TAPROOT BLOG: Psychoeducation for Clients and Providers
TAPROOT BLOG: Psychoeducation for Clients and Providers
Author: Danielle Alberta, Taproot Therapy Clinical Trainee
Summertime is finally here! For many of us, the warm weather may provide a much needed respite from the low-energy moods that we may feel in the colder months. Since we only have the warmth for a few short months, it might be beneficial to take advantage of it while it's here, spending more time outdoors or exploring new parts of the city. Mindfulness is a core skill of Dialectical Behavior Therapy that can be used this summer to allow us to be more present and appreciative of the good energy that the warmth brings with it. Mindfulness can be used to ground us in the present moment, fully engage with our surroundings, or notice any sensations or feelings arising within us.
The great thing about mindfulness is that we often engage in it without knowing that we are doing it. The mindful experience is fully immersing ourselves into one task, without multitasking or judging it. For example, this might happen naturally while washing the dishes, doing the laundry, or cooking a meal. Now, we can name these everyday activities as mindful activities and then employ them when we are feeling stressed, anxious, or are lost in our negative thoughts. A great and simple way to practice mindfulness at any time is to engage our senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch) because they can help to ground us in the here and now or fully experience a moment. Here are some ways that we can engage our five senses this summer in New York City:
Mindfulness can be done in many small ways throughout the day. Recognizing opportunities to practice being mindful is the first step in cultivating self-awareness. If we can draw on our mindfulness skills in times of peace, we can more easily apply mindfulness skills when we are experiencing overwhelming emotional or physical responses. Try connecting with your five senses this summer using these examples. As you get more comfortable with identifying opportunities to be mindful, make your own list of mindfulness activities or ways to engage your senses throughout the day!
Author: Nancy Moyers, Taproot Therapy Clinical Trainee
Transitioning to sobriety from addiction can feel so daunting, yet freeing. The waves of emotions without the safety blanket of a substance can leave us feeling raw. Feeling unsure of what to do in your next steps to sobriety is a shared experience many have. Here are a few steps to check in with yourself to see how you can build up your recovery. You are not alone.
Recovery brings connection, personal growth, passion for life, and safety within ourselves. You have made it this far. Now you can pause and take a deep breath, you are safe. You are taking the steps to allow yourself to heal. One day at a time!
Taproot offers individual and group therapy for those questioning their use of substances, those wanting to get sober, and those maintaining their recovery.
By Rachel Silberman, Clinical Trainee
Journaling can be an extremely effective mental health outlet and coping mechanism for many individuals. It provides a structured space for individuals to express and explore their thoughts and emotions in a non-judgmental environment. The act of putting thoughts onto paper can provide a cathartic release, helping individuals gain clarity and perspective on their feelings. Moreover, it offers a tangible record of one's emotional journey, allowing for reflection and identification of patterns over time. This self-awareness can be a crucial step in understanding triggers, managing stress, and fostering personal growth.
Ultimately, the practice of journaling empowers individuals to cultivate a deeper connection with themselves, promoting emotional well-being and resilience in the face of life's challenges. Studies have found that journaling can reduce mental health distress significantly. A study (2023) conducted by Smyth et al. found that journaling can serve as an effective intervention for mitigating mental distress, increasing well-being, and enhancing positive physical functioning.
It is also important to note that while journaling can be an effective tool for many individuals, it is most effective in combination with other modes of mental health assistance such as therapy. If you are struggling to get started, consider writing about some of the following journal prompts from Switch Research (2022)!
Smyth JM, Johnson JA, Auer BJ, Lehman E, Talamo G, Sciamanna CN. Online Positive Affect Journaling in the Improvement of Mental Distress and Well-Being in General Medical Patients With Elevated Anxiety Symptoms: A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR Ment Health. 2018 Dec 10;5(4):e11290. doi: 10.2196/11290. PMID: 30530460; PMCID: PMC6305886.
Interested in working with a DBT therapist? Email email@example.com for more information.
