension of Hope and Despair in Your Life

Hope and Despair blog post| Potentia Therapy Inc.

In honor of World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept 10th, 2019 and Suicide Awareness + Prevention Week that took place from Sept 6th until Sept 10th, 2019, and Suicide Awareness + Prevention month all of September, we have been rumbling with the concepts of hope and despair and how they impact our well-being, our relationships, our work, and our outlook.

The tension between hope and despair is a part of the human experience. It is not something we are taught to expect nor how to deal with or address.

Hope keeps us grounded. It is our oxygen, our life-raft, our ‘why’ when despair starts to hover and take root. Despair can feel disorienting and debilitating. It does its best to stifle hope.

Because loving, caring and committing is brave and daring work – we need to see the spectrum of hope and despair as a normal experience.

We also are committed to helping people know when it is time to reach out for help so they are not suffering in silence.

Mental health struggles, betrayal, loneliness, family of origin ‘rules’ and experiences, trauma, impatience, perfectionism, and struggles with meaningful work or purpose can feel bleak.

You matter. Your story matters. Your life matters.

We believe this in our bones and will hold that truth until you can own this belief yourself. It is a fight in a culture of never enough, shame, and blame. But we are up for the fight to help people reclaim the worthiness that was never meant to be put on the table for negotiation.

The following are some quotes and resources by our team of therapists on the topic of inevitable hope and despair.

Resources for Hope and Despair

Reflections on Hope and Despair

I find myself consistently encouraging people to cultivate compassion for themselves, and get curious about how they have been responding to the despair they are experiencing. – Chris Cessna, LMFT

Hope can feel elusive and sometimes just out of reach of our cognitive processing or intellectual learning. There might be another medium of expression calling to you right now to help organize your experience. This could look like a song, a piece of art, a film, a crisp walk in the morning by the water, a wise word from a kind stranger. What experiences have moved you in your lifetime? Can they be invited into your life in a bigger way right now? – Kimberly Ayres, AMFT

Nights can be cold and lonely, and can also be our catalyst into finding community around the fire. We don’t have to carry some burdens on our own. – Kimberly Ayres, AMFT

This book (Lost Connections by Johan Hari) is full of honest thoughts and real experiences around grief. Joan’s thoughts and experiences can be felt all around the pages. This book is for those who have felt loss and grief in their lives and to let them know they are not alone. – Lauren Bryan, M.A, ASW

Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts is such an important book in normalizing what so many moms experience in the Postpartum season. This book illustrates with true-to-life thoughts and experiences, the depth of despair and hope available for parents experiencing the overwhelm and sometimes frightening thoughts common during those first weeks and months with a new child. – Holly Kelley, LMFT

Maybe Tomorrow is a touching book about the weight of grief and the gift of the presence of a friend in moments that feel hopeless. With it’s colorful illustrations and simple story it’s appropriate for all ages. – Holly Kelley, LMFT

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please do not white knuckle it. If you are in San Diego, please contact the San Deigo Crisis Hotline at 1-800-479-3339 or call 911.

National Resources for Hope and Despair

@800273TALK via Twitter

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741).

www.twloha.com

Also, be sure to click here to access some journal prompts for you to use as a guide as you honor the hope and despair in your life.

To learn more about how Potentia could help you through your own personal rumbles with hope and despair, please click here.

Our Potentia team is here to help. Learn more about our clinical team and what we have to offer here.

With gratitude –
Rebecca Ching, LMFT, Founder + CEO – Potentia Therapy, Inc.

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Everything You Need To Know About EMDR Therapy

What is EMDR therapy?

Everything You Need To Know About EMDR Therapy | Potentia Therapy

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and is an 8 phase approach to helping the brain’s natural ability to heal and move through difficult life experiences so your brain and body can stay present and clear – even when confronted with triggers and challenges.

EMDR is designed to activate this natural healing process in the brain through alternating eye movements, sounds, or taps.

