The Lighter Side of Transformation

Observed and reported by Lisa Wessan, LICSW

Westford, MA: New DBT Skills Groups (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) start 10/26/17 and 12/14/17

dbt-skills

Good news! For those of you who have been waiting to get into one of our DBT Groups, there are several openings in our daytime DBT Skills Group starting October 26, 2017,  Thursdays from 3:15 – 4:45 PM at my office in the beautiful Westford Center for Counseling and Holistic Therapies, 234 Littleton Road, Suite 1D, Westford, MA.

This group is co-ed/non-binary, mature teens, trans and adults welcome, and is limited to 10 participants per group. One initial consultation  with me is required prior to joining the group, plus the completion of some DBT Skills registration forms. To get started, click HERE or call me at 978.710.8039.

For this next trimester, we will be studying Mindfulness and Distress Tolerance from the DBT Skills curriculum.

Why do I teach DBT Skills?

Over the years, I have seen outstanding evidence of how DBT helps to rewire our brains with gentle cognitive restructuring exercises, reduce inflammatory thoughts and untangle our irrational beliefs and interpretations — which cause so much pain and suffering — all in a relatively short time span.  DBT is Solution Focused Therapy at its best!

DBT includes powerful and easy relaxation techniques for anxiety; a large array of tools for depression and mood issues; and effective communication and boundary setting skills which make this a brilliant vehicle for interpersonal effectiveness, peak performance and personal growth.

Four leaf DBT

ANNUAL OVERVIEW

[This is a one year program divided into three 14-week trimesters. Students decide to renew their commitment towards the end of each trimester.]

Each trimester delves into Mindfulness plus one of the remaining three main modules of DBT, which are Distress Tolerance, Emotional Regulation and Interpersonal Effectiveness (see diagram above). We repeat the Mindfulness module at the beginning of each semester to reinforce the powerful foundational skills it offers for general anxiety (Kabat-Zinn et al, 1992).

 

2017 – 2018 GENERAL CALENDAR

 [Dates are subject to change, due to snow days and other factors.]

UP NEXT: Daytime Group: October 26, 2017 – January 25, 2018. Mindfulness and Distress Tolerance.  Practical tools and skills are explored to process “crisis” emotions, impulse issues and more difficult feelings. We also cover Radical Acceptance, Turning Willfulness to Willingness, and moving from destructive self-harm to positive self-care (especially useful for the “Holiday Red Zone,” Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve!)

Evening Group: December 14, 2017 – March 29, 2018.  Mindfulness and Interpersonal Effectiveness. Through discussions, readings and interactive exercises you will be learning to set healthy boundaries, learning to say “YES” when you mean yes and “NO” when you mean no without worrying about getting others’ approval.  You will  learn how to become bulletproof to others invalidation of you, and learn to be a self-validating person.  The art of asking for what you want and negotiating well  is also explored. In addition, we study various forms of interpersonal protection, e.g. emotional safety skills, learning to identify  Energy Vampires (Orloff, 2004) and recover well from their hurtful and draining interactions.

Daytime and Evening Groups: April – July 2018.  Mindfulness and Emotion Regulation. Learning to identify your vast array of feelings, articulate them and express emotions appropriately is part of this powerful work. Also, learning to check the facts, edit misinterpretations and assumptions, and turn down the volume on your intense emotions yet still experience them. You will learn to regulate your emotions successfully, so that you have a more positive experience of feeling better and stronger.

TUITION

Each trimester is $700 for 14 weeks (watch for the Early Bird rate which usually expires two weeks before each trimester).

** It is a requirement of this group that participants are working with an individual therapist while they attend the group. The therapist does not need to be me, nor does the therapist need to be trained in DBT, but will be available for all processing outside the group. (Release forms will be sent to you and/or your therapist after the Initial Consultation with me).

I hope I can be of service to you, your clients or loved ones who would benefit from this group in the greater north Boston/Nashoba Valley area.

Learn more about the details of this DBT Skills Group by visiting my web site, www.lisawessan.com.  Also, please feel free to contact me for further information.

