The Lighter Side of Transformation

with Lisa Wessan, LICSW

UP NEXT: 14-week Dialectical Behavior Therapy Group (DBT) starts 08/31/22

🌀 ENROLLMENT IS OPEN UNTIL 08/19/22 FOR UPCOMING

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Skills Training

“Mindfulness & Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills”

14-week DBT program

(age 21+)
August 31 – December 14, 2022

7:30 – 9:00 PM EST

·DBT FLYER FOR AUTUMN 2022

I’m excited and delighted to be continuing my DBT Skills Training Group into the Fall semester, starting 08/31/22. (We are having great success on Zoom, and will continue to meet on Zoom indefinitely.)  

There are currently two spots open, and I’m hoping to be complete with all registration forms, fees and one-time intake sessions by 08/19/22. 

If this is not for you, thank you for sharing with those who could benefit from this excellent skills training. 

Onward and Upward🌀

Lisa Wessan

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the Light gets in.” ~ Leonard Cohen

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Free Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Group offered at the Cameron Senior Center, Westford, MA

I am delighted to be sharing this learning opportunity with you. May this program serve you well💙

As part of a six-month program, I am presenting Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training in person at the Cameron Senior Center in Westford, MA.  

To learn more, go to page 6 of this newsletter: 

20220701Newsletter (westfordma.gov)

TO REGISTER:
Generously funded by a grant from the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, even though it is free to attend, you must pre-register by calling this number: 
(978) 692-5523

WHEN:
You can still attend the last two sessions:
1 – 3 PM on both August 12 and September 9, 2022.
You can attend these two workshops out of sequence and still gain value.

WHERE: 

Cameron Senior Center

20 Pleasant Street, Westford, MA 01886 (free parking)

Please do not contact me – I am not involved with registration!  They have a limited seat count, but plenty of room.  CALL NOW to reserve your spot!

Onward and Upward✨

Lisa Wessan

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UP NEXT: Winter/Spring DBT Skills Training January – April 2022 (on Zoom)

Once again I am delighted to be facilitating a new semester of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Skills training.  Here is the DBT flyer for the next group on Mindfulness & Emotion Regulation:

DBT Flyer for Winter-Spring 2022

Fast Facts:

  • All 90-minute groups are $65/Week (self pay, no copays.)  
  • Students pay in full prior to start of group. Personal checks, money orders or PayPal are used for fees. All fees and registration forms must be completed by December 30, 2021 to gain entry to this group.
  • My students are 95% well mannered, high functioning and convivial.  For those who occasionally tend to demand more attention, want to give inappropriate feedback and/or act out in any way, I do have a strong “Respectful Communication Policy” in place and several useful group rules which help to maintain a safe, harmonious and cohesive group atmosphere.  All are welcome, but there is no allowance for rude or harsh behavior.
  • Group members will continue to process their unresolved traumas in their individual therapy, not in this group. This is a therapeutic psychoeducation program. (It is NOT group therapy.)
  • Group size ranges from 6-12 students.
  • Student Reviews.

May this serve you or your loved ones well🌟

Onward and Upward,

 Lisa Wessan

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Feeling Blue? Try donating your blood

Giving blood can be surprisingly uplifting. I donate every eight weeks or so because it feels so good to make that immediate positive impact.

From my personal and professional experience, I have come to understand that searching for happiness is a somewhat bleak cause. Happiness can be fleeting, flimsy, fast. Instead of searching for happiness, searching for ways to feel useful and peaceful are much better drivers for feeling good, which can lead to more joy — which is long lasting and not based on external stimuli. Feeling useful and peaceful is the foundation for all good things in my life.

Giving blood checks off so many boxes, plus according to Tim Ferriss’ research (THE FOUR HOUR BODY), donating blood successfully lowers your probability of getting cancer. This is because when you donate blood, the iron stores within your body remain at a more healthy level. Studies have shown that a lower iron store level in the body is connected to a lower cancer risk. This has several significant benefits for health and longevity.

In sum, giving blood is a total WIN/WIN event…you get a sweet bump up for feeling useful and peaceful plus you lower your odds of getting cancer💙

💥 INTO ACTION? You can easily make an appointment here: http://www.redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS. 💥

Don’t take my word for it, be a good scientist in the laboratory of your life… make a donation and just observe how you feel afterwards.

