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 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 and explore career strengths and direction at
  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, 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.

Podcast: Dr. Michael Zona – Forensic Psychiatrist

Gina: Hi everyone, welcome to the Harmony Foundation podcast series, and I’m pleased today to be joined with Dr. Michael Zona, who is a forensic psychiatrist out of Boulder, Colorado.
Welcome, Dr. Zona.

Dr. Zona: Thank you.

Gina: Nice to have you here.

Dr. Zona: Thank you.

Gina: Well, first of all, we appreciate you taking the time to come up and visit us here at Harmony. Obviously we’ve been working hard to get you up here, so it’s great that we’ve had a chance to meet you and learn more about your practice.

Before we get into some of the specifics about your practice, we’d like to talk with you a little bit more about who you are, and what kind of prompted you to get into the field of working in psychiatry, but specifically forensic psychiatry and some of the specialty areas you focus on.

Dr. Zona: Okay. Well, when I was a lad, I was more interested in biology, fishing, wildlife biology. And that led into medicine. I became interested in medicine maybe my senior year of high school and then through college.
I’m not from a medical family, so I wasn’t exposed early. As I went through undergrad, University of Massachusetts, I then went to St. Louis University, medical school, it’s a Jesuit school in Missouri.
You go through your first two years and it’s mostly lectures and so on. I remember going to the psychiatry lectures, and there’d be a psychiatrist there, somebody Einstein-like here, talking about things. They basically would read from the DSM, that’s a manual that talks about different diagnoses.  And I think it was the DSM-3 at the time maybe, I’m not sure. And I thought, boy, I love all aspects of medicine, but I know for sure I won’t be doing psychiatry.

Gina: Interesting.

Dr. Zona: And then in your third year, you start doing eight weeks OB/GYN, eight weeks peds, eight weeks psych. And everything I did, I was like, “This is what I’m gonna do.”
I did the psychiatry rotation, and I was hit like a ton of bricks. I just knew right then and there, that’s what I had to do the rest of my life.

Gina: So what was specifically about that particular rotation that made you say, this is the one?

Dr. Zona: An excellent mentor, firstly, which is critical in career development. And then secondly, what I found out was that it wasn’t this dry stuff, and it wasn’t Freudian. Which back in the day, it was all psychodynamic.
Actually, this was the time when psychiatric medications were coming out, where you could actually make diagnoses and you could use a medication for the diagnosis. And it was so dynamic, and so lively, that I was just smitten with the whole issue.  In retrospect, I think if it was all say, Freudian, and a lot of theory, which is not in my opinion scientific, I would not be in psychiatry. But over the last 40 years, 4-0, 40 years, it’s really lent itself to a medical model.

Gina: Yeah.

Dr. Zona: And the dynamic aspects of it, the fact that so many people are in need for a cure, and it was largely ignored, I think those are the kinds of things. Maybe my countertransference, which is the therapists’ feeling toward the patient, and it could be good or bad, but I’ve always been the kind of person who’s for the underdog. And I think that lent itself to that as well.

Gina: That’s great. Well, and there is so much more science behind the brain and how it functions, and I heard statistically that we know only maybe 10 percent or 20 percent of what the brain’s capacity really is.
So it’s almost like uncharted territory as far as what we’re learning about brain science and working with human capacity, which is really interesting.

Dr. Zona: Yeah. I think there’s like three frontiers: space, under sea, and psychology that exist out there and are still largely unexplored. And I like that aspect as well.

Gina: Yes. It really is a great opportunity for us. And one of the things you do also, and obviously this is going hand in hand with our conversation about moving into the world of psychiatry, is this issue of addiction medicine.
Addiction medicine is probably on par with that timeframe of, we’re looking at maybe a 30 year window of when addiction medicine really became such a significant part in treating addiction. And yet, that’s one of your specialty areas is looking at an addiction, specifically around medically assisted treatment.

Can you talk to us a little bit about why you decided to infuse the concept of medically assisted treatment, or MAT, into your practice? And also, what are your approaches in working with people who have issues with addiction?

Dr. Zona: Great question. I think that about 60 percent of my patients have substance use disorder. And I think as a psychiatrist, if you do not focus on looking at addiction related issues, and it doesn’t have to be a substance. It could be porn. It could be computer gaming, which I see in a ton of adolescents and youths these days. If you miss that, you’re not doing your patient proper service, because that part is, if you’re looking at a piece of pie, that could be 60, 70 percent of it. So you could hit somebody with the best medication and be the best therapist, but if you miss the addiction part, you lose and you do a disservice to the patient.