Onward and Upward,

Lisa Wessan

 

DBT Mindfulness

__________________________________________________________________________
References

Kabat-Zinn, J., Massion, A. O., Kristeller, J., Peterson, L. G., Fletcher, K. E., Pbert, L., et al. (1992). Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 149, 936–943.

Orloff, Judith, MD. (2004). Positive Energy.   New York: Random House.  Chapter 9, The Ninth Prescription:  Protect Yourself from Energy Vampires.  288 – 318.

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Wessan. All rights reserved.

Advertisements
Leave a comment »

Decompressin’ with Wessan: Walk and Talk Therapy comes to Chelmsford, MA

LW WATT

Since I changed careers in 1999,  morphing from science journalist to therapist, I feel as if I have given birth to three clinical children in this journey…

First, I delivered Therapeutic Laughter for Caregivers (and others) in New York City, which emerged as keynotes, workshops and seminars.  I still enjoy presenting these programs which also include Team Building with Laughter, the Let Go and Lighten Up program and LaughAnanda (laughter meditation).  Each program serves a different sector, for corporate, medical/healthcare, educational, non-profit, and spiritual organizations.

Second, after a long gestational study period,  I delivered Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Groups (DBT) two years ago and currently facilitate two DBT groups in my office in Westford, MA, one daytime and evening group.

Third, and brand new as of June 2017, Walk and Talk Therapy (WATT) was born.  I am very excited about the progress and results my clients are experiencing during WATT.

Over the past several years, every time I read about exercising with clients, I was more intrigued…yes, there is solid science and empirically verified research on the benefits of WATT.

In brief, the motion of walking stimulates the bicameral brain and increases activity between the left and right hemispheres.  This allows people to access more complex feelings and memories, and have the ability to process the sadness, grief or trauma even more effectively while walking. While walking, everything is flowing, and the negative or heavily charged energy from the  traumatic memories can discharge quicker.  (I’m in the process of writing an article on a few of my clients who have had dramatic shifts and turnarounds on these walks.)

RISK MANAGEMENT

I have my clients sign an Indemnity Agreement prior to the WATT, and we discuss the possible challenges that may occur, such as tripping on a rock, or falling for some reason.  For some, this often leads to a lively discussion of their previous adventures and how confident they are in their walking ability.  “Walking around a lake? This is nothing, a piece of cake!”  they say.  For others, the prospect of walking for two miles is daunting, but they understand they can do as much or little of the walk as they want.  We have a choice of several benches for resting along the way with stunning views of the lake.

If you are considering WATT, I strongly recommend it.  As the Scottish-American naturalist John Muir once said, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2017.   All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment »

New daytime DBT Skills Groups starts Thursday June 8, 2017 in Westford, MA. This group is co-ed/non-binary, mature teens and adults welcome…

We will be studying Mindfulness and Emotion Regulation from the DBT Skills curriculum. This class will be held on Thursdays, 3:15-4:45 PM,  in the beautiful Westford Center for Counseling and Holistic Therapies, in Westford, Massachusetts. (One initial consultation is required prior to joining the group, plus the completion of some DBT Skills registration forms.)

dbt-skills

Over the years, I have seen the strong evidence of how DBT helps to rewire our brains, and reduce the inflammatory cognitions and irrational beliefs and interpretations which cause so much pain and suffering. So I am passionate about teaching DBT Skills, and truly believe it should be offered to all adolescents.

DBT has powerful and easy relaxation techniques for anxiety; a large array of management tools for depression and mood issues; and brilliant communication and boundary setting skills which make this an amazing vehicle for interpersonal effectiveness, peak performance and personal growth.

Each 14 week course delves into Mindfulness and Dialectics plus one of the remaining three main modules of DBT, which are Distress Tolerance, Emotional Regulation and Interpersonal Effectiveness. We repeat the Mindfulness module at the beginning of each semester to reinforce the powerful foundational skills it offers for general anxiety (Kabat-Zinn et al, 1992).

