Wilderness As Therapy-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

The Healing Power of Nature

Wilderness as therapy -Dr. Arielle Schwartz

When you feel overextended or have lost a sense of yourself, where do you turn?  A few weeks ago I had one of those times. I was tired from balancing the demands of being a mom, wife, friend, teacher, and therapist. I had nothing left to give and was tapped out. I know, from experience, that these feelings are a signal from my soul not to be ignored. I have burnt out before and am committed not to end up there again. Grateful to have some time to myself, I took the opportunity to head to the trails in the Colorado foothills and to tend to my weariness with a day of silence and nature.

“My take home message, embrace confusion, let yourself be disoriented; sometimes this is the only way to find your inner compass.
-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

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Psychotherapy Efficacy and Your Brain-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Your Brain on Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy and your brain Dr. Arielle Schwartz

The use of psychotherapy has decreased in the last decade; meanwhile the use of prescribed medications has been on the rise (APA, 2012).  Now equipped with technologies that image the brain, the field of psychology is rising to the challenge to demonstrate that psychotherapy works.

“Research suggests that psychotherapy can produce changes in the brain that are comparable to those seen in drug treatments and that avoid the painful side effects”
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Self-Sabotage to Self-Love-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Understanding Self-Sabotage


Have you ever started a new exercise routine, a new diet, or tried to change your spending habits only to have your good intentions backfire? It is painful when we know what we want for ourselves but can’t make or sustain the changes that would create a healthier or more successful life.

“Read on to learn 7 common roots of self-sabotage and 8 tools everyone should know to enhance your health, relationships, and work success…”
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Emotional Intelligence and the Biology of Behavior-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Why Emotional Intelligence?

Heart and Head

It is easy to get caught up in negative thinking, misinterpreting our emotions, cut off from our intuition; all of which can lead to painful consequences. As a clinical psychologist, I am an enthusiastic supporter of emotional intelligence. This post focuses on building your emotional intelligence as a skillset that helps you:

  • Improve your quality of life
  • Enhance your relationships
  • Reduce your stress
  • Develop efficiency in decision making
  • Improve functioning in your workplace

“This post breaks down the biological underpinnings involved with emotion and perception. Learn five strategies to building your emotional intelligence…”
-Dr. Schwartz

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The Neurobiology of Transgenerational Trauma-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

The Trauma Legacy

Unresolved trauma can disrupt your life

I was once asked to describe the genetic component of transgenerational trauma. The question posed was: If my parents had PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) does this increase my likelihood of having it too? This question stopped me in my tracks and I have been exploring this concept as it applies to psychotherapy ever since.

The development and expression of PTSD is complex and involves not only being exposed to a traumatic event but also your perception of it, the amount of current support, existence of previous traumatic events, your early family life, and biological factors that shape how you adapt.

“Research is suggesting that unresolved PTSD can facilitate lasting physiological changes and that these modifications can be passed on to the next generation.”
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Medications and the Mismanagement of PTSD

Psychotherapy vs. Medication

talking hands

Large scale, long term studies reveal that psychotherapy is as effective as medications, lasts longer than drug treatments, and avoids the harmful side effects. Despite growing evidence for the efficacy of psychotherapy, the use of therapy has decreased in the last decade while the use of medications has been on the rise (APA, 2012). This is due in part to the billions of dollars allocated to “direct to consumer” advertising by pharmaceutical companies. Psychotherapy simply can’t compete for marketing airtime and the results are misleading to those suffering with mental health conditions.

“We are all vulnerable when we experience anxiety, panic, or despair and in these times we are especially dependent upon the experts around us to provide sound medical and psychological care.”
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Trauma and Resilience-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Resilience as Path


Did you know that only 8% of individuals exposed to trauma develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? Most people respond with resilience and some report feeling stronger or having grown in some way in response to the traumatic event. PTSD develops when your natural adaptive capacity to respond to a traumatic event isn’t accessible. This can leave you feeling stuck, panicked, or hopeless. If this is you, it is not your fault and you have not failed. There are a variety of reasons why some people are more susceptible to PTSD.  These include lack of relational support systems, genetics, intensity of the experience, duration of exposure, and early life experiences. However, with sufficient support most people do recover from PTSD.

“Resilience involves practices that you can actively engage in to strengthen your likelihood of recovery from trauma.”
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Resilience-Informed Parenting-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Transformational Parenting

photo 5 (3)

Our family just returned from 10 days in the wilderness. With our 9 and 11 year olds, my husband and I hiked over 40 miles, shared one small tent, told stories, sang songs, and pressed the reset button for our family. Musings on Resilience-Informed-Parenting through the lens of a summer vacation.

“What in your life gives you the space you need to reflect on the abundance around you? In what ways can you allow yourself to be nourished by what you have rather than focus on what is missing?”
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How Relationships Change your Brain – Heal Attachment | Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Relationships, Loss, and Vulnerability

Depresses woman EMDR

One of the common reasons that clients come into therapy is the experience of pain associated with the loss of an important relationship; such as the ending of a marriage, the death of a family member, or repeated feelings rejection and abandonment. Relational losses are universal and they can leave us feeling vulnerable and destabilized. However, your brain may have the capacity to be “re-wired” through connection.

“Neuroplasticity points toward our potential to be changed by relationships throughout our lifespan. Healthy relationships allow us to shape and be shaped in the directions that most serve us.”
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Polyvagal Theory Helps Unlock Symptoms of PTSD-Dr. Arielle Schwartz

Getting Unstuck from PTSD

Polyvagal theory Dr. Arielle Schwartz

One of the painful repercussions of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the experience of a lack of control that can occur when you feel trapped by feelings of anxiety, panic, overwhelm, or despair.  Polyvagal theory, the work of Stephen Porges, Ph.D., offers a valuable framework for understanding and effectively responding to the intense emotional and physiological symptoms of PTSD.

“Healing the nervous system can take time and requires patience. Put the polyvagal theory into action in you life to increase your sense of freedom in body and mind” -Dr. Arielle Schwartz Continue reading