Ellen Gray Psychotherapy & Counseling, PLLC

Serving the North Carolina Triangle Area


Comments about the latest developments in energy therapy by Dr. Gray

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Resilience and Self Regulation

Posted by Ellen Gray on September 10, 2016 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (328)

     Our therapy practice is seeing a growing number of children and teens who are experiencing school, health and relationship problems.  These problems often exist in children who are intellectually very capable, particularly sensitive and creative.  They are also intense and physiologically reactive.  These children stand out as shining examples of thoughtful, achieving, successful individuals m ost of the time, but they experience difficulty self-regulating.  They have more and more moments of overwhelm and disintegration, somatic complalints, school refusal, oppositional behavior at home (but less often at school or in public), irrational fears insomnia or eating problems.  They are increasingly diagnosed as having ADHD and/or depression, or dismissed as going through adolescent hormonal transitions.  Their similarities are leading us to a different and more fundamental diagnosis--that of physiological dysregulation--and causing us to search for non-invasive and easy self help techniques to teach them to regulate their bodies and their experience in the world.


   It is a fact of life that more and more adults are experiencing emotional unrest and inner turmoil as well.  Excessive anxiety is present in virtually all the individuals who present for therapy, and this represents an increase over even fifteen years ago.  While talk therapy is useful to identify and correct the thoughts and negative self-talk that accompany this anxiety, used alone it is slow and only partially effective for reducing anxiety to a manageable level.  It is particularly ineffective if a patient's nervous system is in a  dysregulated or reactive state.  Enter HeartMath's Building Personal Resilience training.  HeartMath is founded on the discovery that heart activity affects mental clarity, creativity, emotional balance, intuition and personal effectiveness.  It does this through heart-brain communication pathways that can easily be strengthened, made more coherent, and brought under the control of the individual.  The techniques are called: Heart Lock-In and Coherent Communication.  They can be taught and practiced in six sessions, and can be done without equipment anywhere.  However, for those who like the help of technology, there are programs and apps for digital devices to help visually and interactively guide the practice sessions.  These increase enjoyment and compliance in the young person and serve as a motivator in the adult.

     There is a body of reserach showing school performance benefits, health benefits, intuition increase, and social gains all due to HearMath training.  We are pleased to welcome Emily Gray, a certified HeartMath coach to the therapeutic staff of the practice and look forward to teaching these techniques to our existing and new cleints.


   To make an appointment for HeartMath training, go to the website: www.DoctorEllenGray.com and locate the make-an-appointment box (Bookfresh).  You will be asked to indicate the type of appointment; select HeartMath Training.

2012 World Tapping Summit Starts Monday!

Posted by Ellen Gray on May 4, 2012 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (24)

     I have no doubt that energy medicine, energy psychology and techniques to alter the glitches in our body's energetic/information system will be commonplace in healthcare in the future. Inner technologies may increasingly supplant many existing outer technologies (drugs and surgeries for instance). These newer techniques make use of our most cutting-edge scientific and philospophical knowledge without articulating exactly how this happens. Science, and certainly medicine, have reached a point where the dominant paradigms are able to explain fewer and fewer observable phenomena. Meridian tapping, or the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), has been shown in practice to be amazingly effective at resolving trauma, reducing fear and worry, stopping pain, and helping people just "get over it."


     At this point we have clues and hunches about what is going on when we tap on particular locations on the body while summoning to active emotional awareness the problems we want to solve. In one theory, energy may be traveling along the meridians to the "knot" or blockage that was created when a traumatic memory was laid down. As the energy is allowed to freely flow again, the problem abates. Alternately, it may be that the brain structure called the amygdala is somehow encouraged by the tapping process to shuttle reactive fears to the frontal brain where they can be dealt with more effectively . Or it may be that the original state of anxiety cannot coexist with the state of calm induced by the tapping, and the anxiety simply dissipates. Although we do not yet know the exact mechanism by which the normalizing takes place, we can easily see that it does. There are no known side effects to this set of techniques. They are easily learned and can be administered in the context of therapy, or they can be self-administered. Even children can master them.


     Starting this Monday an event will take place on line whereby you can learn about EFT absolutely free in a series of talks and demonstrations by many different experts in the technique. The talks are live-streamed and recorded for replay for 24 hours after airing. Please check this out if you have any interest.  http://www.thetappingsolution.com/2012tappingworldsummit/


Posted by Ellen Gray on March 3, 2012 at 10:50 PM Comments comments (28)

     Attention has great relevance for psychotherapy, counseling and life coaching.  The process of therapy is the process of attending to aspects of your life that you wish to change.  Sometimes--as in the case of ADHD, attention itself is the very subject of therapy.  When we are not talking about attention, though, we are paying attention to the client's concerns.  How we pay attention to them divides effective therapy from ineffective therapy.  Albert Einstein is often quoted as saying  that a problem cannot be solved from the same level of consciousness at which it was created.  How wise that is.  You know those puzzles you often see in the back of magazines that ask you to connect all the dots with four lines, or move two sticks and turn a square into a triangle?  And do you remember that the answer always entails thinking "outside the box?"   Well, the same holds for therapy sessions.  If you come into a session and repeat your complaint the same way you recite it in your head, you are more likely to reinforce the problem than to solve it.  Of course you have to start there, because that is the only way you have come to think of the problem.  It is your story, and that narrative has served to organize your experience for some time.  And you have to lay some groundwork by telling your therapist what's bothering you.  But it  turns out that repeating that story week after week in therapy just deepens the ruts in your brain that keep your tires going down the same road.  You are creating the very box you need to think outside of.


