An Introduction to EMDR Therapy

An Introduction to EMDR Therapy

by Nicole Vega, LMSW



Brought to you by popular demand, I am here today to talk to you about about EMDR, which is a therapy platform that I have been recently trained in. I think it is fantastic and it might be something you ought to consider if you are struggling with things such as anxiety, depression, weight loss, or whatever situation is unique to you.

For those of you who do not know much about it, EMDR was discovered by Francine Shapiro who is an incredible woman, that came upon this healing psychodynamic modality by going through her own struggles and journey for health. She came across what we now know as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR Therapy) – bilateral eye movements that we use to desensitize [traumatic memories, somatic feelings in the body, and anxiety and depressive feelings] and [help] improve people’s quality of life. She came across [EMDR] during her battle with cancer when she was out walking in nature one day and realized that the eye movement she had while walking and looking at different aspects of nature, left her feeling less stressed and overall better. She used that experience to create this incredible platform for healing – this therapeutic approach, EMDR, that I am now trained in. [EMDR therapy has not been verified as the most effective treatment for trauma and PTSD is existence (Research Here)].

A lot of folks want to know why [EMDR] works. Why does sitting in a room with me holding TheraTappers, have the earphones on, or watching the line on the little light beam work [cause your somatic and psychological symptoms to decrease]? The truth to the matter is that we do not know exactly why it works, but we do have an idea. We know that EMDR is similar to what happens in the brain during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which means that EMDR Therapy is a physiological therapy that aids in memories going from distressing to less so (“How Does EMDR Work?” n.d.). Essentially by the bilateral eye movement, the brain can start to reprocess a disturbing memory to just a regular memory which helps the person better able to cope (“How Does EMDR Work? n.d.). We do not know all the ins-and-outs, all the pieces and details; but we do know that the outcomes are great. There are studies that show that EMDR has a longer lasting and better effect in reducing symptoms of PTSD compared to psychotropic medications (“EMDR Therapy Research Overview” (n.d.)).

Why do we struggle with things like anxiety and depression? Well, there are a number of reasons. We know that it is not just one certain factor and I’m a believer that most things are not just one factor [there are factors including social, psychological, emotional, life circumstances, biological, environmental, existential and more]. We now know that we can heal, improve, and [influence] change in areas of the brain that we used to think we couldn’t. We used to think that if an area of the brain is damaged, that it’s damaged for good; we now know that’s not true. We now know that there are techniques that can be used to promote healing. There were a lot of things that we through were broken, but simply just needed repair. Our brains are strong and amazing, they coordinate all of our functions in our body, but sometimes (just like other parts of our bodies) they need help too. I think we often overlook simple solutions and automatically assume that for something to work, it has to be complicated; it has to involve all of this work, to be challenging, etc. But if you’re doing all of that and it’s not working, maybe it’s time to try an easier approach where the therapist can take the lead and assist you with recovery. The cool thing about EMDR therapy is that it is a therapist leading you and your body to heal, so the therapist is not healing you. Therapists don’t heal people; we don’t give you the answers, we do not fix it. What we do is we hold space; we create that safe space that is needed for healing. With a therapist having proper training and technique, that can lead to your own healing, whether it is with trauma, relationship struggles, career struggles, etc. EMDR will be a good option for you.


“How Does EMDR Work?” (n.d.). Retrieved from

“EMDR Therapy Research Overview” (n.d.). Retrieved from

Let’s Get Deep

Let’s get deep. By Paul Krauss MA LPC

Loneliness does not come from having no people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you. — Carl Jung

        What are authentic conversations? So much of mainstream culture focuses on so-called “surface talk”: What do you “do”?, “Where are you going?” “Did you see this television series?” “Have you heard the latest news?” “Have you heard about so-and-so’s new truck?” “Have you tried out this restaurant?” There is absolutely nothing wrong with these types of “surface discussions” in your day to day life—especially when you are at work, going to the store, at school, and other places where you are not around the chosen few people that you have intimate and authentic conversations with. However, a problem arises when family members, close friends, and even romantic partners are not able to meet you in a deep or intimate conversation. Due to various reasons, the people who are supposed to be “closest” to you are, in fact, unable to receive your communication or engage you on topics that are important to you. It could also be that in your family, vulnerable and authentic conversations are avoided in group and even individual settings, while conversations about “the weather”, “facts” and “cultural norms” are encouraged. These types of conversations often do not involve vulnerable relationship risk-taking—as the point of these so-called “surface” talks is not really to get to know someone on a deeper and intimate level, but to predict the flow of conversation, navigate public venues, confirm one’s own biases, or worse— just to pass the time. It has been anecdotally reported that when people do not have deep and meaningful discussions in their lives with people whom they trust—they may feel isolated and depressed—even if they are surrounded by others (in the physical sense).