EMDR therapy is proven to help heal adults and children from trauma or other distressing life experiences such as, but not limited to:

Anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, chronic illness and medical issues, depression and mood issues,, disordered eating spectrum, grief+loss, physical and emotional pain, performance anxiety, PTSD and other trauma and stress related issues, sexual assault, harassment, sleep disturbance, substance abuse and addiction, violence and abuse.

How does EMDR work?

When we experience a traumatic event or a chronic physical or emotional health issues, our natural stress response is to put up a fight, flight, freeze, or numb out -all protective responses which can cause emotional blocks, feelings of overwhelm, and of feelings of being back in the moment and frozen in time.

EMDR therapy helps the brain process these memories and allows normal healing to resume by working through all 8 phases, including utilizing the bilateral eye movement (or via something you can see, hear or touch) that occurs in a moving side-to-side pattern which it is most known for. History taking, building report with your therapist, preparing for BLS, working through BLS, and then making sure all of the difficult memories have been reprocessed are covered in these phases.

When the disturbing memories are then reprocessed by the brain, this allows the brain and the body to feel more calm and confident and in the present when a past memory is recalled.

A typical EMDR therapy session lasts from 60-90 minutes.

EMDR therapy may be used within a standard talking therapy, as an adjunctive therapy with a separate therapist, or as a treatment all by itself.

How is EMDR different from other therapies?

EMDR therapy does not require talking in detail about the distressing issue, or homework between sessions. EMDR, rather than focusing on changing the emotions, thoughts, or behaviors resulting from the distressing issue, allows the brain to resume its natural healing process.

For many clients, EMDR therapy can be completed in fewer sessions than normal psychotherapy but as a trauma-informed team, we respect the time and pace of doing this work.

To learn more about how Potentia could help you through EMDR Therapy, please click here.

Our Potentia team is here to help. Learn more about our clinical team and what we have to offer here.

With gratitude –
Rebecca Ching, LMFT, Founder + CEO – Potentia Therapy, Inc.

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Transitions in Motherhood

& Other Resources From Holly Kelley, LMFT

Transitions in Motherhood | Potentia Therapy

The fact that you’re worried about being a good mom means you’re probably already a really good mom! – Holly Kelley, LMFT

Honoring Transitions

No matter what transition you’re going through in life, it’s important to honor it and be present with how it impacts your life, emotional well-being, relationships and physical and spiritual health.

One of our therapists, Holly Kelley, who specializes in perinatal mental health, shares with us some of her go-to resources when it comes to transitions.

Keep on reading to find out what you really need to be preparing for during the 4th trimester in pregnancy, why you should be embracing emotional discomfort and what book she recommends for adult children who have parents going through dementia.

Holly Kelley’s Three Resources for Those Going Through Transitions

1.  This blog post that covers the very real things you have to prepare for during the 4th trimester. Many women prepare for the birthing process like it’s their job during the final weeks of pregnancy. What many women don’t realize is that the 4th trimester (which occurs after birth), is just as important to plan for.

In many ways, not only is a baby born, but a mother is also born that needs to be cared for and tended to, just like the baby.

Dr. Christine Sterling, an Ob/Gyn, offers some honest, straight forward information that women should be aware of as they are transitioning from pregnancy to motherhood, including how their bodies are changing and what they should be aware of related to BabyBlues vs. Postpartum Mood and Anxiety disorders.

2.  This article that discusses what John Gottman and Brené Brown have to say about running headlong into heartbreak.

As a society in general, we’re not typically prepared to embrace emotional discomfort. Most of us are taught to run from or shut down, a relationship that causes us pain.

While there certainly are unhealthy/unsafe relationships which running from is appropriate, how many relationships might be safer and stronger if we were willing to run towards heartbreak in our relationships and risking being vulnerable with our partner?

Kerry Lusignan offers insight and compelling reasons on why it might be worth running towards heartbreak in our relationship rather than away from it.

