Interview & Giveaway: When healers don't walk their talk

I am honored (and honestly quite giddy!) to have been interviewed by coach and thought-partner extraordinaire, Jac McNeil, about why it's important for helping and healing professionals to stay in their integrity by walking their talk when it comes to self-care. I hired the heartful and whipsmart Jac last year to help me with the nuts and bolts of manifesting the vision I had for creating an engaging, soulful, online experience for healing arts practitioners worldwide to revive their self-care practices in order to prevent the occupational hazards they report most often: burnout, compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, isolation, and insecurity. As a therapist who specializes in working with other therapists and helping professionals, I know all too well how difficult it can be to develop and maintain our own self-care rituals. My answer for this dilemma is the concept of micro-self-care, a method I guide my fellow helpers and healers through implementing in the SoulSpace Series.

In my conversation with Jac, she asked me these four questions:

  • What do you mean by "micro-self-care"?
  • In your experience, what micro-self-care techniques tend to have the most impact/value for healers?
  • Why do you think most of us avoid/ignore micro-self care?
  • What’s your favorite micro-self care technique and why?

Hop on over to the interview to read what I had to say on the topic, and enter on her web site for a chance to win a free spot in the upcoming SoulSpace Series, which kicks off on February 8th. Jac will choose the giveaway winner this Wednesday, February 3rd. Good luck!

It's time to create some SoulSpace

All summer, I've been deeply engrossed in the creative process of incubating and manifesting a long-time dream of mine, and I'm so stoked to finally be able to share it with you all! I'm super-excited to introduce you to the SoulSpace Series. (Really, I just clapped, here alone at my desk.) It's common knowledge that the relationship between the therapist and the client is the most beneficial and effective aspect of healing work. Way more-so than any techniques, tools, theories, training, tips, and tricks. So, as helping professionals, it is imperative (even ethically so) that we lovingly care for our most valuable tool -- OURSELVES! (Um, not selfish in the least.) If we enter into our healing work while suffering from burn out, compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma, lack of inspiration, lack of confidence/trust in ourselves -- then no one benefits. I want you to be the most clear, present, attuned, connected, and inspired healing practitioner you can possibly be -- the world needs more of that.

And this, in a nutshell, is why I created SoulSpace.

The SoulSpace Series is a super-accessible, guided online experience that reacquaints you, alongside a supportive cohort, with your creative, compassionate, inner healer and weaves a practice of rhythmic, micro self-care rituals unobtrusively into your everyday. (Think: sustainable, bite-sized, daily rituals vs expensive, annual vacations and retreats. We'll wither away waiting for those. <-- did you guys read that article?)

SoulSpace invites you into a deeply soulful and contemplative space that is also refreshingly playful, permissive, creative, and light. Over the course of the, 6-week, online program, you'll master simple, self-care rituals that nourish your practice and your day, walking away with concrete practices you can dip into in even the smallest moments you have between clients.

Whether you're a student training to become a psychotherapist, coach, or bodyworker -- or if you've been in practice for years in a setting where you're supporting clients emotionally/spiritually throughout your day -- I created SoulSpace for YOU.

Click here to more about SoulSpace, cozy up in your favorite blanket, grab a cuppa pumpkin-something, join a tribe of fellow healing arts practitioners this autumn.

Now is the perfect time.

Oh, and I'm giving away one free enrollment this week, only on Instagram! Hop on over to follow me and enter! (The winner will be chosen on Monday, September 21, 2015.) Giveaway has ended and SoulSpace is underway for the Autumn 2015 session. I'll offer it again after the new year, so stay tuned to my e-newsletter to find out when the doors open for enrollment.

New ways to think about self-care

With the first series of my self-care for therapists group now complete, I'd like to share our diagram where we brainstormed both tried-and-true and brand new ways we can honor the self:

Some of the phrases the group used to define self care included "honoring the self," "refilling the well," and "making time and space to be mindful of my parts." (You can see these around the center of the drawing, on the green petals.)

The image above contains collective wisdom about the ways many of us may already be working self-care into our lives, and it also contains ideas that might be new to you for considering how you might refuel and practice gentleness and kindness with yourself.

We looked at how we can offer ourselves care in the following categories, and I've listed just a few examples below:


  • sleep/naps
  • exercise (running, yoga...)
  • diet/nutrition (gut health, eating breakfast...)
  • self-pampering (massage, spa day...)
  • medical care (regular check-ups, bodywork, natural supplements...)


