Notes from Paula on good therapy

"Good therapy works to integrate the emotional, rational, spiritual and physical parts of the self and it is this integration that is the healing agent which empowers people to love themselves and others and to find meaning in their lives."

These books are wonderful resources that will help you on your journey.....

In response the these rapid changes, it is very important to us at PeachTherapy to stay in contact with you and make it as easy as possible for therapy to continue.  For this reason, we have updated our system to an online platform that is Hippa Compliant and perfectly designed for Teletherapy.  It is as simple as clicking a button, allowing you to enter your information, sign forms and even schedule your own appointments.  By now, you have hopefully received your own invite to link into the system, but if not, just click here to register!!

The spaces and environments we are in, while under this condition of “Discombobulation” provide the perfect petri dish for our stressors and internal struggles to surface.  We may feel alone, but one thing I know is that WE ARE ALL IN THIS THING TOGETHER!  PeachTherapy can help you stay balanced in the oncoming waves of uncertainty. PeachTherapy is easily and readily available with psychotherapy, EMDR and Enneagram work.

We look forward to connecting with you!!


Coping With Traumatic Stress: Transitioning Ourselves and Our Children into a Post-COVID World

The current COVID-19 pandemic has created numerous challenges in all of our daily lives, and impacted all of us at varying levels of intensity. From occupational layoffs, unemployment overload, housing costs, and even for some, lack of access to food – our stress levels as Americans are at an all-time high because our basic needs are not being met at levels compatible with healthy functioning. Increased stress inevitably leads to new or worsening of prior mental health symptoms. The uncertainty of the future and fear of the unknown provokes anxiety. As our state and country begin to transition out of the safety bubble of our homes, everyone from young children to adults are likely to feel a mix of emotions ranging from relief, excitement, to exhaustion, frustration, and even continued anxiety. Now more than ever, it is so important that we as a nation are tuned in to our mental/emotional health, and also the mental health of our children.

How has COVID-19 and the shut-downs impacted our children? In short, it has completely upended their worlds. Unprecedented measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus has disrupted nearly every aspect of our children’s lives: their health and access to health care, development, how they learn and their access to learning resources, their behavior, economic security, and unfortunately for some children, protection from violence and abuse. Here is a brief summary of some of the things in their worlds that have changed: health care resources are stretched thin; home visiting services have been suspended impacting not only the child who receives the services but also everyone living in the household; peer support groups and face-to-face services (such as church and youth groups) have been canceled; schools are closed and parents are now stepping into multiple roles in their child’s life as teacher/guardian/disciplinarian; routines and schedules are disrupted; there is a lack of social interaction (that FaceTime & Zoom chats just cannot replace); parents are out of work and feeling/showing increased stress; money is tight; summer plans have been canceled; essential supplies and medication is unavailable. This time has been even more challenging for those children with learning disabilities and disorders who rely on a team of support specialists: speech, learning behavior, vision, etc., and no longer have access, or have very limited access, to them.

A child’s world is very ego-centered. What I mean by that is, children often view the world in relation to how it impacts them, rather than from the perspective of how they impact others. They are the center of their world, and most of the time the rest of us are just players in it. As a child grows and their brain develops (typically during young adolescence), they are able to see things from a wider perspective and their view of the world shifts. For those of you with elementary, middle, and even some high school aged children, it is very likely you have been living the last 60+ days with a child who is frequently viewing the pandemic from a more ego-centered perspective. Perhaps initially your child had some excitement over school being closed and that excitement has since shifted into disbelief/anger/frustration that things have not gone “back to normal” yet. Perhaps your child is experiencing some denial and holding on to hope that quickly returning to the pre-COVID life they once knew is still attainable.

In times of difficulty it is normal for children and other family members to have strong reactions such as feeling sad, irritable or confused, having difficulty sleeping, physical reactions, and fear of the unknown. Identifying how COVID-19 impacts our children’s mental health is the first step to uncovering how we best support them moving forward. The truth is: we don’t really know how our children are processing COVID, and how they will adjust to the new-normal way of living daily life. What we do know is stressful events have lingering impacts.