3.  This book, titled “The Tide” by Clare Helen Welsh that tells a story about families, laughter, and how we can help a loved one with dementia live well.

As older adults in children’s lives begin to experience memory impairment, it can be challenging for children to understand why they are no longer remembered or why things feel so different with a loved one.

This lovely book offers a window into a little girl’s experience of this transition with her grandfather in easy to understand language and beautiful illustrations.

Need some more support for your perinatal mental health? Click here to sign up for our upcoming Rooted in Motherhood workshop!

To learn more about Holly Kelley, click here.

To download Potentia’s journal prompts for those going through transitions, click here.

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Transitions in Sports Nutrition

Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) and What Every Athlete (& Their Loved Ones) Needs To Know About Changes To The Female Athlete Triad

 Transitions in Sports Nutrition | Potentia Therapy

The Female Athlete Triad (FAT), coined in 1992 by the American College of Sports Medicine, described the intersection of and relationship between disordered eating, irregular menses and osteoporosis (bone less), and is a phenomenon very commonly seen in athletes. 

Since 1992, new evidence has emerged, suggesting that this is not merely a triad of symptoms, as inadequate nutrition influences countless aspects of our physical and emotional health. 

Further, FAT excluded men, despite the fact that male athletes also suffer from disordered eating, and the subsequent effects on health and performance. This prompted the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to develop a broader framework, Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S).

RED-S is defined as “impaired physiological function including, but not limited to, metabolic rate, menstrual function, bone health, immunity, protein synthesis, cardiovascular health”, all of which are driven by inadequate calorie intake/nutrition.  

The undernutrition then results in a cascade of dysfunctional issues with hormone regulation, mood/cognition and metabolic fitness, to name just a few. This may ‘show up’ in the athlete as a cardiovascular problem, frequent infections or illnesses, anemias, fatigue, depression, lack of menses, premature bone loss or physical injury. 

Contrary to popular belief, undernutrition does not only suppress estrogen in females in terms of hormonal dysfunction…..affected hormones include leptin, grehlin, cortisol, growth hormone and insulin (and many others).  

As a clinician who often sees this in practice across the gender spectrum, I’m thrilled that we now have a more comprehensive term to describe the dangers of restricted intake, especially in athletes, for whom adequate nutrition is vital for performance, injury prevention and overall health/quality of life. 

I tend to see this most in female runners and dancers, and in male runners and cyclists, though this is prevalent across all sports. It requires a concerted effort to fuel properly for activity, and timing and attention to macronutrients, adequate calorie intake and hydration are absolutely crucial concepts for athletes to understand. 

It is not always enough just to eat ‘normal meals’ or to mimic what peers are eating, as the needs of each athlete are unique and can vary considerably. 

My hope for the future is that uniform screening tools are developed and adopted by athletic programs that allow us to identify these struggles early on (before irreparable damage is done, via injury or bone loss, for example). This would require a multidisciplinary effort (dietitians, therapists and physicians specializing in disordered eating and sports nutrition/athletics), and an openness to collaboration with local athletic departments and family members. 

We are fortunate in San Diego in that many of our local university athletic departments are very proactive around collaborating with us in order to best help these individuals return to a state of optimal functioning. It truly takes a village to properly support our hard working and beloved athletes!

At Potentia, we acknowledge how important it is for an athlete to be able to return to their sport, and our collective hope is for them to do so in a way that is safe and sustainable.

Consequences of RED-S (note the limited nature and reach of Female Athlete Triad as depicted). *Psychological consequences can either precede RED-S or be the result of RED-S. Adapted from Constantini.

Consequences of RED-S | Potentia Therapy

Effects of RED-S on Athletic Performance (Adapted from Constantini)

Effects of RED-S on Athletic Performance | Potentia Therapy

Reference: 

Mountjoy M, Sundgot-Borgen J, Burke L, et al. The IOC consensus statement: beyond the Female Athlete Triad—Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S). British Journal of Sports Medicine 2014;48:491-497.

