Relaxation & Stress Management

Are your mind and body working against each other?

Psychological stress is so powerful that it can practically tear your body apart.

Studies correlate stress with chronic pain, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, dementia, infections, and just about every other medical problem you could possibly experience. Why? Because stress causes inflammation.

And inflammation inhibits your body’s ability to repair itself, causing ordinary problems to spiral out of control — turning into allergies, arthritis, hormonal imbalance, autoimmune disease, asthma, skin problems, hardened arteries… That’s how powerful the mind-body connection is.

Worse, stress is sensitizing. Surviving a very stressful event doesn’t prepare you to handle stress better in the future. Instead, you actually become more likely to experience adverse consequences every time.

What’s the antidote? Relaxation.

In the 1970s, a cardiologist named Herbert Benson was the first to discover that when people engage in active relaxation, their physiological response to stress is reduced… along with all of its negative health effects. He called this natural healing effect the relaxation response.

A lot of people hear this and immediately think they need to spend more time kicking back in front of the TV with a cold beer. But there’s a catch — passive activities like watching television don’t do the trick. (In fact, studies show that TV can actually induce physical stress.)

If you want to trigger your body’s healing relaxation response, you need to practice a technique specifically aimed at doing so (such as diaphragmatic breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation.) And these activities actually provide a cumulative benefit — they not only make you feel relaxed while you’re practicing them, but over time they bring your body’s baseline for stress down to a more comfortable level. That means that ongoing stressors in your life won’t affect you as much.

The best approach is to work at the problem from both sides.

In the course of providing psychotherapy and counseling, I end up teaching most of my clients some form of meditation, relaxation, or self-hypnosis technique that they can use to achieve these benefits. They’re very effective, and people really enjoy them.

But it’s also important to work on directly improving the stress in your life. That’s why I rarely stop at relaxation. Some of the other important ingredients for maintaining a positive, relaxed state are:

  • Assertiveness: Learning to communicate clearly, authentically, and effectively — so you build deep connection, minimize resistance, and get what you want more often
  • Organization: A good organizational system can relieve stress while allowing you to accomplish more
  • FocusAttention and concentration are strengths that can be exercised and improved over time, using techniques like mindfulness meditation.
  • Acceptance: Worrying uses up valuable time and energy without contributing anything positive. By learning to accept the uncertainty and chaos of life, you can increase your resilience and respond more effectively when stressful events actually occur.

Creativity Coaching

Powerful psychological techniques to unlock your full creative potential.

There’s a big difference between being a creative person, and being a creative professional. The pressure to produce fresh ideas can interfere with your ability to tap into your deepest creative resources.

By taking the time to really nourish your creative abilities, and develop a richer relationship with your unconscious mind — you can begin to enjoy easier access to your natural creative energy.

I use an innovative combination of relaxation, visualization, hypnosis, and explorative Jungian therapy techniques to help my clients balance and enrich their inner lives… allowing a smoother and more satisfying flow of inspiration.

  • Actors: Develop a deeper understanding of your character, and connect to the script as though it were your own life
  • Directors: Leverage all your mental resources to broaden your creative vision (and relieve the stress of managing large productions)
  • Writers: Allow the best parts of yourself to naturally spring to life on the page
  • Choreographers: Imagine fresh, rich, natural patterns and communicate them effortlessly
  • Dancers: Bridge the gap between mind and body so your movements flow like brilliant liquid
  • Musicians & Composers: Harness the deep rhythms that run through every part of your life
  • Singers: Feel the soft luxury of your breath gliding naturally to new levels of emotional expression
  • Chefs: Learn to connect all your senses, and draw fresh inspiration from all around you
  • Designers: Free your mind to conceptualize in new, exciting, and cohesive ways
  • Marketing and Advertising Professionals: Dig deep to connect emotionally with your market’s most closely guarded motivations

Are you in a creative rut?

There are two basic types of problems with creativity. The first is the creative block — like writer’s block, for example — where you just can’t seem to grasp an idea. You know you have the creative resources somewhere inside yourself, but you can’t bring them up to the surface. It’s like the artistic equivalent of the tip of the tongue phenomenon.

The second type of problem is a loss of inspiration. This is the feeling that maybe the creative talent that previously surged from your unconscious might have finally dried up. You can still produce things, they just aren’t as good. They lack that creative life-force. Your work is uninspired and uninspiring.

Creative blocks are usually caused by deep-seated anxiety.

When you feel a deep need to prove yourself, it doesn’t only mean that you need the world to recognize your ability — it means that on some level you also doubt your own worth. That feeling of basic self-doubt, is what blocks access to the unconscious riches that informed your previous creative work.

In order to get past this problem, we’ll explore the source of the anxiety — how does the pressure you feel now relate to the basic challenges of your life? We all replay our early relationships and developmental struggles in the back of our minds, over and over, until they are finally resolved. Dynamic psychotherapy can help you to achieve this resolution much more quickly.

Once the inner conflict is resolved, most people are surprised to find that not only is their creativity restored… they also experience a renewed enthusiasm for life, relationships, and fun.

Loss of inspiration often results from a slow descent into a comfortable, but uninspiring, lifestyle.