Gina: Which I think in many cases, what we’ve struggled with over the years, between this push/pull between mental health and addiction, is that there’s always this idea of isolation, you only treat the mental health, you only treat the addiction, but you never look at both together. And I think that once we start to blend those two together, you’re gonna start to see greater success. So I’m glad to hear that you address the addiction piece, because it is, like you said, such a pervasive part of what people are coming to the table with.

Dr. Zona: When I listen to patient stories, and you know, being in the field, that relapse is part of the disease, unfortunately. Guess what? Relapse is part of the disease in psychiatry too.
So we’re used to working with the concept of relapse. What I have found, when you listen between the lines to a story, a lot of relapses occur because the underlying psychiatric condition hasn’t been tucked in or went awry. And if you can get the underlying psychiatric condition stable, your success rate at treating addiction is much higher.

Gina: That makes sense. So as a medical professional, and working with people with addiction treatment, obviously we’re seeing this crisis of opioid addiction and the pervasiveness of it.
What do you think we need to be doing more of in addressing the opioid crisis in our communities?

Dr. Zona: That is the $64,000 question.
I think that doctor education is critical, and dentists by the way, because I’ve had many patients who have gone in and had two wisdom teeth taken out, and they leave with 60 Percocets, with a refill, for a month later. This kind of thing.  So I think doctor education is critical. And a lot has been done already. You cannot pick up a medical journal these days and not see tons of things on opiates.
I think in-services, training doctors is critical. I think public awareness is critical. I think programs like the needle exchange program is very helpful. And I think that I would like to see more doctors using MAT, not fewer doctors seeing more MAT patients. Because you’ve heard of these pill mills in Florida. They open up a strip mall, and have some doc there, and it’s like, script pad, script pad, they might process 40, 50 patients in a day.
That’s assembly line medicine, minus the word medicine. Because that’s not fair to real doctors to say that.

Gina: Sure.

Dr. Zona: Nowadays there are people out doing Suboxone, but I call it reverse pill mills, where all they’re doing is providing prescriptions for Suboxone, but they’re not looking at the underlying issues, they’re not helping a patient find AA or NA grounds, and they’re talking about, “Wow, I can cram in five patients in an hour.” All they’re doing is, in my opinion, a reverse pill mill type of thing. So I would like to see more docs doing it, if I was king of the world. I would mandate medical school training in addiction, medical school training in- nobody graduates from medical school without their XDEA, and training, so they’re ready to help their patients.
Because all too often, docs don’t want to do that part. And they make referrals, and there’s simply not enough addiction psychiatrists around to see people in the proper way.

Gina: Right. And it’s interesting, because when you talk to some primary care doctors, they struggle with even having the conversation with their patient, because they don’t know where to refer them to. So sometimes the conversation doesn’t even come up at all. So now you’ve got both sides of it.  You’ve got somebody who thinks the solution is just to provide a pill, and then you’ve got the others that are not willing even to have a conversation because they’re afraid of opening Pandora’s box, and they just don’t know what to do with the patient or the client if that happens.

So great strategies, and certainly think that we need to have more education in our medical schools. Even our pharmacy schools, around this issue of addiction and what the role is of the provider in addressing the issue, which is important.

So we like to always get to know the people behind the practice, so I’m gonna ask you a couple questions that may not necessarily pertain to the practice per se.
So what do you think you have become better at saying no to, and what approaches have worked for you in doing that?

Dr. Zona: I think that over time, you develop a sense of who you are as a professional, and a sense of right and wrong. As you become more comfortable with that, you become more comfortable with saying no.
An example not related to addiction, but somebody came in last week, and wanted me to sign a form to get him out of jury duty. And we talked about that, and I said, “Look, there’s no reason why you can’t. Of course it’s inconvenient, but I can’t do this professionally.” So there are some things that even though you have a good rapport with the patient, there are some things you can say no to.

When you believe in patient autonomy, part and parcel with that is exploring risks and benefits of decisions. But I feel very uncomfortable telling people what to do.
I don’t think being a psychiatrist gives somebody any special knowledge about life advice. I have lots of special knowledge in the medical realm, psychiatric realm.
But I have an ability now to explore something without necessarily having a patient do A or B. If I tell them no, and they do something against my advice, that, I think is distancing in terms of working with somebody.
If I tell them yes and then they do that, then they’re coming back the me saying, “Okay, you gave me good advice before, what’s the advice now?”
And I don’t think that’s appropriate. I think a physician-patient relationship should be about teaching, taking care of them and encouraging them to develop their own decision making.

