Thursday, December 27, 2012

Resolve to Quit Smoking

A lot of people think of the new year as a new start to your new life, and why not? Every day is a new start! If you set a goal this year to quit smoking, let me help you meet that goal. I'm offering a New Year's Resolution package of $400 for 5 hours over 4 sessions. Share this important information with your friends and coworkers!

Step 1: Pick a Quit Date. Between here and there, cut back on your smoking. Do not quit cigarettes cold turkey. It is a shock to your body and leads to relapse. Assess how much you are currently smoking, and cut it in half and half again before your last cigarette. I recommend skipping the gum or the patch or the fake cigarettes. The goal is to be free of all nicotine. If that means you need longer to cut down, that is a smarter option.

Step 2: Call me and let's set a first appointment. During the initial appointment, we'll discuss your history, any potential pitfalls, your smoking habit, your quit date, and determine a realistic plan for you. We will also be discussing your support system, behavior changes, and anything I can think of to help you stay quit for good. Never will I berate you for your habit; none of us are saints. I will simply help you get from good to great. This appointment is 90 minutes. The phone consultation is about 30 minutes.

Note: If I feel your quit date is too soon, based on your smoking habit, I will advise you of this. I will always be honest with you and want your success!

I made this for a friend who got
throat cancer from smoking.
Step 3: Second appointment. We're going to do some hypnosis and Rapid Resolution Therapy at this appointment. We're going to change the way your mind stores data so that you loathe the idea of smoking. This is going to be the day before quit day, or as close as we can arrange it with our mutual schedules. If you want to have your last puffs before you see me, we could do it that way also, your call. We're going to use strong words and imagery to make smoking absolutely repulsive.This appointment is one hour.

Note: If there are issues that I feel are relevant as obstacles and need clearing before your smoking (perhaps you smoke because of anxiety symptoms or there is concurrent substance abuse), we will be using the second appointment to clear that issue instead. If that issue is more involved, I will tell you during the first appointment and we will discuss pricing. If you have concerns, just ask me.

Step 4: Quit Day. The day you wake up free of the chains of tobacco use and enjoy detoxification in every cell throughout your day. You're already doing wonderful things for your body and mind just in the first day.

Step 5: Third appointment. I check in with you and we discuss how it's been. This will be shortly after Quit Day, maybe in a few days or a week. If there were any cravings, I want to make them absolutely gone. If there was any slip up, I want to be sure we institute behaviors and thoughts to immunize you from them in the future. This appointment is one hour.

Step 6: Fourth appointment: This appointment is a check in to see how things have been going. It should occur somewhere between a week and a few months from the third appointment. If you don't need this appointment, we will skip it. If we used the second appointment to clear an obstacle issue, we will then not have this last appointment, but I would still like for you to call me and tell me that you're on the path and doing great. This appointment is one hour.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist at Clear Mind Group in Weston and Whole Health Psychological Center West Palm Beach. Please call for a free consultation: 954-612-9553.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


It's good for a therapist to have therapy sometimes. I didn't realize I needed an issue cleared until I was at another Rapid Resolution Therapy training this weekend.

I told you in a previous blog entry that I have been working on another book, yet, progress has been painfully slow. This book is research-based and research is one of my least favorite things. I have a solid outline and about 10% completed, but that is far from the deadline I set for myself for the end of the year. I know, if I just worked 15-30 minutes on it daily, I could chip away at it and it will get done - not by the end of this year, but maybe in a couple of months. I feel like the book will sell, and will be a benefit to others as well as myself for having finished it.

So what was standing in my path? I didn't want to do the research. I want the project completed. It is a goal that is attainable as I know how to do it and can complete it successfully. I want to have looked back and been proud of my accomplishment, yet I wasn't taking action to move forward. Sound familiar?

So there we were in training, some 15-20 of us mental health professionals, discussing "motivation" and how to increase such things in clients and here I was dragging my feet on a project that I chose to start, that I chose to continue leaving on my plate, that no one in the world would have been disappointed in me for discarding, and still not doing it. Why? Dr. Connelly worked with me for about 3 minutes on the issue. He asked if I am capable of doing it - yes. If I want to get it done - yes. If the desire to do the work (15-30 minutes each weekday is the goal I set for myself) is greater than the pain of not doing it (which was more than 15-30 minutes each weekday) - yes. And like that, the goal had benefit, possibility, and appeal.

So, yesterday was the first weekday I had to work on my project. I had a bunch of other things that absolutely had to get done, and they did. So all day I kept thinking of "When do I get to work on my book?" Did you catch that? Get to! Not "have to,", "get to." That's huge! I no longer dread the research. I kind of relish the idea of being able to get the book finished. The appeal was in the end of the project and I needed it in the daily steps. Sound familiar? This was just what I needed, and I didn't even know I needed anything until I was in that moment.

If you have a project goal - personal or professional, dealing with health and wellness or any other thing, and you're dragging your feet on it, let me get you from "have to" to "get to", bringing in the elements of benefit, possibility, and appeal! Watch your life change as your mind shifts.

Autumn Hahn is a licensed mental health counselor and hypnotherapist practicing in Weston through Clear Mind Group and West Palm Beach. You can reach her for consultation at 954-612-9553.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Stress Relief

Give the gift of serenity!

