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Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Divinely Drawn Lines: Understanding When to Establish Boundaries

Wednesday, June 26, 2024 @ 3:30 PM

In the Scriptures, boundaries are often mentioned directly or indirectly, reflecting God’s design for order, protection, and relationships. They are inherent in the tenets of our faith—seen in the love and respect we are called to show each other and in the discipline we are to exercise in our personal lives. Yet, in our desire to live like Christ—who was giving, compassionate, and loving—we might find ourselves overstepping or completely ignoring our boundaries. Recognizing when to enforce these boundaries is crucial for our spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being.

1. You Feel Constantly Drained

One clear sign that your boundaries need reinforcement is when you consistently feel exhausted. God calls us to serve others with joy, but He also emphasizes the importance of rest (Mark 6:31). If serving others or fulfilling roles in your community leaves you feeling drained of energy and peace, it might be time to reassess your commitments. Remember, even Jesus took time away from the crowds to pray and rest. It’s not selfish to take care of your well-being; it’s necessary to serve effectively.

2. Resentment is Building Up

Feeling resentful towards others can signal that your boundaries are not being respected. This often occurs when we say yes to tasks or roles out of obligation rather than genuine desire or calling. Colossians 3:23 encourages us to do everything heartily, as for the Lord and not for men. If resentment is overshadowing your ability to serve with love, it may be time to set or enforce boundaries.

3. Your Relationships Are Suffering

When boundaries are lacking, relationships can become strained or dysfunctional. This is evident when interactions are dominated by guilt, manipulation, or co-dependence, deviating from the Biblical model of relationships rooted in mutual respect and love (Ephesians 4:2-3). Healthy boundaries enable us to interact with kindness, respect, and genuine affection, reflecting God’s love more accurately to those around us.

4. You're Neglecting Your Relationship with God

Your relationship with God should be your utmost priority. If you find that your commitments are eating into the time and energy you have for prayer, meditation on the Word, and other spiritual disciplines, it’s a strong indicator that your boundaries need revisiting. Matthew 6:33 reminds us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. Ensuring our spiritual well-being enables us to be better vessels for His work.

5. You Struggle to Hear God’s Voice

Similar to the previous point, an overfilled life can drown out the still, small voice of God. When we’re stretched too thin, our spiritual sensitivity can diminish, making it harder to discern God’s direction and leading. Setting boundaries gives us the space to quiet down, listen, and be led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14).

6. Your Physical Health is Affected

The Bible acknowledges our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). If the demands of serving others or fulfilling duties compromise your physical health, it indicates that boundaries are needed. God does not call us to sacrifice our health for ministry or service but to steward it wisely as part of our worship of Him.

Enforcing Healthy Boundaries: A Step Forward in Faith

Acknowledging the need for and setting boundaries may be challenging, especially if you’re accustomed to saying yes or prioritizing the needs of others above your well-being. However, enforcing boundaries is not just about saying no; it’s about making room for God’s best in your life and aligning yourself with His design and purpose for you.

Start with Prayer

Begin by seeking God’s wisdom and guidance through prayer. Ask Him to show you where boundaries are needed and the strength to implement them.

Seek Wise Counsel

Consulting with a pastor, a mentor, or a trusted friend can provide you with perspective and support as you navigate the process of establishing boundaries.

Communicate Clearly and Lovingly

When setting boundaries, communicate them, directly, and with love. Remember, setting boundaries is not about pushing others away but inviting them into a healthier and more God-honoring interaction.

Be Prepared for Resistance

Change can be hard, and not everyone will understand or respect your need for boundaries immediately. Stand firm, and remember that obedience to God’s leading is your priority.


Enforcing boundaries is an act of obedience and wisdom. It protects what God has entrusted to you—your time, your health, your relationships, and most importantly, your relationship with Him. By recognizing the signs that boundaries are needed and taking steps to implement them, you open up space for peace, fruitfulness, and a deeper walk with Christ. Remember, boundaries are not just barriers but the framework within which a healthy, vibrant, and God-honoring life can flourish.

Monday, June 24, 2024

How to Stop Negative Thought Patterns: Tools to Cultivate a Positive Mindset

Monday, June 24, 2024 @ 3:36 PM

In our quest for personal growth and well-being, one of the most significant battles can be with the very thoughts that fill our minds. Negative thought patterns can be incredibly destructive, perpetuating cycles of anxiety, depression, and limiting self-beliefs. However, breaking free from these patterns is within reach if you have the right strategies. Let’s explore practical ways to interrupt negative thoughts and foster a more positive, resilient mindset.