UP NEXT FOR 2017-2018
FALL – WINTER – SPRING – SUMMER OVERVIEW

Fall 2017- Winter 2018 trimester: Mindfulness, Dialectics and Distress Tolerance (especially useful for the “Holiday Red Zone,” which is fraught with unique challenges and conflicts, including severe Compare and Despair Syndrome).

Winter – Spring 2018 trimester: Mindfulness, Dialectics and Emotional Regulation. Learning to identify your vast array of feelings, articulate them and express appropriately is part of this powerful work. Also, learning to turn down the volume on your intense emotions yet still experience them is most empowering.

Summer – Fall 2018  trimester: Mindfulness, Dialectics and Interpersonal Effectiveness. Through discussions, readings and interactive exercises you will be learning to set healthy boundaries, learning to say “YES” when you mean yes and “NO” when you mean no without worrying about getting people’s approval.  You will  learn how to become bulletproof to others invalidation of you and as you become a self-validating person.  The art of asking for what you want and negotiating well to get it is also explored. In addition, we study various forms of interpersonal protection, safety and skills to identify your Energy Vampires (Orloff, 2004) and recover well from their hurtful interactions.

TUITION

Each trimester is $630 for 14 weeks. (There is no insurance for this psycho-education program. Useful statements can be provided, however, for your Flexible Spending Account or as a business expense for taxes, as this is also considered a skills training program).

** It is a requirement of this group that participants are working with an individual therapist while they attend the group. The therapist does not need to be me, nor does the therapist need to be trained in DBT, but will be available for all processing outside the group. (Release forms will be sent to you and/or your therapist after the Initial Consultation with me).

I hope I can be of service to you, your clients or loved ones who would benefit from this group in the greater north Boston area.

Learn more about the details of this DBT Skills Group by visiting my web site, www.lisawessan.com.  Also, please feel free to call or email me for further information.

Onward and Upward,

Lisa Wessan

________________________________________________________________________________________
References

Kabat-Zinn, J., Massion, A. O., Kristeller, J., Peterson, L. G., Fletcher, K. E., Pbert, L., et al. (1992). Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 149, 936–943.

Orloff, Judith, MD. (2004). Positive Energy.   New York: Random House.  Chapter 9, The Ninth Prescription:  Protect Yourself from Energy Vampires.  288 – 318.

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Wessan. All rights reserved.

Leave a comment »

Moving towards wholeness with Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Skills Group, Thursday evenings in Westford, MA

Grateful Plug:

I am pleased to announce the next 14-week Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills (DBT) Group in Westford, MA will be starting a new module on Thursday, April 6, 2017.  We will be covering both the Mindfulness  and Emotion Regulation modules.  (This is an ongoing group that has open enrollment periods three times per year.)  At this writing, there are two spots left for the next trimester.

The Mindfulness material includes:

  • Learning to be a good observer
  • Being non-judgmental
  • Staying in the present
  • Practicing non-multitasking
  • Accessing Wise Mind (aka higher self, higher consciousness or other spiritual beliefs, e.g. Christ Consciousness, HaShem, Atman)
  • Understanding Reality Acceptance and detaching from thoughts.DBT Mindfulness

The Emotion Regulation module has four sections:

  • Understanding and Naming Emotions
  • Changing Emotional Responses
  • Reducing Vulnerability to Emotion Mind
  • Managing Extremely Difficult Emotions

 

#MirthMaven |

As DBT founder Dr. Linehan says, “It is difficult to manage your emotions when you do not understand how emotions work. Knowledge is power.”

For dates, fees, location and more details, please visit www.lisawessan.com

Onward and Upward,

Lisa Wessan

 

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2017. All rights reserved.

 

Leave a comment »

[TIME SENSITIVE] Please call Dept. of Justice today…Practicing Radical Acceptance AND Taking Action!

Displaying IMG_1956.JPG

I just did this. It took about a minute. Let’s act!

If you heard the news about Russia’s influence affecting the previous election and would like your voice heard …

The Department of Justice is tallying phone calls regarding those who want the 2016 vote audited. A shift of just 55,000 Trump votes to Hillary in PA, MI, & WI is all that is needed to win. They are starting to recognize there really is something off about the election results as they came in. Considering everything that is at stake, a vote audit should be done.