Stress is a killer; literally and figuratively. Stress makes your heart work harder, your blood pressure raise, your blood course faster, your lungs pump faster, and your perspiration increase. These things are good for you in sincere moderation - by working out, by taking a brisk walk, by making love - but not in a prolonged state as can come during or after (or even before) a big event like a move, a new child, a job change, or a relationship change.

Prolonged stress puts pressure on your nervous system and can lead to your physical collapse. Before this happens, there is almost always an emotional and mental toll which can include: crying, moodiness, feeling "not myself" for more than a day, exhaustion, or a lack of pleasure in daily activities. Does this sound like anyone you know?

Give the gift of serenity with a certificate for 50 minutes of stress relaxation!

I will spend the better part of an hour teaching your friend or loved one:
proper breathing technique
breathing techniques to use during intense stress
progressive muscle relaxation
guided meditation

These techniques can be used together or individually, as best suits the person using them, to automatically decrease pressure on the nervous system without any additional work on their part!

Gift certificates are available for yourself or a friend. Cost is $50 for 50 minutes and you will get a take-home sheet of the progressive muscle relaxation techniques to practice on your own. The rest you will learn quickly and easily in the session with no handouts required.

Come and enjoy Serenity Now!

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist working out of offices in Weston and West Palm Beach. Appointments and inquires should call 954-612-9553.

Monday, November 19, 2012

SPECIAL: Family Drama Intervention

Pass the stuffing, but not the knives this holiday season. Dealing with relatives you only see every now and then can be stressful, especially if you are staying in their home, or worse yet, if they are staying in your home. Most of the time, distance (whether in miles or in moments) makes all people tolerable. But when there are back-to-back occasions where family will come into play, many people experience anxiety just at the thought, before a word has even left anyone's mouth.

I invite you to have a more enjoyable holiday experience! For November and December only, I will run a "family drama" intervention session for you, bypassing my usual process of getting your personal  history in the first session and laying out what you need for the remainder of your sessions. For these "crunch time" months, I'll offer you a 2-hour session to clear out any holiday family drama stress and free you up to experience your relatives (and you holiday) with joy, happiness, and all the spirit of the season you would like to have pouring forth from you.

You will come in with your complaints, and we will determine together what the goal is - less stress, less anxiety, more joy, more openness, the ability to tolerate that certain someone's biting comments - and get you there fast!

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing in Weston and West Palm Beach. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Free eBook Autographs

New technology allows authors of books purchased in electronic formats to send the readers a free digital autograph for your copy of the eBook!

If you'd like an autograph for your copy of Mini-Missions, please click here to be taken to Authorgraph or use the photo link in the right column.

If you have not yet purchased Mini-Missions, it makes a great stocking stuffer, gift exchange item, or inspirational read for someone making big changes in his or her life!

It is available in paperback and eBook format, both under $10, and is eligible for free 2-day shipping with Amazon Prime.

Autumn Hahn is a licensed mental health counselor and certified clinical hypnotherapist practicing in South Florida. For an appointment or consultation, please call 954-612-9553.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

One Wish

Let's play a little game:

If you had one wish - and think carefully - what would you spend that wish on? No cheating with extra wishes or time travel back to the moment you got the wish. You just get one.

Place your answers in the comments below. What happens after your wish comes true? What makes it such a good fit for you?

I'd wipe out everyone's student debt so the computer banks showed "Paid in full" on every single account. I imagine that the relief, the happiness, the joy spread by the lifted weight of crushing student loan debt so many young (and no longer young) people feel would spread like an amazing ripple. I'd publicize that I'd done it and set up a fund that anyone could send $100 to that would all go to charities. Imagine the good that money could do! And I bet some people would send a lot more.

And then me? I'd go back for my doctorate. Once I had the ability to take on new projects without that big bill from prior education, I'd pay for it as I went, taking out no loans. As it is, I'm starting to adjust to the idea that I'll never get my doctorate - and honestly, that's the only thing I wanted to be as a kid, a doctor of some kind, though I knew it wouldn't be traditional medicine - so it really bums me out to have to say goodbye to that dream. But with my loans as they are, there's no way I can responsibly go back to school. Oh, don't get me wrong: I'm not blaming anyone but myself for poor financial planning. But this is a skill I learned after I had debt, not before. Future Me would go back and tell Past Me to do it differently.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Faster Therapy

Our society is becoming faster paced and our attention spans are getting shorter. We're inundated with commercials and advertisements so often that it feels like that is normal, and so it is becoming. So how can we take therapy into this modern age? Do it faster!

Therapy used to take years. Who has time for that?
Freudians still believe in speculating on your childhood as a life-long process. This isn't for everyone.
Rapid Resolution Therapists believe that a single issue can be solved in 1-8 sessions. More and more often, I'm finding this to be hugely valuable.

