by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghSeptember 30, 2018 counseling for anxiety, counseling for PTSD, psychotherapist, touch, yoga for trauma0 comments
Hands off-Please Do Not Touch My Body.
Closeness is sacred and powerful, and we should share it however we would like with a partner or partners with whom we have provided consent. Personally, I am a ‘toucher’, meaning I am a person who enjoys touch with my partner, someone who hugs family and friends and genuinely savors safe closeness. As we all know, touch can feasibly happen in many contexts. A recent trip to a local yoga studio has spurned some inspiration for considering consent and what exactly that means within the context of yoga. Consent is one of the topics of the century, the importance of asking for it, and heeding to it are championed issues with personal, psychological, and legal context. When we are on our yoga mat, we are presumably in a safe zone, we practice yoga to be well, to relax, to be inside of our bodies, to give life and expression to what our physical selves need in the moment to create our highest expression of safety, openness, and comfort. We rely upon the professionalism, understanding, and care of our yoga instructors while we are on the mat. When others take liberties with our bodies, reactions can range from uncomfortable to traumatic, yet we shouldn’t need to rely upon trauma informed yoga instructors to be the only providers who can offer a style of instruction which provides opportunity to say “No thank you, please do not touch my body.’ From chaturanga to shavasana, we find our bodies configuration of the posture as the yoga instructor cues. Without making space for hands off adjustments, one well-intentioned yoga instructor can inadvertently have a negative impact upon his or her student’s practice, day, overall wellness by taking liberties with his or her student’s bodies.
Consent means that one has asked for permission to approach another person in any way, whether that be to touch, to enter an intimate encounter, or even to provide unsolicited verbal feedback, we should always ask before encroaching upon others. After asking for consent, we wait and pause for that person to respond with their response of approach or avoid. A key component of consent is that the other person is truly able to say ‘no,’ if we are in a position of power, or if we are asking a person who is intoxicated, a minor, or incapacitated in any way, then the other can not provide for their own consent. Under normal circumstances, then, if and after we have been given permission to ‘approach’ we take it a step further to check in to be completely sure that non-verbal permission has been granted to continue or deepen the exchange. Physical space, proximity, and closeness are very special, they are exchanges which can lead to bliss, warmth, bonding, relaxation and even orgasm in the right time. When touch is used subversively, to coerce, to control, to harm, physical connection can become shrouded in horror, it also has the potential to instill anxiety, fear, terror, panic, and pain.
Consensual sexual intimacy is the gold standard, we should always be sure that we are well within the green zone of any boundaries of any person who we are touching and to also always note that we are creating safety for others as we strive for mutual enjoyment and pleasure. There are many contexts or situations where touch happens from fitness instruction, personal training, yoga instruction, little league coaching, physical therapy, massage, and medical settings. While there are many of the medical and physical instructors listed above who do check in and ask, ‘is it ok for me to adjust you.’ The best ones who follow this question by ‘does this feel ok for you’ and to them I applaud their insight and wisdom to always, in all settings, to ask first and wait for an enthusiastic ‘yes’ or a clear non-verbal head nod which unambiguously encouraging procession. For other yoga and fitness instructors, it may be less obvious that they should ask for consent before breaking the touch barrier with students. Let us examine consent from a trauma informed perspective and look at some ways that we can be sure we are always providing supportive and caring touch.
Regardless of the setting or context, we do not have permission to touch another person until we have asked for it and they have given it. For a trauma survivor it can be very triggering and alarming to feel a person, even a coach or instructor grabbing at them, or tapping on their body, for another person to move ones legs or touch ones hands. Feeling safe and giving permission for these things to happen is vital and walking into a yoga studio to practice does not provide consent for one’s physical boundaries to be violated. Just as walking into a bar or nightclub in a low-cut blouse is not the same as providing consent for someone to touch our breasts. Being a woman out late having drinks is not an invitation to have sex, we need a society which is built upon making space for ‘Yes’, or ‘No’ by always ask first. Yoga and fitness instructors, we are here, we want to participate in a fun and fulfilling way but ask before touching please. Additionally, for some instructors who may have a style of delivering their teaching that is very directive and assertive, it may feel punitive to some students.
