Trauma Legacies and Transgenerational Healing-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

A Personal Healing Journey

Transgenerational Healing Dr. Arielle Schwartz

When I was pregnant with my first child I felt the stirrings of the past burgeoning under the surface, calling for my attention. I could no longer ignore the pit of anxiety that I had carried in my stomach for as long as I could remember. As I listened, I discovered a family legacy that needed attention and healing that called me to turn towards my vulnerability as I prepared to become a first-time mother.

Looking back I reflect on stories of my grandfathers’ traumas from both world wars, my grandmothers fearful for their husband’s lives. I see the impact of the great depression. Looking further back, I see my ancestors who were forced to leave their homes in Eastern Europe due to the rise of anti-Semitism. These traumas translated into impaired attachments, deficiencies of touch and consistent care, between my grandparents and my parents. I feel the impact of these groundless, fearful moments in my being.

Turning towards the pain of traumas of my family history I breathe into the deeply familiar knot in my belly. I unwind the grief and anguish that has no name. Hot tears release down my face as I imagine my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents standing behind me. I feel them standing behind smiling, nodding. I feel that they have my back. They encourage me to be free and to let go. Attending to these legacies becomes an invitation to open my heart. What was once a ground of uncertainty has transformed into a fertile earth; a place for the rooting of potentiality, for my life and the lives of my children.

“Trauma can be transmitted across generations. However, our transgenerational wounds are not the essence of who we are. How do we transcend our identification with history? Healing involves knowing that you are not alone, trusting that there is a path to greater freedom, and a willingness to feel your relationship to the suffering of your family lineage. Releasing the burdens of trauma, our own or those of our family history, we often feel lighter, a greater sense of choice, and an increased experience belonging in the world.”
-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

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Somatic Psychology and EMDR Therapy-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

A Synthesis of Healing

Somatic Psychology Dr. Arielle Schwartz

A driver made a turn in front of me and suddenly I pressed hard on the brakes. My car slowed in the middle of a busy intersection. Crash! My airbags released. I watched the other car spin away in the opposite direction. I sat in my car, frozen in a state of shock. Then I knew just what to do. I stepped out of the car, drew upon my training as a somatic (body-centered) psychologist, and I began to move my body. I took deep breaths, shook my arms and legs vigorously and focused on releasing the fear I was feeling. Somatic psychology centralizes body awareness as a primary healing agent in psychotherapy.

Initially I felt secure following the accident but after several months passed I noticed anxiety creeping in while driving. My anxiety worsened and after six months I still noticed my stomach tightening, my breath quickening when passing the intersection where the accident occurred. I preferred to take alternate, albeit longer, routes to work. It was then that I experienced EMDR Therapy for the first time. I described the accident to my therapist and was surprised by the degree of fear, anger, and sadness I still felt around the event. As we “processed” the memory I felt sensations move through my body like waves that could finally reach the shore. At the end of several sessions I felt a profound shift; my distress around the accident disappeared and driving was normal once again. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy offers a comprehensive, structured approach to healing PTSD which involved processing traumatic memories and their associated beliefs, emotions, and sensations.

“The synthesis of somatic psychology and EMDR Therapy is an exciting advancement in mental health. As stand alone therapies these are now considered to be two of the best trauma treatment models available. Integrating these therapies enhances the effectiveness of both.”
-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

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Yoga for Trauma Recovery-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Healing PTSD with Yoga

Resilience and Post Traumatic Growth Dr. Arielle Schwartz Boulder, CO

Yoga saved her life. Six months before her wedding she travelled to South America with her parents; without warning her mother had a heart attack and died in her arms. Coming home, she attempted to re-engage her life as she had known it. But the panic and depression were unbearable. She lost everything she cared about; her mother, her fiancé, her home. Knowing herself as an active, successful woman, she was unrecognizable to herself…

In this post we explore the healing benefits of yoga for trauma through the lens of one woman’s journey into and out of PTSD. When suffering the painful consequences of trauma it is imperative to know there is a healing path. You can reclaim your life from the effects of trauma and research has demonstrated that yoga is a valuable adjunctive treatment to psychotherapy. As a clinical psychologist with twenty years experience teaching yoga, I have not only experienced but also witnessed how cultivating a yoga practice can change lives.

