“Pretzel Breathing Technique” for Children

Sometimes we tend to tell our children to calm down without ever giving them explicit directions on how to deal with stress and anxiety. Today’s technique I want to share with you all is a good exercise for kids to experience calmness and reduce anxiety. This technique, called the “Pretzel Breathing Technique,” is a quick [...]

The 8 Phases of EMDR

EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is an incredibly useful technique that was originally developed for the treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Since its inception, research has been done that has shown EMDR to be an effective treatment option for multiple mental health issues such as eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and more! As EMDR [...]

Connecting with Your Child

When Emotionally Exhausted Last month marked the one-year anniversary of COVID-related social distancing policies, new schedules, new ways of being in the world, and an abrupt goodbye to pre-pandemic life. There has been an upsurge in hitting the “pandemic wall”—our brains are full and tired and our kids are feeling the weight of boredom. New [...]

Conceptualizations

I have noticed in my work with couples and individuals that people often remain in a state of suffering because of their own conceptualizations.  We hold on to things like “it is your fault” or “I am right, and you are wrong” type conceptualizations.  This way of being keeps us in a place of feeling [...]

Recognizing Transference

Have you ever had an experience where someone reminds you of a person you have known before and you view and interact with them as you did with that person from your past?  If so, you may be experiencing transference. Transference Can Be Positive or Negative Transference occurs when a person directs feelings and experiences [...]

Connecting to Recovery Resources

During the Covid-19 Pandemic Prior to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, 12 Step Meetings, whether the meeting is Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, and so on, were usually fairly easy to find. One could find a list of meetings in their area by the day of the week and time on AA.org or NA.org. A person [...]

The Impact of Anxiety and Fear

“Life cannot be lived nor can death be faced without anxiety. Anxiety is a guide as well as an enemy and can point the way to authentic existence. The task of the therapist is to reduce anxiety to comfortable levels and then to use this existing anxiety to increase a patient's awareness and vitality.” ~Irvin [...]

How The Past Changes Present Perception and EMDR Therapy

EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, is a therapeutic technique geared towards the treatment of trauma or disturbing events. The technique works to target specific events that are remembered as distressing and take the emotional response to these events out of the memory. Doing so can often help to stop triggering experiences, flashbacks, and [...]

The Power of Assertive Communication

One key component of any healthy relationship is communication.  And it is important to not just communicate but to communicate effectively.  One way to ensure this is done is to use assertive communication techniques. Assertive communication occurs when an individual is able to state their own needs, wants, and feelings directly and confidently, while also [...]

Cultivating Understanding

Like any other useful human trait, understanding must be intentionally cultivated through practice.  Understanding does not necessarily mean agreeing with someone. We can have different values than others and respect their point of view.  Like any other mindful practice, it must be based on compassion. Compassion for ourselves as well as compassion for others.  Compassion is what will allow us to [...]

Recovering Perfectionist? Me Too.

I am Type A. I’m an Enneagram 1. I love my planner, fresh sheets, organized spaces, and when I say I have a list for everything… I mean everything. Scheduling and de-cluttering brings me delight. I have been described as rigid, an overachiever, and some other not-so-kind things. And it has taken me a long time to [...]

Communication In The Moment

It is important to have communication in the moment or near the moment. Recently, I talked with a friend about an event that occurred many years ago. I didn’t bring it up at that particular moment, but I realized that I had been holding onto this for a very long time. I remember the event [...]

Managing the Post Holiday Blues

We’ve all been there…the hustle and bustle of the holidays are over and the post-holiday blues can tend to set in. All the gifts have been opened, friends and family have left town and we must settle back into our daily routines. The cold and dark months of January and February can cause us to [...]

Key to Success in Setting Intentions

I believe the key to success in setting intentions in any area, at any point in our lives, is consistency.  Certainly, adjustments in our process may be necessary. Other than small rudder steers from time to time, we need to practice consistency in any endeavor to achieve success.  The best way I have heard this [...]

What is Post-Traumatic Growth?

Trauma can be life-changing, leading to a distorted worldview, a sense of betrayal, and an inability to feel safe. Trauma plays a role in the development of mental disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). On the other hand, post-traumatic growth (PTG) indicates the experience of finding new meaning. It can also create a deeper sense [...]

Three Myths About Emotions

Emotions are a central piece of the human experience because they guide many decisions in our lives and many of our reactions to the world around us. But what exactly are emotions? Throughout the decades several thought leaders have attempted to answer this question.  Modern neuroscientific advances have deepened our understanding of how the brain [...]