Recently, in an all levels class, the instructor was someone I had never practiced with before. The class was much less than an all level class, it was more of an intro in my experience, we were cued to move into postures without much attention to how we flow through the sequencing. In any event, after 15 minutes or so warming up, we were cued to do some Sun A’s. When forward folding the instructor told everyone to grab a two blocks in anticipation of their hands not hitting the ground. I have long arms, and have been doing forward folds for many, many, years, it does not tax my body to fold forward and I find it delicious and restorative. The teacher stomped back to me and said ‘No! get your blocks, do not go into your deepest fold!’ In knowing my body, and knowing that I did not need the blocks I started to reach for them to appease her as she began grabbing my leg and tapping rapidly and harshly onto the front of my quad with her pointed finger tips and squinted eyes, ‘Move! Move! Move!’ she commanded. What started as a day of wellness, mindfulness, and an attempt to let myself feel peace, quickly became a source of discomfort and anxiety.
Being a yoga instructor is a big responsibility, it is a pathway to open ones consciousness, those blissed out happy vibes and chakras can really open up and make others aware of themselves, their feelings as well as anything happening with the instructor. We should encourage yoga instructors to have a higher level of insight into their style of relating to others so that the instructor is not unconsciously projecting their own unmet needs or style onto all of those who they come into contact with. The yoga instructor should be very aware of how of tone and content of speech particularly as adjustments are being made. If an instructor is simultaneously speaking in a critical or cold tone ‘move!’ ‘faster!’ ‘in, in, in;’ in a style that feels like they are spitting commands to the students, if the instructors speak this way while grabbing at a students body, it may become even more likely that they are making others feel tense, uncomfortable for anyone, and furthermore this kind of tone and motion can even be panic inducing for some trauma survivors.
More than ever, we must seek to create safety, to speak with love, to be sure that we are providing physical touch which is tender, and warm, and supportive or not tender and warm, if that is the kind of touch which is consensual and agreed upon by those who can legally and actually provide consent. Speak and act with awareness and care for other people’s feelings, doing fitness, pilates, doing a forward fold or downward facing dog, or even having a suspicious mole removed from our bodies are things that must happen peacefully and respectfully, and always with particular attention to any person’s ability to state, ‘No thank you- please do not touch my body’.
Stephanie Wijkstrom, MS, LPC, NBCC
830 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa
4108 Monroeville Blvd Monroeville Pa 15146
For more reading on the ethics of touch in yoga;
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMay 25, 2018 building a therapy business, counseling referrals, therapy referrals0 comments
Getting Referrals for your Therapy Business
We know that for many therapists and counselors who are starting out opening a practice the day your open is such an exciting moment. So many new therapists have asked us, how do you get referrals, in our effort to help, we will share with you some time tested tips. You look forward to the day and after years of education and gaining a professional counseling license, you put you plan into action and with big dreams and great intentions, you hang your shingle. All of those years, you likely imagined that when you start doing business the clients would be flooding your waiting room. There are many parts to managing the business of therapy that are confusing for newcomers and completely prevent great therapists from gaining the momentum that is needed to sustain their dream. The biggest hurdle in opening their practice is usually gaining referral sources. We know that its really is hard in today’s market to get noticed and to then be able to build a therapy business. We know that no-matter how effective and competent a counselor, therapist, or psychologist, without being put in touch with a steady referral source, the clinician will end up frustrated and then become one of the many practices that opens and shortly after, dreams deflated, then forced to close ending up thousands of dollars in debt, without any business to show for their efforts. We want to help therapists to keep their dreams alive, and their doors open so that they are able to serve the children, adults, families, and couples who need them. Being in service to the populations that need us is what we are all aiming to do. Please read our 4 tips for gaining referrals for your counseling or therapy practice.
- Choose a Specialty
If your education hasn’t already provided you with a market specialty take a long look at exactly what kind of therapy that you want to provide and to who. Being broad and too general isn’t very well marketable, don’t blend in, your goal is to stand out. You will only go so far if you spend your time researching the things that every other therapist and practice in your area are doing. Even better if you can fill a niche that has not yet been offered in your area. For instance, marriage counseling specializing in infidelity, or therapy for depression, grief counseling, child therapy counseling for anxiety disorders are specialties which can help you to stand out in a crowded market.
- Take advantage of referral sources such as Psychology Today
This is a reputable and consistent place that most therapists use to gain their referrals. While some counselors feel that the services are too pricey they really are worth their weight in the number of referrals that they provide. Another helpful hint is to make sure you check only the kinds of therapy, ie specialties that you want to offer, don’t be afraid to have a narrow focus so that the appropriate clients find you. One referral that leads you to a client who you can really help is worth way more than several of those who you can only do sub-par work with.
- Provide therapy within your area of Expertise
One mistake that new therapists make is that in being desperate for clients they take any folks who come through their door without having proper regard for their specialty focus. They may end up making mistakes and even worse, ending up with a malpractice lawsuit. By providing counseling that is informed and specialty focus, you increase your client’s chances of having great outcomes.
