Category: <span>Trauma</span>

Intimacy, communication, anxious

Do We Need Therapy? Couples Edition.

The secret’s out, therapy can be a life-changing experience for individuals and couples navigating new or established relationships. Couples therapy aims to help a couple improve or better understand their style of relating and connecting. Healthy relationships don’t necessarily just happen; it results from applying skills like boundaries and practical communication approaches, which sometimes requires a professional.  

Couples therapy can be helpful because an objective party can potentially close the gap between you and your partner. It can be used for new couples, couples preparing for marriage, married couples, and even couples considering divorce.

Why should you participate in couples therapy?

Communication. The number one reason most couples go to therapy is for support with communication. As you may know, communication is a key element in any relationship’s success, but especially for intimate relationships.  

Have you ever had a conversation with your partner that immediately turned to arguments or quickly escalated into a shouting match? Maybe you’ve left an encounter feeling manipulated or dismissed? Or worse, feeling alone or disappointed with the quality of your relationship. 

That is where couple’s therapy can come in to lend the tools to navigate the intense emotions that come into communication dynamics. The goals are to help create space to explore more understanding and empathy between partners and foster fulfilling partnerships. For minority couples, therapy is an excellent resource for validating the black and brown experience, with opportunities to experience restorative conversations. 

For example, historically, many Black men have learned messages that certain emotions are not ok to express and are a sign of weakness. This is similar for many minority groups who culturally may not have been taught how to be vulnerable or have that role modeled in their lives. Black women may be more open with their emotions but are also taught to be superwomen and hide their struggles, even when overwhelmed and falling apart. These dynamics within a relationship can easily lead to misunderstandings and conflicts.  

Expressing your feelings doesn’t diminish your masculinity or weaken your strength as a woman

You need to know that expressing yourself doesn’t diminish your masculinity or weaken your strength as a woman. Relationship dynamics can challenge that at times, and we can’t stress enough, you are not alone in that experience.  

Trauma. Trauma is a profound loss of control. By the time we come into adulthood, most of us have had to experience at least two traumatic events, if not more. Events such as a significant loss, experiencing a parent incarcerated or subjected to alcohol or substance use, sexual trauma, lingering intergenerational family trauma, witnessing community trauma, experiencing abuse or neglect.  

Trauma directly impacts our ability to trust and connect with others. It affects intimacy, one’s ability to know and express your emotions, and even your ability to be emotionally available to others. Couples therapy can be a valuable tool for couples where one or both partners are looking to heal. 

Passion/ Sex Related Issues. Sex is still a taboo topic in most cultures and most relationships. Couples who struggle in the bedroom need not be ashamed. Many factors can affect a couple’s sex life. At times there are emotional aspects of that (such as trauma mentioned above or other fears or anxieties) that can be addressed with the support of a couple’s therapist. 

Intimacy

Infidelity. Infidelity often alters the trajectory of a relationship and can lead to issues related to trust, intimacy, and forgiveness. Many couples seek therapy as a sincere effort to save the relationship and heal from the damage infidelity can cause, or even to resolve these issues and amicably separate.  

While there are many other reasons to engage in couple’s therapy, like boundary issues, differing parenting styles, navigating the health of a spouse, finances or just wanting core skills to support your relationship- whatever the reason it can be especially validating to hear from a professional.  

If you are experiencing any of the above or other relationship concerns, please contact the practice as we have several openings for couples. Additionally, keep an eye out for future couples’ workshops hosted at Kensho Psychotherapy Services, where couples can come together to learn tips and strategies to make their relationships stronger. 

Written by Alyssa Heavens, MFT Intern and edited by Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R, Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor & Mental Health Consultant 

What Power Do Words Have?

The current state of African Americans in this country has reached a boiling point. If we didn’t want to acknowledge that there was a need for therapy before, we certainly cannot ignore it anymore! We have seen, heard, read, and even have our own stories to tell when it comes to being unfairly mistreated. For this very reason, last week we held a “gathering” that included a panel of talented men and women that shared their experiences and how we can become unstuck and unbothered by what we are being faced with. 