To learn more about Dr. Megan Holt-Hellner, click here.

To learn more about how Potentia could help you with food + body issues, click here.

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The Epidemic of Perfectionism

The Epidemic of Perfectionism

We have an epidemic of perfectionism: unrealistic expectations, standards and pressures. It is taking a toll on our relationships, our physical and emotional health, our families, our work and school performance.

And it is hiding right before our eyes – masked as a strong work ethic, high standards, attention to feeding and moving well, and a meticulous attention to detail that is the envy of so many. It also shows up as procrastination, avoiding, and not starting things that would further our health, our careers and our relationships.

As a result, exhaustion, loneliness, worry, fear of failure, constantly stressing about what other people think, poor body image, and ‘never enough’ beliefs haunt way too many people as they numb from feelings of not ____ enough.

The culprit?

The protector of Perfectionism.

It is a contagion that takes the desire to strive for excellence and distorts it into fearing mistakes, flaws, disappointments, and failure.

Leading from perfectionism is connected to anxiety, shame, procrastination, not asking for help, avoiding failure at all costs, and feeling exhausted from trying to please everyone.

And the tricky thing is that perfectionism is often celebrated, envied, and admired. It is seductive and can sneak up on all of us.

Brené Brown , PhD, LMSW and author of many books including her bestselling, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, resonated with millions. She wrote about her research and life experiences that so many of us could relate to and shifted our global conversation on this powerful protector.

Here are some wisdom nuggets from Brené on the topic of perfectionism:

  • In the research there’s a significant difference between perfectionism and healthy striving or striving for excellence.
  • Perfectionism is the belief that if we do things perfectly and look perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame.
  • Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around, thinking it will protect us, when in fact it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from being seen.
  • Perfectionism is also very different than self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval.
  • Most perfectionists grew up being praised for achievement and performance (grades, manners, rule following, people pleasing, appearance, sports).
  • Somewhere along the way, perfectionists adopted this dangerous and debilitating belief system: “I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. Please. Perform. Perfect.”
  • Healthy striving is self- focused: How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused: What will they think? Perfectionism is a hustle.
  • Perfectionism is not the key to success. In fact, research shows that perfectionism hampers achievement. Perfectionism is correlated with depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis or missed opportunities.
  • The fear of failing, making mistakes, not meeting people’s expectations, and being criticized keeps us outside of the arena where healthy competition and striving unfolds.
  • Shame loves perfectionists – it is so easy to keep us quiet

So how do you respond when your inner perfectionist is wanting to lead your life?

Develop a practice to Wholehearted Living. Brené identified 10 guideposts to wholehearted living as a way to move away from perfectionism and move towards a more authentic and grounded life.

Attend Our Upcoming (re) Define Perfection Workshop

I am thrilled to be offering (re) Define Perfection: Choosing Flexibility Over Rigidity workshop on Friday, March 29th, 2019 at Potentia’s workshop space where we will be working through each guidepost and developing our own personalized plan to respond to how perfectionism shows up in our life.

This experiential workshop will offering space to reflect, create, and cultivate more confidence in face of the fears of perfectionism. I will also be integrated Internal Family Systems principles to add to your wholehearted living practices.

Gourmet food, creative supplies, and presents will be offering to all – along with awesome community and connection.

Space is limited so please read more and register here. We have a three month payment plan and a buy one bring a friend for half off offer available, too.

Sign Up For Our Online (re) Define Perfection Experience

And if you are not in San Diego, click here to be notified when we will be launching an online (re) Define Perfection experience.

Take This Free Assessment To Learn More

Curious how perfectionism impacts you? Take this assessment to learn more and consider joining us at our workshop next week to help combat the negative effects of perfectionism.

Email me your results and reflections – I would love to hear how your results impact you.

With gratitude –

Rebecca Ching, LMFT, Founder + CEO – Potentia Therapy, Inc.

To learn more about how Potentia could help you with Perfection + Shame struggles, please see here.