1. Awareness and Identification

The first step in changing any behavior, including thinking, is to become aware of it. Often, negative thoughts are automatic and habitual, making it challenging to recognize them as they occur. Start by actively monitoring your thoughts throughout the day. When you catch yourself spiraling into negativity, pause and note the thought. Labeling thoughts as "negative" or writing them down can distance you emotionally and help you analyze them objectively.

2. Challenge and Replace

Once you've identified a negative thought, challenge its validity. Ask yourself questions like, "Is this thought based on facts or assumptions?" and "What evidence do I have to support or refute this thought?" This process is known as cognitive restructuring and is a core aspect of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). After challenging the negative thought, replace it with a more realistic and positive one. For instance, change "I’ll never be good at this" to "I can improve with practice and learning."

3. Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a powerful tool in dealing with negative thoughts. It teaches you to observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment and lets them pass without getting entangled in them. Regular practice can help you gain control over your thought processes and keep you rooted in the present moment, reducing the incidence of ruminative thoughts about the past or worries about the future.

4. Setting the Tone with Affirmations

Positive affirmations can reinforce self-belief and counteract the harm caused by negative thoughts. These are positive, empowering statements that, when repeated regularly, can help to change the narrative you have about yourself and your abilities. For example, an affirmation like "I am capable and strong, and I tackle challenges with courage," can be a powerful antidote to negative self-talk.

5. Gratitude Journaling

One way to shift focus from negative to positive is by maintaining a gratitude journal. Daily jotting down things you are grateful for can significantly boost your mood and perspective. This practice encourages you to notice and appreciate the smaller joys and victories, often overshadowed by pervasive negative thoughts.

6. Physical Activity

Exercise is not only good for the body but also for the mind. Physical activity releases endorphins, chemicals in your brain that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. Regular exercise can help reduce anxiety and improve self-image, making it easier to combat negative thoughts.

7. Connect with Others

Isolation can deepen negative thought patterns, while sharing your feelings with others can provide a new perspective. Whether it’s talking with friends, family, or a professional therapist, being connected helps you feel supported and less alone in your struggles. Sometimes, merely verbalizing your thoughts can help diminish their power.

8. Practice Self-Compassion

Finally, be gentle with yourself. Everyone experiences negative thoughts at one time or another. Practice self-compassion by treating yourself with the same kindness, concern, and support you’d offer a good friend. When you miss the mark, remind yourself that perfection is not the goal—growth is.


Transforming negative thought patterns into positive ones requires consistent practice and patience. By becoming more mindful of your thought patterns, actively challenging them, staying physically and socially active, and practicing gratitude and affirmations, you can cultivate a healthier, more optimistic mindset. Remember, the goal is progress, not perfection. With each small step, you're paving the way to a more empowered and positive self.

Being a powerful person

Monday, June 24, 2024 @ 2:57 PM

So what is it that makes a person powerful? Affluence? Intelligence? Chiseled physique? We sure would love to possess any or all of the above! However, on the granular level it all boils down to the power of choice. We can choose a path paved in education, seeking out arenas to be influential over others or pounding it out at the gym. We possess free will to pursue our goals and dreams.

Once an individual realizes that the power to choose is in their midst, it could change their life for good as they begin see things in this new light. They recognize the ownership aspect of all they do and say now with the ball in their court. There is nothing mystic about this concept nor is it unattainable for even the most seemingly powerless individual. It is just a skill set.  Equate this with the idea that if I actually go to the gym and actually work out, I will get stronger. Keep in mind that repetition and mindfulness are key ingredients in the mix.

A powerful person says, “I choose to be responsible for myself and  I will be responsible in relationship with others, requiring others to respect me as I respect them. I foster self control through this connection. You will never be disappointed with my choices because I have already set the standard with love, respect and responsibility. You can count on my yes being yes and my no being no. There is no fear, second guessing or surprises  in relating with me. I realize that not everyone is going to like me (particularly powerless people) and that’s ok.”

Here are the traits seen in a powerful person:

Always at peace

Driven by truth

Take full responsibility for the choices they make

Find happiness based on who they are, what they desire and what they are committed to

Deliberately set standards for how they will be treated 

Deliberately set standards for how they treat others

They are who they say they are

They do what they say they will do

Love is never dependent on being loved in return

They love no matter what

Here are the traits in a powerless person:

Never content

Driven by anxiety

Need others to make them happy 

Since it seems not safe to be themselves they need to latch on to others to cope and survive

It’s their mission to control using all sorts of tactics that are toxic to themselves and others: nagging, withdrawal, ridicule, anger, crying, undue pressure attempting to get their way.

