I have facilitated many different types of therapeutic groups for more than 15 years. I have learned more than I could begin to describe, from the people I have been privileged to meet. The group experience bestows the powerful benefit of gathering with others to create an intentional space where healing can happen. Social connectedness is a vital component of living a full life. The connection people experience in group therapy has been shown to be highly effective for committing to and taking action on change. From connection, group members encourage each other. They model new behaviors for each other, learning and practicing together.

Classes provide the social benefits of group therapy in a quick experience that will get you started taking action. These are experiential and interactive, as this is the preferred way to learn the concepts. I understand that different people have different comfort levels with sharing in a group. I ask that you come to the experience with an open attitude, with my promise that you are invited to share only as much as you are willing. Activities will include meditations, guided imagery, and worksheets designed to prompt self-reflection and seeing issues from new perspectives.

Mindfulness for Stress Reduction (3 hours)

Our bodies are equipped to survive. Until not too long ago, survival meant fighting or running from large predatory animals and navigating through other physically hazardous situations. Nowadays, we generally encounter very few threats to our physical survival; yet our brains are still wired to default to fight-or-flight response. The many modern stressors we encounter are non-life-threatening, yet our brains respond to them as if they are. In essence, our minds are our allies, but not necessarily our friends. They are built to protect us, to focus on the negative in order to prepare for threats, and to evaluate our performance so that we can improve our chances of survival. While these skills are useful in actual dangerous situations, they become contributors to chronic stress when misapplied to non-dangerous situations.

Mindfulness can reduce stress by helping the brain do a better job of self-monitoring and self-regulating. We can learn to treat thoughts as events in the mind, watching them arise and naturally pass. We can improve our ability to recognize mind traps, which are habitual styles of thinking and automatically interpreting events and that keep us stuck in states such as anxiety and depression. We can then more easily avoid falling into these traps.

In this workshop, you will learn how to correct the stress response and approach life in a more balanced way. You will gain knowledge about the most common mind traps so that you can recognize your own. We will practice simple yet powerful mindfulness techniques to support stress reduction. You will have the opportunity to identify any next steps to continue what you have begun.

Spend a little time with some other nice people who want to take a positive step in self-care. Enjoy a respite. Give yourself a chance just to be.

ACT On…Your Relationship (3 hours)

Love makes us vulnerable. To open to love is also to open to pain. Like intimate dance partners, they go hand in hand. Relationships are both wonderful and terrible. They can give us the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The people with whom we spend the most time and know most intimately are the same people who push our buttons the most. Painful feelings are part of the deal, which is also good news.

Feelings change. They are like the weather. The first flush of blissful feelings when a romance is new will eventually fade and then disappear. Sometimes in their place might be anger, fear, sorrow, frustration, loneliness, regret, or despair. While the initial feelings of love might not last, and painful emotions might replace them, all of these feelings will come and go in a never-ending process.

If you build an intimate relationship, then you are guaranteed to have a certain amount of pain and stress. Sharing your life with someone can be amazing and uplifting, and it can be dreadful. Cultural messages teach us to believe that there is a perfect partner out there just waiting; that without this person you are incomplete; and that when you find this perfect partner, you will fall in love and remain in that blissful state effortlessly and forever.

Being in a relationship is a messy business, but that does not mean all is grim and gloomy. We can learn to let go of unhelpful beliefs and attitudes about love; create an authentic, intimate, loving, long-term relationship; and how to deal with the painful thoughts and feelings that all such relationships inevitably cause.

In this workshop, we will learn about the four myths that teach us unrealistic notions about love. We will explore the five processes that drain the love out of a relationship. We will review and practice simple techniques to help you show up in your relationship lovingly, even while not feeling love, and to navigate the stormy ocean of emotions as they ebb and flow.

ACT On…Depression

Depression can include a depressed or irritable mood; decrease or loss of appetite; diminished interest in or enjoyment of activities; physical agitation or lethargy; sleeping more or less than usual; lack of energy; poor concentration and indecisiveness; withdrawing from social activities; suicidal thoughts; feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or inappropriate guilt; and low self-esteem.

In this workshop, we will explore how our attempts to control depression can actually contribute to depression. We will explore how willingness to accept the thoughts and feelings of depression can have the unexpected result of freeing us from the grip of depression. We will engage in activities to apply willingness and acceptance in everyday life.

ACT On…Anxiety

Anxiety can include excessive and/or unrealistic worry that is difficult to control occurring more days than not and about a number of events or activities; physical tension (e.g., restlessness, tiredness, shakiness, or muscle tension); physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, dry mouth, trouble swallowing, nausea, and diarrhea; feeling constantly on edge; trouble concentrating; trouble falling asleep or staying asleep; and general irritability.

In this workshop, we will explore how our attempts to control anxiety can actually contribute to anxiety. We will explore how willingness to accept the thoughts and feelings of anxiety can have the unexpected result of freeing us from the grip of anxiety. We will engage in activities to apply willingness and acceptance in everyday life.