Onward and Upward✨

Lisa Wessan

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Coronavirus Retreat Tip 2 on Distress Tolerance Skills

Stay Home Stay OM

We are all struggling to feel safe, stable, useful and effective during this pandemic challenge. I know for sure that when I feel peaceful and useful, everything else falls into place.

Feeling peaceful and useful is the foundation for a great life…trying to be “happy” or “ecstatic” all the time is worthless to me.  Happiness is fleeting, and as much as I love ecstasy, it also does not last long enough. Being peaceful and useful, however, offers long term gains, which often bloom into happiness and sometimes the ecstatic joy of living.

HOW DO WE BECOME MORE PEACEFUL DURING THE PANDEMIC? 

There are many different paths of coping as you trudge up this pandemic mountain, the question is which path works for you.  I suggest you keep trying these methods — and others — to see what works.  Over time you will have a colorful tool kit with many different coping methods that you can use as needed.

Today’s tip has some useful skills for increasing your tolerance to distress and anxiety.  There are two key principles at work with the TIPP skills.

⭐First, every thought becomes a chemical reaction in your body.  Change your thoughts, change your experience of your life. Mind/Body medicine works both ways.
⭐Second, “the issues are in your tissues.”  When you release the stress and toxins in your flesh, bones, muscles, skin, you feel a tremendous mental release and relief.
Let’s start with the empirically verified TIPP Skills  for quickly changing your body chemistry:tipp
Source:  Adapted from Linehan, M. (2015).Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets. New York: Guildford Press. P. 329.

Let me unpack these TIPP skills and add in my suggestions:

Temperature – you can create what’s call the “The Dive Response” in a few ways.  The Dive Response will lower your blood pressure and relax your nervous system.  Ways to shift temperature include:

  • Set up a bowl of cold water and dunk your face into it for as long as you can hold your breath. Do this a few times, until you feel relief.
  • Take an ice pack, wrap in a towel and place on your cheeks, brow, neck.
  • Hold ice cubes in your hands.
  • Freeze a lemon or orange, and squeeze the frozen citrus.  Provides cooling effect plus aromatherapy.
  • Take a washcloth and moisten with cold water, but it on your brow (better effect laying down.)

Intense Exercise – in addition to the jumping jacks, push ups, running, walking fast, fast dancing, Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga etc, I recommend the “Cross Crawl.”  You can do this standing up or on the floor.  This is a movement that gets your heart rate up super fast, can be done in place, and in five minutes you will feel the shift and release. It also provides excellent mental stimulation and has been shown to improve memory, creativity and focus as the cross-lateral activity heightens the exchange between the left and right hemispheres of our brains.

“Therapeutically, cross crawl refers to any intentional cross-lateral activity in which you cross the mid-line of the body, such as touching opposite hand and knee or foot.  Performing this movement builds the bridge between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, allowing for electrical impulses and information to pass freely between the two, which is essential for physical coordination as well as cerebral activities, such as learning language, reading, and hand-to-eye coordination.” (Source: https://www.yourtherapysource.com/blog1/2019/06/16/cross-crawl/)

Paced Breathing – Whether you do the “Take 5” method, which is inhaling to count of five, holding for 5 and then exhaling to 5, or any variation of slowed down breathwork, it will work.   The only way to do this wrong is to not do it at all!  When we do this in my DBT Skills Groups, I add on the physical hand movement of placing the dominant hand on the heart area and the other hand on the naval area.  Touching these two power centers (Solar Plexus and Heart chakra) has an additional calming effect.   The body feels more centered and cared for, a sense of compassion flows, and we feel we are doing useful self-parenting in this position.  This is also considered the Reiki I position, which begins a deeply relaxing sequence of psycho-spiritual  events in the body.

Paired Muscle Relaxation – This is when we begin to scan our bodies head to toe or toe to head, and start to tighten and release muscle groups.  This can be done sitting or lying down. It is most effective to inhale, tighten, hold for a few seconds, and then release.   I sometimes like to pair the muscle contractions with cognitive suggestions, e.g. Breathe in harmony, breathe out chaos. Breath in unconditional love, breathe out fear. Breathe in acceptance, breathe out anger.

