Different Parts of Self

different xebras

Often times we go through life not knowing or understanding that there are different parts of us that have various- sometimes opposing- feelings or thoughts about a decision, circumstance, or relationship.

In many people, one part of themselves is more critical and harsh whereas another could be more compassionate and gracious.

When facing a situation or a decision, it could be helpful to separate out the parts of yourself for understanding. Ask yourself: what is this part like? what does it feel? Look like? What does that part’s voice sound like? Then ask about the other parts. The goal here is not to banish or repress one part – it is to have empathy and understanding in order to fully integrate the parts. This is a key towards emotional health.

Slowing down and exploring these different parts can lead to a more settled and confident move forward. Stability before mobility.

Happy Wednesday!

Trauma and Stress

Trauma can be big or small. Often times when people hear the word trauma they think of big incidents like 9/11 or a car accident. However, trauma can be “little” as well. Anything from being teased as a child, having a fight with a friend, a harsh word from a parent to a relationship break up. Trauma is like a wound. We go through life getting cuts and scrapes and usually we place some antibiotic cream over the cut, then a bandaid, and the wound heals. However, trauma is like a wound where a foreign object has been inserted inside and no matter how much cream or bandages the wound has – it is unable to fully heal.

Continue reading “Trauma and Stress”

Seasons and Transitions

Change is the one constant. We hear that often.

We see it all around us: whether it be in nature with the weather or seasons – or in technology – (new version of a smartphone already?)- things are always moving and often very fast.

For some of us, this can take a toll on our emotional and mental health. It’s almost like powering through a meal and not knowing what you just ate to fuel your body. This can make us feel sick or lethargic.

What’s the antidote? Continue reading “Seasons and Transitions”


The Bay Area was plummeted by rain this weekend.

It’s amazing how after a long while of no rain, being confined to indoors can feel either refreshing or the opposite: restricting.

I am reminded by how rain can be a parallel to the difficult emotions life seems to give us. It can force us to slow down, stay inside, get under the covers with a hot cup of tea and reflect on what is inside. Continue reading “Rain”

Group Therapy

Women’s Growth Group 2016

Group Therapy – What Should I Expect?

Group therapy involves a therapist who leads a group of roughly five to 10 clients. Typically, groups meet for an hour and a half each week. Some people attend individual therapy in addition to groups, while others participate in groups only. Many groups are designed to target a specific issue.

Benefits of Group Therapy

Joining a group of strangers may sound intimidating at first, but group therapy provides benefits that individual therapy may not. Therapists say, in fact, that group members are almost always surprised by how rewarding the group experience can be. Groups can act as a support network and a sounding board. Other members of the group often help you come up with specific ideas for improving a difficult situation or life challenge, and hold you accountable along the way. Regularly talking and listening to others also helps you put your own problems in perspective. Many people experience emotional health difficulties, but few speak openly about them to people they don’t know well. Oftentimes, you may feel like you are the only one struggling — but you’re not. It can be a relief to hear others discuss what they’re going through, and realize you’re not alone.

More Than Support

While group members are a valuable source of support, formal group therapy sessions offer benefits beyond informal self-help and support groups. Group therapy sessions are led by a therapist with specialized training, who can help facilitate interactions. Because the therapy group is a microcosm of our day to day life, the challenges we experience in relationships outside of group play out in the group. What’s important about group therapy is that it gives us the opportunity to slow down and examine the interpersonal dynamics we are creating as we actually create them. This, in turn, helps us develop insight and creates the opportunity for us to practice engaging in different ways.

Is group therapy enough?

Many people find it’s helpful to participate in both group therapy and individual psychotherapy. Participating in both types of psychotherapy can boost your chances of making valuable, lasting changes. If you’ve been involved in individual psychotherapy and your progress has stalled, joining a group may jump-start your personal growth.

How much should I share?

Confidentiality is an important part of the ground rules for group therapy. However, there’s no absolute guarantee of privacy when sharing with others, so use common sense when divulging personal information. That said, remember that you’re not the only one sharing your personal story. Groups work best where there is open and honest communication between members. Group members will start out as strangers, but in a short amount of time, you’ll most likely view them as a valuable and trusted source of support.

*adapted from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/group-therapy.aspx Ben Johnson, PhD

What does Art have to do with it?

Art Therapy is a growing field! Many therapists incorporate art into the their work with clients. However, there is a whole slew of therapists that are becoming certified through AATA and ATCB.

I have found art in my professional and personal life to be a helpful way for self care, and accessing inner resources. It has the potential to uncover thoughts, beliefs, and dreams that are hidden away in our unconscious and can only be accessed through the creative part of our humanity. We are all artists! Don’t believe me?

According to John Muir Laws in his book The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling, “To err is human. It is easy to be wrong. The fallibility of human reasoning can lead to misinterpretations of evidence and false ideas. Being aware of these logical fallacies will help you as you gather evidence and build understanding of the world.” he then quotes Samuel Johnson:

“I know not anything more pleasant, or more instructive, than to compare experience with expectation, or to register from time to time the difference between idea and reality.”

Be creative this Memorial Holiday and see what comes of it!

Check out this link from Virtual Instructor for a list of prompts to get your creative juices started!

Poetic antidote to a fast paced culture 

The Old Poets of China 

Wherever I am, the world comes after me.

It offers me busyness. It does not believe that I do not want it. Now I understand why the old poets of China went so far and high into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist.

– Mary Oliver


“So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.”

‭‭John‬ ‭6:15‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Differentiation – what is that?

What does it mean to differentiate from something, someone, or yourself?

Some people may find the word “differentiation” a bit funky and even scientific when it is used to relate to one’s inner world – at the same time therapists’ use this term to help clients understand what it means to grow within oneself and in relationships.

There are two aspects of differentiation:

One is Intra-psychic – where a person within themselves can separate their feelings from their thoughts. How often have we interpreted our feelings as all encompassing truthful thoughts? Has this gotten us into a little tiny bit of trouble – or maybe a big heap of distress? Feelings are feelings, they are not good or bad, they just are. Our thoughts however are a bit different, they are typically based on logic. If we are able to hold the separateness of our feelings and thoughts and contain the differences – could we face whatever lies ahead much more effectively and perhaps feel differently in the end?

Second is Inter-personal – this describes how separated and distinct a person is from their parents/caregivers, own kids, and extended family. Are our own thoughts and reactions separate from other people’s thoughts and reactions? If your partner is angry then are you also angry? Or are you able to remain separated from other’s feelings without taking on other’s emotions?

One important piece to note is that everyone is on a continuum.  Culture may also play an essential role on the degree of differentiation and what it means to be growing towards health. In some cases, lower levels of differentiation can lead to issues that affect one’s ability to live the life they would like.