By Carly Barocas, Taproot Therapy Clinical Trainee
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition that affects communication, behavior, and social interaction in varying degrees. As a mental health professional, it's crucial to approach ASD with both understanding and sensitivity. This blog post aims to shed light on ASD, debunk common myths, and offer guidance for individuals and families navigating this journey.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
ASD is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder. It's characterized by challenges in communication, social interaction, restricted interests, and repetitive behaviors. The spectrum nature of ASD means that it affects individuals differently, with a range in severity of symptoms. Some people with ASD require significant support in their daily lives, while others may live entirely independently.
Understanding “Spectrum Disorder” in ASD
The term "spectrum" in ASD is crucial for understanding the nature of this condition. It reflects the wide variation in challenges and strengths of each person with ASD. The spectrum concept encompasses a range of symptoms, skills, and levels of different abilities. This diversity means that two people with the same diagnosis can have different presentations. Some might have significant challenges in their daily lives, requiring substantial support, while others might be highly skilled and live independently.
Debunking Myths About ASD
Myth 1: ASD is caused by poor parenting
Historically, there was a belief in the concept of the "refrigerator mother" theory, which wrongfully attributed ASD to cold and distant parenting. Modern research has thoroughly debunked this theory. ASD is now understood as a neurodevelopmental condition with no single known cause. Instead, a combination of genetic and environmental factors is believed to contribute to its development. These factors are complex and varied, and parenting style is not a causative factor.
Myth 2: ASD is a childhood condition
While symptoms of ASD often appear in early childhood, it is not a condition that people outgrow. It is a lifelong condition, and its manifestations can change over time. As individuals on the Spectrum age, they may develop new skills and ways of coping that can alter how their symptoms present. However, the core characteristics of ASD typically remain and will influence their experiences throughout their entire lives. This lifelong perspective is essential for providing appropriate support and services for adults with ASD, who are often underrepresented in discussions about the disorder.
Myth 3: People with ASD are anti-social
Individuals with ASD may struggle with social skills and have different ways of interacting with the world around them, but they do enjoy having relationships. Social differences in people with ASD can manifest in different ways. For example, some may be quiet and shy, avoiding social situations, while others may be talkative, and others struggle with a general give-and-take of a conversation. Unspoken communication, such as body language, tone of voice, and sarcasm, can be confusing to those on the Spectrum. However, taking time to get to know individuals with ASD and understand their differences in an environment where they feel comfortable can make all the difference.
An ASD diagnosis can be quite helpful in learning to navigate life with ASD. Evaluations and diagnoses provide a breakdown of the specific differing abilities one might have, as well as areas where the individual can focus in order to lead their best life.
At Taproot Therapy, we offer both the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS).
Supporting Individuals with ASD
Autism Spectrum Disorder presents unique challenges, but with the proper support and understanding, individuals with ASD can lead fulfilling lives. As mental health professionals, we provide compassionate care, tailored interventions, and ongoing support to these individuals and their families.
Remember, every person with ASD is unique, and their experiences and needs will vary. Embracing these different abilities and advocating for inclusion is vital in our journey towards a more understanding society.
To learn more about evaluations and therapy support, contact Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Author: Carly Barocas, Taproot Therapy Clinical Trainee
Life is a masterpiece of contradictions and complexities, woven with intricate threads that shape
our experiences. As you embark on your therapeutic journey, it's essential to understand and
embrace a powerful concept called dialectics, or both/and thinking. This way of approaching life
and its challenges can help you find balance, emotional well-being, and personal growth. Let's
explore how you can integrate this way of thinking into your life.
What is Dialectics?
● Dialectics is the art of holding opposing ideas and feelings at the same time. It recognizes
that life is rarely black or white; instead, it's filled with shades of gray. By accepting that
multiple perspectives and emotions can coexist, dialectics opens the door to greater
understanding and growth.
