The Helper’s Humanity

Together with Amy Andrews, MFA, LMHC, Johanna will be running a series of workshops on the humanity of the helper. Each workshop will use a different aspect of creative writing to explore your sense of humanity as a helping professional. Johanna and Amy will lead various exercises to deepen your curiosity and validate your vulnerability as a human and as a helper. Each exercise will involve personal time for writing as well as group discussion for processing.

The goals of the workshop are to provide creative writing tools for self-care and personal exploration, and to validate all the aspects of your humanity!

The first workshop is coming up in a few weeks on September 22nd. Each workshop will run from 8am-12pm, and coffee and light snacks will be provided. Spots are limited, so sign up soon!

Workshops are open to all, but are geared towards those individuals currently working in the helping professions (medical, mental health, religion and spirituality, teaching, etc).

Sign up for one retreat or for all four: $75 per retreat or $250 for all four.

To sign up, email Johanna at jbondperspectives@gmail.com or Amy at andrews.counseling@gmail.com. Please feel free to reach out with any questions you may have, as well.

Johanna and Amy are incredibly excited to collaborate on this project and can’t wait for the first workshop, titled “Developing identity through character.”

 

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Well-adjusted and in therapy

Not long ago, a friend of mine (not a therapist) mentioned her thoughts on therapy. When I mentioned that some of my own friends are in therapy, she said, “Wow, they must be really well-adjusted.”

I love that statement. Not “there’s something wrong with them” or “what do they need to fix.” The underlying sentiment was that these people are well-adjusted because they know when they need help and they seek it out.

The language we use is powerful. When I tell someone I’m a therapist and they say with a laugh, “oh, my friend here might need to see you!”, they are implying that a) they would not need to see a therapist themselves and b) there must be something wrong with the other person that they would need a therapist. My response is often, “I think we all need a little therapy sometimes.”

People often think the job of a therapist is to label you as “crazy” or “not crazy.” Let me tell you, that is not my job. My job is to support you and to challenge you.

When my friend made that statement, I liked that she assumed going to therapy was a positive thing. Not a sign of weakness or trouble, but something truly positive that people can do for themselves.

There are often negative life events or situations that lead to individuals coming to therapy, but having the strength to be vulnerable in seeking out and accepting help is a powerful and positive action.

July’s Mindfulness Exercise

Mindfulness involves observing and accepting the things around and within us in the present moment, without judgment.  In therapy, Johanna may involve mindfulness skills to build awareness of various issues and to develop coping strategies to reach optimal wellness.   The exercise below is not individualized to your needs as it may be in therapy, but is rather intended as a general exercise that you may find useful.

July’s Mindfulness Exercise:

Last month, we brought awareness to our thoughts. This month, we bring awareness to our emotions!

How aware are you of your emotions? Take a deep breath in, and exhale out slowly. Keep in mind the statement “as long as you are breathing, there is more that’s right with you than wrong with you.” Similarly, there are no wrong emotions – you get to have them all.

Notice what you are experiencing emotionally in this moment. Name the emotion or emotions to yourself. Maybe even write it down on a piece of paper.

Engage in this emotion-naming three times throughout your day today. Notice the fluctuations you experience in emotion and intensity. Notice what you do with the emotion. Is it healthy for you?

 

Today’s exercise is intended to increase your emotional awareness, both regarding what you are experiencing emotionally as well as what you do with it. As always, if this feels overwhelming, please call Johanna to set up an appointment.

 

NOTE: This is not intended to replace therapy.  Please contact Johanna at (585)406-3012 if you are interested in engaging in counseling for optimal wellness.

June’s Mindfulness Exercise

Mindfulness involves observing and accepting the things around and within us in the present moment, without judgment.  In therapy, Johanna may involve mindfulness skills to build awareness of various issues and to develop coping strategies to reach optimal wellness.   The exercise below is not individualized to your needs as it may be in therapy, but is rather intended as a general exercise that you may find useful.

June’s Mindfulness Exercise:

This month, we are going to bring our awareness to the endcaps of the day. Pick either the morning or the evening, and every day write down the first thoughts that pop into your head in the morning, or the last thoughts that run through your mind at the end of the day.

We can’t control what first pops into the mind, but we can control what we do with it and the habits we shape around our thoughts. After tracking your thoughts for several days, notice if there are patterns to your thinking. Those first or last thoughts of the day – are they what you’d want to have in your mind?

If they are, carry on. If they are not, take a moment to reflect on what kinds of thoughts you would like to have at the start or end of your day. Write down on a piece of paper or post-it what you’d like them to be, and place them next to your bed. Every day, before you close your eyes to end the day (or get out of bed to start the day), review the piece of paper.

In doing so, you are bringing mindfulness to your thoughts and training your mind to take the thought paths you would most prefer!