What Is Your Window of Tolerance?

Jack Fox, M.A. Resident in Counseling in Northern Virginia You are gearing up for a test at school, a performance review, a presentation at work, or a few days home with your kids for a long weekend. These stressful events are often times manageable for us on a day-to-day basis. These kinds of stress-inducing events [...]

Understanding Stress and Anxiety

Contrary to Popular Belief, Stress and Anxiety are Not the Enemies By Jasmine Payne, Resident in Counseling More often than not, stress and anxiety are viewed as dreadful things that we need to eliminate completely. Many of us think something along the lines of “if I had it all together, I wouldn’t feel so stressed [...]

General Observations on The Link Between Clients Managing Their Trauma Background and Navigating a COVID-19 World.

By Bradd Buckingham, Resident in Counseling Since the beginning of COVID-19, I have professionally observed as a counseling intern working in a community mental health clinic, currently as a resident in counseling as well as personally with friends and family, a shift or slide backward in the management of their trauma symptomology and the meaningful [...]

What does Trauma mean?

By Jack Fox, M.A. Resident in Counseling in Northern Virginia In my work with clients, I often notice a hesitancy to admit or acknowledge that events in their lives have been traumatic. Due to the news or social media, we are trained or accustomed to think of trauma only as being big events that capture [...]

Efficient Problem Solving

By Shelton Piland, Supervisee in Clinical Social Work in Northern, VA Patients frequently come to me for advice when they encounter a problem and do not know what to do, where to go next or how to address the problem. We are usually able to work together to dissect the issue and make a plan [...]

Key Ingredients for Emotional Connectedness in a Relationship

Dr. Sue Johnson, an expert on couple’s emotional connectedness, created the acronym A.R.E. to describe three ingredients that are needed to create healthy, emotionally satisfying relationships. Relationships that embodied accessibility, responsiveness, and engagement tend to have the highest relationship satisfaction and are characterized by high levels of trust and commitment.   What exactly is A.R.E.? “A” [...]

You’ve Got This! Three Holistic Steps to Managing Anxiety

By Diane Bonilla, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor in Northern Virginia The two most important things to understand about anxiety are that it is universally  experienced and that it is holistically managed. You are absolutely not alone in  experiencing anxiety, though it can feel that way. Anxiety symptoms can impact our  emotional, physical and spiritual health. [...]

10 Ways To Elevate Mood During A Pandemic

By Grace Kim, Resident in Counseling in Northern Virginia We are well under eight months into the current COVID-19 pandemic that started back in early March. For some, the pandemic has been the perfect opportunity for rest, reconnecting with those we lost touch with and completing tasks we’ve been putting off for some time now. [...]

Thoughts on Stressful Conversations

By Jackie Carrera, MSEd, Resident In Counseling in Northern Virginia There are difficult conversations taking place as we experience worry concerning different areas of our lives. A lot has happened during the past six plus months and it has been a stressful time for many of us. I wrote about communication in a previous post [...]

Character Strengths

By Bruce Craig, Resident in Counseling  Often in our society we are taught or conditioned to look at our weaknesses and constantly try to improve them.  This approach can be limiting and make real growth almost impossible in some situations.  This often leads to negative self-talk and a lowered self-esteem. I encourage people to instead, [...]

Couples, COVID, and Cabin Fever

By Jasmine Payne, Resident in Counseling Back at the beginning of 2020 weren’t we all wishing we could spend more quality time at home with our loved ones or our partners? When true quality time was only able to be squeezed into the weekends or maybe weeknights (if the dishes got put away and the [...]

EMDR and You

By Jack Fox, M.A. Resident in Counseling in Northern Virginia Throughout our lives, we sometimes experience disturbing or distressing events. These events, which can be called traumas, can occur in the form of a big, life altering event (a “Big T” Trauma) such as a natural disaster or the death of a loved one, or [...]

Worry and Growth

By Jackie Carrera, MSEd, Resident in Counseling in Northern Virginia  I’ve been thinking about the struggles that we have been experiencing during this stay-at-home period. It has been a challenging time and many people are experiencing a lot of worry or fear. I have seen this in the art world, with friends, and hear it [...]

Remembering why we love each other

By Shelton Piland, Supervisee in Clinical Social Work in Northern, VA Frequently I have clients come in stating that “nothing is particularly wrong” in their relationship or in their marriage, but lately the spark is not there any longer, arguments occur more often and easily and the arguments seem trivial. Both individuals just seem more [...]

Box Breathing Exercise

By Jack Fox, M.A. Resident in Counseling in Northern Virginia  We are headed towards fall weather! While some may be excited by the change of seasons, others may be worried about what the colder weather might mean for their ability to use calming techniques like being outside or going on a walk. As we transition [...]

What’s Your “Upside Down” Magic?

This weekend my family watched the movie, “Upside Down Magic,” for movie night. In the movie, a group of young children are deemed misfits because of their “wonky, ” “unorthodox,” and “upside down” magic. When the school gets attacked by “Shadow Magic,” the children must confront the parts of them they once avoided to rediscover [...]

Two Arrows (Emotional Objectivity)

By Bruce Craig, MA, Resident in Counseling in Northern Virginia  There is a Buddhist metaphor that I have found to be a great way to think about emotional objectivity. When something difficult happens in life, as can be expected from time to time, we often internalize how we feel about it subjectively. This is where [...]

Keeping It REAL as a Parent!

By Mary Jackson, MSW is a Supervisee in Clinical Social Work in Northern Virginia  Parents…this one is for you! Have you ever had one of those days when you feel as if you are going to LOSE IT? Recently I did. It wasn’t just parenting that had me overwhelmed. It was the sum of EVERYTHING. [...]

Cultivating Positive Mental Focus – Part 4

By Bruce Craig, MA, Resident in Counseling in Northern Virginia  In everything and everyone we encounter in life there will be aspects we appreciate and aspects we maybe don’t prefer. As we discussed in earlier articles of this series our minds naturally focus on the negative first because this was necessary in some ways for [...]

Strategies for Good Communication

By Shelton Piland, Supervisee in Clinical Social Work in Northern, VA Why do you need good communication? To put it simply, good communication can make or break any kind of relationship. Whether it's in business, with a friend, a family member or a significant other. Communication is vital for conveying feelings, giving instructions, and building [...]

Expressing Emotions

Expressing emotions doesn’t come naturally for all of us. Learning to recognize your emotion, label it and get curious about it can help build a healthier self-esteem and relationships with others. Unfortunately, ignoring emotions, pretending they don’t exist, and operating in silence can cause long-term emotional distress. Labeling  Try practicing labeling, a simple technique to [...]

Art-Making and Mental Health

By Jackie Carrera, MSEd, Resident in Counseling in Northern Virginia Creativity and mental health go hand in hand. I am a visual artist who enjoys painting, working with pottery, and photography. I turned to art-making during a high stress time in my life and it helped me find balance. One of the texts that taught [...]

Self-care ideas!

By Kayla White, M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Resident in Counseling If you are anything like me, practicing self-care and self-love can often get placed on the back burner. Also, I am not a proclaimed morning person, so other than those things I NEED to do, I've learned they likely won't get done until I'm [...]

Working with Thoughts – Part 3

By Bruce Craig, MA, Resident in Counseling in Northern Virginia    In the first couple of articles in this series we focused on noticing our emotions objectively and learning how to not be reactive to them. This is a constant lifelong practice that we can get better at over time and we should also remember [...]

Body Positivity vs. Body Neutrality

When Body Positivity Seems Impossible, Aim for Body Neutrality By Grace Kim, Resident in Counseling in Northern Virginia  The idea that a woman’s body should look a certain way has been reinforced through social media, movies, magazines and even our parents. This concept doesn’t only apply to women, but men as well. Societal standards have [...]

Challenging Your Negative Thoughts

By Shelton Piland, Supervisee in Clinical Social Work in Northern, VA During this uncertain time we all may be more prone to depression, anxiety and poor self-esteem. Irrational negative thoughts could be the culprit! Since many of us are stuck at home, social media use has been on the rise. We may accomplish one thing, feel good [...]

Helping Children Deal With Their Feelings

By Grace Kim, Resident In Counseling in Northern Virginia  The relationship between each parent and child is a very personal and private matter. Learning effective communication skills can change the way parents treat their children. Firstly, it is important to help children deal with their feelings. In order to do this, recognize that there is [...]

Positive Impacts of Journaling

By Kayla White, M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling in Northern Virginia  Journaling allows people to clarify their thoughts and feelings, thereby gaining valuable self-knowledge. It's also a good problem-solving tool; oftentimes, one can hash out a problem and come up with solutions more easily on paper. Here are some of the studied positive impacts of [...]

An Open Letter from Alycia

Dear Healthy Minds Family, I sincerely hope as you read this email, you are in good health. I recognize your hearts and minds may be filled with fear and worry. As the world continues to change around us, I still walk alongside of you. The events going on around all of us are heartbreaking and [...]

Taking Time to Pause

By Jackie Carrera, MSEd, Resident In Counseling in Northern Virginia  We are in a time of uncertainty where some relationships have been strained due to a variety of stressors. For some it has been a time of thriving in being close to another, while for others it is a challenging time. We are always relating [...]

Quick and Helpful Thought Check

By Jack Fox, M.A., Resident in Counseling in Northern Virginia  Sometimes our brains get stuck on “what ifs” or thoughts that are solely negative. It’s easy to focus on the worst case scenarios that stem from some of our negative thinking, such as “If we get in a fight she is going to break up [...]

Working with Our Emotions – Part One

By Bruce Craig, Resident in Counseling in Northern Virginia  Rawpixel.com/Adobe Stock Emotions can become overwhelming in the blink of an eye and it can sometimes feel like there is no way to prevent them from feeling insurmountable. It may seem like everywhere you turn someone is doing something that is mean, frustrating or disrespectful. Every [...]

Self-Compassion Break

Photo by Michelle on Unsplash By Dr. Debra Rezendes, HMT Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy in Northern Virginia  For so many, the recent months have required a bit of flexibility. The pandemic has left many individuals, parents, and families juggling multiple roles. We are all trying to figure things out day by day. In moments of high [...]

Finding Peace in a Crisis

How to strengthen our capacity for wisdom, peace and enlightenment By Grace Kim, Resident in Counseling We are certainly living in a strange time. There is a lot that is uncertain and a lot that is unknown. It can be hard to manage the emotional challenges of being in quarantine amidst an uncertain future. We [...]

Understanding the Teenage Brain

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash By Dr. Debra Rezendes, HMT Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy in Northern Virginia  Raising a teenager can be hard. There is so much social, emotional, and neurobiological change happening in such a short amount of time. Many of us can remember, rather vividly, what it felt like during this awkward and [...]

The Power of Smell

By Jack Fox, M.A., Resident in Counseling Most of us have experienced a smell that reminds us of someone or some time in our lives. There is a scientific reason for this phenomenon! Centers for Emotion The places in your brain that are dedicated to working with smell are very closely wired with the centers [...]

Navigating Uncharted Waters: COVID-19

By Dr. Debra Rezendes, HMT Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy We are in uncharted territory together as our community braces to contain the impact of COVID-19. Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash As a parent, you have likely had to shape-shift into many forms this week—comforter, fear-slayer, information-gatherer, preparer, and more recently teacher. You have likely [...]

Three Calming Activities

To help anxious children (and you!) that can be done in the home! By Kayla White, M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash These activities are great for children and adults to help them practice mindfulness, live in the here and now, and learn to reduce symptoms of anxiety. Progressive Muscle Relaxation: What is [...]

Sleep and Mental Health

By Jack Fox, M.A., Resident in Counseling Photo by Jonathan Fink on Unsplash In almost all the different mental health issues that people face, a common factor is troubles with sleep. While there are many factors that affect how a person is sleeping, there are a few easy ways to help improve the quality of the sleep we [...]

Mindful Self Compassion

By Bruce Craig, Resident in Counseling Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash In the last couple of blog articles, we have covered how to begin tuning in to our mental process to begin noticing moment-to-moment what our mind is up to.  As we tune into this process, it is likely you will notice some negative self-talk.  These negative [...]

The Magic Ratio to a Happy, Healthy Relationship

By Dr. Debra Rezendes, HMT Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy Photo by Kristina Litvjak on Unsplash John Gottman, a well-known and well-respected couples researcher, has documented multiple differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships.  Of these differences, healthy relationships, he suggests, have five times more positive interactions than negative interactions. Luckily, this means that we don’t have to [...]

Change is hard. But worth it.

By Jack Fox, M.A., Resident in Counseling Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash Are you healthy and well, or just comfortable? Comfort can be a tricky subject when dealing with health and wellness. Often times, individuals find themselves in poor health, either mentally or physically, because they are comfortable and unwilling to change. Humans are conditioned to seek the [...]

Getting to the Heart of Communication

By Dr. Debra Rezendes, HMT Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy Photo by Jamez Picard on Unsplash Many couples seek out couples therapy because they are finding communication difficult. In the world of couples interventions, communication skills training and “I” statements are popular. While these skills may provide short-term gains, I often see them failing to provide the [...]

Noticing the Mental Process

By Bruce Craig, Resident in Counseling Pixabay Image Practicing Mindfulness in your daily life as often as possible can give us the power to become less reactive to thoughts and feelings.  We can begin to intentionally notice what are mind is up to and begin to retrain it to operate in a more useful way. [...]