Gina: Empowering them to do that. That makes sense. Being a facilitator, if you will, of decision-making.

Dr. Zona: I like that. I could’ve said that, and not answered the whole paragraph way.

Gina: We got there, which is great.
So if we’re playing off the idea of the word Harmony, what do you think it means when I say “to live a life in harmony”?

Dr. Zona: I believe that harmony is about inner conflict and attachment, and a life of harmony is a life where you’re at peace with yourself, and you make efforts to detach from psychic or financial connections with things, and you’re more in touch with your spirit, or the things that help others on the planet.

Gina: Very nice. Thank you for that. And if someone wanted to access your services, how could they get in touch with you?

Dr. Zona: In our office, anybody who wants to speak with somebody, to inquire, they just call me directly on my cell phone. So that telephone number is 310-261-0035…310-261-0035.
I have a website, it is, like Mary David, .com.
That’s the best way. If someone calls me on my cell phone, I answer the phone. If I’m with a patient, I never answer my phone. And I encourage people to call me up til 9 o’clock at night. I’d say about 90 percent of my calls, I can get back to within 24 hours.

Gina: Very nice. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us today, we’re excited about working with you, and wish you best of luck in all your future endeavors, including your fly fishing.

Dr. Zona: Thank you. Bye.

Podcast: Anchored Tides Recovery

Gina: Hi everyone, welcome to the Harmony Foundation Podcast Series, and it’s my pleasure today to be joined with Becca Edge, co-founder of Anchored Tides Recovery, and Kelsey Huberty, clinical director. It’s nice to have you both here.

Becca Edge: Thanks for having us, nice to be here.

Kelsey Huberty: Nice to be here, thank you.

Gina: Really excited to learn more about Anchor Tides. But before we do that, let’s learn a little bit more about you both. So let’s start with you first, Becca. You’re the co-founder of Anchored Tides. How did you find yourself working in the field of addiction treatment?

Becca Edge: Well, it started as a passion project. I was in a totally different career, and it just felt like I wasn’t fulfilling a purpose. So I decided to just open a little sober living on the side, and keep it very small with women only, and that would be my heart project. And as time went on, the community responded really positively to it, there was definitely a need to it. And I found myself getting pulled away from my “career,” and just spending more time with the women. So that’s kind of how it started, and then it just kind of grew organically from there and turned into something really cool.

Gina: And you’re in southern California, Huntington Beach area, correct?

Becca Edge: Yeah, Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa, yeah.

Gina: Oh, very nice. And so how about you, Kelsey?

Kelsey Huberty: Yeah, so without knowing it, addiction has been part of my life from as long as I can remember, and honestly I had no intention of working in this field. I kind of knew it existed, growing up next door, basically, to Hazelden, but in college I took an elective course in, they called it chemical dependency counseling at the time. And I just had that feeling of “This is what I’m supposed to be doing.” And then during college I got into my own recovery process, and it really helped me to get kind of a different understanding, obviously, of the field and recovery and being a woman, the issues that women tend to face. So is it accident, is it divine intervention? I don’t really know.

Gina: I think it’s a lot of both, yeah.

Kelsey Huberty: But that’s where I ended up, and I absolutely love it.

Gina: Great. Well, yeah, and I agree with you, it’s like nobody wakes up and says “I really want to work in the field of addiction treatment.” I think a lot of us found ourselves being called to it, which is what I found as well.

Kelsey Huberty: Yes.

Becca Edge: Yes.

Gina: So Anchored Tides is a women’s only treatment program. It’s in Huntington Beach. Becca, take a couple minutes and describe for us some of the specific programming that you offer for women that often are more tailored to women, because we know that treatment isn’t just across the board something that you can do for everybody. It really has to be unique, and sometimes gender plays a part in that. So what does that look like for your folks?

Becca Edge: So a lot of the times women come in and they identify just as an addict or an alcoholic, and then the more time they get sober, they realize “Oh, I have all of these other issues that played into my addiction.” So that’s really what we want to focus on treating, ’cause if that goes untreated, that’s when they tend to go back out and relapse, and they have trouble achieving long-term sobriety. So a lot of issues for women come up around co-dependency and relationships, whether that’s romantic relationship, friend relationships, family relationships. You know, all the relationships tend to be really sick when one of the people in it is sick. We also focus on disordered eating. And that can be someone who has a history of an eating disorder or someone that just has never really grocery shopped, doesn’t know what nutrition looks like and doesn’t know how to eat like an adult.