Our Potentia team is here to help. Learn more about our clinical team and what we have to offer here.

Inquiry / Contact Form:
 

What is Internal Family Systems and Why You Need to Learn More About It Stat

What is Internal Family Systems | Potentia Therapy Inc


Instead of trying to get rid of the part of you causing you so much pain, harm and distress – befriend it and acknowledge it has a purpose. Then get to know that purpose with curiosity and compassion.

Wait, what?

Flashback to 10 years ago when I was sitting in a large auditorium filled with several hundred other therapists listening to another keynote lecture – at the annual iaedp conference. This is not how the majority of the people I know would find as a fun way to spend time, but I am a consummate learner and a raging extrovert – so I was in nerd heaven.

As I was taking in all the wisdom from Richard Schwartz, PhD, I was scribbling notes at a fast pace and my head was bobbing up and and down as I resonated with so much of what he was saying. He was trained in a systems theory approach that I had also studied from the beginning of my clinical career and so it was easy to connect to what he was saying.

He shared how he discovered IFS in his work, with bulimic clients and how he truly began to listen to his clients. But then I took a pause when he shared the mindset shift he had around how he viewed problematic behaviors.

Instead of pathologizing, labelling, trying to get rid of behaviors, Dick was instead asking me and the rest of the attendees to start to:

  • Separate the person from the symptom
  • Pause and witness these protective parts with compassion and curiosity
  • Get to know the fears and concerns of these protective parts that often end up doing harm
  • Learn with my clients the real story behind the symptoms
  • Get to know our own relationship with our own various inner thoughts and emotions – as this impacts how we show up with our clients

I exhaled.

Who does not want to be approached and interacted with in this way?

At the time of hearing Dick’s talk, I was early in my clinical career and everything I had been taught was how to drill down on the problem behaviors and beliefs and change them – if not eradicate them. The “problematic behavior’ was the enemy and we needed to bid farewell to all of them as soon as possible. Change the narratives. Push through resistance.

While listening to Dick, something clicked for me. It made so much sense to approach these behaviors as protective instead of resistance – which felt so judgemental anyway – and instead of focussing on an agenda, truly listening to them with compassion and curiosity. I was determined to help my clients do the same with their inner system. IFS felt more congruent, more aligned with what I new about connection, sustained, healing, and change. It felt way more respectful.

No more goodbye letters to eating disorders. No more shaming and pathologizing behaviors that were just coming from protective places. No more blaming clients – or anyone else, for that matter – for not working hard enough or having too much resistance. No more over-functioning and burnout for helping professionals. No more buying into fear or scarcity and the false truth promises of quick fixes.

And now yes to the sustained change through compassion and courageous work. Yes to more curiosity. Yes to the vulnerability taking the time to do healing different than we have been originally taught. And yes to more peace, more freedom, more confidence.

Love up the part of you that is causing you so much pain.

The Lens of IFS

IFS sees the inner world of a person divided into three parts:

  1. Protectors (managers and self-soothers or fire fighters)
  2. Exiles (younger parts that hold the burdens of our pain, shame, despair)
  3. Self (the space within all of us that has the capacity to heal our inner world)

Self has these incredible qualities: Courage, Compassion, Connectedness, Creativity, Confidence, Calm, Clarity and Curiosity.

You can read in great detail about this model, Internal Family Systems, where Richard Schwartz outlines at length the beauty of this lens and how it can be a catalyst for much needed healing in our homes, schools, churches, businesses, and communities.

“The IFS model offers specific steps toward a more control over impulsive or automatic reactions. It can transform your inner critical voice into a supportive one and can help you unload feelings of worthlessness. It is capable of helping you not only turn down the noise in your mind but also create an inner atmosphere of light and peace, bringing more confidence, clarity, and creativity into your relationships.”