In the post-modern world, the phrase “chosen-family” and “authentic friends” are now cultural buzzwords. These phrases are reflecting a deep need in people to move beyond the surface and day-to-day trivial conversations, and into honest and vulnerable conversations about what it means to be a human, what trials one is experiencing, the difficulty of making pivotal life choices, the disconnect and breakdown between religion and healthy spiritual practices, the difficulties facing parents, what is happening in the divisive realm of politics, mental health stigmas, the fate of the planet, honest talks about money, the gap between the rich and the poor, and much more. With a trend away from surface discussions, many are discussing intimate details of their romantic relationships, the birth of a child, or death of a relative in a radically open way that is causing much of the archaic cultural trappings of “image is everything” to pushed aide. We have learned, from psychology and philosophy, that having a sense of “meaning” in one’s life is as important to being human as drinking water. Yet, because of a variety of cultural influences including “survival” by “inclusion” in a “tribe” many people have denied their own opinions, stories, and emotions about their lives in order to “fit in.” Thanks to the postmodern ability of our age to have a relatively easy mobility (compared to 100 years ago) to a new state, country, and experience life in a different culture—many people are realizing that they now have the ability to start relationships based on a shared sense of meaning—telling the truth and having deep authentic conversations that are far beyond “surface talk.” Others have even gone further, frustrated with their family’s lack of depth in conversation or lack of emotional support—and have found a “chosen-family” who they live life alongside.

Due to a variety of factors, many people who are seeking deep authentic friendships and a “chosen-family” have not found them. Often times, these people find themselves coming into counseling because they do not feel safe expressing themselves inside of their workplace, friend group, or family of origin. They do not feel safe expressing emotions, opinions, or even telling their story of how they experience life—as the culture of their family, workplace, or friend group may view these honest expressions as a threat against the preservation of the system. Or perhaps there is a dominant figure in these families, workplaces, or friend groups who is attempting to preserve a self-serving narrative for power reasons. Whatever the issue, when people find themselves in some type of aforementioned situation—they often feel lonely and feel “adrift” without a deep sense of meaning. Often times, seeing a counselor or therapist is a way for people to feel deeply heard, help repair their social wounds, and work to gain the confidence to create and integrate in a community that meets their needs. Counseling is a temporary intervention that can help you when you are wanting to ask the big questions, live in the mystery, feel adrift and devoid of meaning, and find yourself incredibly lonely due to a lack of authentic friendships and void of deep and honest communication with those around you.

At a time of transition or seeking, it is important to start with ourselves and begin to journal or write down what we are interested in, what are questions are, what situations bother us, and how do we make sense of our personal history? Once we get a clear view of who we are and what is important to us, we can then bravely venture out of our (now) uncomfortable comfort zone and seek others whose path is similar or complementary to our own. There are so many questions to ask one’s self. I will begin with an example of just a few below.

Here are some questions to ask one’s self:

  1. What are the things I fear the most?
  2. What fascinates and inspires me?
  3. What will sustain me in my darkest hour?

Now, there are many other questions that one can ask oneself, including “What are my top 3 values as a human?” “What do I profess to be important to me, but usually do not live out—in practice?” “If I could wave a magic wand and change one thing about my life—what would it be?” “What is my greatest strength and my greatest weakness?”

Remember that avoidance of the big questions seems easier—but it is not sustainable and denial always has consequences. Since we live with a deep consciousness, whether we acknowledge it or not, we must live with the consequences of not asking the big questions in our lives, not engaging in honest and authentic dialogue, and not venturing outside of our comfort zones. Life is difficult, dangerous, and anxiety provoking on its own—isn’t it time we addressed our fears and found others to support us on our journey? If you do not have people in your life naturally, counseling can be a temporary aide to you. However, make sure that your counselor has “done their own inner-work” and is familiar with existential therapy as well as depth psychology. If a counselor is culturally encapsulated, then you may experience “sanctuary trauma” with the same pat answers that your family of origin or old friend group would give you. As Richard Rohr said “You can only take someone as far as you have gone yourself.” So make sure you interview your future counselor or therapist and feel free to ask them “What have you been reading?” “What counselors have had the largest influence on your practice?” “What types of advanced training do you do?” “What are your religious or spiritual practices, if any?” “What do you think of the concentration of wealth in the United States?” Let’s get deep people! Do not waste your time with a counselor or therapist who is interested in upholding the “status quo” or seeks to label you with a litany of “diagnosis” instead of working with you where you are to go deep and help you face what is necessary for your own journey toward transformation. Also, remember to seek someone who is trauma-informed in their approach as well.