** Call 202-514-2000, choose option #4, and leave a message for the Attorney General’s office.  Just state your full name, that you are a US citizen, where you live, and that you would like to add your voice to all those calling for an audit of the 2016 presidential election. **

These things are tallies. Recording time is short. Make it easy for them. They don’t need a long winded message.

SHARE THIS, SPREAD THE WORD. Please copy and paste; do not just hit share.
I just made the call myself, and it went right through. This took two minutes of my time at the most. It was fast and easy. You can do something right now!
Then copy and paste this to your page or any of your group pages. Thanks!

 

 

Leave a comment »

Thanksgiving Gratitude Quotes

There are a plethora of wonderful quotes and passages on the topic of gratitude.
I thought I’d share a few of mine, with some annotations, and let them continue to spread more good energy in the world!
* * *
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.  And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I am too blessed to be stressed and too anointed to be disappointed!”
~ Author Unknown

Ralph Waldo Emerson and this unknown author really grasped the enormity of the amount of goodness which lavishes us at all times.  We are typically not thinking about how well gravity keeps us on this Earth, without crushing us; how our bodies work with such precision and accuracy (most of the time); how the air we breathe and the food we eat sustain us.  From the micro to vast macro levels, we are swimming in an abundance of complexity and richness. To be in awe of the magnificence of this mosaic of life, and let that gratitude sustain you — regardless of the cash and prizes in your life — is a path to more inner peace.

In my Thursday night DBT Skills Group (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), we recently explored this poem by Pat Schneider (Schneider, 2005)  to gain insight into the mystery of the generosity and kindness of the Universe:

The Patience of Ordinary Things

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they’re supposed to be.
I’ve been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

*  *  *

“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”

~ Frederick Keonig

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

~ Eckhart Tolle

“The quality of your life equals the ratio of appreciation to complaint.”
~ Alan Cohen

Complaining is draining. One of my teachers in NYC once said, “If you  would abstain from complaining for 30 days, it would transform your life.”  Yes, I took on that challenge and it was an amazing month. I learned that what I focus on increases.  When I focus on what’s good, it expands.  When I focus on lack, illness, anger, scarcity, exhaustion, it gets worse. In sum, the intense energy I expend on complaining can be flipped to be uses instead in the arena of creative solutions.  As it is written, “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”  (Matt. 15:11.)  Let your words be the seeds for a greater tomorrow, consider each word you speak a new seedling that will start to grow. You want to plant loving, smart, solution focused seeds.  They will turn into strong action plans, and help you manifest your dreams.

*  *  *

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
~William Arthur Ward

Some people have a difficult time expressing their feelings, even good ones. Feeling grateful and not saying anything about it is a sad loss of the beautiful and healing vibrational power of gratitude.  Just saying “Thank You” out loud has a profound shift on your inner chemical factory.  It has been proven in many studies how every thought becomes a chemical reaction in your body. (Emoto, 2004)

In the 12 Step world (Alcoholics Anonymous and all the related  recovery programs) , it is often said “Grateful people don’t pick up.”  The power of gratitude can help a resentful, angry addict focus on what’s working and good, and not feel the need to reach for the substance of choice for self medication, as in “Poor me, poor me, pour me a drink!” Having an “Attitude of Gratitude” is recovery code for focusing on what’s good, and to quit ruminating about what’s bad.

Making a gratitude list before bedtime is a classic and wonderful way to pre-pave the  way for a good night’s sleep. Gratitude calms the mind and reconnects to the Source Energy from which all our good comes to us. Here’s an example from one of my clients of one way to write your gratitude list:

“At night, I find written inventories helpful. I keep them brief and to the point, with three columns: plus, minus and gratitude.  In the first column, I list things I did well that day…In the second column, I list things I did not do well that day (binged on anger, lied or kept someone waiting).  In the final column, I list all the ways in which I am grateful.  I try to make this at least as long as my  other two columns!”
~ S. P., Massachusetts

Another way to amplify this positive energy is to send thank you notes. I love writing thank you notes in longhand on beautiful stationary because the energy  channeled from my hand gets directly transferred to the paper, and then the recipient can feel my gratitude even stronger than via text or email.