Can you recognize the traits of a powerful person yourself or your loved one? Powerless? If you do just know that meeting with a clinical counselor or for marriage counseling can help you overcome powerlessness and begin to live a more satisfying life in all your relationships. The benefits of learning to be powerful, as you can see, are great. You can go from being powerless to powerful, controlling to self-control, fear to love, and distance to connection. It’s your call…

Dr. Anita J. Arrunategui/ Images: Canva Pro/ Danny Silk “Keep Your Love On

 The content published is for informational purposes. The content included in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Hurt: Let us pull off the band-aid

Tuesday, June 18, 2024 @ 9:57 PM

Anchored 4 Hope

Blog. One: Hurt: Let's Pull off the band-aid.

This is my first blog, where I'd like to share about Jehovah Rapha: "The Lord that heals thee." - Exodus 15:26 (NIV). I have been called into Christian Counseling and have been clinically trained with a unique skill set to understand and help people overcome depression, anxiety, or grief while incorporating the Christian belief system. In everything that I do, I aim to point people towards God as the great counselor and physician.

We live in a broken world full of pain and hurt. The fall of Adam and Eve when deceived led to hurt. As a child, I would get hurt from falling off my bike and dread telling my dad. He used warm soap and water to clean the wound, then poured alcohol on it before applying a Band-Aid.

I would later pull the Band-Aid off slowly, but my dad would always rip it off fast, claiming it would hurt less. I always thought it would hurt more. If a scab has formed, the wound is in the process of healing, and the Band-Aid could be removed. Do you have a scab over your wound or hurt? I can help.

I help individuals grappling with overwhelming stress, loneliness, and hopelessness. Through our work together, my clients experience peace and wholeness and feel safe and secure in growing through Christ. I provide Christian psychotherapy, and new clients find hope in our sessions. I build relationships with my clients to guide them towards Christ as a healer and source of hope.
Do you hurt?
Let us pull the Band-Aid off slowly.
Let’s work together to heal your wound.
It used to be a jingle, "I am stuck on Band-Aid because Band-Aid stuck on me."
Are you stuck? Call me.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Daytime Routines for a Peaceful Night's Sleep

Thursday, June 13, 2024 @ 6:11 PM

Sleep is a gift from God, meant to rejuvenate our bodies and minds for the tasks He sets before us. However, many Christians struggle with sleep issues that can impact their daily life and spiritual wellness. By integrating faith-focused activities into our daytime routines, we can create an environment that is conducive to peaceful nights of rest. Here are some habits that can improve your sleep quality.

Seek God

Just as natural sunlight is essential for regulating our sleep-wake cycles, the light of Christ is crucial for our spiritual well-being. Begin your day with exposure to God's Word, allowing it to fill and guide you. Spend time in prayer each morning, asking for peace and rest, and thanking Him for the new day. A heart attuned to gratitude can ease anxiety and promote better sleep.

Engage in Physical Worship

Scripture encourages physical expression of our worship, and engaging in activities such as walking while praying can not only honor God but also improve our sleep. Exercise is proven to help tire the body and reduce stress, and when combined with worship, it can be a powerful tool in preparing us for rest. Be mindful of the time of day, as vigorous activity too close to bedtime may become a hindrance.

Nourish the Body as a Temple

Our bodies are described as temples of the Holy Spirit, and what we put into them can affect every aspect of our health, including our sleep. Strive to consume foods that honor your body—fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help improve sleep quality. Be cautious with caffeine and heavy meals, particularly later in the day, to avoid disrupting your sleep pattern.

Cultivate a Spirit of Stillness

In the book of Psalms, we are reminded to "be still and know" that He is God. Taking time throughout the day to still our minds and hearts can foster a sense of peace that extends into the night. Develop a practice of daily quiet time, away from the hustle and bustle, to meditate on God's promises and rejuvenate your spirit.

Gain Strength through Fellowship

Hebrews encourages us to not forsake assembling. Engaging in Christian fellowship, whether through church functions, Bible study groups, or prayer meetings, can uplift the spirit and dispel the loneliness that often hinders good sleep. Shared testimonies of God's faithfulness can also strengthen our faith and ease our nightly rest.

Embody Consistency and Ritual

A consistent and intentional approach to our day reflects the orderliness of God's creation. As such, maintaining a regular wake-sleep schedule aligns with the rhythm He established for us. Incorporate rituals that prepare your heart for the end of the day, such as evening prayers or reading through a devotional, to signal to your mind and body that it is time to rest.

Confront Stress through Trust in God

Numerous Scripture verses remind us to cast our cares upon the Lord. Instead of allowing stress to consume your day and disrupt your sleep, actively place your worries in God's hands through prayer and supplication. Moreover, seek wisdom through the counsel of pastors, church elders, or fellow believers to alleviate the burdens weighing on your sleep.

Reflect and Give Thanks

As you navigate finding the best routine for a restful night's sleep, take time to reflect on the day's activities and their impact on your rest. Maintain a journal to track your sleep, noting how different experiences affected you. Offer up thanks for the progress you make and seek guidance on areas of improvement.