I know for me, I thought cupcakes were an appropriate dinner for the first few months/years of my recovery. And so yeah, so disordered eating, relationships and codependency, and then we focus on a lot of trauma as well. And we always say that can be a little T, big T. But trauma is trauma, and that affects us in how we live our life and perceive the world around us. So we really like to focus on that. We provide, we try to integrate 12-step with a lot of holistic approaches as well. So we do breath works, meditation, reiki, yoga, art therapy, music therapy, in addition to a lot of process groups, she resilience, etc. So we try to just give our clients all of the tools they need to have a long-term successful recovery.

Gina: Yeah, that’s great.

Kelsey Huberty:And then I think another important piece of what we do is really helping women to define or meet an authentic sense of self in recovery. Because both men and women and everybody in between, we get socialized that we “should” be a certain type of way. If you’re a woman, you should do X, Y, Z. If you’re a man, you should do X, Y, and Z. And so we really take a look at the socialization process, what people are raised with individually, what we’re raised with collectively, and kind of unpack what fits for you, what doesn’t fit for you. And who do you really want to be, versus who have you been told to be or not to be?

Gina: A lot of times when you’re coming out of addiction, you have that arrested development, so especially if you started really young, you’ve never really had that ability to self-actualize.

Kelsey Huberty: Right.

Gina: And so it’s great that you all are creating that space for that, which is good. So we always like to learn about the people behind the program. So we can talk all day long about your services, but if I were to ask you, Kelsey, in the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life, what would you say?

Kelsey Huberty: You know, I think for me it’s really been getting into the practice of meditation, which has then opened a lot of doors for me. And I am not a tattoo person, but I always say if I ever got a tattoo, I would probably get something like “Let your faith be bigger than your fear.” I know for a lot of my life I lived in fear and let that run my life, and so now to be able to have faith even during uncomfortable times, it’s really reassuring. And for me that looks different than what it might look like for you or for Becca. And so just getting really in touch with that and that practice. And also stopping to appreciate the beauty in life.

Gina: Mm-hmm (affirmative), really being present. I can completely relate with what you’re talking about. I’ve started my meditation practice in the last year as well, and it’s definitely been like a whole new world opening up for you when you have the opportunity to do that, which is really great. How about you, Becca?

Becca Edge: Well, mine’s kind of along the same similar lines. I am in a 12-step program, and that is the basis for my spirituality. But that, like I said, that kind of keeps me maintaining. So in the past few years I’ve really looked at how I can grow that. And it is meditation, yoga, reiki, just getting in touch with myself and my spirit and honoring that and figuring out who I am. Again, I think that’s an ever-changing process. So we teach our clients, you know, figure out who you are and who you want to be, and that’s gonna be different today than it is tomorrow and the next day. So it’s just kind of constantly figuring out who you want to be and being true to your authentic self.

Gina: That’s so true.

Becca Edge: Yeah.

Gina: So true, especially since we always think that once we feel like we get there, we don’t have to do any more work.

Becca Edge: Right.

Gina: And we know that it’s like surf school, we’re always working.

Becca Edge: Right. It’d be nice if it was that way.

Gina: [crosstalk 00:07:21].

Kelsey Huberty: I’m done.

Becca Edge: I’m done, check.

Gina: Yes, we’re finally here. So Kelsey, playing off the idea of the word harmony, what do you think it means to live a life in harmony?

Kelsey Huberty: So I don’t know if this makes sense to other people, but it’s like that feeling of being in the flow. So for me, my heart feels warm, my spirit feels warm, and for me, when I’m in harmony, it feels like the universe is conspiring for me. I think a lot of people tend to look at the negatives in life, “This isn’t happening for me, this isn’t happening for me,” but every day there’s so much happening for us. And so looking for that evidence of the good and the ways in which the universe or your higher power or whatever that looks like for you is really helping to carry you along the journey. And I think it is, it’s this ever-growing process of, I have to keep doing my work, I have to keep being a good student of the craft, for me in this field and just in life, and contributing positively to society. And then I get this feeling that life is great, life’s beautiful. And that’s what it feels like when things are in harmony for me.

Gina: I love that. That’s a great response.

Kelsey Huberty: Thank you.

Gina: How about you, Becca?