You can find many free versions of Paced Breathing and Paired Muscle Relaxation at Insight Timer, and all over the internet.   Insight Timer has versions as short as 2 minutes, and as long as 90 minutes for each of these processes. (I also have a few videos on YouTube concerning Body Scans and Paced Breathing as well.)

May these TIPP Skills enhance your Coronavirus Retreat today!

Onward and Upward in good health,

Lisa Wessan

 

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2020. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm….How Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Skills help you learn to manage and cope better with difficult emotions

I’m excited to announce that we are hastening slowly to transform the world from the inner to outer, one DBT student at a time…

Up next: we will be exploring Mindfulness & Emotion Regulation skills from March 11 – June 17, 2020.

For all groups (Adults, Teens, Mastermind Groups) we have a minimum of six and maximum of 10 students.

Four leaf DBT

The Emotion Regulation module has four sections:

  • Understanding and Naming Emotions
  • Changing Emotional Responses
  • Reducing Vulnerability to Emotion Mind
  • Managing Extremely Difficult Emotions

DBT Mindfulness

The Mindfulness material includes:

  • Learning to be a good observer
  • Being non-judgmental
  • Staying in the present
  • Practicing being effective
  • Accessing Wise Mind (aka higher self, higher consciousness)
  • Understanding Reality Acceptance and detaching from negative or critical thoughts.

As DBT founder Dr. Marsha Linehan says, “It is difficult to manage your emotions when you do not understand how emotions work. Knowledge is power.”

  • We learn to cope better with social anxiety issues, negative thinking and get out of the Blame Game.
  • We learn to abstain from the “Compare and Despair” syndrome.
  • We practice  “Face it, trace it and erase it” as we work the DBT Skills and grow stronger and wiser with effective emotional regulation and expression.
  • We learn to access “Wise Mind” and regain our center, remain calm.  We learn to take a stand for our peace, and become bulletproof to bullies, nastiness and others’ negative remarks.
  • We learn to practice Radical Acceptance, as needed, and problem solve when possible. We are no longer victims.

img_8291
Lisa Wessan, LICSW
DBT Skills Trainer

If this sounds good to you, please get in touch with me to start  your enrollment process. 

For exact dates, fees, insurance,  FAQs,  location, DBT videos and more details, please visit www.lisawessan.com or call 978.710.8039.

Onward and Upward,

Lisa Wessan

 

 

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2020. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

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Lisa Wessan, LICSW, invited to participate in “Medicare for All Forum” with Senator Jamie Eldridge

=====================================================================

💥THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED DUE TO THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC.💥
IT WILL BE UPDATED WHEN THE NEXT DATE IS SET AND ALL IS WELL.
STAY SAFE AND WELL IN THESE NEXT FEW WEEKS!

======================================================================

Is it a fantasy? Is it a dream? Who are we if we don’t think bigger, better, more expansively with each generation?  I am honored to be invited to be a panelist on this critical topic, as we hasten slowly towards a new horizon for healthcare.  Onward and Upward!

Medicare1 (2)

WHEN: Tuesday, March 31, 2020, 7 – 9 PM
WHERE: First Parish Church United, 48 Main Street, Westford, MA 01886
FEE: This is a free event, open to the public, but registration is required. Click HERE to register. [Clinicians can receive two CEUs for this event. Members of NASW can register HERE. ]

Description:

“Massachusetts has expanded health insurance, but still thousands of our families, friends and neighbors can’t see a primary care doctor, get routine tests, or fill a prescription. Working for a small company or holding part-time job can mean living only a short step from medical and financial disaster.

A Medicare for All solution is under consideration in the Massachusetts legislature. It is intended to restructure the way we currently pay for health care. The goal is to provide broader access, greater efficiency, lower costs, and better patient outcomes. The proposed system enhancements are designed to streamline and consolidate the finances and administration of healthcare in order to reduce cost, waste, and inefficiencies so that more time and resources for patient care is available.