“Every day you meet yourself on the mat where you are. In yoga we aim to explore our “edge” by breathing into sensation, tolerating discomfort, and finding ease. This deepening in your practice might be discovered during a longer hold in warrior pose or in the midst of the stillness of child’s pose. How does your body want to move today?”
-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

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Nature and Family Resilience-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Strengthening Family Resilience

Nature and Family Resilience Dr. Arielle Schwartz

The demands of work, school, and activities can weigh us down. At times we all struggle with finding balance in our lives. However, in the midst of our challenges we also have opportunities to work through conflict and build healthy connections. What are the signs that your family is under stress? For us, there are clear signals. The kids start pushing back, I yell more often, and my husband and I begin arguing. We become irritable.

It is important to know how and when to press the pause button on the relentless pace of life. But often our rest involves over-reliance on other forms of stimulation that can further contribute to overwhelm. I enjoy my evening scrolls through Facebook, the sound of my favorite radio station playing in the background, or a good movie. However, when a total system reboot is necessary–it is important to turn off the electronics and screens. This can be an afternoon stroll on the local trails, weeding the garden, or an adventurous week in the wilderness. The natural world offers a place to reflect and refocus. This tribute to the trail is a story of family resilience drawn from our trip to the desert and canyons of Southern Utah.

“The truth is, all families hit rough patches at times. More important is that you know how to nourish and replenish your family’s soul when you get burnt out on life’s demands. Having consistent strategies to bring balance back into your home is important to raising resilient children.”
Dr. Arielle Schwartz

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Attachment Parenting and Real Life-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

The Real Deal

Attachment parenting Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Your 5-year-old is pulling on your arm to get your attention and in the process you drop a plate of food you were carrying to the table. Startled by the crash and frustrated by the mess, you react by yelling at your child, “Look what you made me do!” In a few moments you have calmed down and before cleaning the mess off of the floor you lift your gaze to notice the tears in your child’s eyes. Instead of beating yourself up for losing it, you turn to your child and say, “I scared you when I yelled, didn’t I?” Your child nods. You continue, “You wanted my attention, pulled on my arm, and then I dropped the plate. When that happened I felt scared too.” Your child chimes in, “and then you got mad!” You take a deep breath and admit, “Yes, I got mad and I’m sorry I scared you” Surprisingly, your child smiles. This acknowledgment was satisfying. You offer, “I needed you to wait until I could give you my full attention.” This time your child says, “I’m sorry I didn’t wait.” Together you clean up the food. “Now, what was it you wanted to tell me?”

Parenting forces us to relinquish our desire for perfection. As parents we are asked to confront our “knee-jerk” reactions and unwanted feelings of insecurity or anger.  Often, the more we try to uphold an ideal the harder we fall. Seeking perfection we can become rigid and inflexible or self-sacrificing and resentful.

Attachment parenting suggests that raising healthy, secure children is associated with practices such as natural childbirth, baby-wearing, co-sleeping, and breastfeeding. However, what happens if your milk dries up, you need medical interventions during childbirth, you long to return to work, or you can’t sleep in the same room as your child? Parents can feel as though they are failing when their own needs for sleep, self-care, or work are at odds with the principles they’ve been told are necessary to raise healthy children.  The truth is you can raise happy, healthy children whether you co-sleep, allow your child to cry to sleep and self-soothe, breast-feed, bottle feed, had a c-section, gave birth at home, adopted your child, go back to work, stay-at-home, have a hot-temper, or are even-keeled.

“Children who are securely attached feel safe, confident, and connected. We do not need to be perfect parents to achieve this goal. A healthy approach to attachment parenting involves flexibly adapting to the changing needs of your child and staying committed to discovering the balance that works for your unique family.”
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Mindfulness and Psychotherapy-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

An Initiation into Mindfulness

Psychotherapy and mindfulness Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Nearly 20 years ago I entered my yoga teacher training. During one of our lectures discussing the importance of mindfulness I was lying on my stomach on the floor, my legs outstretched behind me. All the while, my feet fidgeted and kicked the floor. Eventually, a woman sitting behind me reached down and firmly placed her hands on my feet. The contact between her hands and my feet resulted in a flood of self-awareness. I was embarrassed; I realized that I had been irritating the people around me. However; this invitation into stillness; stopped my “running” and I felt my experience. I began to cry. While I didn’t know it then, this moment served as my initiation into the power of mindfulness.

