Mindful Monday: Embrace Weirdness

Happy Monday! Here is a new quote for you. Remember you can approach it with this 5-step mindfulness practice.

Embrace WeirdnessIs there something about you that sets you apart from the crowd, that others may have labeled “weird”? What if this difference is in fact a source of strength? What if we learned to cherish and value our differences instead of judging them?

When I was in elementary school, I loved reptiles and amphibians. In fact, I still do! I loved nothing more than looking for salamanders under rotting logs or feeding the box turtle that passed through the yard. My pride and joy was a terrarium of pet toads . However, when I chose to bring them to school for show and tell my principal commented “that’s an odd hobby for a girl”.  Fortunately, I felt secure enough in this aspect of me that his opinion did not matter. I was able to recognize that his limited gender roles were the problem.

There will be people who are quick to judge those who vary from the norm. Maybe today you can consider that those people have the problem!

There’s nothing wrong with you.


Posted in Gender, Mental Health, Mindfulness, Psychologist | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

#TBT: Possible Signs of Emotional Abuse

Emotional Abuse: Possible Signs

Are You Being Emotionally Abused?

Emotional abuse may be harder to recognize than physical,  but it can certainly be just as devastating. The following list may indicate emotional abuse.  Please seek help with your nearest Domestic Violence hotline or someone aware of Domestic Violence issues.

  • Do you feel that you can’t discuss with your partner what is bothering you?
  • Does your partner frequently criticize you, humiliate you, or undermine your self-esteem?
  • Does your partner ridicule you?
  • Does your partner isolate you from friends, family or groups?
  • Does your partner limit your access to work or material resources?
  • Has your partner ever stolen from you? Or run up debts for you to handle?
  • Does your relationship swing back and forth between a lot of emotional distance and being very close?
  • Have you ever felt obligated to have sex, just to avoid an argument about it?
  • Do you sometimes feel trapped in the relationship?
  • Has your partner ever thrown away your belongings, destroyed objects or threatened pets?
  • Are you afraid of your partner?

Resources for those experiencing Dating/Intimate Partner/Domestic Violence:

Posted in Abuse, Domestic Violence, Emotional Abuse, Psychologist, Trauma, Violence | Leave a comment

Mindful Monday: Adaptation

image via Sonoran Desert Network

Life in the desert never ceases to amaze me, the way life here has adapted to such harsh circumstances. Animals navigate rough and prickly terrain effortlessly. This bobcat doesn’t seem to mind sitting in the crook of a giant cactus! Animals here find a way to make the environment work for them.

How have you adapted to your environment? What does a harsh, prickly environment do to humans? Has your adaptation helped or harmed you?

Can you take a moment to become aware and honor whatever you have done to survive to this moment?

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#TBT: The Impact of Trauma

It is Throwback Thursday and that means another post from the past. This is one of my favorite posts and a good place to learn some basics about the effects of trauma.

The Impact of Trauma

I’ve defined what therapists mean when we talk about trauma. Now I’d like to elaborate on its impact and why you might want to seek therapy for help in the aftermath of traumatic experiences. How does it impact a person and what can be done about it?

Trauma impacts many and has further reaching consequences than is usually understood. Kessler et al. (1995) found that 60% of men and 51% of women in the general population reported at least one traumatic event at some time in their lives. Almost 17% of men and 13% of women who had some trauma exposure had actually experienced more than three such events. As a therapist, I expect that most people seeking help will have experienced some sort of trauma in their lives.

What follows is an overview. Every individual is different and context can intensify or ameliorate the impact a traumatic event will have. Do you have a support system? Was your family relatively healthy and able to meet your emotional needs? Was this one in a series of traumatic events? Were you able to talk about it and receive help right away? All these factors and more play a role.

Approximately 73% of individuals exposed to a traumatic incident will experience dissociative states during the incident or in the hours, days, and weeks following…
However, for most of those people these dissociative incidents will subside on their own within a few weeks after the traumatic incident subsides.  -International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation

Sometimes traumatic events lead to a particular constellations of reactions and symptoms that are called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is defined as and recognized as caused by a traumatic event. It is my understanding that the impact of trauma is even broader than commonly understood and is also  a component underlying many psychological diagnoses.
Reactions to a traumatic event may include any or all of the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Eating Disturbances
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Low energy
  • Chronic, unexplained pain
  • Depression, spontaneous crying, despair, and hopelessness
  • Memory Disturbance
  • Panic Attacks
  • Fearfulness
  • Compulsive and Impulsive Behaviors
  • Irritability, angry outbursts
  • Emotional numbness

In my practice I understand many diagnostic categories as trauma related and best seen as complex trauma aftermath. Especially when we take into account the breadth of traumatic experiences (big T and little t) it becomes clearer that things like anxiety, panic attacks,  depression, substance abuse, compulsive behaviors, eating disorders , dissociative disorders and personality disorders can all be related to trauma. Individuals with complex trauma histories are also often misdiagnosed! Just a couple of examples: some children diagnosed with ADHD may actually be dealing with unresolved trauma and research shows that people with dissociative disorders spend an average of seven years in the mental health system before getting the correct diagnosis.

Without the awareness of the role that trauma plays, standard approaches to mental heath and substance abuse treatment and other human services may re-traumatize individuals who have experienced violence.  This can interfere with getting useful treatment of even lead to giving up on seeking help at all!

Appropriate treatment for a person who has experienced violence must be both trauma-specific and trauma-informed.  Trauma-specific services are those designed to directly address the effects of trauma, with the goal of healing and recovery.  EMDR is an example of such an approach.  If you have been impacted by trauma and would like more information, feel free to contact me. You can also refer to Sidran’s What Is Good Trauma Therapy? What Is a Good Trauma Therapist?

Kathleen Young, Psy.D.

Posted in Abuse, Childhood Abuse, Dissociation, Health, Mental Health, Psychologist, Therapy, Trauma | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mindful Monday: Letting Go

Do you like quotes? I do. I plan to share some with you on Mondays. In the spirit of mindfulness I’d like to encourage you to try a specific way of engaging with the quote. has created a wonderful 5-step mindfulness practice for this purpose:

  1. Get centered — Take a moment to just notice your body here, noticing any tension and seeing if you can choose to let that tension go. Become aware that you’re breathing.
  2. Read the quote twice – Reading it twice allows it to settle in a bit more.
  3. Allow the words to simmer — Close your eyes and see if you can let the words roll around and notice what arises for you physically, emotionally and mentally. In other words, let these words percolate in your mind and body. Do any thoughts, memories, or associations arise? Is there a tension or loosening in the body? Do emotions of fear, joy, or calm arise? Whatever arises this is grist for the mill.
  4. Bring your mind back if it wanders — You may notice the mind going off into thoughts of what you need to be doing or judgments such as “how is this going to be helpful to me?” Just note where it wandered to and gently guide it back. As Larry Rosenberg says in his book Breath by Breath, repeat this step several billion times.
  5. Come back to the breath – Thank yourself for taking this time-out of your daily busy-ness to engage with this mindful inquiry for your health and well-being.

Se what it’s like to approach the following quote in this way. If you choose not to, that’s okay too. Please feel free to share what you choose about this quote and experience.

Posted in Mindfulness, Therapy, Trauma | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments