Podcast: Strenght In Motion

Gina T.                                  Hello everyone, welcome to the Harmony Foundation podcast series, and it’s my pleasure to be joined with the team, Strength In Motion counseling out of Boulder Colorado. We have Adriana Balentine, who is the owner/founder, correct? Yeah.

Adriana B.:                         Correct.

Gina T.                                  We have Deb Silver, Becky Howie, Jeanette Nicastri, great.

Becky Howie:                    It’s Becky Howie.

Gina T.                                  Becky Howie, thank you, and we’re really excited to have everybody here. You had hopefully a great morning and an opportunity to learn a little bit about Harmony, but we also had an opportunity to learn about your practice. We want to use this opportunity to share with others what you all do, and who you are, so that if people are accessing services, they’ll know a little bit more about you. With that, I’m going to actually turn to you first Adriana.

Gina T.                                  Strength In Motion is a mind, body, and soul practice, and it addresses areas of life that can be a barrier to thriving and success. Can you describe the services at Strength In Motion? How do individuals who come to your program get met with the needs that you will provide, all the services that you provide?

Adriana B.:                         Sure, I’d be happy to. Strength In Motion is a holistic wellness center with a clinical focus. What that means, is we have a combination of different services. We can be really a one-stop shop for different needs and addressing each person really individually. We have a team of nine psychotherapists, and we all have a gamut of different specialties. We start working with tween’s on up, so we see tween’s, teens, young adults, and adults.

We do individual therapy, we do group therapy, couples therapy, and family therapy, and also offer a number of workshops and groups. One of the pieces, the motion piece, the strength in motion piece that’s really important to us is movement. Movement can look a lot of different ways, but the ways in which we play around with it, are walk and talk therapy, hikes, dance movement therapy.

We have a lot of trauma informed yoga practices, and a lot of ways for folks to come together in community to heal. That might be looking and searching for a community and a place to belong, and that also could be in families doing their healing work with us. Oh, go ahead.

Gina T.                                  Well, I was going to say that you’ve started this whole concept, that you’re the owner/founder, so what was it that preempted you to say? “I want to start this kind of practice.”

Adriana B.:                          Sure, so part of it was a passion in the clinical work, and knowing when I was just in private practice that, to me, it didn’t feel like I was able to serve the community at large that I wanted to serve, and also be a part of. A big part is being part of the wider community, and another part of it is really offering these collaborative approaches that I see as sometimes people look at them as nontraditional approaches.

I actually see them as key components towards healing. Getting familiar and comfortable in our bodies, being able to move them, and also being able to work with stillness. We play with mindful-based practices, which don’t have to be sitting and breathing, and really can be, and can give a foundation around supporting people’s nervous systems.

Gina T.                                  That’s wonderful, and I mean obviously there’s a lot of people that struggle with feeling in general. Here at Harmony, we struggle with getting clients to understand that it’s okay to be in your body, and to know what it feels like to feel, but then to use movement as part of that is just as important.

Adriana B.:                         Yeah.

Gina T.                                  I wanted to shift gears a little bit and talk to you Deb, so you do a lot of the movement pieces I guess at Strength In Motion, or at least some of it. Can you talk a little bit about what that looks like if somebody were to come to you as a clinician and work with you? What would you use from a movement perspective to help them?

Deb Silver:                          Yeah, so my background is in somatic counseling and dance movement therapy. It can really look a lot of different ways. Like Adriana was saying that ultimately the underlying piece, the simplistic way of approaching it, is I’m really just supporting folks in getting comfortable in their own skin. The reasons why people feel unsafe in their bodies, is a wide gamut of why that might be showing up, from trauma, to just societal messages of it’s not okay.

Supporting folks bottom line in terms of why they’re showing up, and where we can start approaching bringing the body in, what the body has to say in terms of gesture simply. You’re talking about say your mother, and your shoulder keeps popping up towards your ear, and I might notice that, and be like, “Hey, so what’s that about?” Just bringing awareness to it, so that we can actually work with it.

Literally work with what the body is saying with what my words are saying. Then on the totally other end of the range would be actually getting into the movement studio that we have in Strength In Motion, and working with actual large movement, and maybe dance, but it’s really not … I’m not working to make people dancers, like that’s not what this is about.

Becky Howie:                    It’s not Dirty Dancing.

Deb Silver:                          [crosstalk 00:04:50] Hey, I mean, honestly, if that’s what you want, I can do that, and that’s not what I’m trying to do. It’s really just supporting somebody where they are, and looking at it from a very … Again, this is a very simplistic way of explaining it, but somebody comes in, and maybe one of their goals is taking up more space, right? That might be taking up space with their voice, like I want to speak my truth more, what does that look like?

Literally, what does that look like? How can I literally take up more space with my body, so that what’s happening in my body can match with what I’m trying to practice with my voice. Those are some ways that it could look, or be in terms of bringing movement and somatic and feeling and emotion, you were speaking to that.

Gina T.                                  Which is so scary for people.

Deb Silver:                          Yeah.

Gina T.                                  I mean, that can be a very frightening experience.

Deb Silver:                          Yeah.

Gina T.                                  Especially if they’ve lived in a place where they’ve been told not to, and not to be present, or not to show themselves, and then to set them out of that could be really frightening.

Deb Silver:                          Yes, which is literally what society says, right? We’re pushing against the norm and the dominant by saying, “It’s okay to feel, it’s okay to talk about it, and it’s okay to literally feel it in your body.” It’s not just about what’s from the neck up, and it is really scary.

Gina T.                                  That’s great that you have that service available there, and that I’m sure you’ve been able to make some great strides with a lot of people. I may be giving you a call, because I want to be a dancer.

Deb Silver:                          We can go that route.

Gina T.                                  [crosstalk 00:06:20] Becky, you like to read.

Becky Howie:                    I do.

Gina T.                                  I mean, first, let’s just talk a little bit about your background. You’re trained as a clinician in wilderness therapy.

Becky Howie:                    Wilderness therapy.

Gina T.                                  I enjoyed speaking with you at lunch today about your background, and it was great, you’re not from the Colorado area.

Becky Howie:                    No.

Gina T.                                  You’ve become an adopted member of Colorado, which is really great.

Becky Howie:                    Yes.

Gina T.                                  You’ve got a Subaru, the dogs, and now you’re a rock climber, so it’s official, which is great. We like to get to know the people behind the practice, and so just out of curiosity, when you think about books that you’ve gifted to other people, what are some of the books that you’ve gifted to people, and why?

Becky Howie:                    There’s a whole lot of books that I would recommend out to clients and family members and friends alike, but there’s a handful that I’d say come up more often than other ones. Most recently I’ve actually been gifting or recommending to people the book by Elaine Aron called, The Highly Sensitive Person. It talks a lot about the trait of high sensitivity, and how we as a society, Western society in America don’t value that, and it often gets looked at as somebody’s who’s broken, or they need to toughen up, or some other thing.

Those messages over time build up, and people that have this trait of high sensitivity start to think that there is all of these things wrong with them, and they’re more likely to end up with anxiety, depression, and substance use, these other kinds of struggles. What’s a 1 on somebody else’s scale, feels like it’s dialed up to a 10 for them. I help people recognize a lot of the gifts of that trait.

That’s one of the books that I really gift to people, and be like, “You need to read this, so that you know that this is a normal, natural thing, not just in humans, but in dogs, cats, horses, mice.” Evolution deems this as appropriate and helpful, and you are not broken, right? I think that, that’s a really big one for me, is just that message of the gifts that it brings, and that you are not broken.

Gina T.                                  It’s interesting you say that, because a friend of mine learned recently, she’s an HSP, and she said it gave her peace of mind for the first time in her life, because she always thought that she was broken.

Becky Howie:                    That she was doing something wrong.

Gina T.                                  Yeah, she was just like, “I felt like I was always emotional, and that people didn’t understand me,” and then she learned about being an HSP, and it just gave her peace of mind that she never had before, so that’s a great book to give.

Becky Howie:                    You get this sense sometimes that you are, “Crazy,” right? In a way that it’s traditionally used, because we’re picking up. I say we, because I’m an HSP as well, but we pick up on a lot of these subtle cues that the rest of the world doesn’t. We’re like, “Hey, did you notice that …” “Oh, no, no, no, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” Then you get these messages that aren’t congruent with your experience, and it’s very confusing.

How do you filter out all of the … It’s like listening to three or four different radio stations at the same time, and you can’t hear the song that’s playing from anyone of them, so how do you filter out the noise and work with that? That’s part of why I love doing stuff in nature, because it just helps naturally settle a lot of those different radio stations so to speak.

Gina T.                                  It sure does, doesn’t it? Yeah, especially when you’re in a place with no Wi-Fi.

Becky Howie:                    Yeah, so that’s one of my favorite [crosstalk 00:09:26] Here actually, I have no service here, this is wonderful.

Gina T.                                  No, you don’t. That’s not intentional, but it is [crosstalk 00:09:34] Jeanette, also a member of the team, and I haven’t had a chance to get into too much detail around your background, so I’m certainly curious to hear more about how did you get into the field? What is some of the specifics of what you do at Strength in Motion?

Jeanette N.:                        Yes, absolutely, this is the perfect segue, because I am an HSP. I was told at a very early age that it wasn’t okay, and I was too sensitive. I got depressed, and into substances, and have fully come out of all of that. I just was sitting here listening to Becky, and wished that she was my parent, because she’s 20 years younger than me. I wish she was my parent, because that’s exactly what I needed, but I was told was wrong.

I was literally told in a negative way, you’ll probably be a therapist someday, and here I am. I absolutely love it, and just like Becky saying, I help other people that have these sensitivities, or whatever is going on with them. I have a knack for it, because I really can get it, and see it. Even in session, I can feel anxiety when a person is so scared to tell me something, and then they tell me. Then I can normalize it for them, and feel it and tell them they’re okay.

All feelings are … I say I’m an emotional expert, and that I love emotions, all of them. Some eyes widen when I say that, but I really believe it.

Gina T.                                  It sounds like you create a great container of safety for people in a place where often times they don’t feel safe, so that’s great, wonderful. Well, thank you for that, so Adriana, if we were to play off the idea of the word harmony, what do you think it means to live a life in harmony?

Adriana B.:                         To live a life in harmony sounds like navigating the dance of all of the complexities that we all live by, whatever our stuff is, right? Constantly having a relationship to that dance, right? We think of balance, and people I think are always seeking balance. I think harmony is interchangeable in that capacity, right? It’s actually an ongoing evolution, and so when I look at harmony, I think of peace and I think a balance, but I also think of really being willing to be with our tough stuff, or sit in the darkness to be able to grow.

One of the things that’s really important to all of us, is being able to hold a container, and to be a space where there’s permission given.

Gina T.                                  Yeah, yeah, great, nice answer, I like that, thank you. Very nice, and if someone were trying to seek services at Strength In Motion, how could they get in touch with you?

Adriana B.:                         Sure, so they can look on our website, which is in the process of getting rebuilt, but it’s live and they can access what we are and who we are. That is simcounseling.com, S-I-M counseling just spelled out all one word. They can call 303-817-9072, and they will just essentially … Somebody will call and ask what they’re inquiring about, or somebody will answer and ask what they’re inquiring about, whether it’s a group, a workshop, individual therapy, they will get connected with the right person.

They’ll have a free consultation, so a 30 minute over the phone consultation. Then we can talk a little bit more about who might be the best fit. If we’re not the best fit, we’ll certainly be a support resourcing out to find who is.

Gina T.                                  Wonderful, wonderful.

Adriana B.:                         Yeah.

Gina T.                                  Someone said to me earlier today as you all were passing that, that’s the power team walking up, and they were not kidding.

Adriana B.:                         We’ll take it.

Gina T.                                  It was true a pleasure to have the opportunity to talk with all of you, and for you to take the time to come up and visit us. We look forward to doing more work with Strength In Motion, so thanks again, it’s good to have you [crosstalk 00:13:32]

Podcast: Pax Counseling

Gina Thorne:                      Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Harmony Foundation podcast series. I’m Gina Thorne. I’m pleased today to be joined with Dominique Condevaux, with PAX Counseling Center out of Denver.

Dominique C.:                    Correct. Actually, it’s Aurora.

Gina Thorne:                      Aurora.

Dominique C.:                    Yes.

Gina Thorne:                      Which is a suburb of Denver?

Dominique C.:                    Correct.

Gina Thorne:                      Great. Well, it is such a pleasure to have you up here at Harmony. Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us. Before we get into some of the specifics about the practice, we always like to learn a little bit more about the person behind the practice. Let’s talk first about you and how you got into the field.

Dominique C.:                    I’m a licensed addiction counselor, licensed professional counselor, from the great state of Colorado, like we just said. How did I come into the field of clinical mental health and addiction was years ago I came from a trauma background myself, and I’ve always been curious to figure out how I could go ahead and move forward. This is my kind of third career, and I did the corporate world before, so stocks and bonds and the communication world. One thing that I noticed that I was gravitating towards was kind of an offshoot of counseling. I was always working with my peers in quality control, basically teaching them how to say please and thank you. That helping service in there kind of led to move forward into my practice today.

I’d say about 15 to 20 years ago, I was working with some school kids and some teachers had asked me to come in and say, “Hey, could you work with these children?” And it got to the point where I needed to have a little bit more some tools in my toolbox, so I decided to go back to school. I really had to figure out what I wanted to do with the next portion of my life.

In that reflection, I noticed that since I was really young, I’d always been in that helping. So yes, I was a Candy Striper. I swam competitively, but I taught handicapped children how to go ahead and swim. Children are much easier to teach than adults.

Gina Thorne:                      That’s true.

Dominique C.:                    FYI there. Yeah. That ribbon through my life of working with people. I found that I had a knack for that. Just that ease that I was able to go ahead and move them in a positive direction.

I took that opportunity, and I went back to school and I got my Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree. During that time, going back to school and having that excitement of that, I also did my addiction studies. I’m a master addiction counselor at that time. Then I thought, “Gosh, I need to throw in something else on there,” and I spent four years at St. John Vianney, so the Catholic biblical seminary down in Denver. Again, and you can tell by my name and probably my voice that I am female that I didn’t play with the boys in black. That’s what everybody said. No. This is the lay portion of the school.

With those three, that integration of those three, I said, “I’m going to build my practice, because I want to go ahead and work with people and serve with people.” So that’s the beginning of Pax Counseling and Consulting.

Gina Thorne:                      Well, that’s a great segue into the next question, which is on your website you talk about finding and developing peace within one’s life is an ongoing and proactive journey that often requires the support of others. I know that that’s probably part of the foundation of what you’ve creating with Pax Counseling. Can you explain to us a little bit more about why that work is important?

Dominique C.:                    First of all, Pax means peace. It’s Latin for peace. We as humans are constantly growing. We’re constantly moving. We’re also constantly moving forward. We can go ahead and be overwhelmed with our addictions or overwhelmed with some mental health challenges that are coming into our world. The communication part starts is that I do intra and inter-personal communications. Intra meaning internal, and then inter meaning between people. Sometimes it’s really hard, because people don’t understand what’s going on in their head. Part of that is that it’s my opportunity for them to go ahead and take what’s in their head and put it out on the table. Go ahead and tell me in a safe space that we can go ahead and look at that and really tear it apart. That’s communication. That means that I am supporting you. Again, I recognize that anything that we do we cannot do in a vacuum, because it’s just not functional for us.

I was trying to think of an example, but like looking outside and there’s a road going to the beautiful park that’s next to you. One man did not go ahead and build that. That took many people to go ahead and work with that. That was everything from the construction crew, the laborers actually doing the hard work, the … What do you call that? The tractors coming in. Then it was the people that had to travel on that road that were supplying services to those people, because they had to be fed and there had to be sanitation for them. Again, just using that example of a built road is that there’s so many parts that go in there.

Our lives are like that, too. That’s why it’s so important so we can learn how to talk to ourselves so then we can go ahead and talk to somebody else.

Gina Thorne:                      Because we’re in a community.

Dominique C.:                    Absolutely.

Gina Thorne:                      Yeah, the community.

Dominique C.:                    That’s the most thing is to go ahead and build that community to move forward.

Gina Thorne:                      Great. Great answer. Pax Counseling and Consulting was born from this idea of communication. Why do you feel it’s necessary to focus your practice on this premise?

Dominique C.:                    Kind of reflecting back on my previous answer is that communication, the community, interacting with each other. We need to have that for us to go ahead and move forward. Maslow’s hierarchy. Again, it’s a triangle, and the very bottom level we have food, shelter, clothing, but we also need social interaction. Humans are … We’re kind of like pack … We’re closely related to the dogs. I know it sounds like kind of a weird example. I love dogs. I’ve got three of my own. But we are very social people. We can see that when you withhold that human touch, that human communication, that the person withers and dies.

We see that. Unfortunately we have seen it in the past with Romanian and Russian orphanages. That those were a lot of people, a lot of children that had challenges because they weren’t attended to socially and physically. That’s really important for me to go ahead … That’s the focus. That’s the foundation. If I can go ahead and guide, walk, and work with someone to say, “How can I be more confident in myself,” then these coping, these distorted coping mechanisms, such as the alcohol or the drugs or the process addictions that we are using to keep us balanced that we can go ahead with the help of others to move past that.

Gina Thorne:                      Great. I love it. That’s great. Let’s switch gears for a few minutes and talk a little bit about your philosophies on a few things. I’m going to ask you an interesting question. Just curious about what advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the real world? What advice should they ignore?

Dominique C.:                    Okay. I’m going to start with the advice that they should ignore first. The reason is that because I’m not in conversation with them, each student, each person is individual, so I would have to go ahead and say, “With this person I would advise you. I would work with you not to go down that path.” Every path is different for every different person. Let’s move that aside.

What would I, the advice I would give to everybody and anybody that would ask me that is to remember to build face-to-face communication. This is how we build community. We need that touch. I need to be able to look in your eyes. That’s how we bond. People are saying, “Wow. I can do that over texting.” No, no, because that’s a screen. “I can do that over video chat.” I really can’t. There’s a connection, a bonding connection when I’m looking in your eyes. Right now I’m looking at your very beautiful eyes. That connection that we build that. That is how mothers bond with their children. That’s how fathers bond with their children, with the people around them. It’s how we bond with each other. For conflict resolution, we go ahead. When we are able to look in them, we have more empathy. Not sympathy, but we have more empathy. We are able to go ahead and be proactive, because the person is sitting right in front of us.

I know in this 21st century we have a whole new generation. Whether you want to call them generation Z or iGen, that their mode of communication is by text, is by Snapchat, is by FaceTime or Skype. Even in my field of counseling, that is a tool that we use, but it cannot be the main one. So if I could go ahead and give that one piece of advice is please go ahead and remember that face-to-face communication. Take time for yourself to go ahead and build that. Be that person that reaches out first. A lot of times people are like, “I’m angry and I’m not going to talk to them.” Be that person that reaches out, because you will benefit in the long run.

Gina Thorne:                      And create a ripple effect, hopefully.

Dominique C.:                    Absolutely, because again, when I’m with you, I am modeling to you. You are modeling right back to me. I’m getting this calmness. With the screen, we don’t have that. If it’s all how we communicate, that those the isolation, there’s nothing to bounce off of.

Gina Thorne:                      [inaudible 00:11:14] finite.

Dominique C.:                    Yes, absolutely. And then that’s where a lot of the ruminating, distorted thoughts, the isolation, because behind a screen is a form of isolation. I don’t need to see anybody.

Gina Thorne:                      Thank you for that. That’s a great piece of advice. If I were to ask you to play off the idea of the word harmony, what do you think it means to live a life in harmony?

Dominique C.:                    Well, harmony is actually a synonym of peace or peace is a synonym of harmony. Harmony means agreement or concord. This really spoke to me when I was thinking about this question. What it means to live in a life of harmony and peace and agreement is that not only is it agreement with the people that are surrounding, but it’s the agreement that’s inside of you, that homeostasis, that we are okay and that we are not bound to something outside of us. We are set within ourselves. I can walk down this road and I don’t need a pack of cigarettes. I don’t need alcohol or drugs. I don’t need this repetitive action to go ahead and keep me, that I can walk down that road. I can go ahead and meet off with people. It’s that peace and that contentment.

One real quick thing is that a lot of people say, “I want to be happy.” Wow, okay. I don’t want to be … In this world, we deal with such highs and lows. Everything is manic or depressive down here, and we don’t really have that neutral where we really need to be. We really need to have that center line. We need to have some sadness to experience joy. We need to have some conflict to understand resolution, but it doesn’t need to be at the opposite ends.

When I work with people and we are trying to come off these highs and these lows, because again, we know with alcoholism and mental health that there is. There’s extremes there. How can we go ahead and remember that there needs to be some tension in our world? That’s how we function. We need some stress. If everything was so good, we’d get bored and we would go ahead and wither and die.

Gina Thorne:                      Right, right.

Dominique C.:                    Right. What I do is I go ahead and I say, “You’re touching neutral. We’re looking for contentment.” Because content means that I can go ahead and be okay with having those real life sadnesses. My grandmother passed away. I’m going to feel sad for that. I’m not going to go ahead and be totally on the floor depressed for years and years, but I need to recognize that and say, “Yeah, that’s okay emotion.” I can go ahead and be angry, and I don’t want to have it be rageful. Anger is … All these emotions are very constructive. There’s this beautiful spectrum of emotion that we have, and we should be able to feel them all fully but not to go ahead and go off the-

Gina Thorne:                      Extremes.

Dominique C.:                    Yeah. Up and down. Did that make sense to you?

Gina Thorne:                      That’s great. Yeah. The whole idea around harmony is perfect. Find that middle ground.

Dominique C.:                    Absolutely.

Gina Thorne:                      Great.

Dominique C.:                    It’s outside, working harmony within your community of people, your support people, work mates, the world, but also it’s the interior.

Gina Thorne:                      Inside.

Dominique C.:                    It’s the interior harmony.

Gina Thorne:                      Thank you for sharing that.

Dominique C.:                    You’re welcome.

Gina Thorne:                      That’s so true. If someone were wanting to access your services at Pax Counseling and Consulting, how could they get in touch with you?

Dominique C.:                    I have a website. It’s www.paxcounsel.com, and that’s P-A-X-C-O-U-N-S-E-L dot com. You can also reach me by phone. (303) 819-7788. I’m also listed in Psychology Today. My name … It’s by my first name, not Pax Counseling and Consulting. I actually should check that, but my name is spelled Dominique, D-O-M-I-N-I-Q-U-E. My last name is Condevaux, C-O-N-D-E-V, as in Victor, A-U-X, as in x-ray.

Gina Thorne:                      Outstanding. You have a beautiful French name.

Dominique C.:                    Thank you.

Gina Thorne:                      I had a wonderful time visiting with you today. Thank you so much for taking the time to visit us at Harmony. We look forward to working with you.

Dominique C.:                    Well, thank you. I really appreciate the invitation. It is a beautiful location. I look forward to going ahead and working with you and your team.

Gina Thorne:                      Thank you.

Podcast: Kathy Hawkins Counseling

Gina Thorne:                      Hi, everyone. Welcome to The Harmony Foundation podcast series, and I’m pleased today to be joined by Kathy Hawkins, Kathy Hawkins Counseling, out of Denver, Colorado. Nice to meet you Kathy.

Kathy Hawkins:                Nice to be here. Thank you for having me.

Gina Thorne:                      We’re really happy that you took the time to come up and visit us here at Harmony, and we want to learn more about your counseling practice and the work that you do with clients who might be struggling with issues around behavioral health. You’ve got a pretty diverse and varied background. I’d love to hear more about how sort of your trajectory got you from, I think, originally working in the restaurant business, and then now working with people with trauma and other types of mental health issues, so can you share a little bit more about your background and how you got to where you are today?

Kathy Hawkins:                Yes. The original career was restaurant business, and I did everything in the front of the house, bartending, waiting tables, sommelier, management, and I even opened my own place, and one of the big things that I really enjoyed about the restaurant business was people contact, connecting with people, and helping people, being of service. It was just in a different way, and I did that for a really long time, and I wanted something more. And through some twists and turns, I ended up going and getting my Master’s at The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and got into counseling, and when I was in the restaurant business, there was a lot of addiction issues, a lot of substance use issues.

And so, one of my specialties in my practice is working with people who are in the hospitality industry because there’s a big need definitely, so I am a Licensed Professional Counselor. I’m a Licensed Addictions Counselor. I’m a Reiki Master, and I do AcuDetox which is auricular or ear acupuncture, and that works with cravings and also just works to sort of settle the nervous system and calm people and it’s really stress reduction.

Gina Thorne:                      That’s great.

Kathy Hawkins:                Yeah.

Gina Thorne:                      Great. Well, you on your website, you talk about how you focus on trauma and stress management. Can you talk about the specific modalities that you use to address those issues when they come into your practice?

Kathy Hawkins:                The foundation of my practice is from a mindfulness place, and it’s working with people to try and keep them in the present moment. I draw from Buddhist psychology. I draw from Stoic philosophy trying to keep people in the present moment. I also use somatic experiencing, Hakomi, EMDR. Again, I sometimes use Reiki with acupuncture. I use narrative therapy, writing. I like to meet people where they’re at, see what works for them and what they’re excited about or willing to try, get a good feel for that and go with that.

Gina Thorne:                      And so, it’s individualized?

Kathy Hawkins:                Yes.

Gina Thorne:                      It’s very highly individualized, it sounds like.

Kathy Hawkins:                Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. That was one of the reasons I didn’t get into psychology a long time ago is because I had this idea that it was putting people in boxes, and I can’t do that, and I don’t want to be limited either. And then when I sort of discovered later on that there’s a bigger world out there, and people are doing different things and it’s okay, I grabbed on.

Gina Thorne:                      Oh, great.

Kathy Hawkins:                Yeah. Yeah.

Gina Thorne:                      Great. And then, we like to get to know the person behind the practice. If I were to ask you what is the book or books that you’ve most given as a gift to others, what would that be?

Kathy Hawkins:                I was thinking about this, and Pema Chodron, there’s two books particularly. One is “Beautifully Living with Uncertainty,” and then the other one is “When Things Fall Apart,” and those are things … people don’t like to live in uncertainty, and this is a great way to deal with it, or a great perspective, I guess, and then also “When Things Fall Apart,” so that’s the Buddhist component. And then the other book that I like to give is “The Daily Stoic,” and it’s 365 thoughts in Stoic philosophy. And again, it’s very pragmatic which Buddhism is as well, and it’s just about being in the present moment instead of getting anxious thinking about the future or worrying about the past. If we can spend more time in the present moment, we’re happier, and I like to give those books.

Gina Thorne:                      That’s great. Great book ideas.

Kathy Hawkins:                Yeah. Yeah.

Gina Thorne:                      I’m interested in getting them myself now-

Kathy Hawkins:                Yeah, they’re good.

Gina Thorne:                      … because they sound really interesting. If I were to play off the idea of the word harmony, what do you think it means to live a life in harmony?

Kathy Hawkins:                 Harmony to me, and that’s interesting because I was a sommelier, and I dealt with wine, and a good wine was in balance. Everything was in balance, and I think harmony is part of balance. Harmony is the balance working together. Getting people balanced in their lives in all areas is going to make a harmonious life. That’s the way I look at it.

Gina Thorne:                          That’s a great answer. Thank you for that. And if someone were listening today, and they wanted to access services at your practice, how could they get in touch with you?

Kathy Hawkins:                 My website is www.kathyhawkinscounseling.com, and my phone number is 720-608-0174.

Gina Thorne:                         Wonderful. Thanks, Kathy, for taking the time to visit with us today.

Kathy Hawkins:                 Absolutely. My pleasure. Thank you.

Ambassadors for Wellness & Recovery

Business Dev

A Retrospective Look at the Importance of Business Development
by Gina de Peralta Thorne, MS

If you had asked me 20 years ago if I would be working in the field of addiction treatment I would have looked at you funny.  The idea of working with recovering addicts and alcoholics was never intended to be a part of my world.  I had family who suffered from addiction, but I didn’t know them and I never had any personal issues with alcohol or drugs.  My only exposure to AA was hearing about Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA’s)  Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA’s) from a mother who self- identified as an ACOA. 

So how did I end up being such a strong ambassador for recovery and wellness? I tell people, that I didn’t choose this career path, rather, it chose me.   My first time exposure to working with people in recovery was 10 years ago as Director of Business Development for a treatment program in Virginia.  I was so nervous, unsure how I could contribute to helping people live a life in sobriety?  I remember the first time an alumnus asked me if I was in recovery, I was uncomfortable to share that I wasn’t.  He stood for moment, looked at me and said, “That’s okay, and you’ll do.”   At the time, his response didn’t give me any tangible reassurance, but today, I understand.

With over a decade of ushering individuals and families into treatment, I know that it wasn’t pivotal for me to be in recovery to do this work.   I have been awed and inspired by what I have learned from working side by side with those in recovery. I have learned how to recognize my own character defects, practice the discipline of restitution, (making amends for my mistakes), find gratitude daily for all things in my life and recognize, “this too shall pass”.  I believe my role in this field has helped people find the connections and resources necessary to make their lives that much better and what an honor it is to be given this responsibility.

Today, the landscape of business development and marketing is challenging.  There are some big shifts in perception regarding our work.  Referrals are skeptical of our intentions, trust is questioned and our efforts to work collaboratively can be tested.  But I believe “doing the right thing” will win out every time.  We are “Ambassadors for Recovery”  charged with the responsibility  to help mentor and coach those new  to the field, teaching the ethical, transparent and collaborative approach to helping people get well. 

We are not about “heads in beds”,   or labeling our clients as insurance contracts. Our purpose is much greater.  We are the frontline of recovery for many of the families and individuals suffering.  Our role is vital and compelling. Never sell yourself short as being “just a marketer”. We are the connectors, the bridge to hope and opportunity and “we’ll do”!

Gina de Peralta Thorne, MS – Chief Marketing Officer with Harmony Foundation is a graduate from Florida State University with a degree in Health Education and Masters from University of West Florida in Health Education and Management. She has over two decades of experience working in the field of prevention, intervention, addiction treatment and recovery. Her background in health communications and health promotions has evolved in both the public and private sectors working in local, regional and national organizations, hospitals, and institutions of higher learning in Florida, New York, Ohio and Virginia. She has worked in marketing and business development for residential treatment programs in Virginia and Florida. A recent transplant to Colorado, Gina was Vice President of Marketing for Lakeview Health providing leadership and oversight to brand management, digital marketing communications, outreach support and alumni services. She is an industry leader speaking about Ethics, Recovery Oriented Systems of Care and Marketing and Business Development best practices. She is a member of the Treatment Professionals Alumni Services (TPAS) Board and an active member of the Addiction Treatment Marketing Organization (ATMO). Gina philosophically believes that change happens when others stretch across the divide and work together.

Podcast: Mile High Sober Living

Gina:   Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Harmony Foundation Podcast Series, and it’s my pleasure today to be joined with Brice Hancock and Allison Hardon with Mile High Sober Living. Welcome.

Brice:  Thank you, Gina.

Gina:   It’s good to have you both here. I’m really excited to talk with you about Mile High. But before we do that, let’s talk about you first. So Brice, you are the founder/owner of Mile High. Is that correct?

Brice:   Correct.

Gina:   And you’re also a guitarist, former real estate agent, and now Executive Director for Mile High Sober Living. So how did all of those other variations of your career prepare you for the work that you’re doing today?

Brice:   Well, being a guitarist led into a career as a booking agent, which led into a career as a nightclub bar owner. And in the main way that that plays in now is promotion, even online promotion, or just meeting people or connecting with people, because being a promoter, that’s your job. A bar owner, that’s your job.
And I’m actually still a realtor, and that helped as far as sober housing, with housing laws and knowing which neighborhoods would work, and all that kind of stuff.

Gina:   And so what prompted you to say, “Yeah, I think I want to open up Sober Living now?”

Brice:   So two years sober. I’ll try to keep it brief, but at two years sober, I was depressed and I had zero purpose in my life. I was sober. I wasn’t drinking. And so I started to become obsessed with emotional sobriety and finding my purpose, now that I’m sober. And just through a series of events, I organically fell into sober housing and a friend of mine, one of my best friends I’ve known for 30 years, his sponsee is Chris of St. Paul Sober Living, and he said, “You gotta come up here and go to Sober House school.”
So I went up to St. Paul. He showed me the rules, the vibe, the houses, the way the whole thing works and the way it should feel when you’re living in a sober house as a client. And I came back down to Denver. I somehow convinced my father to help me buy a house. We bought a house and opened up Mile High Sober Living. I got one of my best friends, Michael [Hornbuckle 00:02:11], who’s been a sober house manager in California for a couple years. He became the house manager and I recreated what I had learned in St. Paul in Denver, four blocks from York Street, with the intention that it’s the hot part of town. We got parks. We got public transportation, coffee shops, restaurants, art culture.
12 Step meetings, they can walk to them and they can just find their own magic. And God forbid I relapse, I want to go to a house like this, where I can cool my jets and rework the steps.

Gina:   Well, all of that sounds really great, but I have to tell you, I’m fixated on one thing you said.

Brice:   Yes.

Gina:   Chris said, “Come out to Sober Living school.”

Brice:   He was kidding me.

Gina:   Okay. I was like, “There’s really a school?”

Brice:   No, it’s just he had access to this guy who runs just an amazing sober living and St. Paul has a great recovery community. And the AA thing, he’s got help, right? And so they helped me.

Gina:   So it was like a crash course and working with all the people that manage it.

Brice:   It was a crash course. It was like, “You’re gonna hang out with me for a few days and I’m gonna show you what I’ve created.” And he’s got 12, 13 sober houses, from Colorado to St. Paul to Minneapolis. Everything from gender-specific men’s houses to gender-specific women’s houses, LGBT house.

Gina: It’s so great to be able to work with people that understand the nature of what sober living is really supposed to be about and to introduce that into Colorado the right way is always so important. And you mentioned something about 12 Step. So it’s important that you created a safe community of sobriety with strong 12 Step. Why was that important for you to embed into the design of the program?

Brice:   Because I’m in recovery. I was a late-stage alcoholic. I was dying from the disease, and I tried everything to get sober. Everything. And a 12 Step program, it literally saved my life. And the whole community around 12 Step, getting plugged in, finding your tribe, finding friends. And besides just the actual 12 Step work, just being part of a large community like that, it’s super important and in early sobriety, especially, I believe that it really helps people get through. Because you know, it sucks being in early sobriety. It’s hard. And if you have all that support, it will get you right through it.

Gina:   Yeah, that fellowship is vital for long-term sobriety.

Brice:   Yeah, the fellowship is vital.

Gina:  So, Allison, you have been with Mile High for a little while, in working with them. And I understand, now that they’re moving towards a continuing care IOP program, can you tell us a little bit more about that and when it looks to open up?

Allison:   Yeah. First off, our location is right by our sober living home, so over time, I think Brice has seen some of his clients get to sober living, start out doing really well, and then there’s a point where they really could benefit from some more treatment services. So he’s been watching the need in the community, and with 52 beds now, six houses, three women’s and three men’s, there’s a few people that could benefit from some outpatient services.  So we have contracted Matthew Jarvis as the clinical director. He’s a licensed addiction counselor. And also works with EMDR, so we can start also addressing some of the trauma, when appropriate. We’re using a 12 Step facilitation model, so they’ll get skills and education around different components of the 12 Steps to again, support that part of the journey. And we’ll have a family component, so again, there’s been times when we’ve wanted to be able to support family members of people that are at the sober living home, and we haven’t had that within our program. So I see it as just a evolution of what Brice has created at Mile High Sober Living. There’s a community now, and the community needs more support services, so there will be mid management available there. We’re MAT-friendly, Medication-Assisted Therapy friendly. We do allow people to be on different types of medications that support them on their recovery at our houses, so we’ll have that extra care provided at the outpatient clinic. So we’re gonna start with IOP the middle of September, and then, I think, plans to open PHP and other outpatient services as we flesh out the model.

Gina:   That’s great. It’s nice to have that full continuum of care. Really important. So let’s shift gears for a minute and talk about the people behind the program. And so we learned a little bit about you, Brice, in regards to some of your previous careers that got you to where you are today, but let’s talk first about, what’s a failure or an apparent failure that set you up for later success? And then do you have a favorite failure of yours?

Brice:   Well, so I used to own a bar, which is a really bad job for an alcoholic, right? And it failed. The bar failed miserably. But what I learned is that my job, it’s not initially to take care of the clients. My job is to take care of the people who take care of the clients. I have 10 staff. The house managers are the ones who are really doing the work. You know, they’re really doing the work, and they’re all at least a year clean and sober. They’ve all done all 12 steps. Most of them are recovery coach-trained and QMAP-certified. And they’re literally bad asses and they’re just awesome, cool people, and they make recovery look fun, and I think that they instill a vibe and a culture in the house. And I’ve learned that, believe it or not, owning a bar, nobody ever left me because of money. They always left because they felt disrespected. So what I learned is take care of the people that take care of the people. You know what I mean?

Gina:   Yeah. Definitely a theme. It’s that concept of servant leadership. If you take care of the people that are doing the work, they’ll take care of the people just fine.

Brice:   Right.

Gina:   I think that’s smart. Great. And so Alison, if we were to play off the word “harmony”, what do you think it means to live a life in harmony?

Allison: Oh, that’s such a good question. As you guys know, I’ve been here many times over the years, up here at Harmony. And today, I’m gonna tell you that living a life of harmony, to me, feels to be true to yourself, to be honest. The 12 Step program that I have grown to love over the years has taught me that when I get that intuitive nudge about a decision and I know what I want to do but I kind of second guess it, time and time again, I always learn that I should just go with that gut response, my intuition. If I can just pause to be in harmony with that and I find a lot of my daily life now gets anchored with a morning meditation practice. Helps me slow the mind down and get in touch with who I am today and also just this morning, thinking about, “You know, this is a precious day that’s never gonna come again. And how do I want to live it?” And I wanted to be in harmony, knowing I was coming up to Harmony this place that has such a special place in my heart. I mean, just outside your door, that photo of Howie Madigan that exuded everything about recovery for this state. And a lot of people nationally knew him, and now I’m sitting in a building that’s named after him, and he’s shining his light down on us today. I really wanted to cherish the day, the drive, the beauty, the nature. The people up here are so special. And so living a life of harmony is really being true to myself, but also not missing the gifts along the way.

Gina:   I like that. Thank you for sharing that. That’s great. Thank you. And if someone were wanting to access services at Mile High Sober Living, how could they get in touch with you, Brice?

Brice:   I’m gonna give you my cell phone number. How about that?

Gina:   Okay.

Brice:  (303) 669-2809. They can find us on the web at milehighsoberliving.com. And our IOP website is up at milehighcontinuingcare.com.

Gina:   Great. Well, thank you both for taking the time to come up, It was really nice to visit with you and we’re strong proponents of Mile High Sober Living and we look forward to continued partnerships with you all.

Brice:   Thank you.

Allison: Thank you guys so much.


A Family Affair: Navigating Holiday Triggers by Khara Croswaite Brindle

Family: Holiday Triggers

It’s that time of year again, the time where people like to highlight the good, the cheer, and the happiness of the holiday season. But what if holidays bring on a sense of dread? What if you have to navigate the heavy drinking of your family members? Or be in the same room with a person who hurt you in the past? What if holidays create loneliness, risk of relapse, or critical self-reflection as the year comes to a close? For many people, these worries are just the beginning of what they may navigate from November to the New Year. So how can we each feel supported through the stressors of the season?

Bolstering Boundaries

One important element of being successful in our functioning around family is boundaries. Boundaries can be defined as physical or emotional in the way they are implemented to allow feelings of safety. Here are some examples of boundaries to consider with family to support feelings of safety and security during the holiday season:

  • Allowing someone’s refusal of a hug from a family member they barely know
  • Supporting comfortable distance between individuals throughout holiday activity
  • Encouraging space when close proximity is triggering such as a walk or errand
  • Listening for verbal cues about safe and unsafe topics during meals
  • Honoring a person’s decision to decline an activity due to risk of relapse

In other words, identifying ideas of how to support each family member’s needs can encourage enjoyment in all holiday festivities without judgement or conflict. This mindfulness of self and others can entice individuals to fully participate and engage in positive experiences as a family.

Tracking Triggers

Mindfulness can support positive experience through coping with triggers in the holiday environment. Supporting each family member’s self-awareness of triggers can be a first step in determining adjustments to allow full participation in festivities.  In the hope of healthy family connection, below are some examples of triggers that may arise:

  • Interacting with a family member that was formerly abusive
  • Talking of trauma topics that create conflict such as the time they had a drinking problem, eating disorder, or abusive partner
  • Engaging in traditions that encourage relapse including spectator sports
  • Recognizing people or places that are connected to trauma memories such as the holiday party where they experienced sexual assault
  • Feeling peer pressure to engage in activities that feel unsafe including binge drinking
  • Having the perception of criticism or judgement by their family, coworkers, or friends
  • Remembering trauma anniversaries that overlap with the holidays including death and breakups
  • Experiencing sights, smells, and other sensory information that connect to trauma such as cologne/perfume, alcohol, or ice and snow

Cultivating Connection

With all of the potential triggers at play during the holidays, it becomes crucial that we feel a connection to one another in our efforts to contain the stress. Reaching out to trusted family and friends or seeking the help of a professional can support a person in navigating the holiday demands. Balancing out stress with positive connection can make a significant difference in our ability to participate in holiday traditions and create new, positive memories where trauma memories formerly dictated our experience. By connecting with people who can relate, we may also learn new skills of how to remain fully present in the holiday experience and find joy in the family and traditions we’ve come to value.

 “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Khara Croswaite Brindle, MA, LPC, ACS, is the owner of Catalyst Counseling, PLLC and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Lowry Neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. She received her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver with a focus on community based mental health. Khara has experience working with at-risk youth and families, including collaboration with detention, probation, and the Department of Human Services. Khara enjoys working with young adults experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma, relational conflict, self-esteem challenges, and life transitions.

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Podcast: Boulder Integrated Health

Gina Thorne:   Hi everyone, welcome to the Harmony Foundation Podcast series. I’m Gina Thorne and I’m here today with Chris White and Kaitlyn Anderson with Boulder Integrated Health out of Boulder, Colorado. Welcome.

Kaitlyn A.:        Thanks. Thanks for having us.

Chris White:    Thank you.

Gina Thorne:   I’m really excited to hear about your program and what you all are doing in Boulder. Chris, you’ve been, actually, you just relocated back to Colorado recently, like in the last … It’s been a year now, right?

Chris White:    It has, yep. One year exactly.

Gina Thorne:   And you came back because you wanted to get closer to the mountains and take on this new job working with Boulder Integrated Health.

Chris White:    Yes, yes. I used to work in the Roaring Fork Valley and I’ve always wanted to get back to Colorado. Just looking for the right opportunity to do that. And that’s how I ended up at a Boulder Integrated Health.

Gina Thorne:   So tell us a little bit about BIH.

Chris White:    So, Boulder Integrated Health has three programs. We have … they’re all outpatient. One program is a partial hospitalization program, the other program is intensive outpatient and then outpatient. They’re all three different levels of care, the highest being partial hospitalization.

Gina Thorne:   And so what is somebody going to expect when they come to your program?

Chris White:    So for our PHP program, it meets five days a week, Monday through Friday, for five hours a day for a total of 25 hours of programming. The programming is a combination of group and individual therapy, probably 70 percent groups and 30 percent individual programming. It’s primary substance abuse, but we’re dealing with a lot of mental health issues as well.

Gina Thorne:   Your demographic is across the spectrum, right? So you’re not looking at just young adults?

Chris White:    No. In fact our program right now, the range of ages is from about 23 to 51.

Gina Thorne:   Okay. Okay. So then the nature of BIH really has been built on a history of people who’ve worked in the recovery world for a long time. Specifically, I know that it’s not tied directly to AIM House, Kaitlyn, but I do know that the people who actually helped build BIH have a real strong philosophy in working with adults and young people. How do you see the philosophy of what the owners at AIM house started to build BIH, and now working with an older population and working with not your young adults like they’d been used to doing for some time? Is that philosophy going to carry over?

Kaitlyn A.:        Yeah. I think what we’re really trying to do in both programs is really looking at, how do we meet the clients where they’re at, and what are they needing? And trying to create a vicinity of services both in the community and specific to BIH or AIM house, whatever it may be, and then actually be able to get people where they fit the best.

So really wanting to try to connect people into, whether it’s building the community and the resources, doing alternative trips like equine therapy, doing, even, we’ve talked about different sorts of groups that might go and do volunteer trips that are just trying to make like IOP and PHP more accessible to everybody and help them make something that’s gonna last throughout their entire life. Instead of just giving them the research or the groups that are going to be all paperwork and you’re just learning it, you’re not actually practicing it.  We’re trying to put that into, how do you make this a part of your life so it’s sustainable forever? And then looking at each of the different demographics of ages. Okay, yes, we might do a little bit different experiential things with the younger adults, versus based off of whatever developmental age they are. So really trying to meet everybody where they’re at.

Gina Thorne:   Yup. And it’s great because you’re creating a continuum of care that’s really, really vital. So it’s like you said, you’re individualizing the care. You’re not doing it as a cookie cutter scenario.

Kaitlyn A.:        Absolutely.

Gina Thorne:   So we always like to get to know the people behind the program and so we’re going to ask a couple of personal questions just so that we can get to know you all personally. So Kaitlyn, just out of curiosity, what new belief, behaviors, or habits that you’ve adopted within the last five years, have most impacted your life?

Kaitlyn A.:        It’s a good question. In the last five years I’ve had two new children in my life, and so that has changed my perspectives. I used to be somebody who, and still to some degree am, where I like to do a good job at everything that I’m doing. Having kids come into the picture, makes me realize where the priorities need to be and better understand the clientele that I’m working with and where their priorities need to be. For me, being able to have more of a work-life balance and really take the time that is important for family and practice what I preach, as opposed to just tell other people how to do it even though I may not be doing it.

So I really find I learn a lot from my clients. And then I also feel like through that process I’m able to bring a lot of, this is how, it’s a life philosophy. This is not just step one, two, three, and then you’re done. This is, you have to change the way you look at things and the way that you live your life. And I feel like I’ve really done that.

My background is in gestalt therapy. I liked the experiential pieces of things and really working with people where they’re at as I mentioned, and pieces that I put in is prioritizing my life, having self care in my life, having the balance between work and personal life. And then play. Get outside and do the things that I love. That’s why I’m here in Colorado as well. There’s a lot there. And in Boulder specifically, there’s just a plethora of things.

Gina Thorne:   There sure is. And kids are great at helping us get reconnected to that, don’t they?

Kaitlyn A.:        Oh man, absolutely.

Gina Thorne:   They do naturally, 95 percent of the time anyway.

Kaitlyn A.:        It’s definitely probably been one of the most powerful experiences in my life. Just to see things in a new way again and be present instead of in our busy culture and society. It’s like, no, let’s slow down. Let’s actually worry about what matters.

Gina Thorne:   Very nice. I’m glad to hear that you’re enjoying being a parent.

Kaitlyn A.:        Thanks.

Gina Thorne:   It’s hard work, but it’s probably the most rewarding work we’ve ever had, isn’t it? And so, Chris, if we were to play up the idea of the word harmony, what do you think it means to live a life in harmony?

Chris White:    You know, for me, the word harmony and what it connotates is balance. And that’s again, building on what Kaitlyn just said, a balance between work, life, family, having fun. People with substance abuse issues tend to have problems with moderation. They tend to have problems with balance. Alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, we find that sometimes when we take one bad habit and put it away, if we don’t do the proper work in ourselves, that it will pop out in other ways.

Chris White:    So for me, harmony is synonymous with the word balance and just, a finely balanced life. And it’s very difficult. Our bosses want us to make our jobs number one, our wives want kids to be number one and them. Everyone wants to be number one. And it’s hard to do. But we help clients through that, we do it ourselves and that’s what I feel like harmony is for me anyways.

Gina Thorne:   That’s great. I like that answer. Thank you. And so if somebody wanted to access treatment services at BIH, how could they get in touch with you?

Chris White:    Sure. So there’s a couple of different ways. The easiest way would be just pick up the phone and call. The number is 720-739-6500. And you’ll always get someone. You can also go to our website as well, which is BoulderIntegratedHealth.com. My first name is Chris and my last name’s White. And again, the number is 720-739-6500.

Gina Thorne:   Wonderful. Thank you both Chris and Kaitlyn, for taking the time to visit us at Harmony. We really value the work that you all do and we hope others that are listening today will take advantage of your services.

Kaitlyn A.:        Thanks.

Chris White:    Thank you.


Failure to Launch: Fostering Confidence and Freedom by Khara Croswaite Brindle


You may recall the American Romantic Comedy “Failure to Launch” in 2006 that describes a 30-something man struggling to leave the nest. This concept isn’t foreign when describing young adults’ struggle with achieving the next milestone of independence: moving out of their parents’ house. Dr. Jean Twenge writes extensively on the trends of stagnation and delayed pursuit of independence in both the Millennial and iGen generations.  But what can we do to support confidence and the pursuit of autonomy and freedom in our young adults?

An Uphill Battle
For many young adults, American society has given them expectations that they can do anything they want, be anything they want, follow their dreams, and thus, never settle for mediocre in their identity, career, or relationships. For the adult child, this becomes a rude awakening when facing competitive college admissions, fighting for quality jobs, and budgeting to live on their own with the rising cost of living. Dr. Twenge speaks extensively about the ways young adults are set up to fail—highlighting loneliness, a lack of self-esteem, and elevated anxiety and depression as some of the challenges of our 18-35-year-olds.