Human beings are meaning making creatures. There are many deep human needs. But a large one is this: To know oneself and to be known by another on a soul level. Before counseling was invented, it was well known that awareness and enlightenment came through honest sharing with another who was willing to listen and engage with you. Notice: In the human psyche, the questions will always be there. It is our task to live the questions out and not expect easy answers to the questions of life, death, and depth. If you are going to change—there will be a difficult period. As they say at the gym: “No pain, no gain.” The road to transformation comes from the narrow cocoon to emerge as a creature that can fly. Yet, this transformation is not a one-time event! It is a continuous growth process, where we must find the balance in our life and live through the difficulties and the pain—to find new areas of conscious awareness and growth. Just like the lobster that grows too large for its shell and has to painfully break open the shell, before growing a new plating of “outer skin” or “armor.” We humans are always in need to break open to the next level of awareness and growth—as painful as that may be. Staying stuck is more painful.


Every individual needs revolution, inner division, overthrow of the existing order, and renewal…

-C.G. Jung, CW 7, p. 5


If you are looking to get deep with a counselor in Grand Rapids, MI, consider the counselors at Health for Life Grand Rapids. Or call now 616-200-4433.


Depression in Men is a Public Health Crisis

REPORT: “Depression in Men is a Public Health Crisis”

by Paul Krauss MA LPC

If you have lived in the United States in the last 100 years you are surely familiar with the fact that many men live with depression and “don’t want to talk about it.” Many men in the United States suffer needlessly with depression for a variety of reasons, but are unwilling to seek help due to personal preferences (often highly influenced by the mainstream male culture at large, “tradition,” and difficulties with what seeking help means for male identity). Men with depression has not been a popular topic in the culture of the United States that was founded on “rugged individualism.” The myth of this ultimate cowboy individualism was meant to emphasize the hard work and bravery of the men in our culture, from exploring, to building cities, to fighting in World War II–it was not supposed to emphasize isolation and “only doing it yourself.” Emotionally healthy men have always talked to other men and women and worked together to solve problems. There are so many famous examples all throughout the history of the United States of men joining together to help overcome an obstacle. However, it seems that this myth of the “loner cowboy” has infiltrated the consciousness of male culture and has been twisted to mean that men “do it themselves, keep to themselves and do not display or express emotions.” Emotions, of course, are just natural sensations in the body–and it is common knowledge (due to conclusive research) that if we do not express or acknowledge them–there will usually be personal difficulties occuring. In fact, the toxic expression “boys don’t cry” phrase has been repeated over and over in various forms by men and women alike, further influencing the younger generation to not talk openly and authentically about their emotions (which are a normal part and process of being a human being). Multiple studies have shown that males are just as sensitive at birth and throughout development as females, but in many segments of society, male emotions and sensitivity have been viewed as a threat to masculinity and thus people have “trained” or forced males to hold back their emotions and “not cry.” For some, a male display of emotions is seen as a weakness. This archaic, yet prevalent, cultural viewpoint not only flies in the face of basically all research in biology, sociology, and psychology, but it is one of the reasons that the United States is facing a public health crisis of undiagnosed depression in men.

Because of grossly misaligned societal ideas such as “boys don’t cry,” the suppression of emotions in boys often leads to outbursts of anger. Many males hide their emotions behind humor or aggressive behavior as they don’t know what else to do and have not been socialized to express their emotions in straightforward or healthy ways. The traditional signs of depression are more easily observed by the behavior of younger females – withdrawal, quiet demeanor, crying etc. However, because of cultural issues, many males do not display these obvious depressive symptoms when depressed and therefore, their clinical depression goes undiagnosed or is wrongly diagnosed as conduct disorder or attention-deficit disorder.

