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The Issue of Loneliness & Friendship Resources

The Issue of Loneliness & Friendship Resources

Loneliness is a huge problem. We live in a deeply individualistic society that preaches independence above all else. “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps” is one of many commonly used euphemisms to encourage the type of self-reliance our culture seems to value. 

But the problem with this ideal is that we have evolved to be interdependent; we are designed to relate to and connect with other humans. 

I’m not talking about being an introvert vs. an extravert, or loving your solitude here. Believe me, I get that. I am talking about having people in your life that you feel supported by, connected to, and, that offer you a sense of belonging. 

One of the problems that I have seen lately is the profound surge in loneliness since last spring, when the pandemic first hit. Some folx already had systems in place: family, neighbors, friends to check-in on, and commiserate with. For others, the pandemic gutted their support system, or underscored the gaping vacancy in their social lives. 

Many people relocated during the pandemic, fleeing the close-quarters of city life for the spaciousness of the mountains of Western North Carolina. Lots of people move to Asheville with zero contacts, leaving them longing for local relationships. 

 

Friendship Resources:

Some people struggle making new friends, some people struggle with the friends they have. For those in the former camp, I have a few resources for you: 

Books:

Friendships Don’t Just Happen by Shasta Nelson. Shasta Nelson is a writer, coach and public speaker who specializes in female friendships. This book is practical and informative, and may shed light on some issues you haven’t considered in the friendship domain. Her writing is accessible and inspiring and I’d recommend this book to anyone who is struggling to cultivate new friendships. She has another book called Friendtimacy, which is a practical guide on how to take superficial female friendships to a deeper level. 

A few other writers who have explored the issue of friendship include Adam “Smiley” Poswolsky, author of Friendship in the Age of Loneliness and Kat Vellos, author of We Should Get Together

Apps & Websites: 

If podcasts are more your thing, Friend Forward is a podcast with Danielle Bayard Jackson, who speaks to Millennial women about the intricacies of female friendship. 

Online dating is no longer just about romance. Now there are Bumble BFF to find new friends, and Peanut, a free app specifically for moms (mostly new moms, moms of preschoolers and expectant moms) to connect. 

Meet-up is an old standby, which is a great way to connect with people who share similar interests. There are a number of different interest groups including hiking, running, biking, book clubs, age-related groups and much more. 

If you have time and energy to spare, and are interested in volunteering locally, we have a great site called Hands on Asheville where you can search multitudes of volunteer opportunities in and around Asheville. Volunteering can be a great way to meet others who are interested in serving the community. 

Taking a class or signing up to learn a new skill is yet another way to put yourself in a position to be exposed to new people on a regular basis. Remember how easy it was to make friends when we were in school? We sat next to the same people day in and day out. And sooner or later, we found our people. Same concept applies here; you’ve got to find ways to get yourself into the community, consistently to see the same people again and again. That type of familiarity can be a great breeding ground for new friendships. AB-Tech offers continuing education courses seasonally that help enrich your skillset and your social life. 

Need Something More Specific?

 

If finding new people to befriend is not your issue, and instead you are struggling in the relationships you have, that can be a great reason to get the support and perspective of a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor. Because the possibilities are endless as to why you’re having a hard time, I’ve found that talking it through with a neutral person can be the best way to better understand the situation and get support. 

Asheville Holistic Therapy

Asheville Holistic Therapy

The word holistic has become ubiquitous over the past ten years. But what does holistic therapy really mean?

According to Dictonary.com, here’s the definition of holistic:

Holistic – (adjective)

  • Incorporating the concept of holism, or the idea that the whole is more than merely the sum of its parts, in theory or practice:holistic psychology.
  • Medicine/Medical. identifying with principles of holism in a system of therapeutics, especially one considered outside the mainstream of scientific medicine, as naturopathy or chiropractic, and often involving nutritional measures: holistic medicine.

The Whole Is More Than The Sum of Its Parts

As it applies to my counseling practice in Asheville, holistic therapy takes three forms:

1. The fundamental viewpoint that sees all individuals as whole, complete, unbroken and innately capable of healing. the knowledge that all people are more than the sum of their parts. Everyone contains an essence that is uniquely their own; everyone has a soul. Regardless of the anxiety, depression, confusion, stuck-ness, overwhlem or neurosis that you are dealing with right now, I know that you also have the capability to feel calm, clear, confident, at peace and joyful. 