● By acknowledging that opposing ideas and feelings can coexist, we open ourselves to
greater understanding and compassion. Let's allow the power of dialectics to inspire us to
new heights of self-discovery and connection with those around us.
1. Embrace the beauty of uncertainty.
a. If you grapple with anxiety and feel overwhelmed when making decisions,
dialectics offers a compassionate perspective. It encourages you to acknowledge
that uncertainty is a natural aspect of life. Rather than perceiving it as something
to be feared, embrace the discomfort of uncertainty and recognize the potential for
personal growth when you step outside your comfort zone. By holding space for
both the unease and the opportunity, you can approach decision-making with self-
compassion and a gentle curiosity about the possibilities.
2. Honor different perspectives.
a. In a disagreement with a loved one, dialectics invites you to consider the validity
of both your perspective and theirs. Rather than clinging to the idea of being right,
try to understand where the other person is coming from. By practicing active
listening and empathy, you can create space for both viewpoints, fostering
healthier communication and connection.
3. Embrace your complexity.
a. As you navigate the therapeutic process, you may experience a mix of emotions,
such as sadness and joy. Dialectics reminds you that it's possible to hold both
emotions simultaneously. By allowing yourself to embrace the complexity of your
experience, you can find moments of joy and hope amidst the challenges and
4. Embrace the messiness of emotions.
a. If you struggle with depression, there may be times when you experience both
sadness and glimpses of happiness. Dialectics encourages you to honor these
contradictory emotions. Recognize that feeling some moments of happiness
doesn't invalidate your difficulties. By embracing both sides, you can cultivate
resilience and find moments of light even within the darkness.
As you embark on your therapeutic journey, remember that dialectics can be a guiding light,
helping you navigate the complexities of life. By embracing both/and thinking, you cultivate
emotional resilience, foster stronger relationships, and unlock the doors to personal growth.
Allow the power of dialectics to guide you toward a deeper understanding of yourself and those
around you. Embrace the beauty of contradictions!
Author: Nancy Moyers, Taproot Therapy Clinical Trainee
To the person that had a slip during Dry January:
2023 rolled around and you set your sights on not drinking for the month of January.
Congrats! That’s a great intention to set to start off your new year. Perhaps you started off
strong, noticing the incredible impact of no alcohol on your system. You wake up earlier,
without a hangover, and head to the gym. You notice you don’t have to drink to have fun in
social settings. As the days go on, you slowly start to see the stress build up as you go back to
work, school, family life, etcetera. The January blues roll in, and the sun sets at 4:45 pm.
On certain days, your fitness routine is swapped out for sitting at home to manage your stress. Then,
you find alcohol in your fridge that you didn’t intend on thinking about this month, and you
drink it. The day is long, you’re stressed and tired, and you go back to an old buddy that you
relied on for so long. And the alcohol worked for coping! Until it didn’t, and perhaps you’re
feeling guilt, shame, or frustration because you slipped up and drank.
Pause. Deep breath. You are okay. Slips happen! Progress is absolutely not linear.
Humans go to what is engrained and what “works”. Whether that’s alcohol, drugs,
shopping, food, relationships, gambling, overworking, overexercising, the list goes on. So many
of our coping skills, which take the pain away, actually detach us from our reality. Humans
struggle with accepting and listening to the feelings we have, the feelings are uncomfortable, and
they make us face a reality that we so desperately avoid. Instead of sitting in the emotions, riding
the waves that come, and allowing them to pass – we avoid them. And of course we avoid, we
aren’t given a guidebook on how to cope in a way that feels authentic and healthy. Yet we are
still left with those thoughts, feelings, and quite often, behaviors that keep us in an old cycle of
dysfunction and dysregulation.