Here are some of the benefits of rapid therapy:

  • Less suffering. You're over it and back on to your happy life quickly.
  • Less cost. Even a $20 co-payment gets expensive after awhile.
  • More happiness. We're not dredging for sadness; we're mining for gold. It's all in the approach.
  • Less time off work for sessions, dropping the kids off at the babysitter, etc.
  • Less fuel burned driving to the office, as you only visit a handful of times.
  • No homework. We do all the work in session. And by "we," I mean "I." You speak honestly, and tell me when something does and doesn't fit for you. I will adjust myself accordingly.
With RRT, change is immediate and lasting. You will leave each session feeling well, happier, refreshed, and energized. 

Autumn Hahn works in private practice at Clear Mind Group, LLC. in Weston, Florida. She is a licensed mental health counselor and certified clinical hypnotherapist. Appointments can be made by calling 954-612-9553.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Parenting Book

I've been hard at work on my second book! I've set myself a deadline of finishing and publishing by the end of the year, which seemed far away a couple of months ago, but time passes quickly, the older you get, it seems, and that deadline feels like it is fast approaching.

This book, unlike the self-help style of Mini-Missions, is a parenting book. Specifically, since I work with trauma, I hear a lot of things people have said happened to them, that could have been avoided. This book will be guidelines to parents of simple things they can do, and avoid doing, in order to keep their kids from being victims of trauma.

I have the cover photo and 2 completed chapters, out of 8, as well as the outline and topics for all the other chapters. It's a matter of doing the research and editing to put the rest together. I'm anticipating you will hold me accountable to my deadline by telling me you want to read it and asking about my progress.

If all goes as planned, this book will be available for Kindle and in print by the first of the year. Mini-Missions is available in both formats now, and qualifies for Prime 2-day free shipping.

Stay tuned for more information on another of my book projects, already in progress, called 5 Things. Off to the top right navigation column is a space where you can type in your email, and get my blog entries sent directly to you!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Signs of Depression

Depression is a treatable and transient state of mind that is often characterized by:
  • Loss of interest in things you normally enjoy
  • Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Problems falling asleep, staying asleep, waking too early or sleeping too much
  • Unexplained decrease or increase in appetite, resulting in weight gain or loss within the last month.
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
  • Extreme tiredness or lack of energy that interferes with your ability to work or take care of your daily responsibilities
  • Feeling restless, unable to sit still, or abnormally slow when moving [Source: Spark People]
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, seek help quickly as negative thoughts can have a snowball effect resulting in an avalanche feeling. 

It is important to remember that  someone who has been depressed and now seems to be much better may have decided on suicide as an alternative to the dark feelings and should be monitored for awhile through continuing therapy. 

I give a seminar on suicide risk minimization and would be happy to speak to your group or workplace on this and other topics. For public speaking engagements, or to schedule an individual therapy session,  please call 954-612-9553.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist specializing in short-term therapies, and practicing in South Florida with Clear Mind Group.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Forgive is Not Forget

Who do you need to forgive? A parent, a friend, a relative, yourself? Remember that forgiveness has nothing to do with approving an action. If someone wronged you, harmed you, or blocked you from greatness at a given point in time, you can forgive the action without condoning it. 

We each are doing the best we can with where we are in life at this moment. If you think of people in that way, as doing the best on their limited resources in that moment, in every moment, you can begin to see where forgiveness can take place. You can see that moment with clear intentions and that those actions, though harmful in the end, were an act of compassion or caring or maybe even negligence, but not malice. And unless someone acts maliciously, we can forgive them. We can see people as misguided and wrong, even, without acting with intent to harm. And that's something we can forgive. 

We don't want to forget. We want to move forward with clear hearts and clear minds so we can see people as they are and live each full new experience being fully present. But those feelings of resentment, of anger, of hurt, of turmoil, those can be released, freeing up the energy it took to store them and utilizing it for healing, dreaming, thinking, learning, and loving. 

"Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself," said Suzanne Somers, and it's true. That energy you use holding onto negativity hurts only you. The other person may not even know you feel that way anymore. Are you ready to explore forgiveness?

Autumn Hahn, LMHC, CHt holds sessions in Weston, Florida and can clear trauma and resentment in 2-6 sessions. Call 954-612-9553 for an appointment and to discuss your specific treatment needs.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Alternative Relationships

Threesomes? Swingers? One of my interesting niches is counseling alternative lifestyles.

Not every relationship consists of 2 partners. Sometimes there are 2 partners and a regular playmate, or 3 partners (triad), or polygamy or polyandry, or any combination you can think of, really. Something different works for everyone. And these situations can be more complicated than those involving only 2 persons - which are often complicated enough to start with!

If you are thinking of engaging in an alternative lifestyle for the first time, see me to smooth out some bumps in the road you may have overlooked or help you set the parameters that keep your relationship as the primary objective and avoid future complications.

If you are engaged in an alternative lifestyle and having an issue, see me for counseling without judgement or any need to explain why you have the relationship you do.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Verbal Deescalation

Oftentimes, we encounter someone who is upset in the course of our week, be it at work or in the community. The person gets angrier and the situation starts to come to a head. What the end result may be  depends on the person bringing potential violence or simply making those in earshot uncomfortable. How do you calm a person like this? Perhaps you are the customer service representative, a police officer, or a concerned citizen.