- Use Pay-Per-Click Advertising
Pay per click advertising is the best way to rapidly generate internet leads. By working directly with Google, paying for an account that will generate abundant referral sources for your specific therapy specialty. This fantastic service can be set up in minutes and google also offers lots of support for how to get this going quickly without making any errors. It really is efficient and allows you to funnel in the appropriate kinds of clients to have your counseling business booming.
Good luck new therapy comers, we know that there are so many people who will benefit from the services that our fellow friends in the counseling field have to offer, keep working at it and your therapy dreams will come true.
Your Friends at The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
830 Western Avenue
Pittsburgh Pa, 15233
4108 Monroeville Blvd
Monroeville PA 15146
We proudly serve integrative counseling and wellness solutions to the individuals, couples, and families of Pittsburgh, Monroeville, and all of Western Pennsylvania. We also proudly offer business consulting for our fellow therapists who are just starting out in the field, all services can be provided via skype for your convenience and service.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 16, 2018 anxiety, anxiety therapy pittsburgh, cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, counseling for anxiety, counseling pittsburgh, generalized anxiety disorder therapy pittsburgh, Help for obsessive compulsive disorder, licensed therapist monroeville, licensed therapist pittsburgh, obsessive compulsive disorder, OCD, searching for a therapist in monroeville, searching for a therapist pittsburgh, therapist in murrysville, therapists, therapy, Therapy and Counseling For Anxiety, therapy for anxiety, therapy pittsburgh0 comments
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive compulsive disorder is a type of anxiety disorder which afflicts .5-2.5% of the population. The disorder greatly effects the quality of life for the sufferer and becomes a consuming pattern of anxieties and rituals which are centered around both obsessional worries and compulsive behaviors. Most of the individuals who have this disorder at one time or another acknowledge or have insight that their worry is excessive or disproportionate to the actual fear or anxiety. An example of someone who may be experiencing Obsessive Compulsive disorder is that “It started when I was in my mid 20’s, I was always worried that I would get something wrong, I made lists so I could try to manage my daily living tasks. Soon lists became my life, I would write a list of everything that I needed to do while I was in the shower, then I would check the list 3 times after writing it, to be sure that I did get everything right. Then I would reread my list again 2 times before entering the shower and read it out loud, If I didn’t perform this task I was simply unable to take my shower for the day because I would lapse into such overwhelming anxiety.”
Some examples of symptoms and behaviors association with this disorder are as follows
according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual;
That the individual has either obsessions or compulsions and which the definition of these are;
- Thoughts which are recurring and persistent including images or impulses, these impulses are distressing and cause impairment including anxiety.
- These impulses, thoughts and images are not related to a threat or worry about a real life problem.
- There is an attempt to repress and ignore the distressing images, impulses and thoughts.
- The person who is suffering from this disorder is in recognition that these fears are in fact a product of his or her own thought process.
Compulsions are defined as
- Repetitive behaviors (e.g., checking, cleaning, cleaning,) and also cognitive acts such as (ie, ritualized prayer, tracing in the mind, taking count of objects or steps) the person feels compelled to enact the behavior in response to the obsession in a system of self created rules.
Obsessive compulsive disorder is a treatable anxiety disorder, the best form of therapy often involves both pharmacology including SSRI’s delivered in conjunction with long-term psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy has proven effective in managing the symptoms associated with this diagnosis as well as Behavioral Therapy such as Exposure therapy are all effective treatment or counseling models to progress beyond this disorder and take back control over life.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJanuary 9, 2018 autism, child therapy, clinical herbalist, co-parenting, counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, educational, marriage counseling, mindfulness, Parent Child Interaction Therapy, parenting, therapist, wellness0 comments
Jackie Mandock, LPC, NCC, LBSC, MH is a counselor at Counseling and Wellness Centers of Pittsburgh- Monroeville. She provides therapy to children, adolescents, families, couples, and adults. Jackie approaches therapy from a holistic perspective, always staying mindful of how the body, mind, and spirit are interconnected. Jackie is certified in trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy and is trained in parent-child interaction therapy. She has worked with many different concerns in these specialized populations ranging from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder to trauma, as well as anxiety and depression. Jackie is also a licensed behavioral specialist with a strong background in autism. Jackie was a school-based therapist and is familiar with school concerns and supporting educational issues. She is a graduate of University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelors in Psychology and Neuroscience and from Chatham University with a Masters in Counseling Psychology. Jackie also has a Master Herbalist diploma from American College of Health Sciences.Learn More