Incorporating these Christ-centered activities into your daily life not only enhances sleep quality but also draws you closer to God. Sleep becomes more than just a biological necessity; it turns into an extension of your daily worship and trust in the Lord. These habits are not just about physical rest—they are about nurturing your relationship with God and finding peace in His presence, knowing that "He gives to His beloved sleep" (Psalm 127:2).

Let your daytime routine be a reflection of your faith, and you'll find that your nights are filled with the restful sleep that God intends for all of us. Remember, in God’s sovereign care, each night is an opportunity to lay down not just your head, but your worries and fears, trusting in Him to renew you for the day to come.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Understanding Post-Breakup Regrets in Christians: Navigating Through Self-Forgiveness and Faith

Monday, June 10, 2024 @ 6:19 PM

Breakups can be a profoundly emotional and challenging experience for anyone. For Christians, the end of a relationship might carry additional weight, as it can challenge not only personal emotions but also spiritual and communal expectations. It's not uncommon, then, for individuals to encounter feelings of regret after a relationship has ended. Exploring these regrets within the Christian faith can offer a unique perspective on processing and overcoming these difficult emotions.

The Commonality of Regrets After a Breakup

Regret is a universal feeling that can serve as a powerful tool for self-reflection and growth. In the wake of a breakup, one might regret things said or done, opportunities missed, or simply the loss of what was believed to be part of God's plan for their life. These regrets can be cast in a sharper relief within the Christian context, where the sanctity of relationships is often emphasized, and 'what could have been' can echo deeply within one's faith walk.

However, it's important to realize that experiencing regret is common and, more importantly, human. King Solomon, in his wisdom, declares in Ecclesiastes 3:4 that there is "a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance." Emotional valleys are expected in the rhythm of life.

The Role of Self-Reflection

When faced with post-breakup regrets, taking time to reflect is crucial. This isn't about dwelling on the past but rather understanding and learning from it. Self-reflection can help discern whether the regret is rooted in a genuine conviction or if it arises from a sense of failed expectations or external pressures. Christians can turn to prayer and Scripture during this time for clarity and guidance.

The Power of Prayer and Community

Engaging in prayer is a transformative way for Christians to process their feelings of regret. Philippians 4:6-7 encourages us not to be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present our requests to God. Through prayer, individuals can lay their burdens before the Lord and receive comfort and peace.

Furthermore, the Christian community plays a significant role in healing post-breakup. Sharing your struggles with trusted friends, church leaders, or support groups can lighten the emotional load. Galatians 6:2 instructs believers to "bear one another's burdens," ensuring that nobody has to navigate their healing journey in isolation.

Embracing Self-Forgiveness

Self-forgiveness is a crucial step in overcoming regrets. This does not mean trivializing your past mistakes but understanding that you are human and that God offers grace and new beginnings. 1 John 1:9 reassures us that "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." Accepting God's forgiveness frees Christians from the bondage of past regrets and allows them to forgive themselves as well.

Finding Lessons in the Pain

Every experience, especially a painful breakup, carries a lesson. It's beneficial to consider what God might be teaching you through this trying time. Romans 8:28 promises that "all things work together for good for those who love God." Thus, Christians can find solace in knowing that even their regrets and pain can be woven into a larger tapestry of growth and faith.

Moving Forward with Faith

Moving forward after a breakup, especially when encumbered with regret, requires faith. Christians believe that they are guided by a sovereign God who knows the future and has a purpose for all things, even broken relationships. Jeremiah 29:11 offers the comforting assurance that God has "plans to give you hope and a future."


Encountering regrets after a breakup is a common part of the human experience, and within the Christian faith, it can catalyze deep spiritual growth and renewal. Christians grappling with post-breakup regrets are encouraged to engage in self-reflection, lean into their faith and community, practice self-forgiveness, learn from their experiences, and move forward with the understanding that God's plans are perfect, even when they diverge from what was once hoped for.

In navigating these feelings, remember the promise in Psalms 34:18, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Healing may take time, but with God's help and the support of the Christian community, it is possible to emerge from the shadow of regret with newfound wisdom and hope.

Chronic Pelvic Pain Support Group

Monday, June 10, 2024 @ 4:59 PM

Shakira is currently recruiting for 6 to 8 professional women of color (ages 28 to 39) who are interested in participating in a 12-week virtual chronic pain group for professional women struggling with chronic pelvic pain. This group will have a membership option that members can opt into for a small monthly fee after completion. In the group, they can continue to support each other, create a community, meet up, and share resources. Members must be in the New York area to join. Please email Shakira for a screening call.

