Potentia’s Top 10 Links From 2019 + Staff Favorites

Potentia's Top 10 Links of 2019

As we wrap up 2019, we decided it would be fun to list out the Top 10 Favorite Links from 2019 shared in our weekly Every Day Human email that goes out every Friday, told to us by our amazing email community! Scroll down to view them, along with some other favorite resources by our Potentia Therapy team.

Top 10 Links From 2019

  1. this article that lists out 36 different questions to ask your partner in order to fall in love with them all over again.
  2. this educational article on gaslighting, what it is and what to do if you figure out it’s happening to you.
  3. this article that lists out 4 habits that are sapping your brain power, written by a Neuroscientist.
  4. this post on what a “Noticing Wall” is and why you should create one for your kid.
  5. this article on Anna Kendrick’s break up story and why it’s an important point about setting boundaries in relationships.
  6. this article on why some people are always late. Hint: It’s not always rudeness or scattered-brain behavour!
  7. this illustration that lists out four different ways we can parent ourselves.
  8. this article on how to break the dangerous cycle of loneliness.
  9. this list of 6 toxic relationship habits most people think are normal.
  10. this video of Brené Brown discussing #BravingTheWilderness.

Staff Quotes on Reflecting

Reflecting is not something that can be done in a rush. Even just a daily practice of a quick thankfulness list can make a huge difference in starting to be more reflective. – Andee Woolf, LMFT

While part of us may desperately want to change and move on, it’s important to acknowledge and honor all that our system has done to keep us afloat and all the years it’s taken us to get to the place we are now. – Holly Kelley, LMFT

Reflecting can be a difficult task if we don’t first know how to pay attention to the present moment and be aware of our judgments, agendas, and biases. Cultivating a practice of regular reflection, stillness and silence is important if we are to reflect with honesty and purpose. So often, our reflection is directed by an unspoken agenda or goal. Mindfulness has been defined as paying attention on purpose to the present moment without judgment. When we are able to be mindful, reflecting on our past can be done with more clarity and intention. One of the tools that can help in becoming more mindful is meditation. A great way to get started with a meditation practice is using a guided meditation app like Calm or Headspace (there are many more). – Chris Cessna, LMFT

Staff Favorites from 2019

Favourite movie was…

Captain Marvel.  It was inspriring to see a lead woman character overcome all the negative messages that females often face and portray a role filled with strength, perseverance and compassion. – Andee Woolf, LMFT

Bohemian Rhapsody. I was raised on Queen’s music, and have always felt a connection with Freddie Mercury.  – Megan Holt-Hellner, DrPH, MPH, RD

Crazy Rich Asians: The movie is artistically beautiful: filled with color, music, and motion in a way that moves me. The cast is stunning and I’ll always pick a good love story. – Holly Kelley, LMFT

Tolkein –  I loved learning about J.R. Tolkein’s life and the creation of one of my favorite book/movie series. I am also predicting that CATS the movie will be one of my favorites due to my love for cats and music combining to be my ultimate bliss! – Lauren Bryan, M.A, ASW [Supervised by Rebecca Ching, LMFT
Captain Marvel – I cried at the end – that last fight scene at the end just did me in – and loved watching it with my kids. Plus, I loved music was so fun. Bonus as this is not a movie and the series is not complete but The Morning Show is some of the most exquisite acting and conversations around gender, power, #metoo, relationships, and generational shifts.  – Rebecca Ching, LMFT

Favorite book was…

The Harry Potter series.  I read it for the first time and was struck by the themes of unconditional love, friendship and determination as well as how bodly it took on the themes of grief and loss. – Andee Woolf, LMFT

No real standouts this year in particular, but I did receive a copy of Permanent Record by Edward Snowden for Christmas, and I’m looking forward to reading that when time allows! – Megan Holt-Hellner, DrPH, MPH, RD

The Road Back to You and The Road Between Us: Diving a bit into the Enneagram this year helped immensely in understanding more about myself and my partner in a way that allowed me to be gracious with those areas of myself that feel frustrating at times and offers more compassion and curiosity in relationships with others. – Holly Kelley, LMFT