Here are some simple and basic techniques for deescalation:

  • Talk in a calm manner that does not demean or belittle the person. 
  • Keep your voice even and speak a little softer than you usually would.
  • Use their first name; this keeps them grounded to you and the moment. 
  • Choose words that are short and simple. 
  • Nod and be agreeable, but not pandering.
  • Be vague instead of saying "no." Think of the movie The Negotiator. 
  • Work with the person, as best you can, and offer to help find a satisfying resolution. 
  • Stay until the problem is resolved. 
  • Be aware until the person has fully left the vicinity.

If the person you are dealing with has mental health issues (and there is no way you would know), these things may potentially deescalate a very bad situation and may help to stabilize the individual so they can be further processed by an authority figure.

Some states are requesting that police officers go through a 40-hour deescalation training, but it is not mandatory. Read an article on how this may have saved the life of a mentally ill man in Pennsylvania recently in the San Francisco Chronicler.

If you know someone often on the verge of angry outbursts, consider referring them for anger management. I counsel anger management for teens and adults, individually and in groups through a 10-week curriculum. Call for a consultation 954-612-9553.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012


After starting and stopping more times than I can count, over several pieces of fiction and non-fiction, I've published my first book!

"Mini-Missions: Simplify and Add Joy to Your Life in Less Than 30 Minutes" is a small book, like a stocking-stuffer, gift-exchange, or bathroom-reading kind of a book. It is meant to be flipped open at random and one task read. Then, you spend 5-30 minutes doing that mission and it will have a positive effect on your life by reducing stress, increasing happiness, or making your home a nicer place to enjoy. Topics range from friendship to finances and everything in between. There are 52 mini-missions included - one for each week of the year.

I conceived of this from little things that came up in my life that took a short amount of time, and I was glad when I had done them. I collected the ones I'd already written (initially posted to my Clear Mind Group Facebook page) wrote more, and divided them up in sections. At final count, there were 57 mini-missions, but I didn't like a few of them, so I deleted those and was left with 52. It occurred to me that there are 52 weeks in a year and it was kismet. I took the photograph for the cover myself at Bonnet House in Fort Lauderdale a couple of months ago and thought it fit the bill. I self-published it through Create Space and Kindle Direct Publishing and here we are!

Mini-Missions is available purchase at Amazon for only $8.50 paperback or $3.50 for a Kindle download.

It makes a great gift for those odd occasions that require a small gift, like graduating from treatment, finishing a project, being a house guest, or Secret Santa with coworkers. Recommended for adults, but no has adult content.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

War is Hell

One of the best things about the technique I use is that veterans never have to say anything that is classified. There are techniques to get around anything that they feel would be compromising while still getting all of the job done and the client cleared of traumatic memories.

I've worked with several veterans from a couple of different wars and they have reported a decrease in nightmares, a decrease in substance cravings as a result of self-medicating, a decrease in intrusive thoughts and images, and an increase in restfulness and peace. The results are often surprising and are almost always very fast.

End years of suffering with just a few visits and feel relief begin after the very first meeting.

I offer a military discount. Please ask when calling for a free consultation at 954-612-9553.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Hypnosis and the Bullied

I'm always looking for new ways to apply what I do to other avenues. Not only does this make my business more profitable, but it allows me to serve a greater portion of the community. I was working with a teenager on anger, recently, and was talking about how we change others by changing ourselves, when I realized that some of these same hypnotherapy techniques could be applied to bullied kids in order to strengthen them and make them less prone to further victimization.

Let me back up. There's a theory that we can only change ourselves, not others. Fundamentally, that's true. However, when we change our own behavior, we change how those around us respond to us; that changes them. So, technically, when we change, others change, and those around them, and the ripple spreads. (Fellow therapists, that makes us so important to the ecosystem of the pond, even if we only help one fish.) I was talking to a teenager about anger and how people hold themselves when they're feeling anger - tense all over, with a certain posture and steely gaze. If you no longer hold yourself that way (through letting go of resentment and by letting things roll off you that previously induced anger), people won't respond to you as if you are angry.

To draw the parallel, if you were to scan a classroom or school hallway and look for the kid you think is most likely to be bullied, we could probably come to some agreement that he or she would be slumped in posture, head low, eyes downward, somewhat isolated from others, and so forth, in characteristics. It wouldn't matter the body structure of the child, nor the personality of the child, but on those factors alone, we could identify a "target." The confident child that exhibits direct eye contact, stands tall, walks briskly, and has an easy air about him/her is not going to be the first target. So could we get a group of kids together who have been bullied in some way and teach them to stand and walk and gaze differently? Certainly, and there is research that says this is being done in anti-bullying campaigns. No harm in that. But if these kids are still internalizing both the trauma of what happened (which is often re-experienced in the mind of some kids, and which resonates with a lot of adults) and are taking in new stimuli as harmful, it won't stick.