Benefits and aims of the group
Co-regulate with like minded women who get it
Facilitated by someone with lived experience
Reframe unhelpful thoughts and learn to accept pain
Increase pain management coping skills and pain tolerance
Complete a personal project to help yourself engage with what’s most important
Have access to a community membership after completion

Cost $100 per session
Meeting weekly on zoom starting
August 21st, 2024
7pm to 8:30pm EST

Contact for more information

Please read my blog post to learn more about the benefits of support groups for chronic pelvic pain.

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Setting Small Goals: Breaking Tasks into Manageable Steps to Combat Overwhelming Feelings

Saturday, June 8, 2024 @ 2:22 PM

Depression can feel like a heavy blanket that dims even the brightest days. For those who struggle with this daunting condition, even simple tasks can seem insurmountable. As a licensed counselor, one of the most effective strategies I recommend to my clients is setting small, achievable goals. This approach not only fosters a sense of accomplishment but also helps in gradually lifting the fog of depression.

Understanding the Impact of Depression

Depression impacts each individual differently, manifesting in symptoms such as persistent sadness, lack of energy, and a pervasive sense of hopelessness. It can dramatically influence one's ability to perform daily activities. The key to navigating through this is understanding that small steps can lead to significant changes.

The Power of Small Goals

When you're experiencing depressive episodes, the thought of completing even routine activities can feel overwhelming. The mere idea of planning a day can be daunting. However, breaking down these tasks into smaller, manageable steps can substantially reduce anxiety and improve your ability to cope.

Start Simple

Begin with goals that are easy to achieve. For instance, if your objective is to get more physically active, start by walking for five minutes around your home or down your street. Once you find this manageable, gradually increase the time or distance.

Celebrate Small Wins

Each small goal achieved is a step towards overcoming depression. Celebrate these milestones, no matter how minor they may seem. This could be as simple as acknowledging your effort, treating yourself to a cup of your favorite coffee, or sharing your progress with a supportive friend or family member.

Maintain a Goal Journal

Keeping a journal can be incredibly helpful. Documenting your goals along with the steps you plan to take to achieve them helps in maintaining focus. Additionally, looking back at what you have accomplished can be a powerful motivator on tougher days.

Stay Flexible

It’s important to remember that setbacks can happen, and that’s okay. Be flexible with your goals and adjust them as needed. The aim is not perfection but progress.

Seek Support

Combating depression is not a journey you have to take alone. Involve trusted friends or family who can encourage your small successes. Furthermore, professional help from a counselor or therapist can provide you with the tools to manage your depression effectively.

Connect Spiritually

For many, faith plays a crucial part in managing depression. Integrating prayer, meditation, or Bible reading into your daily goals can provide comfort and hope.

Moving Forward

The journey through depression is personal and unique to each individual. Setting small, manageable goals allows you to take control of your life at your own pace. Remember, each step forward, no matter how small, is a victory. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, consider reaching out for professional help. Together, we can navigate the path to recovery and renewal.

Elisha S. Lee, LPC is a licensed counselor with a passion for helping individuals resolve challenges related to depression, anxiety, and spiritual conflicts through tailored, faith-based approaches.

For more insights and assistance, visit our website to find the right support for your journey.

Friday, June 7, 2024

The Impact of Childhood Trauma: Why ACE Scores Matter

Friday, June 7, 2024 @ 9:12 AM

The effects of childhood trauma resonate throughout a person's life, influencing their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. A pivotal study by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) examined 9,508 individuals to understand the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). This ten-question assessment revealed the profound consequences of early trauma and highlighted the need for effective interventions.

Understanding ACEs

The assessment measured eight types of ACEs: emotional, physical, and sexual abuse; physical and emotional neglect; and family disruptions such as incarceration, mental illness, substance abuse, intimate partner violence, divorce, and parental separation. Each type of adverse experience a respondent encountered added a point to their ACE score. The results were alarming. Individuals with four or more ACEs were four to twelve times more likely to face health issues, substance abuse, depression, and suicide attempts. They were also significantly more likely to smoke, have poor self-image, engage in risky sexual behavior, and suffer from sexually transmitted diseases.

The Long-Term Health Risks

Those with high ACE scores are at a greater risk for numerous diseases, including ischemic heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, skeletal fractures, and liver disease. One in six adults has experienced four or more ACEs, which are linked to five of the top ten causes of death in the United States. A staggering 61% of Americans have at least one ACE, while 16% have four or more. High ACE scores are also associated with lifelong pathology and increased dysregulation during stressful events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Developmental Trauma and the Brain

Children repeatedly exposed to trauma may meet the criteria for developmental trauma, characterized by disruptions in primary caregiving, chronic caregiver dysregulation, community violence, and various forms of abuse. These traumatic events impact brain structure and function, leading to potential neurobiological impairments. The brain develops rapidly in the first four years of life, making early ACEs particularly disruptive. Trauma during these critical periods can cause lasting changes in brain organization and function.

