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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Addressing Internal Blocks

Addressing Internal Blocks

As we prepare for 2017, many of us start to think about creating New Year’s resolutions. It’s not uncommon to stumble and give up after a few weeks. It can be challenging to establish new habits, even for the most dedicated of us! Below is a list of common internal blocks that can sabotage the best efforts toward reaching goals.

There’s help and hope, though!

Sometimes simply identifying the block can help to shift it. Other times you might try disputing them with more rational thoughts, a cognitive-behavioral approach.

One approach I frequently teach my clients is Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). You can find more information at these sites:, and

EFT is an Energy Psychology approach. It starts with the understanding that the body is made of energy and from the wisdom of thousands-year-old Eastern or Traditional Chinese medicine. Modern science tells us that the body is electromagnetic because we have EEG, EKG and MRI machines that measure the electrical and magnetic output of the body.  

From the standpoint of Energy Psychology, all of our levels of functioning – thoughts, emotions, biochemical, neurological, and genetics – are essentially driven energetically. Our brains and our bodies operate electromagnetically, just as an audiotape or computer hard drive contains information in electromagnetic fields. The theory behind this work is, "The cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body's energy system, pathways or centers."  

The Energy Psychology-oriented set of techniques that comprises EFT is based on the ancient practice of acupuncture and acupressure. EFT is gaining in recognition and use by practitioners and is both a clinical and self-help modality. It combines cognitive and emotional statements that describe our present state with physical procedures for effecting therapeutic change. In addition to its foundations in well-established psychological theories and techniques, this approach includes principles and practices from non-Western healing modalities.

EFT uses a protocol combining CBT strategies with stimulation of acupuncture points by gently tapping, holding or massaging them. Energy Psychology as a general practice deals with the connection among the body’s energy systems: including the emotions, cognitions or how we think, behaviors and health. These systems are comprised of electrical activity within the nervous system as well as heart, meridians, chakras, and biofields.

Energy psychology (EP) is applicable to a wide range of areas including psychotherapy, counseling, education, vocational guidance, physical health, pain management, sports and peak performance. 

If you’re stuck and don’t know what to do next, consider trying Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) tapping on any one or all of these internal blocks possible blocks:

Part of me fears it could be unsafe for one or more people if I succeed…
·      If I succeed, then “they” have won.
·      If I get better, maybe “someone” won’t love/accept me.
·      I can’t be/do better than “someone” else.
·      I’m not allowed to grow or succeed.
·      Part of me believes that if I succeed, one or more people who have hurt me will have gotten away with what they did…
·      There may be risks in BOTH succeeding and failing and I’m not sure I can accept them.
·      Maybe I could forgive myself for having this challenge.
·      I honor and accept myself with all my problems and limitations, with all my gifts and blessings.

Notice any shifts in energy, thoughts or feelings and what happens when you think about your next steps.

YouTube has hundreds of examples of EFT/tapping. Look for ones by
·      Gary Craig (founder of EFT;
·      Carol Look (
·      Brad Yates
·      Margaret Lynch (focuses on money & success)
·      Pat Carrington, Ph.D. (

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Your Brain Doesn't Know, But Your Body Does

Your Brain Doesn't Know, But Your Body Does

When you're feeling scared or anxious or even terrified, your brain just might not be the best thing to trust. Your body holds your deepest wisdom and although it may take a bit to sort through what you're thinking and feeling, if you can tune into your body, you just might find a surprising or helpful answer.

Here are the steps:

Find the place in your body where you feel the emotion.
For example, you may be feeling scared and it shows up in your stomach.

Tune into it. 
Become present to the feeling and the body sensation. Notice the sensation and maybe HOW it feels, in addition to WHERE you feel it.

Ask, "What are you really about?"
Relax into the question. Trust that your body holds an answer for you. It may not be immediate, but keep tuning into the body, the sensation and feeling.

Notice the thoughts you have.
You may have gotten an answer through a "random" thought. Make note of that! The body's wisdom can be elegant, yet simple.

If the "answer" is incomplete:
Ask, "What else do you have to tell me?"
Notice the thoughts that you have in response.

For most, the body's responses will be comforting. You may have additional questions or steps to take. The more you tune in, the more clear the information will be.

What's your next step that your body has revealed? 
(Take it!)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Shake it Off, then BREATHE

Shake it Off, then BREATHE

The body stores energy with each stressful experience we have. When it builds but we don't seek ways to release the energy, in our modern world.