Becca Edge: Yeah, for harmony, I feel like it’s, you know when you’re in harmony, it’s the feeling inside yourself. And it’s when you’re not fighting, I feel like. When you stop fighting, you’re in acceptance. And it’s kind of this reprogramming of your brain so that, you know, life happens. There’s always gonna be issues and things that come up, but it’s how you perceive it and how you can learn from it. And so instead of being like “Oh, this terrible thing happened,” kind of like you touched on, this is an obstacle, but it’s a chance for growth and self-improvement, because the reality is we don’t usually grow from happy, good times. We usually sit in them. So pain is a chance for growth and betterment, and I feel like when you’re in the mindset to do that, it doesn’t really matter what’s going on in the world around you, because the inside’s harmonious and you’re at peace with the world around you and your environment and the people around you, and that’s harmony.

Kelsey Huberty: I heard it, or read it that somebody said everything in life is either a blessing or a lesson. And for me …

Becca Edge: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Gina: That’s true, yeah. I like that.

Kelsey Huberty: Because I think … and part of this has come from meditation, but it’s really easy to grab onto negative things in life and to attach our identity to them. But when you look at it as “Okay, what can I learn from this,” you don’t get so attached to an event and you just see it all as part of your process.

Gina: Right, yeah. I think we all need to do a better job of that. It’s hard when we’re focused in on it and pain, the struggle is so hard.

Kelsey Huberty: Yes.

Gina: But you’re right, when you can look at the silver lining and see what the value is from it, there’s always something to be learned.

Kelsey Huberty: Yes.

Gina: So Becca, if someone wanted to get in touch with Anchored Tides Recovery, how could they get in touch with you?

Becca Edge: Well, you can go to our website, which is, or you can call our admissions line, which is area code 714-377-7706, or just email at as well.

Gina: Wonderful.

Becca Edge: Lots of information there.

Gina: That’s all right, that’s great.

Kelsey Huberty: It’s a long name.

Gina: No, it’s good, thank you both so much for taking the time to come out and visit with us. We really enjoyed getting to know you, and we look forward to working with you.

Becca Edge: thank you, yeah, it was great hearing you.

Kelsey Huberty: Thanks for sharing this impressive program and this beautiful location with us.

Gina: Thank you.

Exploring the Enneagram: Relationship Reinforcementng by Khara Croswaite-Brindle


I can’t handle it when others are upset. I throw myself into work to avoid emotions. I want to be left alone. No one understands me. I want everyone around me to be happy. Can you relate to any of these statements when it comes to how you operate in your world? Does this describe your reactions when relating to others? If so, there is good news! The Enneagram is a personality test that not only looks at your strengths and weaknesses, but also allows insight into relationships with others in order to strengthen compassion and connection.

Personality Test Popularity

For many of us, we’ve been exposed to personality tests in the past, whether it was part of high school psychology class, a component of starting a new job, or a viral quiz on social media. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was the go-to personality test for several decades starting in the 1940s when exploring a person’s extraversion, intuition, and decision-making skills. The Enneagram has been around almost as long, making an introduction in America in the 1950s. Praised as a tool for deeper awareness, self-understanding, and self-discovery, The Enneagram classifies personality into 9 categories or types, identified below by The Enneagram Institute as:

  • Type 1: The Reformer
  • Type 2: The Helper
  • Type 3: The Achiever
  • Type 4: The Individualist
  • Type 5: The Investigator
  • Type 6: The Loyalist
  • Type 7: The Enthusiast
  • Type 8: The Challenger
  • Type 9: The Peacemaker

The Enneagram also claims that a person’s designation as one of the nine types is solidified in childhood based on traumatic or impactful experiences that reinforce behaviors that support feelings of safety and security.  For example, someone who tests at Type 2, The Helper, may have a core belief that “I am good and ok if I help others.” The authors of several Enneagram books, Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson further describe each person’s capacity to equally develop into any one type, however the type that ultimately defines us is reinforced by our environment at a very young age. Another example that can highlight this concept is the child who is praised for every positive performance or good grade, allowing them to feel pride when sharing their accomplishments at a young age. In continuing to seek that valuable praise to feel positively about themselves, they might find themselves pursuing various accomplishments throughout their life in a series of patterns of achievement, categorizing them as Personality Type 3, The Achiever.

Put it to the Test

So now that your curiosity is peaked, why not put it to the test and see for yourself? You might have an idea of your type just from the names above, however there are several options that can clarify your results.  The Enneagram Institute ( has an online test that can define your type and any other connections to other types based on your responses to a series of questions. A faster option can also be found in a free App called EnneaApp, that can allow you to explore your type and read more about what the results mean in shortened form, ideal for those who want family members and loved ones to also test and identify their personality types. The Enneagram has risen in popularity due to its use in various contexts to help people better understand themselves and others.