The brain's development follows a sequential path, beginning with the medulla and progressing through the pons, diencephalon, limbic system, and cortex. Interruptions during early developmental stages can cause more profound disruptions than adverse experiences later in life. Trauma can lead to a persistent state of hypervigilance, with the brainstem becoming oversensitive and overreactive, often resulting in behaviors like dissociation and hypervigilance as normal survival responses.

Prevention and Treatment

While numerous prevention plans aim to reduce ACEs for future generations, few treatment recommendations address developmental trauma. The CDC's ACE prevention plan focuses on education about ACE-associated health conditions and leveraging community resources like coaches, schools, and mental health workers.

Felitti, the lead researcher of the ACE study, recommended treatments such as eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), Ericksonian hypnotherapy, and psychoeducation from websites like ACES Too High and ACES Connection. Reading materials like "The Body Keeps Score" by Bessel van der Kolk and "Scared Sick" by Robin Karr-Morse also offer insights into healing from trauma.

However, these treatments often overlook developmental delays. Effective trauma treatment must address the brain's development from the bottom up. Interventions should begin with the medulla, targeting self-regulation skills through rhythmic, repetitive, and somatosensory activities such as nature walks, dance, drumming, sports, massage, trauma-informed yoga, play, tactile therapies, and art therapies. After addressing brainstem deficits, treatments can then focus on the diencephalon, limbic system, and neocortex.

The Need for a Comprehensive Protocol

Despite the availability of assessment tools like the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT), which maps delays in neurosequential brain development, there is no standardized therapy addressing these neurodevelopment gaps. Current treatment plans must evolve to include comprehensive protocols that target neurodevelopmental trauma effectively.

The high incidence of ACEs and their association with severe health outcomes underscore the urgent need for standardized treatment protocols. Research must continue to develop and refine these models, ensuring they address the complex and lifelong effects of childhood trauma.


The legacy of childhood trauma can shape a person's entire life, but with the right interventions, healing is possible. By understanding ACEs and developing targeted treatments, we can mitigate the profound impacts of early adverse experiences and help individuals lead healthier, more fulfilling lives. Dr. Dunkin has written a theoretical treatment plan to address the five levels of the brain that are impacted by developmental trauma and high ACE scores. Stay tuned for this series and learn how we address the medulla, pons, diencephalon, limbic system, and the cortex.

Thursday, June 6, 2024

A Guide to Becoming a 'Mindful Mom' in the Chaos of Motherhood

Thursday, June 6, 2024 @ 5:05 PM

Let’s face it, being a mom is tough. It’s a job that comes with unexpected surprises, daily challenges, and the constant balance of joy and chaos.

As a mom life coach (and mom of 4 myself), I’ve seen firsthand the whirlwind of joy and challenges that come with raising little ones. It’s a path that can often leave us feeling overwhelmed, questioning if we’re doing enough, and sometimes losing ourselves in the endless to-do lists.

But what if I told you that amidst the chaos, there’s a space for calm, a moment for breath, and an opportunity for presence? This is the heart of mindful motherhood – a practice not of perfection, but of embracing each moment with intention and grace.

In this blog, we’ll explore unique and practical tips that go beyond the generic advice. These are the pearls of wisdom that have not only helped me but countless other moms to find peace in the pandemonium, to turn the mundane into the meaningful, and to cultivate a sense of mindfulness that nourishes both you and your children.

So, take a deep breath (no really, calm your body and mind with a big, deep breath). And remember, if you ever need a guiding hand or a listening ear, my mom life coaching services are here to support you every step of the way. Let’s rediscover the joy of motherhood together.

Mindful Motherhood: Nurturing Presence in the Midst of Chaos

Mindful motherhood isn’t about creating a flawless routine or maintaining a zen-like calm in the face of toddler tantrums. It’s about being present—truly present—in the thick of it all. It’s the art of tuning into the now, even when the ‘now’ is messy, loud, and pulling you in a million directions.

At its core, mindful motherhood is the practice of awareness. It’s noticing the subtle sweetness of your child’s morning yawn, the texture of playdough between your fingers, and the sound of tiny feet pattering across the floor. It’s about embracing each moment with your children, not as a task to check off, but as an experience to savor.

But it’s also about self-compassion. Being a mindful mom means recognizing that you’re doing your best, even when your best is just getting through the day without a major meltdown—yours or your child’s. It’s about forgiving yourself for the burnt dinners and the missed story times, knowing that perfection is not the goal; connection is.

