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]