There are signs that younger males display when they are depressed that are usually different than those found in females, but one just needs to know how to look for them. Before it is clearly evident to those around him that a male has depression, he often becomes irritable, withdrawn, violent, impulsive or suicidal because of cultural suppression of emotions. This is one of the reasons why men have a higher level of completed suicides – about three suicides a day in the United States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, at least 6 million American men suffer from depression every year. Yet depression in males is vastly under-diagnosed, with 65 percent of cases going undetected.

“Depression in males of all ages is a public health crisis that must be addressed. To do so, we must redefine healthy masculinity and recognize that even if men are putting on a face suggesting “everything is fine,” real pain may be lurking beneath the surface.” – SF Gate

Depression in males, regardless of age, is a public health crisis in the United States. There are three steps that should be taken to aid in diminishing this crisis: encourage all males, no matter the age, to express their emotions instead of pushing them aside; educate those involved such as parents, teachers, and doctors to better recognize the signs and the way depression manifests in males. Lastly, seek early intervention that provides men with support groups and support in general and prioritize it.

Counseling is a low-cost and relatively minor intervention with a very large positive effect size. According to a research study involving thousands of studies on counseling, 79% of people feel much better after attending counseling regularly for a few months. For men, counseling is a practical way to start feeling better without medications or hospitalizations—in fact, counseling can save thousands of dollars in health costs if the depression is addressed early on. Depression is not a permanent condition–with the right intervention at the right time, people are resilient and can feel like themselves again soon.

If you are looking for Counseling in the Grand Rapids, MI area–check out our counselors here at Health for Life Grand Rapids. We have both male and female counselors who are ready to help you or your loved one. Call 616-200-4433 for more information.


Depression in Men Is a Public Health Crisis by the San Francisco Gate

The National Institute of Health: Men and Depression


Are you feeling SAD?

Are you feeling SAD?

The leaves are falling. Hour by hour the days are getting shorter. Gray is filling the sky. These are all signs of winter. While some love the season, many suffer from SAD. SAD stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is a temporary mood disorder that’s characterized by depression–this disorder occurs to most people roughly around the same time every year. SAD is a common issue for many with a documented 3 million people affected every year in the United States


Symptoms of SAD can include fatigue, depression, and social withdrawal. SAD may immensely impact one’s day to day life and overall well being. This disorder can make one feel hopeless and can cause loss of interest in relationships and activities. It can also cause insomnia, excess sleep, and appetite changes.

Ways to Reduce Symptoms

One of the largest causes from SAD is a lack of natural light exposure to the body. Light therapy is highly recommended to reduce the symptoms SAD and there are at-home interventions that mimic light therapy. The most popular DIY intervention is a happy light. The Happy Light mimics daylight and can improve your overall mood and energy levels. You can purchase a Happy Light here .

Another way to reduce the impact of SAD on your life is to incorporate exercise into your daily schedule. Exercise boosts endorphins in your body. Endorphins are a chemical in your body that can trigger positive feelings. Exercise can not only alter your mood but reduce stress. Overall it’s an emotional booster, and can immensely help with SAD symptoms.

Eating healthy is a component that will complement daily exercise well. Foods that will help one’s SAD symptoms are:

  • Salmon
  • Eggs
  • Omega 3 fatty acids (Chia seeds, flaxseed, soybeans)
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B

While you may feel like you’re the only one experiencing SAD, millions of people are going through the same thing. Help yourself and those around you by socializing and continuing to get out there–even on the dreary days. If you’re finding it difficult to get out of the house make it a weekly practice. Having a standing date with a friend or loved one and socializing in a unique environment will serve as a good motivator to get out of your house!

Taking an optimistic look at the weather, instead of looking at the weather as a culprit may make it an opportunity. Try experimenting with fueling your dread into optimism. Cold weather provides many opportunities that warm weather doesn’t. Hit the ice skating rink, try skiing, look for holiday light displays, take a walk in the snow, look up local community events with a winter theme, try out your local sauna, or enjoy a cup of hot chocolate at your favorite cafe.

If you feel you are experiencing SAD, try out one of the suggestions above. There have been many studies that have shown that light therapy, diet, exercise, and socializing help with SAD symptoms. If you feel you need further help, Health for Life Grand Rapids is here for you. We offer a number of therapies as well as health coaching… no matter what the weather is like!

Learn more about how to beat the winter blues on Dr. Nicole Cain’s blog here.

