Ellen Gray Psychotherapy & Counseling, PLLC

Serving the North Carolina Triangle Area


Resilience and Self Regulation

Posted by Ellen Gray on September 10, 2016 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (14)

     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.


Posted by Ellen Gray on March 3, 2012 at 10:50 PM Comments comments (0)

     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.