So, what do you do if you slip? Well, I’m here to say that you are not a bad person for
slipping up and drinking. You continue on, reminding yourself of the initial intention you set
when you were curious about Dry January. Perhaps you realign your intention, reminding
yourself that your goal is to re-evaluate your relationship with alcohol. Maybe you want to
decrease the number of days you drink, or the amount you drink in one sitting. Your goal of
wellness is a fantastic goal. You don’t have to be perfect. You are already doing so much by
acknowledging and increasing your awareness of the reality you are in. Perhaps you 6 months
ago, or 2 years ago, would’ve never thought to evaluate your relationship with substances!
Search inward for that compassion and love for trying your best.
Enjoy that mocktail. Today is a new day.
Red flags don't feel like red flags when they remind you of home. Somewhere along the
way you may have learned that chaos, self-abandonment, harm, and pain meant love.
Probably this was picked up in your earliest relationships with your caregivers, whether
this was subtle or acute, we developed an anxious-avoidant attachment style. This
means that once you start feeling close to someone you may feel triggered, either that
you will lose the other person or lose yourself. Fight or flight kicks in alongside intimacy
and maladaptive protective measures follow suit. It causes an individual to connect part
or whole of their self-worth in their partner and engage in behaviors such as obsessing,
avoiding, ditching, and fighting. Moving towards safety in partnership takes a lot of work.
You won’t get there in a day. In therapy, you, alongside your therapist, can identify old
patterns that get you stuck, develop healthy coping mechanisms and find new ways of
communicating your needs and boundaries. You will come to recognize you are worthy
of love and worthy of being fully seen, not only by our partners but by yourself as well.
Attachment styles start to form in the very first year of life. This is when we begin to
learn: am I loved? Is someone there when I need them? Do people hear my cries? Am I
worthy of attention and care, do I matter? The information we receive as infants may
impact our relationships for the rest of our lives. Of course, as we grow so do our beliefs
about self and our understanding of how the world responds to me, and what does that
say about me. Every fight or argument may affirm, I am bad or I am too much. And we
may be left with that all too familiar feeling of being hopelessly, excruciatingly,
Children are appropriately very egocentric. Unlike adults, children aren’t able to look at
the bigger picture of a situation. So instead of understanding, mom is busy working and
doesn’t have time for me, children think, mom isn’t paying attention to me, I must not be
worthy of her attention. Additionally, children will do anything to preserve the
relationship with their caregivers including making wild excuses for abuse and neglect.
This is an adaptive feature of the mind that just goes to show how vital attachment is in
childhood. In fact, that fear of abandonment stems back to a primal part of our brain. In
adulthood that fear of abandonment can feel like excruciating death and that’s because
at one point it did mean death. When we are small, being abandoned by our caregivers
does mean we could die. We are helpless and completely depend on adults to survive.
That intense fear of being abandoned is stored in our bodies and can get activated as
Attachment wounds or relational trauma? Can we recognize that not having what you
need in early childhood is a complex trauma? Living every day not knowing how you will
get your needs met does wreckage to the body especially during development.
Insecurity takes a toll on the nervous system. Overactive fight or flight kicks in and you
begin to develop on survival mode. Excessive and constant flow of cortisol through the
body in childhood has been linked to several medical issues in adult hood such as
autoimmune disorders, heart disease, diabetes, IBS, asthma and more.
All of this is to say, this matters. We live in a culture that dismisses people as being
needy, over-emotional, dramatic etc. And I am here to say the big reactions are
warranted and that I see you. In fact, can we thank these big reactions for telling us
where to look, for being our clue that something deeper is going on? Can we start in the
place where it all went awry? By seeing ourselves for the very first time by saying, “you
are not broken, thank you for telling me”. When we say this we open worlds and close
loops.It’s time to put an end to the narrative that something is wrong within yourself and
you just need to get over it – you were never meant to bear the burden of the world’s
limitations, you were never meant to shrink yourself and self-abandon in order to
receive love and care. Yes we have a responsibility for our healing today but no you
didn’t get here by yourself. The first step in untangling all of this attachment work is just
in seeing and acknowledging ourselves. Your little one thanks you.