Mindful motherhood is a journey of reflection and growth. It’s about pausing to breathe before reacting, learning to listen not just to the words your child says, but to the emotions they express. It’s about finding joy in the mundane and learning to let go of the guilt that often accompanies the balancing act of motherhood.

In essence, mindful motherhood is about cultivating a mindful approach to life that permeates your parenting. It’s about growing alongside your children, and in the process, teaching them the value of being present, of being mindful, in their own lives.

Unique Tips for Mindful Mothering

Motherhood is a journey that’s as rewarding as it is demanding. To help you navigate this path with a mindful approach, here are some unique tips that are not only achievable but also tailored to fit the busy life of an overwhelmed mom.

1. The ‘Five-Minute Savor’

What it is: This is about finding a brief moment each day to pause and savor a peaceful interaction with your child.

How to do it: Whether it’s during a quiet cuddle before bedtime or a shared giggle over a silly face, take five uninterrupted minutes to fully engage and appreciate the connection.

Why it works: It helps to reset your stress levels and reminds you of the joy in motherhood.

2. ‘Gratitude Graffiti’

What it is: A creative way to visually capture the daily joys of parenting.

How to do it: Keep a chalkboard or whiteboard in a common area where you jot down one thing you’re grateful for each day.

Why it works: It serves as a visual reminder of the positive aspects of your life and can be a great conversation starter with your kids about gratitude.

3. ‘Solo Soiree’

What it is: Regularly scheduled short breaks for self-care.

How to do it: Plan for a brief outing alone—be it a walk in the park, a coffee shop visit, or simply sitting in your car with your favorite music.

Why it works: It gives you a much-needed breather and a chance to recharge, making you more present when you’re with your family.

4. ‘Mindful Munching’

What it is: Turning meal preparation and eating into a mindfulness exercise.

How to do it: Engage all your senses as you cook and eat, appreciating the colors, textures, smells, and tastes of your food.

Why it works: It transforms a routine task into a mindful ritual, promoting calmness and reducing stress.

5. ‘Sensory Storytime’

What it is: An enhanced story time that engages all the senses.

How to do it: Use scented candles, cozy blankets, or background sounds to create a multi-sensory experience while reading to your child.

Why it works: It creates a calming routine and helps both you and your child to wind down.

By integrating these mindful practices into your daily routine, you can find small oases of calm in the busy desert of motherhood. Remember, it’s not about adding more to your plate; it’s about infusing what’s already there with intention and care.

Overcoming Common Obstacles on the Mindful Journey

Embarking on the journey of mindful motherhood is a commitment to personal growth and presence. However, it’s not without its hurdles. Here are some common obstacles you might face and strategies to overcome them:

1. Feeling Overwhelmed

Obstacle: The endless to-do list can make mindfulness seem like another chore.

Strategy: Start small. Choose one daily activity during which you’ll practice being fully present. It could be as simple as drinking your morning coffee or brushing your teeth.

2. Constant Interruptions

Obstacle: Kids have an uncanny ability to need something the moment you sit down.

Strategy: Set clear boundaries. Explain to your children that you need a few minutes of ‘quiet time’ and gradually increase this as they learn to respect this space.

3. Guilt of ‘Not Doing Enough’

Obstacle: Many moms struggle with the feeling that they’re not meeting some invisible standard of motherhood.

Strategy: Acknowledge your efforts. Recognize that being a mindful mom doesn’t mean being a perfect mom. Celebrate the small victories and forgive the imperfections.

4. Finding Time for Yourself

Obstacle: It can seem impossible to find time for yourself when you’re caring for others.

Strategy: Get creative with ‘me time’. It might be waking up 15 minutes earlier to enjoy the silence or using naptime to meditate instead of doing chores.

5. Maintaining Consistency

Obstacle: Consistency is key in mindfulness, but it’s often hard to maintain.

Strategy: Link your mindfulness practice to an established habit. For example, practice deep breathing every time you buckle your child into the car seat.

By recognizing these obstacles and implementing these strategies, you can maintain your path towards mindful motherhood even when challenges arise. Remember, the goal isn’t to avoid obstacles but to learn how to navigate them with grace and self-compassion.

Mindful Conclusion

As we wrap up our journey through mindful motherhood, let’s pause and reflect on the key takeaways that can transform your daily parenting experience:

Mindfulness is attainable in the midst of motherhood’s chaos. It’s about being present in the small, everyday moments with your children and yourself.

Self-compassion is essential. Remember, being a mindful mommy doesn’t mean being perfect; it means being present and forgiving yourself for the imperfections.

Small steps lead to big changes. Incorporate mindfulness into your routine gradually, and celebrate the tiny victories along the way.

You’re not alone. Building a community of like-minded moms can provide support and shared wisdom to enrich your mindful parenting journey.