  • Premarital Counseling
  • Individual and Family Therapy
  • Workplace Efficacy & Human Resources

As you can imagine, clarity about your type and The Enneagram type of others around you can help you rise to your fullest potential, including strategizing on projects in the workplace or connecting at a deeper level interpersonally. Therapists value the Enneagram due to its ability to start conversations about similarities and differences between people, as well as its ability to provide opportunities for growth and self-discovery.

Discovering Depth

Self-discovery with the Enneagram reflects the effort you put in the results and your ability to have an open mind. Designation of your personality type includes implications for balance and wellness by looking at the positive characteristics (which will please you) and the negative characteristics (which will make you want to hide). In other words, you will have positive traits that you feel fit your personality very well, and negative traits you will want to reject due to the painful accuracy of things you want to keep hidden from others due to embarrassment or shame.

Allow me to illustrate. If you are found to be a Type 8, The Challenger, you, like all the types, have both positive and negative characteristics. Some of your positive characteristics include having a powerful vision of your future, being vocal about your goals to get results, getting others cooperation in those goals, and being described as passionate.  So far so good right? You sound like a force to be reckoned with. On the other hand, your negative traits include speaking over others, a ‘my way or the highway’ mentality when challenged, being described as bossy and overbearing, and being intimidating when expressing anger. As you can imagine, balance between positive and negative characteristics is important in exploring shifts to support connection with others both personally and professionally as well as workplace success.

Enneagram Enhanced

The Enneagram can go much deeper into passions, difficulties, relationships, team work, and more. Just look for trainings in your community and online to move into further discovery after you identify your type or the type of those you value. By beginning your journey into The Enneagram starting with your own reflection, you will uncover unlimited possibilities regarding how to successfully connect with strengths in yourself and with others!

 “The point of it isn’t to just be a type, but to use the awareness of our type as a kind of entry into a more full-bodied humanity and a greater and greater capacity to embody and flow with all the different qualities of our humanness.” ~Russ Hudson

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 Series: Denver Recovery Center

Gina: Hey, Jason. Nice to have you here.

Jason: Hi, Gina. Thanks for having me.

 It’s good to have you a part of the Harmony Foundation podcast series today and for taking the time to come up and visit us here in Estes Park. You’re with Denver Recovery Center, you’re the Executive Director.

Jason: That’s right.

Gina: But you actually live in Arizona and you commute back and forth, that’s quite a long commute but it sounds like you don’t have a problem with that.

Jason: That’s right, yeah. I live in Arizona most of the time and I live in Colorado part of the time. I’m here a couple times a month, so probably 30% of the time in Colorado and about 70% of the time in Scottsdale, where I grew up.

Gina: We were talking offline, you have a bit of a love affair with Colorado, as I do. So it was a good call for you to move out this way and open up Denver Recovery Center.

Jason: Yes. Yeah, I spent about half my life in northern Arizona so when I came up to Colorado for the first time it reminded me so much of northern Arizona that I just fell in love with it and decided-

Gina: Yeah, it’s hard not to.

Jason: Yeah. Yes, absolutely.

Gina: That’s great. Well, we’re going to talk a little bit about your program, which isn’t been open but maybe, what, a year? A little over a year, here in Colorado?

Jason: Denver Recovery Center, we opened the beginning of 2018.

Gina: So, very young.

Jason: Yes, yes.

Gina: Okay, yep. So great. Well, we’re excited to have you guys here.

Jason: Thank you.

Gina: And before we talk specifically about the services that you all offer, I want to learn a little bit about your background so that people can get to know you a little bit better.

Jason: Okay.

Gina: Tell us what got you into the field of addiction treatment.

Jason: Well, I’m a person in longterm recovery. So I’ve been sober for 16 years, and I’m passionate about recovery. Along with addiction recovery, I’m also passionate about yoga, healthy eating, outdoor experiences, and it was really my dream and passion to be able to bring all of this together into one program so I can share with others my journey of recovery and all of the other splendors of life that I’ve been able to enjoy. So that was really my idea when creating Denver Recovery Center, is to-

Gina: That’s great.

Jason: Yeah, thank you.

Gina: Paying it forward and sharing the strength, hope, and experience that we all need to do, right?

Jason: Yes.

Gina: So that’s great.

Jason: Exactly.

Gina: So you opened at the beginning of 2018 and you all are in Arvada? Or in Broomfield?

Jason: We’re in Broomfield.