 

NOTE: This is not intended to replace therapy.  Please contact Johanna at (585)406-3012 if you are interested in engaging in counseling for optimal wellness.

May’s Mindfulness Exercise

Mindfulness involves observing and accepting the things around and within us in the present moment, without judgment.  In therapy, Johanna may involve mindfulness skills to build awareness of various issues and to develop coping strategies to reach optimal wellness.   The exercise below is not individualized to your needs as it may be in therapy, but is rather intended as a general exercise that you may find useful.

May’s Mindfulness Exercise:

This month, we are going to engage in expanded breathing. Begin by sitting or standing comfortably, and bring your awareness to your breath. Inhale and notice the feeling of your lungs expanding; exhale and notice the feeling of release. Pay attention to the feeling of air passing through either your nose or your mouth.

After taking several breaths without moving, begin to expand your awareness of breathing by engaging in physical movement. You can start by stretching your fingers out as you inhale, and relaxing them as you exhale. Take several breaths to do repeat this, at your regular breathing rate. Next expand your inhale by lifting your arms, and on an exhale release them. Take several breaths to engage in this practice also. You can continue to engage in this expansion or stretch and release with different parts of the body. After doing so, come back to a still position and return your awareness just to your breath as you inhale and exhale.

What do you notice about your physical self as you engage in this practice? What do you notice about your breathing?

NOTE: This is not intended to replace therapy.  Please contact Johanna at (585)406-3012 if you are interested in engaging in counseling for optimal wellness.

Awkward and Strong

At a yoga class recently, I was reminded in the midst of a holding a very difficult pose that what we need we carry with us. The instructor went on to discuss how we have the ability to cope with difficult situations. Deep stuff, right?

This doesn’t mean I held the pose. I certainly didn’t look the picture of the strength and grace I aspire to be. I was awkward, and shaky, and exited out of the pose before the teacher told me to do so. I may have even rolled my eyes a bit at the instructor’s words.

But it made me think. Not necessarily to agree with the instructor about what we carry internally, and whether it is enough. No, it made me think about how the things we need to grow come from within us, instead of from the material things around us.

I realized that my physical practice of yoga depended on me. Not the room I was in, not the clothes I was wearing, or even the yoga mat beneath my feet. My awkward, strong engagement in physical movement using my own body… that depended on me.

The instructor was right. I didn’t have the tools to bend and contort into a crazy pose, but I did have the ability to engage my body in the practice and own my movements. I didn’t need anything but myself to do yoga.

I often say in counseling sessions that you are the only one who is in your body and your mind 24/7. (It’s a great thing – and sometimes a very difficult thing!). That self is all you need to challenge yourself to grow.

And in my office, all we really need is you (the person who is in your body and your mind), and me (the person who will sit with you). Counseling depends on the relationship between myself and you, the client.

It is nice to have chairs to sit in, pictures to look at, and a window to let the light in; but the real work comes from the connection in the therapeutic relationship. That’s all we really need. It may be awkward at times, it may be shaky, and it will be strong. The real work comes from the changing perspective you develop for yourself and take out of the office with you.

What we need to grow we carry within us.

In yoga, the things we need come from physical movement. In counseling, it comes from the counseling relationship. In both cases it is the internal parts of self and relationship that lead to growth.

October’s Mindfulness Exercise

Mindfulness involves observing and accepting the things around and within us in the present moment, without judgment.  In therapy, Johanna may involve mindfulness skills to build awareness of various issues and to develop coping strategies to reach optimal wellness.   The exercise below is not individualized to your needs as it may be in therapy, but is rather intended as a general exercise that you may find useful.

October’s Mindfulness Exercise:

This month we are going to continue to explore the basics of mindfulness, with a focus on emotions. To begin, take a nice even breath in and out. Notice the feeling of expansion as you inhale, and release as you exhale. Pay attention to how your physical body is feeling today, as well as the pace of your thoughts as you begin this exercise.

Try to notice sensations, thoughts, and feelings without judgment and without attempting to change them.

As you breathe, pay attention to what emotions draw your attention. Do you feel joy, fear, sadness, contentment, anger, guilt? Are you irritable or stressed out? Notice what emotions bubble to the surface, and notice what your response is. Do you try to push the emotion away, or do you engage in it? Notice if there is a physical space in the body where the emotion resides. What emotions are more comfortable for you to experience?

Continue to breathe and notice what you experience. After engaging in this active accepting awareness for a few more minutes, gently wiggle your fingers and toes, bringing movement back into the body.

We develop patterns in how we respond to various things, including our own emotions. It can be helpful to increase our awareness of our emotional responses and what we do with those responses.

 

NOTE: This is not intended to replace therapy.  Please contact Johanna at (585)406-3012 if you are interested in engaging in counseling for optimal wellness.