    What's the alternative, then?  It is to look behind the curtain.  What story does your usual story preclude?  What are the blind spots and shadowy corners your story has obscured?  What is it about you that you don't have to face if you are always attending to something or someone else?   If you feel like a victim, in what way are you a perpetrator?  If you are feeling inadequte, what responsibility is that story saving you from taking?  It is paying attention in a new way that expands your options, motivates life-changing activity, and gives you back a sense of agency and authorship.  The therapist helps with this by noticing subtext and contradiction and suggesting alternate ways to weave the objects of attention into a new narrative.  You can write your story mindfully and consciously, and what a wonderful story it can be.  Its all in what you pay attention to.

There Is No Price of Admission at the Time of Harvest

Posted by Ellen Gray on January 8, 2012 at 10:40 PM Comments comments (2)

     After falling off the writing track when my previous website was hacked and my earlier blog entries lost, I am emerging anew in the blogosphere spurred on by the start of a new year (and not just any year, at that).  Because January is a time of angst and resolutions, I will write my first entry about one of the top three domains of New Year's Resolutions,  financial discipline.  I am certainly not anti-financial discipline.  I believe we all could use more of that.  But sometimes our choices, if they come out of the fear of doing without in some nebulous future, can rob us of soul-nurturing experiences here and now. The steady paycheck instead of the risky but exciting new venture can exact a toll far greater than a little financial insecurity.  It can lead to regrets down the line of life 


    A scarcity mindset is one of the most prevalent neurotic templates I encounter among those I work with.  It underlies many unhealthy lifestyles, dysfunctional interpersonal problems, eating, hoarding and shopping addictions of many stripes, and much generalized human suffering.  I found myself saying to a client a while back, who was agonizing over one of those either/or career decisions, "It's only money."  Luckily, she found that strangely comforting because I did not mean to be flippant or dismissive.  What I intended was to challenge her unexamined assumption that financial security always trumps and trivializes any other motivation;  after all--we're adults.  But life is to be lived, and enjoyed, and we are here to produce and create and contribute.  And we are here to be happy--we do the most good that way.


     What I have referred to as a scarcity mindset is made up of  several limiting beliefs.  Psychotherapy is effective at ferreting out our beliefs that are limiting us.  Energy psychotherapy techniques such as the Emotional Freedom Teachnique (tapping therapy) is particularly good for releasing these limiting beliefs.

Welcome to the Energy Psychotherapy Blog

Posted by Ellen Gray on May 29, 2011 at 6:55 PM Comments comments (24)

     Although this is my very first experience with a blog, I am hoping it will be a powerful tool to communicate with my clients between sessions and with others who do not have access to in-office training, but are nevertheless interested in learning about and participating in the healing process through energy methods.


     I want to give you a little background about my path to energy healing, as you might be surprised to find me pursuing these methodologies, given my very traditional academic and clinical career experiences (I will not detail my professional biographical information here, but if you are interested, see the page about my credentials in this website entitled Ellen Gray, PhD).  Relevant to this discussion, however, is that through the years my thematic interest has been child maltreatment; my methodological mix has been direct clinical service,teaching, research and consulting; and my clinical specialty has been psychodynamic and cognitive behavioral psychotherapy, particularly for conditions and disorders that arise from childhood trauma (as nearly all do).  I also developed a personal interest along the way in brain conditions such as Attention Deficit Disorder, and have treated many patients for the traumatic effects of this largely misunderstood brain "difference."


I have had great success in learning about and teaching about the link between early traumatizing events and current disabling conditions, and helping clients understand the connection and then break the habits of mind and behavioral addictions that are making their lives shallow and painful.  But talk therapy takes a great deal of time and is minimally effective for some conditions.  A person can recognize their patterns, know where these patterns came from, and see the ways in which they are "shooting themselves in the foot" by holding onto these patterns, but still be unable to change because of that "feeling" they get in certain situations that is so subtle, yet so unpleasant that they will avoid it at all costs.  I have come to believe that feeling is a blockage of the subtle energy that we all have flowing through our bodies.  It is like a knot or a tangle, and because it is not supposed to be there, it feels bad.  It is the bad feeling we have when we remember something embarassing, or cruel, or something we regret.  These energy knots do often dissipate with therapy, but in a "top down," and therefore somewhat inefficient way.  Through these traditional modalities, the mind affects the brain, which down the line impacts the energy flow.  Energy therapies operate in a more "bottom up" fashion, clearing the energy directly, making unnecessary the compensatory thoughts and behaviors that have developed.


Relaxation and mindfulness training are very important adjuncts to psychotherapeutic work, and I have come to recommend such practices to all my clients.  I will keep readers informed as to my assessment of the latest and best aids for achieving a relaxed, mindful state.  There are many good books, tapes and classes available these days, and no one should have to remain in a wound-up, Type A state of consciousness if they desire peace of mind and total health.


So I have added these energetic and technological techniques and resources to my repertoire of services.  As I discover new articles or products that I believe are helpful to my clients I will add them to the Resources page of the website (see page links to the right).  Many of these will be helpful even to people who do not visit my office, but the best results are likely to come from visiting me for training in one or more of the energy methods and using one or two products such as an audio CD or biofeedback video system at home to augment the practice of the techniques.  In time I expect to add off-site counseling  and therapies through telephone, webcam and other telemental health technologies.  I am excited about working in these new ways and look forward to the people I will meet in the process.  Please check this blog often and the other website pages as well.  I will try to make sure your time is well spent.