  • therapy (self-study, self-inquiry)
  • art (can also be physical, spiritual, and social!)
  • writing (creative writing, journaling...)
  • alone time
  • travel


  • spending time with loved ones
  • setting healthy boundaries
  • community involvement
  • picking up a new hobby


  • daily  practice (mindfulness, prayer, meditation, ritual...)
  • retreats
  • energy work
  • spending time in nature


  • declutter your space
  • creating a sacred space at home (altar, resting place...)
  • fresh flowers/plants and natural light
  • playing music you love
  • memorabilia or photos that are reminders of joy
  • choosing clothes you feel good wearing

In discussing how therapists can honor their therapist selves around their work day, I presented ideas surrounding client sessions. For example, we covered:

  • how therapists/healers might prepare for their work day (physically, spatially, mentally, spiritually)
  • how therapists can honor (and not abandon) themselves during therapy sessions, and
  • how therapists can cleanse, refuel, and honor themselves after their work day

Notes on these can be seen on the left side of the diagram above; however, it is important to create rituals that are personal and unique to you.

In my private practice, many of my clients are other therapists, therapy graduate students and interns, healers, and caregivers who wish to create personalized, sustainable ways of making self care part of their daily rituals. If you'd like to connect with me for a free 20-minute consultation to see if I may be able to help you, please contact me.

I plan to offer a similar group later this year, most likely in autumn. Stay tuned to find out when by signing up for my e-newsletter (over there in the right column) and by following me on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Self-care group for therapy interns & students

It is with great excitement that I announce a new offering: I'm gathering  a group of psychotherapy graduate students and interns for a nurturing, supportive, small group to discover ways to honor the self and to refuel. In the group, we will cover topics such as:

  • the therapist identity
  • empathy fatigue/compassion fatigue and burnout
  • using mindfulness in the therapist chair
  • ways to bring more self-care into our life and workday

In each session, participants will engage in art, journaling, and mindfulness exercises.


When?     Four Wednesday Evenings | March 12, 19, 26, April 2 | 7 - 8:30pm

Where?    Living Arts Center, 2680 Bayshore Pkwy, Suite 101, Mountain View

How much?     $185 for the series(includes art materials)

Interested?     Contact Jen.

Please feel free to share this blog post if you know of a psychotherapy graduate student or intern (any program or track including LPCC, MFT, PhD, PsyD, LCSW, etc.) who might benefit from this offering. To share, you can email the link to this post or share via Facebook, Twitter, etc.

To learn more about the facilitator, click the links below:

Self-care and self-compassion are not selfish.

We hear the words self-care and self-compassion thrown around quite a bit these days. Being a therapist who was trained at a Buddhist university for experiential and contemplative study, the recent mainstream buzz about the inherent health of these concepts is music to my ears. Writing prescriptions for both self-care and self-compassion seems to come into play with most of my clients during the course of therapy. (And for myself and my loved ones, for that matter!) Okay, so what's the difference between self-care and self-compassion? Self-care can take the form of setting healthy boundaries with others, bracketing time for relaxation and personal-care, socializing, making art, and doing other enjoyable activities. Self-compassion is a way of relating to yourself when you are having a difficult time, in the very moment of suffering.

Actively engaging in self-care is traditionally met with negative feedback involving words like "selfish" or "indulgent" or "self-centered." When I became conscious of creating space to honor myself in these ways in my own life, I would share this with others in hopes that it might allow them to consider the same. For example, if I got a massage or took a day off work to rest, the phrase I heard in response quite often was, "Must be nice!" which implies that it's a luxury to do so, and the person speaking that would never consider this as an option for themselves. The idea of including self-care in your life, for many of us, is a process of unlearning and shifting mindset. It's about giving yourself permission to include this healthy way of being into your awareness and your schedule.

This Spring, I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Kristin Neff speak at a Women's Symposium at Stanford about the importance of both self-care and self-compassion, and why helping professionals need self-compassion in order to be at all effective in working with others. (You can read more on her thoughts by clicking here.) Her talk excited me. She is speaking my language:

Not only are concepts of self-care and self-compassion NOT SELFISH, they are KEY to helping others.(You know, just incase we needed to convince the naysayers.)

Those of us who help others (whether therapists, doctors, teachers, parents, adult child of aging parent, etc) sit with the pain of others daily. Doing so can bring up discomfort, fear, and eventually burnout. That's why engaging in empathic work with others must start with first having compassion for ourselves. Many of us did not grow up with the message that it is okay to acknowledge our own pain or vulnerability and make it known, so a "grin and bear it" or "stiff upper lip" sort of mentality develops. That's a natural response to receiving such a message, but this is not useful to our personal growth, or in caring for others. This is why an integral part of my passion and my work is in supporting caregivers and helping professionals in developing realistic, workable ways they can make space to honor their own suffering (humanity) in order to avoid empathy-fatigue.

I work with my clients on exercising their self-love muscles, which have often atrophied by adulthood due to disapproving introjects and societal messages around weakness or selfishness. I collaborate with my clients to develop and teach practical, doable ways of working self-compassion and self-care into their daily living.

Over the next few weeks, I will be publishing a series of blog posts here devoted to  specific ways of doing this. Be sure to follow along on facebook or twitter to see when the next entry is posted for inspiration for your own journey.