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

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