And finally, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure where to start, or if you’re seeking a deeper connection with your children and yourself, I’m here to help. As a mom life coach, I offer personalized guidance to help you navigate the beautiful, sometimes bumpy road of motherhood with mindfulness and grace.

Take the first step towards a more mindful motherhood today. Reach out for a free initial consultation, and let’s explore how we can work together to bring more peace, presence, and joy into your life as a mom.

Remember, the most profound changes often begin with a single, mindful step.

With love and imperfection,

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

The Interrelationships between Life Crises, Stress, Trauma, and Traumatic stress

Wednesday, June 5, 2024 @ 8:28 PM

The Interrelationships between Life Crises, Stress, Trauma, and Traumatic stress

As it relates to the behavioral sciences, the term stress may possibly be best understood when differentiated from the modern vernacular of adversarial events versus the direct impact of situations or circumstances that have pervasive and/or long-lasting effects on an individual’s mental health at various stages of their life span. According to Levers (2022), simply put “stress is a reality of existence” (p. 49). Postmodern culture being what it is, has arguably increased the magnitude and levels of stress associated with daily living. Levers (2022) further contends that from a definition perspective, crisis takes on paradoxical and semantic connotations that incorporate both degrees of illness and situations requiring intervention. From a broad-based mental health perspective, and more specifically a traumatology intervention or crisis counseling perspective, the foregoing sematic considerations may affect how these life challenges are dealt with.

Trauma: A Phenomenon

Trauma, as a phenomenon, perhaps can best be described as somewhat contextual while encapsulating an ongoing process of evolution (Briere & Scott, 2015). According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.; DSM–5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013), trauma may be interpreted as some form of exposure to actual or potentially death threatening situations that may be associated with some kind of serious physical injury and/or sexual violence. From a contextual perspective, the situations and circumstances under which trauma may be experienced include: (a) direct encounter(s) with the previously mentioned events, (b) being present when a traumatic event occurs, (c) learning of or finding out about a specific violent or accidental traumatic event or series of events typically associated with a close friend or family member or (d) being repeatedly exposed to trauma, particularly in relational to daily activities associated with one’s occupation or career (APA, 2013). As it relates to traumatic stress, Briere and Scott (2015) contend that an event may be deemed traumatic if it is extremely upsetting and sufficiently overwhelms an individual’s internal resource capability, thereby resulting in inhibited functioning and that results in lasting psychological symptoms. There continues to be significant discussion and diverse interpretations as to what defines traumatic stress (Briere & Scott, 2015; Levers, 2022).

Some Psychosocial Effects of Trauma

Another consideration that continues to engage scholars is trying to better understand the impact that trauma has on both individuals, communities and societies. According to Spence et al., (2019), there continues to be considerable discussion and debate as to what constitutes trauma. As such, are there possible differentiations in relation to how ordinary negative events may impact an individual versus communal and/or societal impacts and/or vulnerabilities? From a contextual perspective are some individuals or ethnic groups more prone to physical, mental, emotional and/or psychological vulnerabilities? According to Briere and Scott (2015), Hispanics and African Americans in the military, were also more likely to be exposed to high combat stress than whites.

Some Practical Clinical Traumatology Interventions

From a traumatology perspective, where does this leave clinicians regarding applicable client interventions? According to Froerer et al., (2018) SFBT supported with effective client management provides a conceptual, comprehensive, and practical approach for trauma intervention. I submit that intentionally adopting a lifestyle of self-care geared to lessen stress, whether it means asking other people to share your burdens or using stress management techniques may also be considered. Other therapeutic approaches such CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy), EDMR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) therapy may also be considered and employed by practitioners.
Lastly, techniques such as mindfulness meditation, or deep breathing, healthy diet, exercise and adequate sleep each night may provide viable therapeutic intervention options. In addition, short-term crisis counseling may be helpful when an individual is coping with something overwhelming or traumatic. The purpose of crisis counseling is to deal with the prevailing mental health of the individual dealing with a crisis. As such, chronic exposure to stress or trauma can lead to mental illness and crisis counselors have skills and knowledge that may help clients cope with current stressors and trauma.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed., text rev.).

Briere, J. & Scott, C. (2015). Principles of trauma therapy: A guide to symptoms, evaluation, and treatment (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Froerer, A., von Cziffra-Bergs, J., Kim, J., & Connie, E. (2018). Solution-focused brief therapy with client managing trauma. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Levers, L. L. (2022). Trauma counseling: Theories and interventions for managing trauma, stress, crisis and disaster. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

Spence, R., Kagan, L., & Bifulco, A. (2019). A contextual approach to trauma experience: Lessons from life events research. Psychological Medicine, 49,1409-1413. Retrieved from