Writing thank you notes allows you to experience the deep gratitude and positive goodness a minimum of three times. First, there is the  immediate wave of gratitude in the moment of the experience. Second, when I write the thank you note  I re-experience the gratitude again.  Finally,  the third wave of gratitude comes back in a boomerang effect when the recipient calls, texts or emails me to thank me for my thank you note!  We often have a wonderful exchange, and the gratitude rises again.

In Conclusion

I invite you to experiment in the laboratory of your life…take on one or more of these practices to experience more gratitude in your life, feel better, and then create more positive results:

  • Say thank you more often.
  • See how it feels to write out your gratitudes each day.
  • Abstain from complaining for 30 days, and focus on your gratitude list instead.
  • Send out a few thank you notes to people whom have enriched your life, whether for a brief encounter or even for long term relationships.

thanksgiving2

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2017. All rights reserved.
________________________________________________________________
Sources:

12 Step Recovery Programs – There are currently over 200 free programs worldwide. After the first three, Alcoholics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous and  Overeaters Anonymous, the evidence of a strong recovery rate was significant enough to apply the 12 Steps to many other addictions, including nicotine, cocaine, pills, hoarding/clutter, internet, videogames and more.  If you are struggling with an addiction, search for a 12 Step program that will help you.

Matthew 15:11, New International Version (NIV).

Emoto, M. (2004). Hidden Messages in Water. Hillsboro, OR: Beyond Words Publishing.

Schneider, P. (2005). The patience of ordinary things. In Another River: new and selected poems. Amherst MA: Amherst Artists and Writers Press.

 

Leave a comment »

Laughter Therapy for Post-Primary Stress Disorder

img_9442

One of my favorite sources for excellent international (and national) news coverage is a magazine called THE WEEK.  It is chock full of great executive summaries, plus the editors of THE WEEK have a healthy sense of humor. They express their humor in many ways, such as with their weekly sidebar/column, “Only in America.”  They also have a column for “Good week for/Bad week for” which always gives me a good chuckle, again based on fact checked news stories.

My best laughter therapy from THE WEEK often shows up in The Week Contest, when they ask us to help name something, or label something, or describe something useful to help sort out the news.

The most recent Contest was about creating a new diagnosis for dealing with the current political climate…here are the results, for your therapeutic laughter du jour:

Source: THE WEEK, 10/21/16, page 38:

Last week’s question: The American Psychological Association has found that more than half of Americans identify the 2016 presidential election as a significant source of stress in their lives. Please come up with a psychological term that describes the unique feeling of anxiety induced by this race.

RESULTS:

THE WINNER: “Sufferage”
Phyllis Klein, New York City

SECOND PLACE: “ADHD (Another day with Hillary and Donald)”
Don Walker, Lexington, Mass.

THIRD PLACE: Democrazy
Peg O’Neil, Bloomingdale, N.J.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

“Strep vote”
Ken Kellam III, Dallas

“Campains”
Valerie Resnick, New York City

“Polliosis”
Dorothy L. Delman, New York City

“POTUS parting depression”
Robert Koshiyama, San Francisco

“Boast rhetoric stress disorder”
Ken Liebman, Williston, Vt.

“Seasonal elective disorder
Emily Aborn, Temple, N.H.

“Pair-annoy-ya”
Richard Pitruzzello, Hanceville, Ala.

“Polls traumatic stress disorder”
Justin Bookey, Santa Monica, Calif.

“Poli-tics”
Curtis Irwin, Clearfield, Pa.

“Turnout burnout”
Peter Bergin, Kings Park, N.Y.

I’m curious, which one is your favorite? Or do you have a better diagnostic term for us to use?

Yes, politics and our election process are serious business, but let’s not get sick from watching this drama unfold!

Onward and Upward,

Lisa Wessan

Leave a comment »