2. The process and methods used in the psychotherapeutic process by the therapist. For me, this is exemplified by my taking an eclectic approach to the therapeutic relationship. In my fifteen years experience working with individuals, I have come to know that not everyone responds well to the same modality. Nor should they. People have different interests and experiences that lead them to develop preferences. For some, an evidence-based methodology that has been tested via research studies and is scientifically proven to help heal is what works best. 

For others, it is the relationship they have with their therapist that makes the greatest impact. 

The methods I use with my clients vary, and are informed by what my clients are open to, interested in, and willing to try. I often will use highly experiential techniques including dialogues, imagery exercises, dreamwork, and mindfulness meditation. I will also incorporate more traditional modalities including cognitive-behavioral techniques depending on what my client needs and my assessment of their needs. 

3. Not pushing meds. While I am not a medication manager and my license does not allow for me to prescribe medications, I also do not tend to express a strong preference for my clients to get on meds as the solution to all ails. To be clear: there are certain circumstances in which I feel medication can help. When that is the case, I bring it up, and we talk about that possibility. But that is not my first suggestion.

My aim is to support the amazing people I get to work with to find balance and well-being in their lives. If that includes medication for a period of time, fine. If it doesn’t, that is also absolutely fine. I always stress the importance of still doing the work of healing, which is not the same thing as taking a pill. You can do both.

 

 

If it sounds like we could be a good fit and you’d like to explore working with me in my Asheville, holistic therapy office, reach out today.

Sex Positive Therapy in Asheville

Sex Positive Therapy in Asheville

Asheville is such a wonderfully unique community. An oasis of open-mindedness and diversity amid an otherwise deeply conservative bible belt. In the abundant therapeutic community we have, your options for providers are many. When it comes to wanting to talk about some of the most intimate aspects of your humanity, your gender identity or sexual life, the provider you choose for counseling can determine the success of your endeavor.

I offer a sex-positive approach, which promotes safe and consensual expressions of sexuality. It is my view that sexuality, in its many forms, is a healthy and life-giving part of our human experience.

Sexual experience is not the same for everyone. Not everyone chooses monogamy. Everyone does not identify as the gender they were assigned at birth. Sexual attraction to the “opposite gender” is not always the case. It is vital to honor these variations in our experience.

I offer gender-affirming care in my psychotherapy practice for individuals that identify as gender diverse, gender nonconforming, transgender, genderqueer, or nonbinary.

In my counseling practice I work with:

  • LGBTQIA
  • Monogamy and Polyamory
  • Kink/BDSM
  • Sexual Identity
  • Gender Identity
  • Transgenderism
  • Sexual Self-Esteem and Confidence
  • Infidelity
  • Sexual Dissatisfaction

As a cisgender female identifying woman (pronouns: she/her/hers) I am aware of my own privilege and I am not an expert on, nor do I truly understand what it is like to be trans or gender nonconforming. However, I do have a deep respect for these experiences and can support, affirm, and hold space for individuals on these journeys.

Also, while I am not a certified sex therapist, and I do not provide couples therapy, I can offer a knowledge base of issues faced by individuals struggling in the areas of gender, intimacy, sexual preference, and anxiety related to sex.

I offer an accepting, non-judgmental space to explore your unique sexuality and challenges you are facing.

Contact me today to see if we’d be a good fit to work together.

Inviting Intuition Imagery Group

I am excited to announce that Whole Self Therapy will soon be offering therapeutic and psycho-educational groups in addition to one-on-one counseling!

Starting in May, when I will be joining colleague Laura Torres, LPC, RYT, to co-facilitate a group focused on cultivating intuition through guided imagery. This will be a small group held in my office over a four week period on Tuesday evenings. The group will include both a didactic/instructional component as well as an experiential imagery piece and will include some expressive art as well.

If you have an interest in connecting to your own internal wisdom, we hope that you will join us! You can email me here for more information or to sign up.

 

Loving others and being loved is arguably the most challenging and rewarding gift of life. If we are lucky enough to find romantic love, the experience can lead us to profound feelings of connection and can both heal and sustain us in ways that no other relationship can match.

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Balancing Self-Compassion and Hard Work

I saw this great 2 minute video of a talk by Ira Glass, host and producer of the NPR show This American Life, about doing creative work recently. It really hit home with me, and living in Asheville, where there is such an abundance of creative people, I thought I would share his words of wisdom with this community!

Personally, I feel that any work that you do that you feel passionately about is creative work. We can approach any craft with vigor and ambition, whether it is producing purely for artistic expression, or working on building skill at our chosen profession.

His normalizing of the ups, downs, and curves in the road on the journey of improvement is refreshing and reassuring, my favorite aspect of this talk is his promotion of self compassion along the way!