This experience influenced a personal quest towards self-awareness and embodiment. The process of becoming mindful is a lifelong journey; one that continues to involve humbling moments. I recognize how my auto-pilot can take over. Mindfulness has required a willingness to acknowledge my imperfections and has relied upon a foundation of self-compassion.

As a clinical psychologist, I have also engaged in a passionate inquiry into the benefits of mindfulness in mental health and well-being. My doctoral research explored the use of mind-body interventions in therapy. What I learned is that mindfulness meditation is one of the most researched and fastest growing approaches to mental health and that many professional psychologists are already integrating mindfulness and psychotherapy.

“Mindfulness starts by respecting ourselves and the people we are with. This process is not about pushing an agenda that forsakes connection. Being mindful is not about being smarter, better, or more enlightened. The foundation of mindfulness is acceptance; a practice which strengthens our capacity to honestly reflect upon our own humanness.”
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Healing Transgenerational Trauma-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Transgenerational Healing

transgenerational healing Dr. Arielle Schwartz

“Kathy” has come into therapy to work with a lifelong history of mild anxiety and depression. Through a lens of transgenerational trauma we explore Kathy’s healing process, identifying how one generation’s reactions to a traumatic event were passed on to the next generation. By broadening our lens from the personal to the multi-generational we can experience ourselves as part of a bigger story, a larger whole.

“Healing transgenerational trauma involves the mind, the body, and some detective work to explore your family history. Allow yourself to look across the generations of your family for significant life events and relational patterns. The process of healing involves accessing your innate healing capacity, trusting your experience, and allowing the wisdom of your own process to guide your healing journey.”
-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

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Yoga for Anxiety-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Facing Fear

therapeutic yoga Dr. Arielle Schwartz

From as early as I can recall the idea of standing up in front a group of people has terrified me. As a child, I loved the idea of acting but the reality of getting up on the stage was overwhelming. I remember wanting to shrink so small to make myself disappear. I know I am not alone. Today I routinely teach classes and offer presentations without the anxiety that once ruled my life. And, as a clinical psychologist, and yoga teacher I focus on the tools that can help others do the same. Yoga for anxiety bring the power of change to your life.

“Growth and change often require exploring the edges of our comfort zones and challenging ourselves to step into unfamiliar territory. Yoga for anxiety guides you to harness the power of your thoughts, works directly with your body, and helps you to face your fears. With the right support, you may just discover that you are stronger and more capable than you imagined.”
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Creative New Year’s Resolutions-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Envisioning Success

New Year's Resolutions Dr. Arielle Schwartz

How many years have you made New Year’s resolutions only to look back and feel disappointed? There are many reasons resolutions don’t work. Expectations tend to be too high; we frame them with absolutes such as always or never; we focus on the outcome rather than the process. Over the last 5 years our family and friends have taken an alternative approach to our resolutions by creating collages of our goals and visions of coming year. We then gather to discuss our resolutions in an positive manner. This year I am inviting you to join us virtually.

“Get creative with your resolutions this year. I encourage you to embrace a positive approach that builds upon the foundation of your existing strengths. Allow yourself to follow your heart and turn your attention to what brings you joy. If you choose to nudge yourself out of your comfort zone, consider asking for the support that you need to be successful.” -Dr. Arielle Schwartz

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The 5 Best Gifts for Children-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Gifts that Last a Lifetime

Dr. Arielle Schwartz 5 best gifts for children

What are the best gifts for children that truly last a lifetime? You will not find them in a box with a bow. They lack wires and screens. You will not find them on sale. These are the myths that we have been taught to believe. In our season of giving I encourage you to remember that the greatest gift we give our children is our presence not presents and values instead of valuables. Our meaningful childhood experiences are made memorable by the people, not the objects, of our lives.

“Offerings from the heart are intangible, immeasurable, and priceless. Gifts of time, acceptance, positivity, purpose, and creativity are investments that last a lifetime.”
-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

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