Thus, if we can take a group of kids and make it so they are free of that old harm and whatever happens next they take in as simply data and let it roll off them without attaching greater meaning behind it, they will automatically hold themselves differently, and it will stick. Subsequently, others will respond to them differently. Put that kid in an environment where no one knows him/her and they will get a whole new set of peers, and the peers they already have will notice a change, even if they can't pinpoint it. So, yes, hypnosis for bullying. New adolescent group coming very very soon! Stay tuned to my Facebook page for more information.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Precise Trauma Treatment - Guest Blog by Tara Dickherber

This month's guest blog is by Tara Dickherber. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Life Coach, and Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist. She is also the Executive Director of the Institute for Survivors of Sexual Violence, a non-profit organization that provides free hypnotherapy for clients who cannot afford treatment and training for therapists working with them. Tara practices in St. Charles, Missouri and can be reached for appointment at 573-754-0348. 

Precise Trauma Treatment

I have found that, in my 4+ years of blogging, that I am sometimes inspired by the craziest things, and sometimes those crazy inspirations lead to some cool posts. Well, this week was no different. I went to the mailbox, found a mailbox full of junk mail and headed back into the house. As I quickly scanned the "junk," I saw this title on a newsletter from a local hospital: "Precise Tumor Targeting." I thought, well that's exactly what a Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist does with trauma. We target it, clear it, and update the mind.

When I say something like that to a potential client, it's typically followed up with this question: "Well how do you do that?" For me to explain how would take a very long time. What stands out more for me about how I do it is that I (and all other RRT therapists) have an understanding of the human mind that leads us to be able to target and clear those traumas.
Let me give you a quick and dirty understanding of the human mind. First, we have a subconscious mind, which makes up the majority or our mind, and then we have a conscious mind, which is really kind of small compared to our subconscious mind. Both are powerful and amazing things. However, they work very differently. Subconscious mind is the multi-tasker; it controls our breathing, blood flow, all of our emotions, all of our behaviors, and a some of our thoughts. This part of our mind responds well to symbols, stories, and metaphors. Conscious mind can do one thing at a time for a short time. It's rational and logical, kind of like Spock from Star Trek. 
When something traumatic happens, we can think of it as having left an imprint on our subconscious mind. (Yep, that's the emotional behavioral part of our mind.) How that traumatic event effects us is usually not logical. Yet knowing that helps me better understand what has been going on for my clients. So then, a facet of our subconscious mind gets lost in that traumatic event and doesn't realize anything else has happened since. It then begins creating emotional reactions to that event in an effort to motivate us to get something to stop. Like if someone let their dog out to go potty on a rainy day and that dog ran out into the road and got hit by a car the owner's mind is creating guilt to get him/her to stop from letting the dog out. When I see how the mind is responding to the previous trauma, I laser in on that imprint and the emotional reactions from it to then clear the trauma and thus update the mind to today and now. 
Thus, it's precise trauma targeting and treatment.
As I said before, this was a quick-and-dirty version of how the mind works. To fully explain Rapid Resolution Therapy and why it's so effective would take me days. The best way to understand is to just to experience it. We have 200+ Certified Practitioners across the United States and even a few in Canada. To find one near you just check here.

Be well. Be happy.
Tara S. Dickherber, LPC
Certified Rapid Resolution Therapist®
Executive Director of the Institute for Survivors of Sexual Violence™

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Guest Blogs

The newest feature is Guest Blogs!

I would like to feature a new blogger each month.

If you are interested in submitting a few paragraphs for my blog, please contact me by email here. Also, if you have a blog you love that you think I should read, let me know!

Topics should be relevant to some aspect of:

  • trauma
  • therapy
  • mental health
  • hypnotherapy
  • Rapid Resolution Treatment
  • hypnosis
  • testimonials

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What is trauma?

Trauma is something that leaves a seemingly-indelible mark on you. It can affect your feelings, your thoughts, your sleep, and your relationships. It may even affect how you think of yourself.

Typical examples of trauma include rape and war atrocities. These are but the tip of the iceberg. Bad events from childhood, death of a loved one, threats, bullying, witnessing a crime, domestic violence, specific encounters with scary things (perhaps a big dog), being in a dangerous situation, isolation, sudden break-ups, and medical issues like a surgery or amputation can all be traumatic. The abrupt nature of the event is traumatizing because the victim has no warning, no time to prepare defenses or use coping skills. This leaves a mark on the mind that causes a facet of the mind to attempt to prepare defenses after the fact. When those don't work, the mind becomes confused and attempts to replay the event until the defenses work; they cannot work, as the mind cannot create safety where it was not, and the result is flashbacks (when waking) and nightmares (when asleep).

Typically, in adolescents and adults, trauma manifests itself through crying, sadness, withdrawal, re-experiencing the event as if it were happening again, and nightmares. In children, the symptoms are more varied as children are less adept at compartmentalizing memories and coping with things like flashbacks in a situationally-appropriate way. With children, you find behaviors such as crying, aggression, anger, isolation, nightmares, mood swings, confusion, and irritability. These symptoms may persist the life of the victim, from the time of the trauma on. If these things come up at any time, the issue is not yet cleared and needs to be cleared. Even if "it only hurts when I do this, doctor," the answer is not "well, don't do that," but "let's make it not hurt anymore."