Traumatic stress occurs when someone has a negative reaction following an overwhelming, upsetting, or frightening experience. Traumatic experiences can be difficult to live and cope with, especially when you are a child. When loved ones are sick, for example, the grief a child feels can be profound and children may have a harder time processing and coping with these losses. The ego-centered world view a child has leads them to naturally find blame in themselves for negative experiences. They simply cannot process the idea that something is occurring in our world that is 100% out of their control, or that they did not cause. Children look to their parents or caregivers for answers and explanations, and parents are being bombarded with questions and information that is hard to digest, and perhaps not completely factual. What experts do know is, children thrive when they feel safe and protected, when family and community connections are stable and nurturing, and when their basic needs are met. So, what can we, as a society, do to ensure we are meeting our children’s emotional needs?

Begin by paying attention to signs you, or your child, may be struggling with traumatic stress. Everyone reacts differently to stress, and a child’s reaction following a traumatic event will likely vary depending on their age, developmental level, how much support they have, and how developed their coping skills are. Some common emotional symptoms of traumatic stress include: feeling shock and disbelief, fear, increased anxiety, sadness or other negative emotion (irritability, grief, helplessness, anger, guilt, shame, relief), and unwanted thoughts or images. Physical symptoms of traumatic stress include: feeling dizzy, rapid breathing, racing thoughts, increased hyperactivity, inattention, and difficulty sleeping or eating. All of these feelings and symptoms are normal, even though they do not feel normal. It can be difficult to remember that given what we have lived through for the last either weeks, is okay to not be okay right now. Try to remind yourself, and your children, that whatever they are experiencing is alright. It’s okay to tell them that you, as a parent, do not have of the answers to every question they may have. It’s alright to show them that you are struggling as well. Most important, show them how to use healthy coping strategies to handle stress. Go on walks, engage your children in conversation, ask them questions to understand their perspective and answer their questions honestly, turn off the news and stay away from false information being spread on social media, cook together, and prepare them as best you can for the realities of the new world we are living in. Large social gatherings will likely continue to be canceled for a period of time as we transition out of our stay-at-home order. Vacations will be postponed. Concerts and shows will be canceled. Masks will have to be worn in public, possibly at school. Fall sports and sporting events may be canceled. College visits will be virtual instead of in person. We will still have to stay vigilant and mindful of washing our hands and using hand sanitizer regularly. Show your children that you are adaptable and able to embrace the new normal, without fear, and they will follow in your footsteps. Here’s the good news: as unpleasant as the symptoms of traumatic stress can be, they usually improve over time, especially if you take steps to care for your emotional health.

Remember, there is no “right” or “wrong” way for any of us to feel. Don’t dismiss what you, or your child are feeling. Reach out for help if you need it from a professional counselor. The best way to help your child remain resilient during this very uncertain time is to take care of yourself. Self-care is not selfish. Take the time for yourself that you need. It will enable you to be there for your child as a more stable, calm, and soothing parent; therefore, allowing you to better understand your child’s experience and help them feel reassured, relaxed, and focused. The one thing that connects us all is that we are going through this transition together, and doing our best to adapt to all of our new realities.


The Dragon of Opportunity during a Time of Dis-Ease … 

Some offer they have enjoyed their slower pace of life and more often they have revealed their anxiety, suffering, trials, hopelessness and heartache.  Over the past few months, conversations lean toward hopelessness, fear and a brand of dread.  It’s as if the country has had a major unending blizzard for months, but without the snow.  Within this unnerving situation is an opportunity.  Many now have the space to sit with themselves and recognize their grief, their stress and also their joy and their gratitude.

Sometimes, discoveries, insights and Eureka moments happen because of the shift in being.  Dragons can be slayed, or they can be experiences of opportunity and metaphorical riches.  COVID can be viewed as a dragon itself or as an opportunity to see, to hear, to ask and to feel more in this different way of being in the world.

To quote the author, Sharon Blackie, “You don’t want to slay the dragon.  You want to make the dragon part of your team with its unique fire-breathing skills.”  Even Tori Amos speaks about giving kisses to the beast in her song, “Dragon,” which was sweetly performed by the PS22 Choir (

Another way of viewing the dragon is as ego.  We can look at our egos when we stop our busy-ness.  As Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell reflected together in “The Power of Myth:”

What is the ‘real dragon’? “The dragon is your ego, holding you in.”

And what is my ego? “What I want. What I believe. What I can do. What I think I love, and all that. What I regard as the aim of my life and so forth. It might too small. It might be that which pins you do down. And if it’s simply that of doing what the environment tells you to do then it certainly is holding you down, and so the environment is your dragon as it reflects within yourself.”