Dick Schwartz, PhD, from the book Introduction to the Internal Family Systems Model

Let me be clear on a few things:

  • There are many ways to heal. My colleagues at Potentia and myself are passionate about mind/body and trauma-informed approaches that take into account the whole person: mind, body, soul. Find the best approach that makes sense for you and your core values and your present needs.
  • There is no such thing as a quick fix. It deeply saddens and, at times, infuriates parts of me when people are selling quick fixes to nuanced and complex struggles. Showing up day in and day out and doing the work to feel through pain, fear, uncertainty versus just think it through is where the sacred shift to healing happens.
  • Healing looks different for everyone.
  • Perfection and shame often push people to feel like they are failing in their healing journey

With gratitude –

Rebecca Ching, LMFT, Founder + CEO – Potentia Therapy, Inc.


To learn more about Potentia’s Internal Family Systems services, please see here.

Our Potentia team is here to help. Learn more about our experience and what we have to offer here.

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2017 in Review: Looking back and looking forward

2017 in Review: Looking back and looking forward

As 2017 winds down and you are in the in between space of Christmas and New Year’s, this is a great time to reflect, plan, and dream.

Making time to do this end-of-the-year ritual is a worthy practice to work into this time of year. We updated our download Looking Forward:Looking Back  for you – which is a fun tool to help you reflect on what worked in 2017, what did not, and what you want to focus on in 2018. Click on the link, download and print. Pen to paper is its own special kind of therapy.

This ritual is a powerful way to see the fruits of your hard work and make time to celebrate victories. Sometimes this ritual can feel overwhelming, especially when you feel like the previous year holds disappointments or the overwhelm of all you want to change in the new year feels daunting and out of reach.

So:

  • for those who feel the pressure of the oh so seductive marketing promises of quick results that will give you the desired changes you seek – unplug and get extremely selective about which voices are speaking to your worth.
  • for those who want to do all the things now and are feeling impatient waiting for circumstances to change – keep showing up and moving towards your goals one step at a time.
  • for those who want to forget the past all together – look back and rumble with your story so it no longer owns you but instead informs you.
  • for those who are experiencing the waves of grief and loss that have led to seismic shifts in doing life – just keep breathing. That is your only job right now. You will know when it is time to do more.
  • for those who think everyone else has it all together and no one else struggles – everyone struggles. Some are just better at hiding it than others.
  • for those who are ashamed about about  anxiety, depression, trauma, obsessive thoughts and behaviors, loneliness, experienced betrayal – we stand with you and speak a different message than shame: you are seen, you are valued and you belong here.

Cheers to good health – mind, body, and soul in 2018 and beyond.

With gratitude –

Rebecca

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Potentia Spotlight: Chris Cessna, LMFT, MFC

Potentia Spotlight: Chris Cessna, LMFT, MFC

Potentia Spotlight: Chris Cessna, LMFT, MFC

Working with Chris and getting to know his heart and passion for helping people live more connected and meaningful lives is truly inspiring. In a world where cynicism runs rampant, Chris is a breathe of fresh air with his integrity around this profession, work ethic, and passion for always learning + growing. Chris’s clients and colleagues are better people because we know him and our profession is better because he is in it. I am excited for you all to get to know Chris a bit better today.  – Rebecca

Where are you from?

I’m originally from small town Central Illinois, a town of 650 people called Potomac.  

Why did you become a therapist?

That’s a long story!  Throughout college and after moving to San Diego, I always had this vague desire to “help people”, but I had no specific direction or vision for that.  After working for several nonprofit organizations where my caseload was enormous (as high as 115 clients) and I felt like I wasn’t having the depth of impact I’d hoped for, I began looking into options that would allow me to really dig deep into people’s stories and offer the opportunity for healing, hope, and real change.  That led me towards pursuing a career as a therapist.

What is your philosophy to healing?

I believe people have the best opportunity to grow when they can experience a felt sense of safety. Through providing a safe emotional space for people to engage with the reality of their struggle, they can begin to pay attention to their story in a different way, make sense of the ways they have tried to cope in the past, and find freedom from the shame and pain that has kept them stuck. Understanding how our brains and bodies respond to threat and trauma, we can literally change the functioning of our brains and live a wholehearted, integrated life.  