With trauma, the mind's gears grind to a halt and attempt to free themselves by repeatedly forcing the same action. Unlike other mental health issues, trauma is specialized in that the therapist must adjust that facet of the mind that is malfunctioning at the precise point of stuck-ness. This is not done by reliving the experience - or the mind would have done this during a flashback or nightmare. The commonly accepted technique is narrative therapy, which is the retelling and reframing of events so that the victim becomes the hero. This is a bending of the truth - or creating a better truth. A more effective method is Rapid Resolution Treatment. With RRT, you will be talking, laughing, losing stock in Kleenex, and staying present, in the moment, while telling - but not living - the experience, with the kinds of emotions you would have in an everyday conversation.

If you are interested in clearing your trauma, or want to refer someone you know, you can call 954-612-9553 and make an appointment in my Weston, Florida office. Trauma is my specialty, and can be easily cleared in 2 sessions, or about 4 hours. (Just as a comparison, narrative therapy takes about an hour a week for about 8 months.) If you do not live locally, I do travel frequently, and may be able to make arrangements to come to you, but the price will be significantly higher. Instead, you may find an RRT therapist in the US and Canada at the Institute for Rapid Trauma Resolution.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Have a Great Family Trip

Every family loves the idea of taking a bonding vacation together. But the logistics, a sour experience from the past, or witnessing meltdowns of kids around you may inhibit you from planning that dream vacation. Plan your trip with these simple tips and inspire others with your great fun!

Start small.
Maybe a trip to a theme park would be a lot of fun, but you've never even had your kids out in public for more than a few hours at a time. Start with a trip to the park for a couple of hours. Once they can tolerate that well, plan  a half day at the zoo. Move up to a full day of adventuring at 2 locations, and so forth. This will give you a threshold to know how much your kids can take at once. Maybe they need frequent breaks so they don't become overstimulated. Maybe crowds make them (or you) cranky. Once you have tested the waters a few times, you will know how deep the pool is and can dive in.

Consider the age of your children.
What would they enjoy? What will the whole family enjoy together - even if you have to split the time up between bigger kids and smaller kids. Who is able to ride thrill rides and who needs a lap to sit in? What are your child's fears? Do they run from people in costumes? Do they not like the dark or loud noises? Consider these factors to avoid consoling a crying or screaming child. After all, you want wonderful memories for all of you, including the parents feeling awake, alert, and happy! If you have children with a significant age gap, to where the older ones are more independent, consider allowing a friend to come along.

Plan around their schedule, whenever possible.
Children are frequently creatures of habit. Try to maintain their usual sleep and waking schedules. Plan around naps, even if it means you go back to the hotel for a couple of hours mid-day. Try to keep their foods similar to what they are used to (not too much sugar), and around the same times they normally eat. A hungry child may not tell you they need food, but will show you with tears or agitation. Consider the stamina of your child. Consider also what entertainment is available at your hotel. Is there a pool or a playground? Maybe your kids would like to enjoy the park for the first half of the day, have a nap and lunch at the hotel (kinder on the budget), and run around at the playground or wading pool in the later part of the day, and watch a movie by the pool at dark. Trying to pack everything in will run you all ragged and no one will enjoy that.

Bring help, if you need it.
There is no shame in asking for help. If you think that taking 3 children to Universal Studios will be too much for you and spouse alone, bring an adult friend to act as an extra set of eyes and hands. Do consider this a paid favor, and offer to pay for park entrance, if not the whole trip. (See answers to this kind of question and submit your own at Clear Etiquette.)

Plan ahead.
There are theme park maps available online and you can see what you might find fun or what you might skip. You can ask each child to pick 1 or 2 things they absolutely want to do and make sure to include those so they are part of the planning process and can look forward to their special featured item. Caution: do not use the removal of these items as punishment! This kind of bait-and-switch destroys trust. If you said you would go see a show, go and see it, no matter the child's behavior. After all, they've been planning this trip, too.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Why pay cash?

I don't take any insurance. This benefits my clients in ways they may not know. Today's blog is meant to shed light on this subject.

Insurance companies are often not up-to-date. Most therapists get the majority of their referrals through insurance companies. Certainly, it seems more economical to call up your insurance company, ask for a local practitioner, and go there. Also, the insurance company keeps (you hope) a record of the practitioner's standing - licensure, malpractice, etc. Most will, yes, but some won't require that information to be updated too often, and many will never look into any claims against the license, such as lawsuits.

Insurance companies do not recognize hypnotherapy. As a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, and Certified Practitioner of Rapid Resolution Therapy, I can clear up most issues in just a couple of sessions. I charge you one rate for the issue, and we lay out the sessions in advance by a free phone consultation. Traditional therapy drags on and on with a loose treatment plan generally developed in the second session. This means you will be paying for 2 sessions before even having an idea of how long your issue might take to resolve. If insurance companies recognized hypnotherapy as worthy and viable, I might accept insurance for those companies, but at this time, they do not to my knowledge. They would rather pay for months of sessions than a single price for the issue. I would rather return you to your happy life quickly.