Gina: Broomfield.

Jason: On Interlocken Boulevard in Broomfield.

Gina: Great. Which is fairly close, for people who are listening. It’s almost in between Denver and Boulder.

Jason: It is, yeah. We’re about 25 minutes outside of Denver and about 20 minutes outside of Boulder. So located right in between the two and-

Gina: Two very different communities.

Jason: Absolutely.

Gina:Two very different communities.

Jason:I’ve learned that, yeah. They’re almost like two different worlds.

Gina: They really are.

Jason: But it’s great because we can offer services to people that are living in both communities.

Gina: Let’s go into that, let’s talk a little bit about the services that you all offer.

Jason: Sure, so we’re an extended care program for people that are looking for more of a longterm program, where they can get integrated into the larger recovery community in the area, while also working with licensed Master’s-level clinicians to resolve some of the past traumas, look at some of the underlying issues that are going on, work on family issues, professional issues, really do some personal development work, and then also learn some life skills issues, that many people leave behind in their addictions. Basic things like waking up, making your bed, learning how to cook, learning how to live in a community. And overall, really boosting people’s self-esteem and allowing our clients to thrive while they’re at Denver Recovery Center, but also building the habits of recovery so they can thrive and really succeed in life when they leave our program.

Gina: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It’s interesting because so many of the people that I’ve spoken with who are in early recovery say that it’s not just the area, people, places, and things that can trip you up in early recovery, but in fact the basic things that we all take for granted, like just learning how to grocery shop and the stress that can be involved with grocery shopping for the first time in recovery or paying your bills and learning how to balance a checkbook. That some of those stressors, the things that you’re talking about that you all teach, can be the foundation of what successful recovery can look like.

Jason: That’s right. Yes, yes. We want to allow our clients to have some, I want to say, real life experiences, while they’re with us. So they can learn how to walk through some of these situations, like going out to a restaurant, or going for a hike, or going to a museum while they’re with us so they know that they can successfully manage these aspects of life when they leave our program and get integrated back in with their families and their work life.

Gina: Which is again another necessary part of how people stay sober.

Jason: Yes.

Gina: So you’ve got a concept, you do a gender-responsive program. So your program is men and women specific, is that correct?

Jason: Yes. Our program, the structure of it is, is that we have a PHP, IOP, OP program, where our clients are in group and individual therapy during the day and then they return to our housing in the evening time. The houses are gender-responsive, so they’re gender specific. And then while they’re in our clinical program during the day most of the groups are integrated together, co-ed, but then we also have separate gender groups as well. I think the importance of that is … There’s a lot of things. There’s many benefits to having co-ed groups, but there’s a lot of benefits to being separated as well. And sometimes males and females feel more comfortable when they’re just separated than together, and there’s issues that they can talk about that they don’t feel comfortable talking about in mixed company.

Gina: Right, right.

Jason: There are some issues that are just gender-specific issues. And there’s also a lot to learn from working together as well.

Gina: Learning how to communicate with the opposite sex.

Jason: That’s right.

Gina:And learning about how to have relationships without having relationships, for those of you that don’t see, I’m talking air quote relationships.

Jason: That’s right, yes.

Gina: Yeah. So there’s definitely that too. Well, that’s good.

Jason: Yes.

Gina: We’re onboard with being gender responsive for that very reason, in that we believe that women may come into treatment for very different reasons than men do and it’s okay for them to be able to address those issues with other women. Like men, who might be dealing with stressors and struggles in a different way.

Jason: Yes.

Gina: So that totally makes sense. Well, we always like to talk a little bit about the individual themselves, so not just your program but the person behind the program. So I’m going to ask you a couple questions that hopefully we’ll get to know you a little bit better.

Jason: Sure.

Gina: How is failure, or apparent failure because some people might not see it that way, set you up for success later in life? And do you have a favorite failure of yours that you’d like to share?

Jason: I was thinking about this question and it’s interesting that you say apparent failure, a play on words. So the one that came to mind right away is my relationship with my parents.

Gina: Ah, interesting.

Jason: I’ve noticed that I can be very judgmental and sometimes condescending to my parents, when they’re just trying to do their best. And they’re doing the best that they can with the tools that they have. And I think that’s been one of my biggest failures, is being kind of that condescending person to my parents sometimes. And more recently I’ve been realizing that it makes me feel better, ti makes the relationship better, and it makes them feel better when I practice more love and tolerance and kindness with them. So that has been a failure that’s led to a success, of me looking at my own actions and saying, okay, I need to change my actions. It’s not my parent’s actions that are annoying me, it’s how I’m being in my life. So I can change myself, I can’t change somebody else.