Play-Therapy for Children Written by: Maitreyee Sathe, Clinical Trainee specializing in play therapy
Just as adults tend to talk about their feelings and emotions, children act them out in play! Play is
a child’s natural way of communication. Children use toys to express themselves including their
needs, wishes and wants. They use toys as a medium to make sense of their life experiences. For
children, what seems unmanageable in reality, becomes manageable in play! Children externalize
their emotions and thoughts with the help of toys and hence experience a sense of relief through
Play therapy is an evidence based approach with solid research to support its effectiveness for
many populations and concerns. Children experiencing social, emotional or behavioral
difficulties use the playroom as a safe space to comprehend their struggles, express their
emotions and explore possible solutions. The children use the toys in the playroom as a form of
communication with the clinician. These toys include real life and nurturing toys such as doll
family, doll house, puppets, cars, money, medical kit, food; Aggressive toys such as toy soldiers,
plastic guns, animals and aggressive puppets; and finally expressive toys such as sandtray, paint,
clay, musical instruments and, dress up clothes.
Play therapy helps children to facilitate communication, enhance social relationships, foster
emotional wellness and increase personal strengths. The clinician in the playroom strives to
provide the child with a warm, safe and supporting environment. The clinician provides the child
with unconditional positive regard while building a friendly and warm relationship. The clinician
maintains a deep respect for the child’s ability to solve his/her problems and gives the child the
opportunity to do so. A collaborative approach is taken with an aim to empower both the child
and the caregiver and the clinician conducts regular sessions with parents and guardians to
monitor the child’s progress.
Contact email@example.com to know more/ schedule an appointment!
Author: Maitreyee Sathe, Taproot Therapy Clinical Trainee
We all have heard about the benefits of mindfulness exercises as part of adult therapeutic practice. But, we aren’t quite aware that mindfulness practices are highly effective with children as well! A child-friendly explanation of mindfulness would be- paying attention to what is happening in the present moment. Studies have shown that integrating mindfulness or meditation exercises into a child’s routine can prove to have copious benefits.
First and foremost, children can use mindfulness to deal with the stressors of their life. (Yes, children most definitely experience stressors in their lives, although they may be different than adult stressors). Along with this, they learn important skills such as being present in the moment, self-compassion and openness. Practicing mindfulness also leads to improved concentration and self-control.
As children learn primarily by observation, parents and caregivers are a significant source for modeling these practices to children! These activities need not necessarily be something lengthy or fancy. It can be as simple as taking a walk, having a calming uninterrupted playtime with the child or reading/ drawing together. Remember that the purpose of the exercise is to be fully present in the current moment!
A simple mindfulness activity for children is a body scan. Ask the child to lie down in a comfortable position. Introduce deep breathing and then ask the child to pay attention to different parts of the body from their head to their toes. Ask them to notice all the sensations they experience including temperature, texture and weight. This exercise helps children be more mindful of what’s happening in their physical bodies.
Lastly, another simple activity is the 4 square breathing exercise. Ask the child to sit in a comfortable position. Ask the child to imagine a square in front of them. Now trace along the height of the square while taking a deep breath through your nose for 4 seconds. Now, trace along the width of the square while holding the breath for another 4 seconds. Exhale through the mouth as your trace along the height of the square and then hold the breath for 4 seconds as you complete the square. Repeat this deep inhalation, hold, exhalation and hold for four or five more times. This helps the child practice deep breathing to calm their mind and body.
Author: Rachel Silberman, Taproot Therapy Clinical Trainee
Burn-out, according to the World Health Organization, is a syndrome that results from chronic workplace stress. There are three dimensions of burn-out:
In other words, burn-out occurs when an individual is feeling overworked and overwhelmed by their workload. It is important to understand how to avoid burn-out in the workplace, so that you can continue to be productive while also prioritizing your mental health. Here are some tips that can help:
While these tips may appear to be simple, they can be tricky to enforce in your daily life. Remember that we all cope with stress differently, so be kind and patient with yourself when implementing these strategies. Your brain will thank you!