The expert speakers on today’s program offer insights into the deficiencies of the existing system, the proposed Medicare for All legislation, the costs and benefits of a new system, and what will be required to make Health Care a Human Right.” [Source: Indivisible Westford]

Panelists:
Senator Jamie Eldridge – State Senator in Middlesex and Worcester Counties, Lead sponsor of S.683, An Act Establishing Medicare for All in Massachusetts.
Dr. Sara Clay MD – Internist practicing in Lowell, MA
Lisa Wessan- LICSW, Psychotherapist, Life Coach, DBT Skills Trainer, Author, Speaker, Consultant
www.lisawessan.com
Rebecca Wood- Community Organizer with Mass Care.

Moderated by Beth Morrison, LCSW, Northeast Regional Coordinator for NASW-MA, Leader of Indivisible Westford, Progressive Mass Chapter

Co-Sponsors of event: NASW – MA, Westford League of Women Voters, Social Action Committee of First Parish Church United, Progressive Massachusetts, Indivisible Westford, Three Rivers Progressive Mass, MASSCARE

 

 

 

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One of my favorite dialectical quotes…

#DBT du jour:

“Love tells me I’m everything. Wisdom tells me I’m nothing. And between the two my life flows.”

– Sri Nisargadatta

What does dialectical mean?  Learn more HERE.

If you are challenged with depression, anxiety, social issues, relationship troubles, impulse issues or addiction, DBT skills will help you become healthier, stronger and more capable of coping with your emotions.  DBT is a Solution Focused therapy that gets effective results, and quickly!

Up Next:  Mindfulness and Interpersonal Effectiveness skills training in Westford, MA starts 11/06/19. Learn more HERE.

Fun fact: when you worry about the past too much, you become depressed; when you obsess about the future, you become anxious.  Learning to live in the present moment, aka practicing Mindfulness, can reduce 90% of your depression and anxiety.  Yes, you will still need to learn better ways to solve your life’s issues, but if you learn to stay in the  present  you will be so much more peaceful and useful.  Learning Mindfulness skills helps you get there.

If this speaks to you, please visit lisawessan.com and complete the CONTACT FORM.  I will contact you within 24 hours to discuss joining our next DBT group or working together individually, whatever you need.

Onward and Upward,
Lisa Wessan

Four leaf DBT

 

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Many kinds of freedom to celebrate on Independence Day

I am excited about my independence…

Lisa Wessan, Chelmsford, MA

Freedom from the bondage of Food, Fat and Fear!

Freedom from the Three Cs:  Complaining, Condemning and Criticizing of myself and others.

Freedom from needing approval from family, friends, colleagues, clients.

Freedom from depression, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, and all negative thinking.

Freedom from FOMO! (Fear of Missing Out).

Freedom from the stress of being Here but wanting to be There!

DBT Independent and need help

Freedom from all or nothing, black and white, dualistic thinking.  Dialectic thinking is a cure for recovering perfectionists, and a lot of OCD, obsessive compulsive, harsh thinking as well.

Freedom from Compare and Despair.

Freedom from jealousy, envy, lust, longing and cravings.

The only thing I do crave, however, is MORE FREEDOM!

I love feeling useful and peaceful, which is foundational for a life worth living. I also want to feel light and relaxed more of the time.

I want to feel “Serenity in the Storm,” as it is written:

“Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.”  (unknown author)

Is my life perfect today?  Hell no!  Far from it!  I need to change SO MANY THINGS – I will spare you the burden of listing my ongoing pain, aggravation, losses, frustrations and deep sadnesses – but the good news is that these things are not dominating my consciousness.

I am not a victim anymore. It is no longer possible. I am 100% accountable for my life.  I blame no one for my difficult situations and expect no one to save me.

Yes, it’s true, with the help of G-d, Wise Mind, Higher Power, and my Army of Angels, I am the one who I have been waiting for! This is totally a G-d Job…turning my defeats into victories, and my scars into stars.  I have finally become bulletproof to the bullies, harsh people, fear and rage around me and within me. As it is written:

“…I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4: 11-13)

🌀With the deep healing powers embedded in psychospiritual treatments anything is possible! 🌀

Yes, I’m excited to share this today – my New Normal – after decades of battling with depression, eating disorders, severe mood swings and more.