In this video of a polar bear being pursued by scientists, tracking it, then tranquilizing it so they can tag it, you'll see how animals discharge the energy of the trauma from being pursued. (NOTE: the bear was not maimed or killed; it was tranquilized.) Commentary in the video describes the process of shaking, then deep breathing.

Start with your hands, like you're shaking water off.

Add arm motions.

Then include movement of your torso and legs.


Take 3 very deep breaths. Make sure your exhale is longer than your inhale and you're exhaling through your nose. (Here's why.)

Notice what happens when you revisit your current situation 
once you've had a chance to discharge some excess energy!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Start With Yourself

Start With Yourself
These words are said to be written on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop
in the crypts of Westminster Abbey in London, England.

When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country.

But, it too, seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.

And now as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed my self first, then by example I would have changed my family.

From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world.

What step(s) will you take now that you're focusing on 
changing yourself first?

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Fear Melters

Fear Melters

More than a year ago, at the annual Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology conference, Katie Hendricks was one of the keynote speakers. Her presentation was brief, yet profound, because she talked not only about the 4 major fear responses (YES, there are more than "fight or flight"!) BUT ALSO how to counter-act (key word is ACT!) the PHYSICAL response that comes with each. 


So I've shared it again and again, with demonstrations, too, of the body positions that I learned during the presentation.

There's a video recording on the Hendricks website. Hendricks speaks about "moving from fear to flow", which allows us to move into more creative ways to express ourselves -- even when we've been triggered or are under stress.

When we’re in fear, it’s difficult for us to be completely present. Our brains often shut down or go into an automatic reaction that doesn’t help complex situations. When we can move from fear to “flow”, we are better able to understand and work with what is going on around us. We can create new patterns of being with ourselves and in relationship with others.
The main fear responses – expressions of few – are below. If we can recognize fear at the body level, we can better move into a physical response that counters the fear. The “melter” or antidote to managing fear is through our bodies so we can become present to what is really happening. Our next step naturally evolves and more readily becomes available as we shift from fear into presence.
It’s possible to have one or more fear modes.

As you may know, fear begins with a PHYSICAL response, so why not have a PHYSICAL counter -action that allows the fear to flow instead of becoming locked in our bodies? (Brilliant, isn't it!?!?)

The 4 primary fear modes are:

And so, there are also corresponding "fear melters". 

Fear Mode
Fight: fists up
Melter Action
Ooze: allow your body to wave and slowly move, starting with arms and allowing the movement to spread throughout your body.

Fear Mode
Flight: either through action or through escaping through thoughts.
Melter Action
Sumo: spread your legs wide and get low in your body, allowing you to become like a mountain. Imagine your feet rooted to the ground.

Fear Mode
Freeze: all muscles tighten and a deep, short breath; or startled response.
Melter Action
Wiggle fingers and toes, sending the motion through the rest of you, “thawing” the body through the movements.

Fear Mode
Faint: drained of energy, complete confusion (“going stupid”).
Melter Action
Scoops: let yourself welcome it, scoop your hands and arms outward then inward toward your body. Scoop the energy of welcome into your heart and body.

What's important now that you know this is that you PRACTICE moving from fear to flow by moving your body from your default fear response into the "Melter Action". 

Practice, practice, practice.

Let me know how it goes!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Resilient Brain

Resilient Brain
Written by Ruth Buczynski, Ph.D.
Elisha Goldstein, PhD has identified 5 natural ways to create an anti-depressant brain.
Elisha is a clinical psychologist in private practice, co-founder of The Center for Mindful Living in LA, and author of the book Uncovering Happiness: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion.
For years now, I’ve studied what helps create more resilience and happiness within us. I’ve looked at my own life, the lives of my clients and students, and the psychological and neuroscience research. 
What I’ve found is that within each and every one of us are a core set of natural anti-depressants. When we intentionally tap into these resources, it shifts our brain activity in ways that can lend itself to shaping an anti-depressant brain. Here are a few suggestions:
  1. Mindfulness could reduce depression.
    Mindfulness practice is connected to lower depression scores, and we can actually see why in the brain. When people practice mindfulness they spend less time in the part of the brain that ruminates on the old stories that keep us stuck in the past. Instead, they spend more time connecting to the area of the brain responsible for sensing the world.
  2. Self-compassion can powerfully fight anxiety.
    Self-compassion reduces rumination (spending time rehearsing those unhelpful stories from the past) and increases well-being. This is inversely correlated with anxiety and depression.
  3. Compassion practices can increase empathy.
    Compassion practices can shift activity to the left prefrontal cortex, and that has been more associated with positive emotions and resiliency. We can also grow the areas of the brain associated with empathy and compassion.
  4. Play can be a natural anti-depressant.
    Studies reveal that the act of play as well as creating more enriching environments can give us energy, make us more efficient, and serve as a natural anti-depressant.
  5. Living with purpose could reduce inflammation.
    Living with greater purpose has been shown to reduce the expression of genes associated with cellular inflammation. Cellular inflammation is associated with many diseases and depression.
The science that continues to come out about mindfulness, self-compassion, purpose/compassion, play and confidence and their neurological benefits is incredibly motivating.
And I know these effects are real, not only because of the science but because of the thousands of people whose lives have changed as a result of engaging this work. 
But don’t take my word for it – begin to bring these natural anti-depressants into your life, and see what you notice.
Of course, this list just scratches the surface of how to naturally create a more antidepressant brain.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Go Fund Me (Please!)