Insurance ultimately costs more. If you come in for a standard issue, like trauma, and I charge you $500 for 4 hours of therapy to broken up over 2 sessions, it is less expensive than seeing you for the same issue using traditional therapy each week for $90 . Even if your insurance company pays me $40, you would be responsible for the difference of $50 plus your $20 copayment. That is unreasonable. Even if you took out the difference, and I agreed to lower my rate for your insurance company (which is standard practice, despite how much it costs to get the degree for this level of care), you'd still be paying a $20 copay weekly for 6-9 months. In 6 months, it'd be about the same price as paying it all at once, but you'd have 5 months of living with your problem, plus gas and time. I think your time and happiness are worth far more than that. Also, when I bill insurance, claiming that money take me more time and energy, which I would also have to pass on to you through higher rates.

Insurance companies want your information. I have done medical billing for therapy and know, intimately, the details they insurance companies request. They want your diagnosis (this includes any substance abuse, even if not the treating issue), your risk level (are you at suicide risk because of your depression, for instance), and often want copies of session notes that verify these factors. I feel your information is private and should remain so. If you sue and we go to court, your notes can be turned over, but until then, they are between you and me, and whomever you want them released to, if anyone. I feel you may come in for an issue, like having been the victim of rape, and want to address that without discussing the fact that you may also suffer from some situation depression due to a job loss and be using daily marijuana to cope with that. I will certainly recommend you deal with each issue, but does your insurance company - and thus your employer or the military, or life insurance company - need to know that you are using substances? Certainly not.

My qualifications:
  • I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. (LMHC)
  • I am a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist. (CHt)
  • I am a Certified Practitioner of Rapid Resolution Therapy. 

Unbiased proof:
  • I carry malpractice insurance. 
  • I do continuing education every year - often many times per year - to keep learning new techniques.
  • I also do continuing education to keep up my hypnotherapist status for 2 different boards.
  • I get mentorship and guidance at bimonthly conference calls. This is not required.
  • I subscribe to 3 counseling periodicals, and read them cover to cover. 
  • I am an active member of the American Counseling Association. 
  • I am an active Provider for ChildNet.
  • I am an active member of the Greater Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

International Trauma

Today's blog is short, but features links you might find interesting from all around the world.

For more on any story, click the links included.

  • Irish Health reports that Northern Ireland has the highest level of PTSD of the 30 countries studied.
  • Adelaide Now reports police offers in Australia are getting more help due to the trauma of the situations they 
  • encounter.
  • The Press echoes that sentiment in New Zealand, as well as for civilians after the Canterbury earthquake in February.
  • ABS CBN News reported that trauma counselors were sent to the Phillippines after the flash floods in December.
  • Voice of America has published a new book for Cambodians who survived the Khmer Rouge to assist in dealing with traumatic affects.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Breaking Through

There are those moments in one's career that bring things all together.

In December 2010, I was working for an outpatient substance abuse clinic, seeing adults for individual and group therapy who had been using drugs or alcohol, generally for a great many years. Substance abuse is a funny thing in that it's not generally the addiction that you're treating, but all the stuff that was done that fed the addiction - the lying, stealing, prostitution, homelessness, death, and loss of trust. There's a lot of guilt and shame in substance abuse, especially long-term use, that needs treating so those issues don't become reasons for using again.

Specializing in trauma, also prevalent in substance abuse, I attended a training for trauma and hypnotherapy. I was a self-taught hypnotist, but did not practice it. I thought it would be a good fit for me, and boy was I right! Knowing nothing of the training, the methods, or the trainer, I signed up for level 1 at what, to me, was a pretty hefty out-of-pocket price. There was so much information thrown at me that I went home after each of the three long days of training with my head swimming. Rapid Resolution Therapy is a way of conceptualizing a case through the lens of how you see the person as if they were to walk out your door completely free of their burdens. This seems like what every therapist should be doing with every case, right? But we're never taught that in college - at least I wasn't. Once you start seeing clients as whole and fixed, it it's just a matter of getting them there; but that is in Level 2, which I immediately signed up to attend.

I went home from that training, eager to try out the things I'd learned and start seeing my clients as resolved. Into my office that first week came an older-looking gentleman that we'll call Earl. Earl looked about 70, but was only in his mid-50s. He'd been using crack for over 20 years steadily and was referred by the justice system. My job was to get Earl to answer a grueling 2-hour questionnaire on his history of substance abuse and mental health issues. The more of the story he could give me, the faster I could make it go, but Earl was stonewalling me at every turn with yes and no answers, and sometimes just a steady silence. Working in community mental health is always a balance between getting the mountainous job down quickly and really getting the good work done. I needed Earl to go more quickly, but pressing him wasn't going to get me anywhere. I turned aside from the computer and said "Earl, I know the court's making you come here, and you're trying to get yourself out of trouble, but if you could change one thing about your situation, what would you want to do? How can I best help you to get where you want to be?" Earl looked at me for a long while, saying nothing. You could see his gears turning. As a trained therapist with almost a decade under my belt, I was going to ride out his silence - and if the questionnaire didn't get finished in time, we'd reschedule and I'd own that to my supervisor.