How do we move forward and be with ourselves during this time?  We can lean into nature and have tea with the dragon of the moment.

In the midst of this fairytale, since fairytales can be dark and sublime, we can also acknowledge the science behind nature nurturing mental health.  We know more now about the mind-gut connection and its influence on mental health.  Being outside and exposing ourselves to different plants and soils helps build our microbiome and therefore builds our immunity and mental health.  Dr. Rhonda Patrick writes about the potential for Vitamin D3, the hormone, to reduce susceptibility to COVID-related lung injury.  In the United States, 70 percent are Vitamin D3 insufficient and it is made by skin exposure to sunlight.  Vitamin D3 is essential for vibrant health and influences mood.  Get outside and build your vitamin D3 up while finding inspiration in nature…

Check out artist, Andy Goldsworthy  ( and create your own nature art.

Find a “sit spot:”

As a child, I went to a tree that had grown through a large boulder in the woods behind my parents’ house.  It was an enchanted spot of lush nature and solitude.   Verdant leaves and then the copper and chocolates of fall leaves reminding us of the beauty of life yielding in the cycle.   I often returned to the tree, as an adult, until my father passed away and the home was sold.  My last visit to the house included a moment with the tree.  That tree was my metaphorical Sherpa on my journey from the age of five to well into my forties.  Find your spot.  Go to it every day.  Smell the bark.  Hear the scampering on the forest floor. Ask questions.  Feel the air on your skin.  See the different versions of green from the play of light.  Be with that spot every day in every kind of weather when you can.  Practice “earthing,” which is to put your feet on the earth without shoes.  Connect with the soil to lessen inflammation.  Develop a sense of awe and wonder in these moments of solitude outside even if it’s only 20 minutes.

Those 20 minutes in nature have a direct impact on stress hormones and significantly lower cortisol.

Therapy is many things and changes color and shape like a kaleidoscope.  Most of all,  it’s captured well in Diane Ackerman’s statement in her book, Deep Play, that notes deep play involves risk and psychotherapy is a form of deep play because of its inherent supported risks and its exhilarating rewards.  It’s risky and playful to throw around dragons, poetry and practical magic in the newsletter of a traditional therapy practice.  But really, risk is what a group of women took in Harford County when they created the “Wine Fairy” project during the quarantine that grew from a few to 8,000 participants.  They saw opportunity in a dragon and brought a brand of practical magic by surprising participants with wine and it grew into myriad variations of small gifts, treats and trinkets.  They reframed their world with joy and created magic.  They found a way to be wild, playful, kind and free within a trial.

I’m often asked how to have hope without hoping.  I suppose it’s a paradox to hold hope and faith without attachment, especially in rough spots.  T.S. Eliot captures its essence in a passage from “East Coker”

“Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing—
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry,
The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy
Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony
Of death and birth.”

Coax this dragon and your dragons with reframing your world, being playful, creating, reading and being in the practice of living all of life… this life symphony and get outside to have vibrant wellness.

Alchemy of The Heart – Michael Brown

An Unquiet Mind – Kay Redfield Jamison (bipolar disorder)

Buddha in the Waiting Room – Paul Brenner, MD

Co Dependent No More – Melody Beattie

Darkness Visible – William Styron (depression)

Feeling Good – David Burns, MD

Focusing – Eugene T. Gendlin

Full Catastrophe Living – Jon Kabat-Zinn

I Don’t Want To Talk About It – Terrence Real (men and depression)

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead – Sheryl Sandberg

Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation – Dan Siegel, MD

Reclaiming Your Life – Jean Jenson

Soul without Shame: A Guide to Liberating Yourself from the Judge Within – Byron Brown

The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook – Edmund Bourne, Ph.D.

The Drama of the Gifted Child – Alice Miller, Ph.D

The Girl Within – Emily Hancock (buy used – out of print)(women)

The Pearl Beyond Price: Integration of Personality into Being: An Object Relations Approach (Diamond Mind Series, No. 2) – A. H. Almaas

The Presence Process: A Journey into Present Moment Awareness – Michael Brown

Where To Draw The Line – Anne Katherine, M.A.

Getting the Love You Want – Harville Hendrix, Ph.D

How Can I Get Through To You – Terrence Real

In Search of Pleasure: A New Map of Love – Carol Gilligan, Ph.D

The New Rules of Marriage – Terrence Real

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work – John Gottman, Ph.D

In a Different Voice – Carol Gilligan, Ph.D (girls)

Inside Out Parenting – Dan Siegel, MD (best parenting book ever!)

Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child – John Gottman

Raising Cain – Michael Thompson (boys)

Reviving Ophelia – Mary Pipher, PSY. D (girls)

The Developing Mind – Dan Siegel, MD

The Family Crucible – Augustus Napier

The Wonder of Boys – Michael Gurian (boys)

The CoParenting Toolkit, The essential supplement for Mom’s House, Dad’s House – Isolina Ricci, Ph.D.

Mom’s House, Dad’s House: A Complete Guide for Parents Who Are Separated, Divorced, or Remarried – Isolina Ricci, Ph.D.

Mom’s House, Dad’s House for Kids: Feeling at Home in One Home or Two – Isolina Ricci, Ph.D.

A Christian Perspective on the Enneagram – Richard Rohr

Discovering the Enneagram: An Ancient Tool a New Spiritual Journey– Richard Rohr

Ennea-type Structures Self-Analysis for the Seeker – M.D. Claudio Naranjo

Essential Enneagram: The Definitive Personality Test and Self-Discovery Guide — Revised & Updated – David Daniels and Virginia Price

Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery – Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

The Enneagram for Teens – Elizabeth Wagele

The Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator (RHETI, Version 2.5) – Russ Hudson & Don Richard Riso

The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram: Nine Faces of the Soul – Sandra Maître

The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types – Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson

The 27 Subtypes – Bea Chestnut

Understand Yourself; Understand Your Partner – Jennifer P. Schneider, M.D., Ph.D. & Ron Corn, M.S.W.

A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles” – Marianne Williamson

Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening – Cynthia Bourgeault

Immortal Diamond:  The Search for Our True Self – Richard Rohr

Interior Castle – St. Theresa of Avila

Reflections on the Unknowable – Thomas Keating

The Monk and the Philosopher: A Father and Son Discuss the Meaning of Life – Jean-Francois Revel and Matthieu Ricard

The Naked Now – Richard Rohr

The Power of Now, A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment – Eckhart Tolle

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself – Michael A. Singer

The Wisdom Way of Knowing: Reclaiming An Ancient Tradition to Awaken the Heart – Cynthia Bourgeault

Wisdom Jesus – Cynthia Bourgeault

Banished Knowledge – Alice Miller, Ph.D

EMDR: The Breakthrough “Eye Movement” Therapy for Overcoming Anxiety – Francine Shapiro, Ph.D

Getting Past Your Past – Francine Shapiro, Ph.D

Reclaiming Your Life – Jean Jenson, LCSW

The Wounded Heart – Dan Allender, Ph.D

Understanding the Borderline Mother – Christine Ann Lawson

Will I Ever Be Good Enough? – Karyn McBride

Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book)

A Grief Observed – C.S. Lewis

Boundaries – Cloud and Townsend

Daily Affirmations for Forgiving and Moving On – Tian Dayton, Ph.D.

Divine Therapy and Addiction: Centering Prayer and the Twelve Steps – Thomas Keating

Driven to Distraction – Edward Hallowell

Journey to the Heart: Daily Meditations on the Path to Freeing Your Soul – Melody Beattie

Mindfulness and Acceptance for Addictive Behaviors – Edited by Steven C. Hayes,  Ph.D. and Michael E. Levin, M.A.

My Husband’s Affair Became the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me – Anne Bercht

Season of Life – Jeffrey Marx

Stop Walking On Eggshells – Paul Mason

The POWER of SURRENDER – Judith Orloffe, M.D.

The Wisdom of Menopause – Christine Northrup, MD

Tuesday’s With Morrie – Mitch Albom

Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom – Christine Northrup, MD

The Enneagram Institute –

Alice Miller –

Dan Siegel’s Mindsight Institute –

The Gottman Institute –

The EMDR Institute –

Reflective Writing

5 Easy Steps to Effective Reflective Writing

Shaping Up Your Relationship

10 Coaching Points (for men) on How to Keep Your Romantic Relationship in Good Condition

Trigger Worksheet

A Guide For Working Through Destructive Behavior Patterns
“Trigger” – an unresolved wound that ignites an inappropriate (and often childlike) response due to overwhelming feelings of anger, shame, sadness and/or anxiety.

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C.S. Lewis

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