Anxiety and The Body

Living with anxiety can be such a tough road- you are scared and rationally you know you shouldn’t be, but you are.  Your body, which is likely jittery and wired and humming from the inside-out, is telling you something is wrong and your brain is going over and over the same thoughts and concerns. The tension grows as you want to get a handle on your worries, but you somehow can’t.

According to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), there are different forms of anxiety. People can be diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which means they worry a lot, about most everything. Folks with GAD remember being a worry-wart from way back; they know anxiety is in their DNA. Then there is Specific Phobia. Afraid of spiders or flying or the water? If your anxiety around something very specific really impacts your life, you might be diagnosed with Specific Phobia. What about anxiety around other people? Have a hard time being in crowds or at parties? Does the thought of making a fool of yourself keep you from being around people? That’s definitely Social Anxiety. And the list goes on: Separation Anxiety, Agoraphobia, Panic Disorder, and the rest.

One of the best ways to think about anxiety is like this: when something is happening in your life that isn’t lined up with how you want it to be, anxiety can show up. It’s like a barometer for our lives: worried about your kids? How’s your parenting going? Maybe some changes in your approach or perspective could help. Anxious about the future? Are you living in the present day in a way that aligns with your values, and how you want your future to be? That niggling anxiety may be trying to tell you something, if you stop and listen for a bit.

Lots of therapists will work with anxiety from a cognitive-behavioral approach, meaning that the therapist will help you look at the thoughts you have, how you can change those thoughts, and how changing the thoughts can help you change your behavior. Although that’s one approach, my bias is that if we only needed to “think” our way out of something difficult in our lives, we would have done it by now! We have these big human brains with lots of cognitive capacity, and if thinking was the only skill we needed, we certainly wouldn’t struggle after thinking a bit about our problems. Maybe we need more than just thinking?

I like to work with anxiety by looking at the dynamics of our bodies. Where does that anxiety live inside you? Do you get a tight chest, or feel pressure somewhere? Do your eyes get squinty or maybe you get a headache when you’re anxious? Using a body-centered approach, I like to get really curious with my clients about how their body holds their anxiety. Once connected to the body, I use certain techniques, including EMDR, to help a client to track and release the sensations that go along with the anxiety, as well as gain a deeper understanding as to why the anxiety is showing up. In my experience, slowing down the thoughts and joining with the body allows people to connect to their experience in a deep and profound way, feel more stable, and ultimately release the anxiety in a body-based way.  This approach doesn’t mean that your anxiety will never show up again, but it does help you “be with” your anxiety in a very different way, and one that allows you to feel you more connected and less on a hamster wheel of thought!

If you want to know more about how I work with anxiety, feel free to call or text at 805-223-5219, or email me at Jeanlampert@gmail.com

“Grief is like a stream…”

What a beautiful quote about grief:

“Grief is like a stream running through our life and it’s important to understand that it doesn’t go away. Our grief lasts a lifetime, but our relationship to it changes. Moving on is the period in which the knot of our grief is untied. It’s the time of renewal. Not a return to life as it was before the death you experienced– you can’t go back, you’re a different person now, changed by the journey through grief. But you can begin to embrace life again, feel alive again. The intensity of emotions has subsided some. You can remember the loss without being caught in the clutches of terrible pain. The armoring around our hearts begins to melt and in this period of moving on, the energy that had been consumed by resistance is now available for living. Now we move forward, but we are not abandoning the one we loved. We understand that even when someone dies, the relationship continues. It’s that the person is no longer located outside of us. We are developing what we could an internal relationship with this person, and that allows us to reinvest in our life. If we follow the path through grief to wholeness, we may discover our undying love.”
Frank Ostaseski
Jean Lampert, LMFT
805-223-5219

 

 

EMDR

EMDR is a powerful form of therapy to target trauma, anxiety, panic and grief. Different than traditional “talk therapy”, EMDR engages the body in the healing process, allowing for greater objectivity, reduced emotional reactivity, and increased sense of resiliency around difficult life events. I often tell my clients I can’t change what has happened to them, but I can help them change the way their stories are held in their nervous systems. EMDR, with a somatic (body) focus, is the intervention that creates that shift for my clients.

This news piece illustrates how EMDR helped police officers in Tampa after the death of one of their colleagues. Watch and let me know what you think.

If you are interested in learning more about EMDR therapy, or know someone struggling with the aftermath of trauma, grief, or anxiety, call or text me at 805-223-5219, or email me through jeanlampert@gmail.com, or through the Contact Page.

Mindfulness and Anxiety

From a biological perspective, we are wired to accurately identify threats to our health and safety. Sometimes, though, our brains get “stuck” in that place, and anxiety, worry, and even panic can show up.

That’s why mindfulness, the practice of bringing awareness to yourself and your environment, can be such a powerful tool in managing anxiety. If you connect with the “now” of your life, chances are that you are safe and relatively free from harm. Realizing safety and security, and connecting with a “felt sense” of that safety in your body, helps calm the body and mind.

Here’s a little article with some great tips on connecting with the good things in life.

If anxiety is impacting your life, contact me today to explore if therapy might help. I provide individual and couples counseling to Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo, Ojai and surrounding communities in Ventura County.

805-223-5219

Signs of PTSD

Have you seen this short video posted by UpWorthy about the Signs of PTSD?

If you or someone you know has gone through something overwhelming, and now seems to be struggling with agitation, avoidance behaviors (like drinking), constantly feeling on-guard, or being shut down, you may want to seek help.

Watch the video and let me know what you think. If you need support with your feelings of overwhelm, feel free to contact me: 805-223-5219, jeanlampert@gmail.com, or through my contact page.