Then something happened, as we sat there in silence, sizing each other up. Earl broke down crying. "Miss Autumn," he said, "do you really care?" "Earl," I told him, "you're stonewalling me left and right. I see you have a lot of defenses up and I don't know why, but it's not going to do either of us any good. There's something going on with you that you're here for, not just court. If you're willing to tell me what it is, I'm willing to help see you through it." He looked at me again, a hard clear look and began to tell me about his daughter who was "about your age", though she was about 10 years younger (I get that a lot) who hadn't spoken to him in years due to his drug use, lying, and stealing. "I stole from my family," Earl said simply, and it was clearly the worst thing he could think to ever do. I helped Earl see himself as free from drugs, as clear of mind, as happy and himself again. We finished the questionnaire in record time. "I don't know what you did to me, Miss Autumn, because I don't tell nobody about my daughter, my life." But he left smiling.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Depression, Common but NOT Normal

Q. What causes clinical depression?
A. Chemical imbalance.

Surprised by the simplicity of the answer? Were you expecting a list of things like: death of a loved one, change of circumstances, lack of resources, inability to participate in previously enjoyable activities, illness, and so forth? Certainly, a feeling of sadness or (more severely) depression could be common after any of those items, but would it be necessary? No. You could be ill but not sad. You could even have terminal illness and not be sad. Perhaps it changes your entire outlook on living and you relish each hour, doing new and profoundly significant things you'd never attempted before. The perception that sadness, and depression, are caused by these events are just plain wrong. Is it common for people to feel sad in the face of that stuff? Yes. But is is normal, no. Depression is not normal, especially clinical depression, or diagnosable depression. However, according to the Mental Health Association, 43% of people think depression is normal. They're wrong. Let's educate those 43% to the truth.

If you get nothing else out of this, understand that: While a clinical-grade depression after a precipitating event can be considered common, it is not ever considered normal.

Okay, so now everyone who's depressed is abnormal? No, of course not. But the depression itself, as a severe reaction (severe enough to be considered diagnosable, to be more than "sad"), is abnormal, yes.

Depression is caused by chemical imbalance. When a person reacts to stressors, there is an increase in cortical fluid. This increase effects the entire body. It can cause an increase in cholesterol, an increase in heart rate and respiration, an increase in blood pressure, a thickening of the blood, and so forth in persons with medical conditions or medical predispositions. This is your perfectly normal person, now with possibly blood pressure and cholesterol issues, and a general crummy feeling from the cortisone, just because of stress. This is why managing daily stress is important. The brain is a part of the body and as such needs to be treated appropriately and medically at times.

What happens in the body of a person with medical conditions?

  • A person who has a heart attack and is given a good prognosis and sent home will be 3-4% more likely to die in 6 months if they also have clinical depression.
  • A person who has a stroke can have personality changes if they also have depression at the time of the stroke.
  • A stroke victim who also has depression generally takes 10 extra months in rehabilitation (closer to a year, than the non-depressed person who takes an average of 2 months to rehabilitate).
  • Some medications, like cancer medications can cause the kind of cortical imbalance that leads to depression. Extra caution must be taken with these patients.
  • Similarly, diabetes causes changes in the body that can cause clinical depression, and vice versa. Depressed people are more likely to develop the lifelong diagnosis of diabetes, and all the lifestyle changes that come with it.
  • Dementia may be over-diagnosed in the elderly because there is a such thing as delusional depression, and it may be under-diagnosed as a result of dementia diagnoses.
  • People with Parkinson's Disorder are more likely to have increased problems with movement and decreased concentration or ability to make decisions if they also have clinical depression.
  • People with clinical depression are more likely to have comorbid back ache and gastrointestinal problems, which may or may not be psychosomatic. 
  • Fibromyalgia shares the same symptoms and treatments as clinical depression. 

Q. Okay, so what can I do with this information?
A. Manage your daily stress in ways that keep your cortical levels...level.

  • Exercise daily; even a 10-minute walk helps. 
  • Do something fun; again, 10 minutes of a puzzle book or reading or talking to a friend on the phone or petting an animal. 
  • Eat well with lots of fresh foods like veggies and fruits and limit the junky stuff. 
  • Sleep properly on a steady routine. 
  • Work toward goals; even little stuff like learning something new or finishing up a project. Looking forward has tremendous effects whereas looking behind you generally is detrimental. 
  • Connect with something beyond yourself, whether that's spirituality, religion, or community involvement through volunteer work.
  • Seek help. If you need help getting/staying on track, I can do that. If you need help reaching out, I'm happy to do that with you, hooking you up with volunteer organizations, and so forth. If you want to correct any sadness that you're having, we can get that done, too; quickly and painlessly!
  • If you see someone who seems to have some sadness or depressive symptoms, refer them for help and a good daily regiment to keep their cortical levels in tact. You may just be saving a life.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Compassion is often described in terms of what you provide to others, but in doing so, you open your own eyes to the suffering and triumphs of others. This enables you to see yourself differently as well as perceive others as beings with remarkable ability to heal themselves, overcome adversity, and even to take shelter in a dark hollow at times. You come to see that people are all the same in these ways and it builds a part of our character, that part that connects easily to others, that gives us mutual respect and energy for our own lives, for doing good. It can only affect you positively.

I ran across the poem "Compassion" recently by Miller Williams that inspired today's blog, and want to share it with you. Read it slowly and take these thought with you today.
Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don't want it. What seems conceit,
bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign
of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on
down there where the spirit meets the bone.