Gina: Right, that’s a really great, introspective way to look at things.

Jason: Yeah.

Gina: I do, admittedly, have to say I don’t think you’re alone in having that same kind of a parent failure.

Jason: Okay, yes.

Gina: A lot of people feel that way.

Jason: Right.

Gina: Until I guess we all grow up and realize, when we have our own kids, “Oh, now I get it.”

Jason: Right, yeah.

Gina: Now I understand.

Jason: Yeah.

Gina: Playing off the idea of the word harmony, if I were to throw out the word harmony, what does that mean to you?

Jason: The word harmony, to me, means that many different pieces and aspects of life are operating with ease and grace, together, and all flowing together rather than flowing in different directions. It’s everything having a common purpose and everyone … Kind of all ships sailing in the same direction.

Gina: Yeah, I like that.

Jason: Yes.

Gina: I like that a lot. That’s really great.

Jason: I love the word, and i love that you guys named your program Harmony.

Gina: Yep, we feel it.

Jason: Yes.

Gina: I mean, we definitely feel it here on campus and so … Well, if someone were wanting to access services at Denver Recovery Center and wanted to reach out to you after listening today, how could they get in touch with you?

Jason: You can reach Denver Recovery Center by phone at 888-853-5585. You can also go to our website, which is And there’s a lot of information there, a lot of great information about our program but also addition in general. We are a program that we know what we’re good at and we also know when to refer people to other programs. So you can use us as a resource to get a general idea of whether you may need our services or you may need services at another program. And we’re happy to be that type of resource, where we can say, “Yeah, you’d be a great fit for us,” or, “No, we actually feel like you’d be a better fit for this program that we’re familiar with and let’s get you in contact with them.”

Gina: Great.

Jason: So we’re happy to be of service. We love helping people and find it a really big honor to be a part of people’s recovery.

Gina: Wonderful.

Jason: Yeah.

Gina: Well, we’re really glad to have you in Colorado. Thanks so much, welcome. And thanks for coming up to Harmony today.

Jason: Yeah, thank you, Gina. Appreciate it.

Upper Limit Problem: Smashing through our self-imposed glass ceiling by Khara Croswaite Brindle


Remember when we explored if we’d quit something before it could go wrong? How you’ve ended a relationship before you could get hurt? We identified these as examples of self-sabotage, which can strike at any moment when we feel that things are gaining momentum in a positive way.  But what happens when you achieve the success you’ve always wanted and now, instead of joy, you feel doubt and dread, fearing it is too good to last?  Because of this fear, perhaps you desire to remain safe in your career trajectory, creating your own glass ceiling because it pays the bills and supports stability.  You choose comfort rather than taking risks that would allow you to reach your fullest potential.  Gay Hendricks calls putting on the breaks when our success has exceeded what we thought it could as The Upper Limit Problem, described in detail in his book “The Big Leap.”

Signs you have an Upper Limit Problem

It’s understandable that we struggle with success in thinking it’s too good to be true. Awareness of our reactions to success and the resulting negative thoughts and unconscious self-sabotaging behaviors can be considered a first step in recognizing the problem and identifying viable solutions!  Here are some signs that you might be experiencing an Upper Limit Problem:

  • You avoid taking risks
  • You can’t slow down
  • You can’t enjoy your successes due to fear and doubt
  • You prevent change in wanting stability
  • You love your comfort zone
  • You feel uncomfortable with too many successes at once
  • You get stressed and sick when experiencing rapid growth

Smashing through your Upper Limit Problem

For many, illness in response to stressors or fear of success in a big part of their Upper Limit Problem. So now that you know what you are experiencing, what can you do about it? Here are some ideas that might help:

  • Identify positive affirmations such as “I’m right where I should be.” “I’ve worked hard for this success.” “I deserve good things.”
  • Engage your supports. Talk to others you trust about the stress you are feeling in the face of your achievements.
  • Practice mindfulness. Engage in mindfulness and meditation practices to reinforce positive vibes and refocus.
  • Slow down. Take breaks for self-care and rest up to prevent illness.

By recognizing the signs of your Upper Limit Problem and exploring possible responses, you can remove self-sabotaging behaviors and fully surrender to your success, allowing yourself to enjoy your accomplishments and continue to thrive in the possibilities of your future.

“The goal in life is not to attain some imaginary ideal; it is to find and fully use our own gifts.”
Gay Hendricks

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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