5 Ways For a Stress-Free Sleep

By Kayla White, M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Resident in Counseling Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash We’ve all been there. You turn to look at the clock and it’s 2:00 am, then 3:00am. You have to get up in a few hours but, you are still wide awake with what feels like a million thoughts running [...]

New Year, New You?

Photo by Danil Aksenov on Unsplash By Dr. Debra Rezendes, HMT Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy As one year closes and another begins, it is natural to think of what we hope the journey ahead entails. Certainly, New Year's resolutions can be guide posts to help us stay on track towards big goals. But often, we tend [...]

Do The Next Right Thing

Photo by Dustin Belt on Unsplash By Alison Morogiello, MEd, NCC , Resident in Counseling Upon viewing the new “Frozen II” movie with my two young nieces, there was a mantra throughout the film that allowed the characters to move forward when things felt hopeless. “Do the next right thing”. Sometimes in life, we are faced with overwhelming [...]

The 5 Signs of Burnout

By Dr. Debra Rezendes, HMT Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy During the holidays, there can be a lot of emotional resources going out. One way that we can practice self-care is to recognize the signs of burnout and pull back when we feel like too much of ourselves is going into caring for others. [...]

Gut Microbes and Mental Health!

By Kayla White, M.A. Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Resident in Counseling Photo by Brandless on Unsplash It's no secret that mental health and the gut-brain membrane is a new, flourishing research area! One study found that Coprococcus seems to have a pathway related to dopamine, a key brain signal involved in depression, although they have no evidence how this [...]

Keeping Children Safe Online

By Dr. Debra Rezendes - Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy Photo by McKaela Lee on Unsplash One modern parenting challenge that I frequently hear about is how to keep kids and teens safe online. It can be hard to know how to keep children safe amidst the changing landscape of the online world. One certainty about the [...]

Daily Mindfulness Practice Basics

By Bruce Craig, Resident in Counseling Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash A simple and effective way to cultivate a more calm and peaceful life is to take the time to notice the thoughts that lead to our feelings. Our brains are always thinking even if we are not tuned into our thoughts.  These thoughts lead to feelings whether [...]

Play away Separation Anxiety

By Dr. Debra Rezendes, HMT Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy School is back in session, the season in which separation anxiety may rear itself. The good news is that separation anxiety is often normal, short lived, and can be an indication of the healthy and loving relationship with your young child. Separation Anxiety For [...]

Nighty Night

By Dr. Debra Rezendes, HMT Resident in Marriage and Family Therapy For many of us parents, the blissful summer days of sleeping in have been replaced by the early morning routines of the school year. As we trade the slower paced days of summer for the beginning of the school year, the natural transition of [...]

Systems That Save You Time In Group Practice

Photo copy write Practice of the Practice In our practice, we have found several systems that work to streamline our business and save us time. Every minute wasted, is money lost. I have worked with our Directors to create systems for our practice, allowing our clinicians to do what they do best…therapy! I want our clinicians [...]

Tips on Self-Care

We wanted to focus this month on Self-care. As the saying goes, "an empty tank will take you exactly nowhere. Take time to refuel."  Self-care is not selfish so erase that concept from your mind. If anything, it benefits not only you but those who are around you. You cannot properly care for others without [...]

What I Do For Fun & How It Helps Me Grow

Photo copy write Practice of the Practice Most of us wear many hats, often leaving us to feel stretched thin, uninspired and exhausted. As a wife, mother, clinician and business owner, it’s important I do things to keep me feeling motivated, energized and excited. If you are feeling overwhelmed and are looking for some ways [...]

Decorating Your Private Office With Purpose

Photo by Alvin Engler on Unsplash First impressions are everything! This is important to remember when planning to decorate your office. You don’t have to have a degree in interior design in order to “wow” and welcome your clients into your space. Think “family room” instead of “doctor’s office.” You want your space to be [...]

Seeking Safety

Seeking Safety was designed for people with a history of trauma and/or addiction. Trauma means a distressing event such as a child abuse, major accident, combat, domestic violence, natural disaster, etc. Addiction means destructive use of alcohol, drugs, gambling, food, shopping, etc. It focuses on coping skills to help you become safer in your relationships, [...]

No Show or Show Up?

By: Alycia Burant, MA, LPC, NCC, Founder & Therapist Your First Counseling Session: Trying something new for the first time can cause quite a bit of anxiety. I felt pretty anxious before I went to my first barre class (you know, that trendy exercise fad right now combining Pilates, yoga and ballet?). I imagine this [...]