You have achieved a kind of psychological victory. You have overcome those same anxieties described above… not by mastering them and harnessing their creative energy, but by locking them in a dungeon in the back of your mind. Perhaps the walls are so thick that you can’t even hear their dull roar, day and night, ceaseless.

Creativity comes from the uncertainty of living. The loss of creativity is not just a loss of some skill or ability — it is a loss of the penetrating thrill of living. In order to reclaim it, we’ll examine strategies you’ve devised to protect yourself from chaos and fear. Then, we’ll work together to slowly open up your windows to the infinite. To re-invigorate your connection to the source of life… to reclaim your childhood innocence… to feel that excitement again.

Personal Life Coaching

Become a better version of yourself…

  • Discover your personal goals (and make a clear plan for attaining them)
  • Enhance your motivation, creativity, and personal effectiveness
  • Become more charismatic and enjoy life more
  • Cultivate better organization and time management
  • Enjoy better, deeper, richer relationships
  • Finally get the respect that you deserve
  • Develop your spirituality and sense of connectedness
  • Love what you see when you look in the mirror

How it works

The world is too big for any of us to ever really understand. So a lot of what we learn growing up, is just where to look — which parts are important. And over time, everything else just fades into the background.

That means that all through your life, when you take stock of the options available to you and make choices about how you want to live… there are other options, that you can’t see.

When a new client comes to me for coaching, the first thing I to do is to start figuring out where their habitual blind spots are. Then, I use a variety of advanced psychological techniques to help them begin to see those possibilities that never even existed for them before.

The problem with life coaches

You might already realize that life coaches are not required to hold any kind of mental health qualifications. And that may sound fine to you if you have no major mental health issues. But the problem is that each and every one of us has invisible barriers holding us back from being our best. We are all giants raised by midgets, all walking around with a perpetual mental crouch.

When you train to be a psychologist, you spend an entire year as a psychodiagnostic resident, which means that your whole job is to figure people out. You gain an immense set of tools and practical knowledge about the invisible barriers that stand between otherwise highly capable individuals and their dreams. Then, you spend your next three years of on-the-job psychological training learning how to help real people to overcome those very barriers.

Most “certified” life coaches have never had these types of invaluable training experiences. That means they just don’t have the skills that it takes to help you push beyond your limitations in a safe, ecological way.

The difference between psychotherapy and life coaching

Many people consider seeing a psychotherapist just to explore themselves and to cultivate personal growth and development. What they often find is that mental health services are not a good fit for them. Those services are designed to help people who have mental illness reduce their symptoms and learn skills for healthy living. If you have a mental illness, these services can be great!

But if you’re a highly functional person simply wanting to gain insight into your own inner workings and find a better sense of meaning in your life, you might end up disappointed. That’s where life coaching is really beneficial.

My coaching practice is a form of applied positive psychology. I work with clients to identify and amplify their personal strengths, examine and enrich their relationships, and cultivate a more satisfying sense of spirituality.

Counseling, Psychotherapy, and Coaching: What’s the Difference?

The terms psychotherapy and counseling are often used interchangeably, but many people believe that there is a difference between them that is important for both clients and clinicians. That is why there are separate degrees and professional organizations for counselors and clinical psychologists.

I personally am a Licensed Professional Counselor, with a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. I am working toward my doctorate in Clinical Psychology, which will enable me to seek licensure as a Clinical Psychologist. So I have been well educated in both counseling psychology and clinical psychology, and I see the distinction between them as this:

Clinical Psychotherapy aims specifically to address diagnosable disorders in a way which decreases the presenting symptoms. For example, a clinician operating from the framework of clinical psychology will diagnose Major Depressive Disorder based on a number of diagnostic criteria, and will introduce psychological interventions targeted at reducing such symptoms as poor sleeping patterns, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts. The most common modes of treatment here are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on the way that your thoughts affect your experiences, and relational psychotherapy, which focuses on the ways that your relationships and relational style affect your experiences. Psychodynamic psychotherapy has lost some popularity despite significant advances with substantial research support.

Counseling, while still a form of psychological treatment administered by a licensed healthcare professional, often takes a softer and more holistic approach. The focus on counseling tends to be more on facilitating the client’s own exploration of solutions for their problems. So you’ll often see counseling applied to more self-directed therapeutic goals, such as career counseling or drug counseling.

Personally, I see value in both of these approaches and will often switch between them as a therapy client progresses. Often people come to therapy for relief from a particular symptom, but then realize there are some other things they would like to work on in their lives. So a therapist needs to be flexible, in my opinion, to adjust to the changing needs of each client over time.

Coaching is not considered a treatment for any diagnosable disorder, but often resembles counseling. Coaching is usually aimed at generative change — ways to make your life better, rather than ways to fix things that are wrong. There are some specialized areas of coaching, such as business coaching, which should be administered by someone who is accomplished in both the areas of business that you’re seeking help with and the area of coaching. More commonly, people seek life coaching, and in my opinion this should be done only by people who are licensed psychology professionals. This is because the training that you receive in becoming a counselor or psychotherapist gives you the ability to understand the delicate psychological balance that makes up a person’s style of living, and how to safely make adjustments to that balance.