The conversation began with understanding the power of words. When we were younger we heard the childhood comeback,”Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”. That statement is so far from the truth I can’t believe we used to say it. What about the command “children should be seen and not heard”? How many conversations did you not have because of those words? How many painful secrets have you kept?  Words can heal, contribute to shame, build up, or even break down a person’s spirit. Once we realize the power in our words, we can understand how to use them for growth and encouragement. The power of words can change your life. Affirmations are a great way to begin your day to build yourself up to be able to handle whatever life may throw at you. Building yourself up is extremely important because you cannot pour from an empty glass. 

From there “the gathering” shifted the conversation to a macro level, exploring systems in this country and its subtle (or direct) cumulative bias messages, practices and policies. Often people make reference to the system not working and being considered “broken”. Our panelists brought to attention the fact that the system is “working” according to the way it was designed. Have you ever thought about that? Consider the 13th Amendment of the constitution where “blacks” were supposed to be included in the statement, “We the People”. This implies that before this amendment “We” were not considered “the People”. What are those words saying there? Consequently, the entire system was designed to work for “the People” that were originally included. That is the issue with systematic racism, it’s been engrained for a long time, and the actions related to those ideas are often automatic and unconscious. Change requires that the system is dissected by reevaluating our current and longstanding narratives and rebuilding systems as a whole. Systems, in this case, are larger institutions like the education system or the culture of policing, and big business where minorities remain exactly that. Last but not least, we are all responsible for looking at ourselves regardless of the shade of our skin.   

A catalyst for reform came after the video of George Floyd. For centuries we have seen African Americans abused and mistreated, but what made that our breaking point? One idea that was introduced for discussion was the fact that due to the pandemic, we were sheltered in place and already frustrated with that experience, and there was little else to focus on. The pandemic had forced everyone to slow down and pay attention. We had just learned of Ahmad Aubry, and one more black injustice was enough! It triggered an instinctual trauma reaction, fight, flee or freeze. Many decided to fight.  Secondary trauma can have just as much as an impact as experiencing trauma yourself. Everytime you turn on the news you can’t help but see the replays of a man losing his life, protests throughout the world, additional videos of unjust treatment, insensitive comments by “the people”, plus the effects of the pandemic. Perhaps enough is enough.

AffirmSo what can we do about how we are feeling? Let’s talk about it. Mental health should be viewed the same as going for a well check. The mind is a powerful thing and should be cared for the same as a stomach ache. Make no mistake witnessing a trauma is just as powerful as being a victim and racial trauma is complex and has been experienced for generations. The impact is lodged in our bodies and our minds. The signs of too much stress may look like: anxiety, irritability, trouble sleeping, distrust, emotional and social withdrawal, fatigue, wild dreams and periods of unexplained sadness. It’s a challenging experience that will continue to be challenged over the next few months. If left unaddressed it can compromise your emotional and physical well-being.

So if you are unsure about your experiences or have questions about what you feel, consider speaking with a therapist to help you work through your emotions. You can also grab the free Unstuck and Unbothered Guide here. Inspired by the recent webinar on the power of your words, this guide takes the time to explore what you are saying to yourself, how to shift it, and speak in ways others can hear you, while listening with empathy as you take proactive steps to change the narrative of your life. It is a reminder that our words have power and there is a need to keep that in the forefront of our minds. 