How do you define self care?

Paying attention to what we need to be at our best, and taking steps (sometimes small, imperfect, and inconsistent steps) towards those things.  When we attune to the things that are important for our minds, bodies, and relationships, we are not being selfish.  We are giving ourselves and those around us more than we possibly could when we are exhausted, frustrated, and burned out.  

Why do you think so many people are uncomfortable asking for help?

We are constantly bombarded with messages that tell us we are not enough. Very often when we feel like there is an issue that needs to be addressed, those messages are amplified.  We hear in our minds what we imagine others would think – our families, our friends, and our faith communities.  It is so easy to get stuck in inaction because we think we should be “stronger”, able to “move on”, or that if we only had “more faith”, it wouldn’t be a problem.  Yet until we are able to look honestly at what is going on in our lives, we aren’t able to move through it or beyond it.  

What is your go-to self care ‘tool’ or ‘practice’?

My preferred self-care includes long hikes out in nature and laid back time with friends.  The reality of a busy life doesn’t frequently allow for this, so self-care typically involves time alone in silence and reflection.  Being still, listening to music, and creating space to breathe without an agenda or a to do list.  

What do you do for fun?

See above!   I love hiking, especially getting out for multi day backpacking trips in the Sierra.  I have three young children that provide a lot of laughs and entertainment.  

What are your favourite books?

This one is hard to narrow down for me, but The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk is at the top of the list.  It addresses the impact of traumatic experiences in a way that is helpful for therapists and for people who are dealing with the aftermath of trauma.  

Others include The Developing Mind by Dan Siegel, The Science of the Art of Psychotherapy by Alan Schore, and Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.   There are so many more!

What is your favourite book to recommend?

There are so many, but the one that I seem to recommend most is Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. It is such an accessible and relevant book for anyone, and the way she communicates about shame and vulnerability seems to have an impact on everyone who engages with it.  

The Whole Brain Child by Dan Siegel is the book I most often recommend to anyone hoping to address issues in parenting.   

What is your favourite quote or mantra –  and why?

“Faith does not need to push the river because faith is able to trust that there is a river. The river is flowing. We are in it.”  – Richard Rohr

This is a reminder that faith is about trust, not about striving, working, or putting together a perfect formula.  

“We can’t selectively numb emotion.  Numb the dark, and you numb the light.”  – Brene Brown

I see this play out in my work daily.  Trying to numb our pain inevitably leads us to an inability to experience joy, happiness, and connection.  

What is your favourite meal to cook?

I love making pulled pork on my smoker.  It is a 12-16 hour process that is a lot of fun for me and results in absolutely delicious food.  

Email Chris.

Call Chris at 619.819.0283 ext 2

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Potentia Spotlight: Megan Hellner, DrPH, MPH, RD

Potentia Spotlight: Megan Hellner, DrPH, MPH, RD

Potentia Spotlight: Megan Hellner, DrPH, MPH, RD

This is a new series which will feature many of the incredible clinicians at Potentia. I am thrilled to have Megan Hellner kick off this series as we have been working together for over a decade. She was all in when I shared with her a vision to have our services under the same roof so we can best support our clients and their families. Her training, passion, and standards of care make her one-of-a kind in this city. Her passion to work hard, play hard and contribute to her field  – along with her awesome sense of humor and love of animals – make her a joy to work with at Potentia.” – Rebecca 

Where are you from?

Born in Corvallis, Oregon, though I come from a large family of proud Aussies.

Why did you become a clinician and researcher?

I’ve always been very curious, and I have a deep appreciation for science and the scientific method. I’m always searching for the truth (sound answers and explanations) and evidence.  If I were to work solely as a researcher, I’d miss that human interaction that I have in working with patients/clients, and I also love to teach. I believe I was born to be in the role of helping others navigate the complex and noisy world of nutrition and disease prevention.