My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem — This book is a beautiful representation of how trauma can be stored in the body — transferring from generation to generation. – Lauren Bryan, M.A, ASW [Supervised by Rebecca Ching, LMFT]

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. I read this first in 2018 but re-read it this year and it just shook me, convicted me, and challenged me in the best ways and the hardest ways. Rebecca Ching, LMFT

Favorite song that made me braver in 2019 was…

Steadfast by Sandra McCraken. – Andee Woolf, LMFT

Don’t Stop Me Now (again, a Queen song). This was one of many songs populating my playlist while giving birth to Olin, my son (born in May 2019), and it made me feel invincible! – Megan Holt-Hellner, DrPH, MPH, RD

What’s Up Danger (yes, from Spiderman Into the Spiderverse): In the context of the movie, What’s Up Danger plays as Miles (Spiderman) is stepping into himself as Spiderman. He does so not knowing where it will lead, but being confident that he is where he’s meant to be at that moment and knowing he isn’t alone in it. – Holly Kelley, LMFT

Sunshine by Tom Misch — because is brings me sunshine and dance moves for days.  – Lauren Bryan, M.A, ASW [Supervised by Rebecca Ching, LMFT]
Quiet by MILCK  – I had not heard this 2017 song until I saw MILCK play this song live at a conference I attended last summer and I sung the chorus for weeks. Knowing the story about it and reflecting on the many brave women and men I know who dare not to keep quiet left me inspired and grounded.

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

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

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Reflections + Resources For A Dose of Grace & Gratitude

Resources + Reflections for a dose of grace and gratitude

As we head into the holiday season and begin to wind down 2019 and look towards 2020, a dose of grace and gratitude is in order.

The holiday season can mean a spectrum of things depending on the day as you move through the joys of tradition, the complexities of relationships, dreading expectations and just trying to accomplish all.the.things.

We are living in a culture that quickly defaults to judgement, criticism, shame and blame when tensions get high, defenses are entrenched, sleep is deprived and the tierney-of-the-urgent hijacks presence and peace.

Some of us are better at disconnecting and numbing than others and we acknowledge the privilege of being able to tap out of the hard things.

But you are here because you want more than a quick fix and we admire that a ton.

We see grace as the underserved gift and gratitude as a practice beyond just a feeling that gives thanks for the small and big and the everyday. When practiced together, they can serve as a powerful multivitamin for your emotional and relational wellbeing.

Grace and gratitude are important anchors for this season and beyond. Take some time to reflect on your life and let’s stand together – with grace and gratitude – and do the hard and brave things of being human.

Note: Grace is not remiss of accountability and gratitude can coexist with discomfort.

Resources for Grace and Gratitude

Staff Reflections on Grace and Gratitude

Gratitude is an active practice of noticing the good. – Andee Woolf, LMFT

We won’t experience gratitude without intentionally cultivating a practice of gratitude into our lives. By slowing down, being still, and purposefully paying attention to our lives and our emotional experience, we can begin to see what we have to be grateful for, and that can change the way we experience the world. Intentionally engaging in a gratitude journal, meditation, or prayer that emphasizes our gratitude can begin to change our emotional experience, our relationships, and our perspective on life. – Chris Cessna, LMFT

Extending grace with others originates with extending grace and kindness towards yourself. – Lauren Bryan, M.A, ASW

You are gratuitous and kind to many people. It’s time to extend that gratitude and kindness to yourself – you are just as worthy of it as anyone else. – Holly Kelley, LMFT

Mindful eating, or simply slowing down, is one way we can begin to reconnect with food, thus bringing joy and an attitude of gratitude to even the most ordinary meals or snacks. – Megan Holt-Hellner, DrPH, MPH, RD

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

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

Click here to sign up and join the Potentia email list for weekly inspiration, resources + more!

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

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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.

Click here to sign up and join the Potentia email list for weekly inspiration, resources + more!

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.

Click here to sign up and join the Potentia email list for weekly inspiration, resources + more!

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.

Click here to sign up and join the Potentia email list for weekly inspiration, resources + more!

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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.

Click here to sign up and join the Potentia email list for weekly inspiration, resources + more!

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.

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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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