Kensho Psychotherapy Services is here to offer support and help through your difficult time. Mindset Coaching is also available for dynamic women of color in business who need of a boost in their lives. Amanda Fludd has helped hundreds of women find their power, courage and confidence to be their authentic selves both in their professional and personal lives. If you aren’t sure what you need, that’s ok, send us an inquiry at support@amandafludd.com

For more information visit our site:  www.amandafludd.com

A special thank you to the Unbothered and Unstuck Panelists: Jennell Smith, Singer and Song Writer on IG  @jlatoymusic; Tamara Dopwell, LMSW, Activist & Socially Conscious Tee Shirt Designer at: http://www.designsbytee3.com; And Mr. Richard Celestine, ESQ, and advocate for Juvenile Justice on IG@the_inspirational_lawyer and LinkedIn: www.LinkedIn.com/in/richard-celestin

Mental Health Problems Don’t Affect Me

Right about now, it affects everyone. Mental health has always been a taboo subject particularly in minority communities, until now. A lack of understanding by families, friends, and individuals, alongside a fear of being associated with the stigma of mental illness have created roadblocks to mental health. Words like disturbed, sad, broken, crazy or lazy come into the mix, but all of the above is FALSE! Mental health is all about the wellbeing of the brain, and since we all own one, it’s an issue for all of us.

The health of our minds is associated with things like genetics (depression and the impact of trauma runs in families), environmental stressors (like a pandemic or witnessing injustice), social (role ambiguity, poor relationships), or cultural factors (norms, beliefs). The behaviors or responses associated with mental illness can’t be ignored, and isn’t any one person’s fault. However, unless we are proactive in addressing the evident mental health needs associated with the pandemic and recent events, there will be enormous long-term consequences for everyone. 

Similar to any other health condition, it is important that we take care of our mental health, and do our part to protect it.  You would be surprised at how simple it is to get grounded, recharge, and reclaim your mental health. Read more

Revamping Self Care. The Pandemic Edition

Pandemic Coping Skills

 

If you weren’t exercising your self-worth before this apocalyptic level crisis by balancing daily demands with our natural need to say “no”, “rest” and “recharge”, well for sure, the time has come to indulge and nurture what you’ve neglected. Don’t presume that one takes a back seat while navigating the new demands of remote work, google classroom or a looming recession. Regardless of your evolving role, pausing to engage in self-care may be one of the key tools to protect your energy so we can survive and thrive through this pandemic.

Let’s call out this thing for what it is, insane! It’s a profound loss of control that has shown up in every aspect of our lives and that is exactly what trauma is. Adding on to this ordeal is the physical and mental strain on our health. This shows up differently for everyone depending on several factors like emotional support, ability to self-care and skills to cope. It may look like irritability, restlessness, constant worry, a decrease in productivity, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, loneliness, increased flashbacks, self-doubt, depression and more.

Why self-care? We all need to take time out to decompress and let some of the steam off. This lessens the impact of stress and worry that is building in the background.

Raise your hand if you aren’t stressed and worried. . .crickets.

Pausing means taking time to nurture your needs and for some, some untreated emotional wounds.

How to get started– Take a minute (actually get out a piece of paper and a timer and set it for one minute) and jot down all the things you love to do or maybe wanted to do but just didn’t have the time to do. Now push yourself a little bit further for the next five minutes and think deeper about what you really need to nurture right now. Now take a look at your loves list and consider what you can add to further nurture your needs. For example, going to church is one way I recharge but I don’t have access to this form of reconnecting right now, at least not in the same way. Nevertheless, I can listen to a YouTube worship service or dynamic inspirational song at my desk while at work daily. I can add devotionals to my nurture list or learning a bible based affirmation. My strength comes from the Lord.

Once you have your list ready, the next part just requires regular and consistent action on your part. Take a few things from your list, especially the ones you can do now considering the circumstances and build it into your daily schedule. That’s it.