Recognizing that these challenges may lead to stagnation and loss of confidence, it is important to foster hope for these generations, both in themselves and the communities they cultivate that can help them achieve success. Below are some ideas for young adults to support their transition to independence from their parent’s home:

  1. Identify communities of support-By finding and strengthening connection to communities that feel like-minded and relatable, you can shift from family of origin focus to relating to others and developing other spheres of connection outside the home.
  2. Explore other’s experience-Knowing that you are not alone in how you feel and the struggles you face can make the transition less lonely and more hopeful by learning form other’s experience and strategizing your next move.
  3. Build confidence-Engage in self-discovery by identifying areas where you have strengths. Identify what’s most important to you through values exercises at Lifevaluesinventory.org and explore career strengths and direction at youscience.com.
  4. Positive reframes-Practicing your ability to rewrite negative thoughts or experiences can be a powerful tool in creating confidence and hope of independence. Reframing negative thoughts as temporary or your best effort can inspire movement and hope. To learn more, consider individual therapy where a professional can teach you these skills through Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy or identify a gratitude practice that can shift negative thoughts daily.

Parenting Parameters
Fostering hope and confidence is not exclusively the job of professionals. The support of parents can also be crucial to the confidence of a young adult. Here are some ideas for parents to encourage the exit from the nest:

  1. Support structure-parents’ ability to provide rules and expectations in the home can be an important incentive for young adults to exit and live on their own. When we think of the movie “Failure to Launch,” the parents made it too easy and convenient to stay in the home, thus stifling any urge in their son to leave. Structure can support expectations of a young adult’s transition from the house in a supportive way.
  2. Remain consistent-being consistent and true to your word as a parent is just as important now as it was when your young adult was a child. Predictability can support your young adult in building respect for your position in their exit from the home by identifying a timeline for your young adult to move towards independence and freedom.
  3. Provide encouragement-with change comes anxiety. Remember to be encouraging, positive, and reassuring towards your young adult that you are still a part of their lives and care about them as they make this transition. This will allow them to feel comfort rather than anxiety or grief at the loss of daily contact and connection offered in your household.

In whatever ways one accesses the confidence to pursue independence, knowing there are loving, caring connections between the person and others is a vital component of their success. There is no rule book for how to move from failure to launch to thriving in freedom. In a generation that feels more lonely and anxious than ever, community connection and meaningful interactions can help. We can support the next generations in their success though encouragement and kindness, and in this effort, we all win.

 “Change is hardest at the beginning, messiest in the middle, and best at the end.” ~Robin Sharma

Khara Croswaite Brindle, MA, LPC, ACS, is the owner of Catalyst Counseling, PLLC and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Lowry Neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. She received her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Denver with a focus on community based mental health. Khara has experience working with at-risk youth and families, including collaboration with detention, probation, and the Department of Human Services. Khara enjoys working with young adults experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma, relational conflict, self-esteem challenges, and life transitions.

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Podcast: Transitions Psychology Group, LLC

Gina: Hi everyone, welcome to he Harmony Foundation Podcast Series and it’s my pleasure to be joined with Norma Alkire, with Transitions Psychology Group out of Greeley, Colorado. Welcome.

Norma Alkire: Thank you.

Gina: So good to have you here and for you visiting us here at Harmony. We’re gonna step into learning more about Transitions in a minute but before we do we wanna learn a little bit more about you. You’re an addictions counselor, you specialize in working with adolescents and adults. Can you talk with us a little bit more about your journey into getting into the field of addiction treatment?

Norma Alkire: So what led me in this direction was growing up in a family with an alcoholic father and addiction seemed to be very prevalent and as a child growing up in that environment, feeling confused and wondering why addiction took priority over parenting. Even as a kid wondering that and then as I got older just wanting to learn more about the disease and then having three of my siblings also go down that road.

Gina: So you’ve been exposed to it but then also see the benefits of getting into recovery?

Norma Alkire: Absolutely. And I didn’t see that with my own family so I think that’s why it’s been awesome working in the field and helping people to find something to help them.

Gina: It’s interesting the number of people that I’ve spoken to that work in addiction. I’m the same way. I mean, most of us don’t wake up and say, “I really wanna work in the addictions field.” It’s more it picks you than you pick it.

Norma Alkire: Right.

Gina: And oftentimes it’s from personal experience and so many times it’s just giving back, which is really important. What would you say are some of the success stories in the work you’ve done with people in recovery?

Norma Alkire: I guess I definitely look at the success stories that people are on but they’re not my success stories.

Gina: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Norma Alkire: It’s just more about helping them to find some direction and really being on that journey with them as they pursue these options and providing support and encouragement. And I feel like there have been many and even ones that I was not directly involved in that I can look at and just be in awe at how hard people have worked to maintain their recovery and I learned so much from those folks.

Gina: Yeah. I feel the same way.

Norma Alkire: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Gina: It’s interesting because so much of the news sensationalizes the addiction part but we always struggle to find the success stories of those that are living a really long and amazing life in sobriety. And so we wanna focus more on that so that people know that it’s possible.

Norma Alkire: Yes.

Gina: Because a lot of people don’t realize that it’s possible because all they see is the negative and the consequences of the disease. So if someone were to come into your practice and wanna participate in treatment with you, what would that look like? What are some of the areas that you specialize in? Are you doing cognitive behavioral therapy? Are you doing any EMDR?

Norma Alkire: I do cognitive behavioral therapy. I focus a lot on trauma work so whether I do a lot of EMDR. I’m a firm believer, when people are ready, I never dive into that process because it can be traumatizing itself so just cognitive behavioral and really a lot of talk therapy.

Gina: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Norma Alkire: A lot of processing happens during that.

Gina: Yeah and you said that you work with adolescents as well. What’s the difference between working with those two populations?

Norma Alkire: The adolescents and the adults?

Gina: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Norma Alkire: Oh boy. I think in this day and age, so many more external factors come into … I mean, bullying has changed with the adolescents. I work a lot with girls and just maneuvering through the social mess and again being bullied with technology.

Gina: Right. It is a blessing and curse, they say.

Norma Alkire: Absolutely.

Gina: And if not given the right boundaries can be devastating, I’m sure.

Norma Alkire: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Gina: Well, we always like to learn a little bit about the person behind the program and so I’m gonna ask you a couple of personal questions.

Norma Alkire: Okay.

Gina: What is the book or books you’ve given most as a gift and why? Or what are two or three books have greatly influenced your life?

Norma Alkire: One of the books that I recommend to people often is, I love Brene Brown.

Gina: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Norma Alkire: And The Gifts of Imperfection.

Gina: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Norma Alkire: I love that book and so I have lent that book out to many people.

Gina: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Norma Alkire: And interestingly, I have also lent my Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous out to a lot of people. That was given to me years ago and I’m pretty stingy with it but I’ve probably lent it to a dozen people and they always return it.

Gina: Those are great books to give away.

Norma Alkire: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Gina: And if I were to play off the idea of the word harmony, what do you think it means to live a life in harmony?

Norma Alkire: I think it means living in peace. Unity.

Gina: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I like that.

Norma Alkire: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Gina: It’s true.

Norma Alkire: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Gina: And if someone were wanting to access services at Transitions Psychology Group, how could they get in touch with you?

Norma Alkire: Well, my cellphone number is on my business card.

Gina: Okay.

Norma Alkire: And so oftentimes I will get text messages from folks or phone calls just saying, “Hey.” And I also run an ad on Psychology Today for Northern Colorado so you can access me. I have a bio, it tells all of the different insurances that I take and then my office number. Do you want me to give you that?

Gina: Yes.

Norma Alkire: It is 970-336-1123.

Gina: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to visit us here and we look forward to continuing our partnership with you.

Norma Alkire: Great. Thank you.


Podcast: Gretchen Stecher – Soul Shine

Gina: Hi everyone. Welcome to the Harmony Foundation podcast series, and it’s my pleasure today to be joined with Gretchen Stecher, Heart of the Matter private practice clinician in Boulder, Colorado. Nice to meet you.

Gretchen: Thank you, great to be here.

Gina: I’m so glad you took some time to visit us here at Harmony Foundation. We’re really excited to learn a little bit more about your services, but before we do that, we want to learn a little bit about you. I got a chance to check out your website, and looked a little bit at some of the things that you are focused on, and you talk a little bit about how you attribute much of your journey to the work of Clarissa Pinkola Estes, the Women who Run with Wolves. What was it about this book that helped you on your path to working in addiction treatment?