If you are still struggling, please hear me when I say HAVE HOPE, things will get better if you don’t give up.

HOPE HOLD ON PAIN ENDS

Learn and practice your transformative behavioral and spiritual skills (DBT or whatever) knowing that you are making progress and that “This Too Shall Pass.”

If I can heal and be well, it can happen for anyone.  I am just another Bozo on the Bus, hastening slowly towards Wholeness and Oneness.

May you have a healthy, peaceful and relaxing fourth of July!

Never give up! 

Onward and Upward,

Lisa Wessan

 

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2019. All rights reserved.

 

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On Receiving Accolades at the State House in Boston

When I left my job at NBC as a Talk Show Producer, I knew that there was never going to be a time when fame, fortune, cash and prizes were going to make me happy.  Not that I was ever famous, or super wealthy.  But I had lived in that world, worked at 30 Rockefeller Plaza for over a decade amidst the affluence and glittery abundance of mid-town Manhattan.  Working in the Entertainment Division at NBC was being at celebrity central, especially working on the talk shows.

What I learned, after a while, is that these things cannot sustain deep joy and wonder.  Working in that world was not inspiring me, and I felt I was somehow skimming the surface of life. I knew at some point that I was going to move on…

Fast forward…Yes, moving from trauma to transformation is now the name of my game.  As it is for most of my peers,  we are mostly off the radar, not seeking the limelight and quite happy doing what we do in the privacy of our consulting rooms.

So imagine my surprise and delight when I learned I was going to be honored for my deep dive into psychospiritual matters!  This was quite the shockeroo…

Who would have guessed that working with clients through their mysterious process of defrosting grief, recovering from illness, loss, abuse and neglect, teaching skills on emotion regulation, mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, finding new purpose in life, and finally building new dreams would be honored?   Not me. 

Getting kudos for how we work through the muck of it all? Incredible! Clearly, there is no Red Carpet in therapy land!  (Perhaps one day, however, when my book is out there, it will become a best seller, and then a blockbuster film…that would be fun and quite the wild ride.  Being a bit conflicted about being on the big arena,  I will need to continue to choose “Courage over comfort,” as Brené Brown  says.  Book tours, screenings, interviews, all positive and negative.  “Courage over comfort” helps me to accept leaving my safe, small world and moving on!)

In the meantime, it’s wonderful to live in Massachusetts, one of the more enlightened states that takes the time to acknowledge our inner journey, and how important it is to use mental health resources when the going gets tough.  Massachusetts is great at de-stigmatizing mental health issues.  There is tremendous support here for everyone to get what they need and move on.  

The Big Day…

On March 6, 2019, there was a beautiful and moving ceremony at the State House in Boston to honor a few of us maverick social workers who are doing extraordinary things in our practice.

Several politicians gave speeches, Senator Ed Kennedy acknowledged us by name (see his Facebook post below)  and there were lots of hugs and cheers throughout the event.  In addition, our photos with brief bios were on display in the State House during National Social Work Month in March.  (So fun and unexpected!)

Each of us that were honored that day has taken our original graduate training and morphed into providers who are doing unexpected works.  We all went past graduate school and expanded into unpredictably useful areas  (Click HERE for the original press release.)

My unusual areas of work involve Walk and Talk Therapy,  Therapeutic Laughter Training and Dialectical Behavior Therapy.  (You can learn more about these topics at my web site, www.lisawessan.com)

I appreciated Senator Ed Kennedy’s comments on Facebook and his ongoing support of our work (see below). It was a special day and fun to be with my magnificent peers.

Here are some photos from the day:

 

Thank you for sharing in the gratitude and excitement of this moment in my career!  It was certainly one of the highlights of my time here in Massachusetts.

Up Next?

The journey continues — and this is truly a shameless plug — I’m an organically wired promoter, and cannot help sharing good science tested information or personal anecdotal results from the Lisa Laboratory of Life!  So if you want to keep in touch, you can follow this blog, or send me a message at my web site to receive my periodic newsletter.

Stay tuned for more quality news as we journey together from Trauma to Transformation!

Onward and Upward,

Lisa Wessan

 

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2019. All rights reserved.

 

 

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