Your Pandemic Edition Plan might look like this:

  1. Pausing daily to check in with what you need emotionally, physically and spiritually. Notice it and nurture it. Maybe incorporate some meditation or mindfulness practices. Check out the calm.com app, Headspace or Stop Breathe Think. A colleague and I are also hosting a Virtual Wellness Summit on 4.25.20 to help you pause, reconnect and recharge. You should come, it’s free. Register on Eventbrite: https://bit.ly/34OuTOT. Or consider other similar events.
  2. Figure out your daily routine to incorporate the items you love and to make sure you are creating things to look forward to during your day. Without goal directed action it’s easier to lose track of time and procrastinate as days blend together. Read, write, take a drawing class or enroll in a free course at Yale (yup, that’s happening).
  3. Take time to connect: Call, text, or even write to a loved one or a friend to not just see how they are doing, but to chat about live, practice being social, and maybe as a byproduct find inspiration to you. Of course its ok to set limits on this. If you just don’t feel like talking, that’s ok. Another great option is joining some online groups with friends or finding events like the one mentioned above through Eventbrite or maybe even link up with a charitable group to be of service to others and foster a sense of connection while supporting your community.
  1. Move your body. Your body is craving to be noticed and to move. There is freedom and healing in our bodies, especially when we connect it to silence or the rhythm of our ancestors. Try a free yoga application like Down Dogg in the App store or free online workouts being offered by YMCA. You can also join in on the IG DJ Battles and dance it off, or maybe even join your kids for a “Just Dance” session in the Livingroom. 
  2. Get outside. Walk, run or just sit outside and get some fresh air and sun. Kick off your shoes and feel the earth beneath you- we call this type of grounding “earthing”. As you ground yourself use that time to think about a few reasons to be grateful.

Continue to ground yourself in the one thing that you have control over: Simple acts of self-care and nourishment of one’s mind. Taking it in step by step each day. I am grateful for you, proud of you for doing the best you can, and wish you endless days of self-love, care, compassion, phenomenal health and healing.

Author: Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R  4.24.2020

The Silent Pandemic

We are resilient people. Our minds, however, were not designed to handle this level of direct exposure to trauma. From our medical and mental health workers with first hand visuals of the brutally of Covid-19, to the rest of society inundated with daily updates meant to inform us, yet simultaneously engaging us in the narrative of secondary trauma.  By bearing witness to the magnitude of loss and uncertainty, we become living fatalities of trauma.

There is no way we can ingest over 6,500 people losing their lives in New York City, all the while still adapting to the consequences of this illness- from loss of income, to adjusting to life at home, to a virtual way of existing, and claim to be ok. Without question, we are not ok.

The secret toll of this pandemic is the one that’s brewing in our minds with each passing day that we shelter in place, or go out to work as an essential worker.  The depth of what that means I had a chance to discuss with several professionals in the field and they all agree we are all in response mode, but slowly unraveling.  However, here is what to look for and what to do.

The signs of traumatic stress:

  • Changes in sleep including difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Increased irritability and arguments
  • Fear you can’t shake
  • Physical ailments like headaches or stomach aches, or tightness in the chest or arm that last a few days
  • Decreased motivation
  • Increased anxiety and worry

 

According to Charles Darwin it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change. To increase your resiliency these experts suggested:

  • Pause and check in with yourself. What is your body saying to you?  What do you need right now? Nurture that.
  • Maintain a routine to keep your mind and body active and stimulated.
  • Acknowledge when you don’t feel your best, or when it’s hard or that you are just overwhelmed. The truth is, this is all out of our control and you are not alone in how you feel.
  • Do whatever action you can to foster a sense of empowerment. What can you control? What can you do?
  • Disconnect from social media and even from your family or friends. Create a sacred space to de-stress and inforce boundaries where needed.
  • Know its ok to cry and take the pressure off.
  • Build pause and self-care in every day.

An important resource is also any option to talk about your experiences and get some support. Therapy is a wonderful resources and if you need help finding a therapist reach out to us at 347-868-7813.  The Office of Mental Health also offer a free and confidential support line: 1844-863-9314. Now is a great time to boost your mental health and you don’t have to do that alone with fantastic telehealth options available. For more great insights and tips catch the full episode at www.facebook.com/therapyisdope or watch it here.

 

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R

 

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