What is your philosophy to healing?

In my world, it’s ‘food first’, meaning supplements are just that (merely supplemental to a sound quality of diet).

What does health mean to you?

I’m in the position of thinking of health as a ‘big picture’ construct, and I favor thinking of how our choices today influence our health 5 years out….10 years out (versus living solely in the ‘now’). Whole-person health implies not only the absence of physical or emotional ailments, but a quality of life that one finds at least acceptable.

How do you define self care?

For me, self care means taking proactive measures to ensure that my quality of life is somewhere between good and excellent at all times.

Why do you think so many people are uncomfortable asking for help?

It’s embarrassing for some, and some of the life skills we need to relearn or need coaching around seem ‘obvious’ or ‘intuitive’. Also, people look at mental health support as a service reserved for folks who are hitting bottom, or perhaps have serious unabating psychological issues, versus something tremendously helpful that we can access as a means of preventive care.

What is your go-to self care ‘tool’ or ‘practice’?

Jumping in the water for a swim, or walking my pup and listening to an intriguing podcast or some great new music. Or, wandering around Anthropologie and smelling all of the candles. <3

What do you do for fun?

I LOVE being in and on the water….swimming, surfing, kayaking, rafting….all of it. I love farmers markets and plant-based foods. I love gorgeous craft cocktails (making and drinking) and live music/music festivals and I love spending time with my puppy and my fiance.

What are your favourite books?

I don’t read for fun much outside of work. A few favorites, however: Food Politics by Marion Nestle and China Study by T.Colin Campbell.  But I LOVE podcasts….they are like candy for me! Favorites include Radiolab, Naked Scientist, Criminal, S Town, This American Life and Hidden Brain. Occasionally, I listen to Joe Rogan and Tim Ferriss, but mostly to get a sense of where guys are getting all of these wacky supplement and product ideas.  We’ll call it market research 😉

What is your favourite book to recommend?

I don’t know that it’s my favorite book to recommend, but I find myself recommending Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Reych or Making Peace with Food by Susan Kano most frequently.

What is your favourite quote or mantra –  and why?

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

– Steve Jobs

I find Steve Jobs very inspiring given the intensity and focus with which he pursued his professional interests. I believe that we know best what is best for ourselves, and that the outside noise and opinions of others can muddy the waters at times. So this really resonates with me, and reminds me to be authentic, and to turn inward for answers.  I often read his quotes on Sundays as they tend to energize me for the upcoming week of work.

What is your favourite song when you need courage?

Anything by Zero 7 or Amy Winehouse.

What is your favourite meal to cook?

Pumpkin Garbanzo Bean Curry. Pumpkin anything and everything, really.

Email Megan.

Call Megan at 619.819.0283 ext 1

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Mindful Self-Care Part 2: Checklist

Hello and happy fall!

Last week, we shared a document compiled by Potentia therapist Stephanie Godwin about some important mindful self care practices. This week, we share a companion handout – a mindful self-care check list. These are not revolutionary questions but years of working with clients has taught us that checking in on the simple questions can often be the hardest.

Make a practice of reviewing this checklist weekly for a month and notice which questions catch your attention – either positively or negatively. Share your experience with a friend or your therapist and find ways to make this experiment a deeper habit.

Key components of mindfulness are: noticing and presence – two things that are hard to do living in a noisy world.

Self-care is not a luxury or an indulgence. It is as crucial as your rest and eating enough vegetables. Slowing down, noticing and feeling can be dangerous to parts of your protective system. But by practicing, checking in and getting curious, you create new resources in your brain which fuel resilience, calm, and confidence.

This practice does not mean you will not struggle. That is not realistic at all.  Daring to love, to try something new, to change is part of the messy, beautiful adventure of being human. Where humans are present, so is struggle. Which is why self-care is so fundamental to your mental health.

What would you add to this checklist?

Cheers to a good weekend and a deeper practice of presence and self-care.

With gratitude – Rebecca

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