My magic wand

My Magic Wand.

I have lost count of how many times someone has asked me to fix their child, fix their brain; make their thoughts or flashbacks go away or erase certain memories.

My answer: I wish I had a magic wand that gave me those powers, but I do not.

Then, I gently have to break the news that there is no magical cure for whatever they are going through. There are no pills that work overnight and that therapy is not a quick fix solution that is done to you.

Then I have to tell them that they have to do the work. That I am only here to guide them and give them options. If they don’t follow through and do the work and  practice over and over again, nothing will change.

Therapy is work. It is at times really hard, scary and messy and if anybody says the contrary, they are lying!

“So those thoughts will never go away?”

“I will always have those memories”

“You can't erase what’s in my brain?”

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Pretty or Ugly... what role does perspective take?

Pretty Ugly

 I’m very ugly

So don’t try to convince me that

I am a very beautiful person

Because at the end of the day

I hate myself in every single way

And I’m not going to lie to myself by saying

There is beauty inside of me that matters

So rest assured I will remind myself

That I am a worthless, terrible person

And nothing you say will make me believe

I still deserve love

Because no matter what

I am not good enough to be loved

And I am in no position to believe that

Beauty does exist within me

Because whenever I look in the mirror I always think

Am I as ugly as people say?

By Abdullah Shoaib

How would you think you would feel if you said this to yourself everyday?

Now try reading it from the bottom up. 

Surprising right? 

Isn’t it amazing how simply shifting your perspective can change everything 

In my sessions, I often talk about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy’s (CBT) three factor model of mood, thoughts and behavior. I add the fourth factor, body, to highlight how the three factors are inherently connected to our body perceptions and sensations. 


If we tell ourselves each day that we are ugly, it may make us feel sad, upset, depressed and worthless (mood). Our body might then feel heavy and lethargic. One might notice their head and shoulders rounding forward (body). Often, when we feel this way we tend to isolate ourselves, avoid certain situations and places and shut down even more (behaviors). 

On the other hand, if we tell ourselves that we are beautiful, more than likely we will feel happier and more confident (mood). One’s body may feel lighter and one might be observed standing tall, shoulders back and head held high (body). When we feel this way we often want to be around people and have energy to get things done (behaviors).

The cool thing is, because of the interrelationship between mood, mind, body and behaviors we can intervene at any one level in order to shift our mood. 

 1.    Body level:Using opposite action to emotion (DBT), when feeling down simply making a choice to sit/stand up tall, shoulders back, arms by your side and head up will send the message to our brain that we are feeling happier and safe. (Need to hold this posture for at least 10-15 mins)

2.   Behavior level:  Pulling from CBT, one can use the principle called behavioral activation, which includes doing physical activity, something fun and/or social. Yes, easier said than done. If you can get started and get through the first 10 minutes, the rest will work itself out. (Always helps to have a good friend or a family member to encourage you to go do something with them.)

3.   Thought level:  Cognitive flexibility is one of the first techniques I would try in this moment. Anxiety often puts blinders on our perception and leads us to only focus on one possibility, often the worst possible outcome; when there are actually so many other options. Cognitive flexibility is about pausing and considering all the options, not just the first one that comes to mind. In order to do this here are some questions to ask yourself that can be helpful.

a.    What is the complete opposite of my thought?

b.   What would be an option somewhere in between?

c.    What real concrete evidence do I have to prove that my first thought is true or not?

 Again, this is all easier said than done and even I am not always aware when I am falling into the traps of anxiety. Just the other day in my own therapy session my therapist asked me about a thought that I was having about not being able to tolerate a certain experience. She asked me to consider what if I could tolerate the experience and what if it turned out to be one of the most healing experiences of my life. I honestly hadn’t even considered that…. And ever since I have been considering another option, things feel lighter, and elements of hope and choice have emerged. One of the realizations that I have come to over the years is that I indeed have a choice about what thoughts I actually focus on and choose to believe. That choice affects how I feel. Though, sometimes it is hard to see our blind spots and that’s why we go to therapy. Our therapist is often more objective and can help us identify our blind spots and when we are not looking at all the options. 






Tired of yelling and nothing changing?

Think about the last time you got yelled at...

How did it feel? 

Not so great, right?

I hate being yelled at! It makes me feel belittled, hurt, angry and all i want to do is yell and be mean right back. 

Yes, that is my impulse: To yell back. At least most of the time. Other times i want to run away or I just stand there like a deer in headlights. 

Truth be told, sometimes i do yell back .... (Yes even us therapists are not perfect! We are humans and just as flawed as anyone else). 

So what actually happens at a physiological level when we yell? And why is it not helpful?

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 How did ​Little Red Riding Hood​ not know that the wolf was dangerous?

We all dream of being loved unconditionally, having all of our needs met, growing up to find loving relationships in friends, romantic partners and to be loving parents....

Sometimes this happens and sometimes love goes terribly wrong. When love goes terribly wrong it can leave a person scared, confused, hurt and struggling to make sense of relationships and the world.

From the moment of conception, our templates for understanding ourselves, others, the world, trust and safety, are based on our experiences of relationships with those who are supposed to love and protect us. More specifically our caregivers, close family and trusted adults.

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Anxiety: Friend or Foe?

One of the first things I ask people who are struggling with anxiety, is if they think that anxiety is a good or bad thing. This is a trick question of course, because I know that 90% of people are going to say “bad”.

This is one of my favorite moments, as this is an opportunity for me to help someone see that what he or she think is “bad” might actually be really helpful. Talk about NEW POSSIBILITIES!

All emotions/feelings serve a purpose. They are neither good nor bad! A Feeling is a group of body-based sensations that give us information about what is happening in our internal and external environment. Feelings help us make sense of what we are seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling and sensing. They also all have what is called, an action potential, which means they activate a certain drive in us such as moving towards or away from, opening or closing, etc.

Anxiety serves two functions:

1. Warning us to a potential danger

2. Letting us know that something is important to us.

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