Gretchen: That’s actually a really good question. Through that book, Women who Run with the Wolves, Dr. Estes gave me a whole different lens through which to view my life, and really to understand my suffering. I felt like I finally had permission to have a relationship with myself, something I never even thought about before. I love the metaphors in her stories, because they reach into the depths of my soul, and speak in a way that words alone cannot.

Gina: Can you tell me a little bit, for those that are listening, because they may not be familiar with her work, what the book was about?

Gretchen: Dr. Estes is a, among other things, is a storyteller, and so a lot of the book is a bunch of different stories that she then interprets through Jungian psychology. They’re stories that she’s collected all over the world throughout her lifetime.

Gina: Stories that were done by different cultures, and different tribes, and-

Gretchen: Yes.

Gina: I see, so it’s not stories she’s created per se, but those that resonate.

Gretchen: No. They’re cultural stories.

Gina: Cultural stories, okay.

Gretchen: Yeah. Primarily for women, but also the divine feminine, I would say, so it can be appropriate for both men and women.

Gina: What was it that prompted you to get into the field of addiction treatment?

Gretchen: Well, I think that when we’re caught up in the throes of addictive behaviors, we don’t even know that we keep telling ourselves that we don’t matter. I think that’s a common theme, and we’re so used to listening to the lies that emanate from the voice of our addiction that even after we stop using, we still believe those lies, and we don’t treat ourselves well. Women who Run with the Wolves helped me remember to listen to that wise voice deep inside that I could trust. We get so used to dismissing or overriding what we know is best for us, and I found that to be particularly true for those of us in recovery from addictions. I love helping people in recovery learn to hear and trust those parts that help them be true to themselves, and feel really good about who they are.

Gina: Your focus is really not to work with the person in early recovery. I mean, you would rather work with someone who might be having a little bit more recovery under their belt, if you will.

Gretchen: Absolutely.

Gina: Couple years, maybe?

Gretchen: Yes.

Gina: Why is that?

Gretchen: Well, I like to go to the places that … where people … to help people actually understand what caused the addiction in the first place. Go to the underlying symptoms, of the stinking thinking, the traumas that might be present, which actually are often present, including developmental trauma, which a lot of times people don’t even recognize or understand that they have.

Gina: Can you just explain what that means when you say developmental trauma?

Gretchen: Yeah, for sure. Although developmental trauma is sort of a broad term, but a lot of times, when our needs aren’t met as young ones, we’re not aware that they’re not met. If we have the need to be loved, and our parents aren’t quite capable of giving us everything that we need in that area, we think that are parents are being loving, because we don’t have another frame of reference. We don’t know that there’s something different that could be happening for us, and we don’t get what we need from them. We don’t get the attention, or we don’t get the validation, or we don’t get the encouragement, or the type of attention that we do need, our parents might not know how to give that to us. It’s not a matter of blaming our parents for anything, it’s just that that’s how it happened for us. We can wind up then self-soothing in ways that eventually become harmful to us.
To sort of unpack that, and understand what that’s about, we also can start blaming ourselves for things that actually really are not our fault. Again, it’s not about going back and blaming our parents, it’s about understanding where these things started from, so that we stop blaming ourselves, and again, learn to treat ourselves like we do matter, because that’s how we start to recover. Because treating ourselves with compassion, and as though we do matter, actually begins to reverse the stinking thinking and the negative thought patterns that we develop when we treat ourselves, have addictive behaviors, and treat ourselves poorly.

Gina: Your approach is to use somatic experiencing. How do you blend the two with the work that you do?

Gretchen: It’s not specifically somatic experiencing.

Gina: Okay.

Gretchen: It’s using the body as part of the treatment process.

Gina: What would that look like?

Gretchen: There’s a lot of different ways that I use body-based techniques when I help clients heal, and specifically when I help them heal from trauma, so I want to kind of focus on the trauma piece itself. I want to begin by just saying that it’s my understanding that trauma is stored in the body. That’s why it’s so uncomfortable for us, why we try to do all these things to keep us from feeling it, because we feel it in our bodies, and it’s really uncomfortable. When we have these uncomfortable sensations in our bodies, we also have these thoughts that connect with the uncomfortable feelings in our bodies, and so we have this kind of cycle that makes us feel pretty awful. How safe a person feels in their body greatly influences the choice of techniques that I use. I might begin by having a client tell me about a place in their body that feels good or neutral, because we want to establish, first of all, a resource that feels good to them.

Gina: Like a baseline.

Gretchen: A baseline, right, a positive baseline. Yeah, because sometimes baselines feel pretty uncomfortable, and dysregulating, and distressing. I would want to keep the focus there, whether it could be the soles of their feet, it could be the baby fingernail, it doesn’t really matter where it is. Then I have the person describe the sensations that they’re feeling. It’s important when using describing in this context to stick with words that are specific to the sensation. First, I would go over with them what I mean by sensation words, and even give them a list. I have a handout of sensation words. Then, describe other features about that location in the body, things like texture, color, temperature, things like that, so we really get to know what that area feels like. Once we do that, then I’d have them identify where in their body they would feel some tension or a painful sensation, and have them describe that to me in the same way that they just did the place that feels good, or the place of tension or pain.

Then we go back again, once they’ve described the place of the tension or pain, we’d go then back to the place that feels good or neutral. Again, we would go through these processes slowly, mindfully, so that they really get to spend time there, and be with both of those places, letting the whole nervous system get the sense of each of those places, and we would go back and forth, touching back into each one of those. This is a process that we call, in the trauma world a lot of times it is called pendulation. It’s a pendulation technique, and it’s actually a natural way that the body and the nervous system use to regulate.
What happens is, when there’s trauma present, the system goes into overwhelm or overload. It’s outside the window of tolerance, so we forget, the system forgets that it actually knows how to really regulate itself. By doing this, by specifically guiding a person to how to actually do this pendulation technique, it helps the nervous system remember that it actually does know how to regulate itself. We do this in places that are not really trigger places, or places of activation, to begin with, so they have practiced it and know that they can do it to start with.

Gina: That’s great. Go ahead.

Gretchen: That’s one way that the body can be used in working with trauma.

Gina: Wonderful, wonderful. Sounds like you have a really strong basis for working with clients who have, whether it’s really significant trauma, or even if it’s … I guess people don’t like using big T and little t trauma very much, because people would argue that trauma is trauma, and so do you work across a spectrum?

Gretchen: I do.

Gina: You do.

Gretchen: I do. Trauma really is, there’s a continuum. Really, you can tell the degree of trauma for each individual is different, and each situation will be different, and you can just tell by how much the system is activated. We tell that by just putting a number to it. Just like a pain level, when you go into a hospital, they ask you if it’s a zero or a 10, we can do the same thing using it that way.

Gina: Good. That’s good to know. Well, we always like to learn a little bit about the individual behind the services that you’re offering, and so I’m going to ask you a couple of questions that are a little bit more personal. What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

Gretchen: Well, I think you can probably tell that just by looking at me.

Gina: I think you like color.

Gretchen: As you can see today, yes. I love bright color clothing. I love interesting clothing. Yeah. Because to me, part of the whole piece, especially around recovery, is, if I’m going to be abstinent and I can’t have fun, or can’t express myself authentically, what’s the point? I like to be able to express my joy and excitement about being in recovery, and one of the ways that I like to do that is by wearing interesting clothes.

Gina: Well, it suits you. It definitely suits you, which is great. If I were to play off the idea of the word harmony, what do you think it means to live a life in harmony?

Gretchen: Well, it’s interesting. I mean, it’s actually one of the things that drew me to this place, because I actually prefer the word harmony to balance, because balance sort of draws me back to my old … I’m sort of a person in recovery from perfectionism, so with balance, I’m always concerned that I’m not doing it perfectly. When there’s harmony, it feels like, “Oh, you know, this part of my life can be a little bit messy, and another part can be in order, and it’s okay, because that way there’s harmony.” It feels much more like it’s in the flow, and things can move gently and well together. It doesn’t have to have some sort of perfect exact way that everything has to be. I really prefer harmony, and I love harmonious things. I love the sound of harmonious music. I just like the sound of that word a lot better than I do balance.

Gina: Yeah. Thank you for sharing that, I like that. If someone wanted to access services at Soul Shine ( previously) Heart of the Matter how could they connect with you?

Gretchen: Well, they could email me from my website, which is www.boulderwomenstherapy.com, or they could call me at 720-500-5474.

Gina: Wonderful. Thank you so much, Gretchen, for taking the time to visit us here. It was great to meet you.

Gretchen: Totally my pleasure. Thanks so much for having me.