 

Suicide Loss

It’s been nearly six weeks since we learned the news of Robin Williams’ suicide. All around the world, his fans were overwhelmed by the news.  Why? How? What could have been so wrong? And as if fame makes people happy, we asked ourselves how Mr. Williams, a superstar, could have felt such despair.

All of these questions were understandable, and so too were the calls after his death to remind others to reach for support. Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites were on fire in the days following his death, urging those who are suicidal, addicted, or struggling with mental illness to connect with resources. (The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention crisis hotline is 1-800-273-TALK, btw, and they are on Twitter at #@afspnational). In our grief and shock, we were, and should continue to be, motivated to DO something: find help, connect with resources, prevent this from happening to others to the extent that is humanly possible. But as the weeks have passed, so too, has our attention. As a nation, as a world, we have a hard time keeping focused.

So what about Robin Williams’ family and close friends? I keep thinking of them and their grief journeys. These past six weeks must feel like a drop in the bucket of grief. Likely they are just beginning to make sense of the world without him, including the way he died. Often family members of those who die by suicide spend months and years replaying the moments leading up to the death, trying to find clues pointing to what, if anything, could have been done differently. And because suicide loss is associated with mental illness, family members often feel stigmatized and don’t receive the typical responses other mourners do from friends, co-workers, spiritual communities, and other support systems.

Although I’ve worked with many people whose loved one have died by suicide, the act itself and the subsequent grief never fails to jolt me. I see the anguish on loved ones faces as they wrestle with some of the biggest issues we can be faced with as humans: not only did their loved one die, but their loved one decided to end their life. How? Why? Could anything have been done to prevent it? Over and over again, there often is a wrestling with regret. Usually our work together includes the cultivation of compassion: compassion for their loved one and the choice made, as well as compassion for themselves and their inability to change the outcome.

If you have a loved one who died by suicide, I encourage you to find support. Seek out an experienced grief counselor who has the knowledge and understanding of suicide loss to help you navigate the wilderness of such grief. In the midst of your grief, may you have compassion for yourself and your situation. May you, one day, know comfort and peace.

Jean Lampert, LMFT

805-223-5219

www.counselingventura.com

 

 

 

 

Forgiveness

As a psychotherapist who specializes in grief and trauma work, the concept of forgiveness is close to my heart. I’ve listened and held sacred space for hundreds of people as they have wrestled with the idea of forgiveness: forgiving themselves for mistakes made, forgiving others who have harmed or wronged them, deliberately or inadvertently.

Wikipedia defines forgiveness as “the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions including vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well”.

I never have an agenda as a therapist that one of my clients should forgive someone. We are human, and when we are wronged, we react instinctively to defend and protect ourselves, and so it makes perfect sense to me that forgiveness is a hard process to undertake. Everyone, according to his or her history, beliefs, and values, comes to the notion of forgiveness in a unique way, with an individual sense of timing, or maybe not at all.

What I do know is that the process of forgiving frees people. It offers a sense of peace around pain and loss that wasn’t there before the forgiving took place. I’ve worked with parents who forgave the person who murdered their daughter, a father who forgave the person who was driving the car in which his son was killed. Each time, I am profoundly moved by the experience. Grace enters the room with us, and a palpable shift can be felt. Deep within, there is a sense that the person has released a burden.

It’s with this sense of awe, wonder, and contradiction that I share this story with you. In my town of Ventura, CA, a tragic accident occurred April 6, 2014, when a beloved member of the community, Chris Prewitt, was struck and killed by a young woman who was driving under the influence of substances at the time of the accident. I had met Chris a few times, and when I heard the news and circumstances of his death, my heart was filled with sadness, not only for Chris and all the people who loved and knew him, but for the young driver. I knew her life had changed forever as well.

What happened during her sentencing in the end of June was truly incredible, and one of the greatest public examples of forgiveness I have heard.

What do you think? If you want to know more about me and my work, call or text me at 805-223-5219.

counselingventura.com

 

 

 

 

Needs of the Mourner

You’ve probably all heard of the the classic stages of grief: denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance. When Elisabeth Kubler-Ross proposed these stages in 1969, her ideas were considered ground-breaking.

In the decades that followed, we began to realize that although Kubler-Ross’ work was useful to many, it didn’t really do enough to capture the full experience of grief. People began to think they were grieving “wrong” if they didn’t experience one of the stages, or didn’t go through them in the “right order”, or if they lingered in stage, never fully getting to the acceptance piece. (Who among us can truly “accept” the death of a beloved person in our life??)

A New Way to See Grief and Support the Griever

A new way to consider the experience of grief is to understand that when grieving, we have certain needs. Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D., a well-known and respected grief counselor who runs the Center for Loss and Life Transition in Colorado, has created a new model.

Wolfelt suggests that when in grief, the Mourner has Six Needs to attend to:

  1. Acknowledge the reality of the death
  2. Allow yourself to feel the pain of the loss
  3. Remember the person who died
  4. Develop a new self identity
  5. Search for meaning
  6. Accept help—now and in the future

In my practice, I introduce this new model early and often with my clients, who then begin to adjust their thinking around grief. Focusing on a stage, or working toward an idea of acceptance begins to melt away. A deep shift takes place with my clients when we start to talk about their needs as they grieve, and how those needs can be met.

Are you grieving the loss of a loved one right now? If so, do these Six Needs resonate with you? Which Need seems most important to you right now? Do you notice one that feels harder than others to explore? Do you have people or things to help you meet these Needs, or can you find someone who can help?

You’ve probably heard many times before that grief is a journey, not a destination. Offer yourself compassion, not judgment, as you make sense of your changed life.

Contact me if you want to know more about my practice and the work I do with those who are grieving. Call or text at 805-223-5219, or email me at jeanlampert@gmail.com.