A Go Fund Me Campaign
Please Donate here.

I'm Dr. Suzan Thompson, a Licensed Professional Counselor in Virginia. I've been in private practice since 2001 and have worked with many people over the years. I'm known for taking a practical approach to working with folks and teaching them new skills to handle whatever they're struggling with.

Several years ago, in early 2009, I developed a deck of cards, the Toolkit for Transformation, out of feeling distraught from struggling with my own personal situation. I was inspired to begin jotting notes about the various tools and techniques I've used in my counseling sessions with clients. Only THIS time, _I_ was the one needing help! 
In the middle of feeling distressed, the ideas flowed. And in a matter of a few days, the cards were born.

Soon afterward, I created artwork to go with the cards. And I sat on them for awhile. 
I figured someone else had done something like it. There were countless inspirational decks on the market.  

Until I was nudged by my friends Amy Frost and Diane Merriam to research more, I'm pretty sure the cards would never have been made.

There were 52 in the original deck and it was Amy's idea to use the phrase, "Use these cards when you don't feel like you're playing with a full deck," adding an element of humor to the process of talking about the cards -- THANKS, Amy!

The deck includes a variety of cognitive, emotional, physical and spiritual tools and strategies for shifting your emotional state. The strategies have been tested by many people and the cards have been positively received. 

Please Donate here.

The most recent version of the Toolkit for Transformation cards were included in a training program, called Heal Trauma Fast (, thatI co-created with Amy Frost and Jean Campbell. 

Here are a few videos about what folks said about that training and the tools they learned: 

The cards - and the strategies on each one - provide basic tools to help you get unstuck from the difficult situations that life brings. And we could ALL use some extra help at our fingertips these days, don't you think?!

So far, I've paid for the design and printing of the decks myself, but NOW, I want to develop an app

I know there are so many apps on the market, but there's none like the Toolkit for Transformation

Can YOU imagine needing an idea for shifting your thoughts or emotions when you're in the middle of feeling stuck and can't think of one yourself? (Honestly, that's what stress does to our brains: hijacks our ability to think straight!) 

Donate here.

An app would literally bring ideas to you at your fingertips!
I also want to print another round of the cards themselves that I can give to participants at workshops and presentations. 

First, money will go to my graphic designer, Kevin, who has been instrumental in printing the 2 versions of the cards up to now. The cost for the design and printing of 500 decks is roughly $1500, which includes shrink-wrap packaging.

Next, I need an app developer. The vision is for the app to be both for Androids and for iPhones/iPads. Estimated cost for developing the app for each system is $3-5000. 

Donate here.

My goal is to have the decks printed by March 3rd, and the app completed by the end of 2016.

I know that praciticing the tools and techniques on the cards in the Toolkit for Transformation have been so helpful for me -- they've made me feel better so many times! -- and they have also helped so many of my clients, too! They've learned to manage and transform difficult feelings, concerns and situations they've faced because the deck is so portable. 

Lately, I've noticed people living with greater stress and anxiety and depression. It seems like our ability to cope has been compromised. 

I want to make sure that PROVEN strategies are accessible to more people. (It would make our world a better, happier place to live in, don't you think?!)

THANK YOU!I'm grateful for any amount you're willing to donate! 

Donate here.

Your donations will help so many people who need quick and easy access to techniques that can shift their mood and mind-set! 

THANK YOU, thank you, thank you!!!