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Reflections on Ten Years of Providing Psychotherapy (Part 1) [Episode 20 of The Intentional Clinician Podcast]

Reflections on Ten Years of Providing Psychotherapy (Part 1) [Episode 20 of The Intentional Clinician Podcast]

Paul Krauss MA LPC reflects on his ten years of providing psychotherapy. Paul has worked  in a variety of different roles as he has provided therapy to people from diverse populations and socioeconomic demographics. Episode 20 is part one of two episodes of reflections on Paul’s life and career. Part one, is far more about Paul’s personal journey through that led him from newly graduated counselor, to his work in social services, to beginning a successful private practice. Paul talks at length about his evolution as a counselor as he learned about different modes and types of therapy as well as about himself on the journey. Paul discusses the struggles of trying to find his way in the field of counseling and the ups and downs and difficulties that all led to his own personal transformation. Paul hopes that Episode 20 and 21 of the podcast will help new therapists that are getting into the field that are looking for direction as well as seasoned professionals who are looking for new ways to work and help others.

*Psychotherapy is interchangeable with the term Counseling.* But since there are many “types” of counseling that have nothing to do with psychology (credit counseling, etc.), Paul chose this term for a direct reference

In part two, Paul Krauss will discuss his experience and opinions with various modalities of psychotherapy and their implications (Part 2 will be released as Episode 21).

Paul Krauss MA LPC is a full-time Private Practice Psychotherapist, the host of the Intentional Clinician podcast, Behavioral Health Consultant, Clinical Trainer, and Counseling Supervisor.  Paul is willing to travel and train clinicians in multiple states. Paul is the creator of the National Violence Prevention Hotline (in progress) as well as the Intentional Clinician Training Program for Counselors. Paul consults for and trains clinicians at behavioral health organizations. Paul works at at Health for Life Grand Rapids and works with multiple talented clinicians there, in Grand Rapids MI. Questions? Call Paul at 616-365-5530 (direct), or at the office 616-200-4433. Learn more about Paul at

intentional Clinician, Episode 20
Intentional Clinician, Episode 20

Original music:

“Shades of Currency” [Instrumental] from Archetypes by PAWL

“Arctic” from 7 by RIFIFI

Music available here:

Additional Thoughts on Episode 20 of The Intentional Clinician Podcast:

While the Intentional Clinician podcast is a demystification of psychology and counseling to encourage people to engage in their own inner work and to understand that if they work at it, they can have a better life—there are many layers leading both down and up.  Eventually, there is an importance to understand that “the answer” will never be the cure. The human mind cannot believe something 100%–of that I am convinced. There will always be a shadow of doubt—nothing is beyond the shadow of a doubt. So a balance must be achieved between the polar opposites of pessimism and optimism, and between rightness and facts and so-called truths and the mysteries, new discoveries that obliterate old-facts, and the myriad ambiguities that flow in and out of our lives. Which is the right path?  Both. There is a need to re-mystify our lives and bring us out of a linear, chronological order, which may be regressive and repressive and locked into a certain viewpoint—and moving to an expansive place, both in and outside of a container—where images and symbols take on more meaning than the numbers, and the felt sense, feelings, and subtle impressions that make up the stuff of life (both precognitive and pre-linguistic), and allow us to thrive in this mystery called life.

To understand what I am talking about, I must take you through the basics of counseling and psychotherapy; discuss a variety of treatments, as well as a journey into depth psychology. I will discuss my own story of how I found myself in the field of counseling and reflect on my 10 years as a psychotherapist and my time spent in sessions with clients. And I have this before and I’ll say it again, I am not DONE learning. I will never be done learning. Part of my mission in life from a young age was not to grow cynical or bitter, but to seek to evolve and soak up experiences. It was one of my mantras in college as I noticed so many middle age adults finding a plateau of knowledge, or perspective, opinion, and just settling in and watching the fire. For whatever reason, the “good life” or just having a nice little life, never appealed to me. I wanted to experience more and live more and so I set out. Of course, this came at a financial sacrifice as I lived in cheap and basic quarters from my early 20s until I was married—my wife had ideas about living with the most basic of materials. But she is a lifelong learner as well and refuses to stop learning and evolving, so it works.

I may not be the most talented person in any realm, psychotherapy, writing, podcasts, singing, songwriting, piano playing, but damn it. I am not going quit.

“Small and hidden is the door that leads inward and the entrance is barred by countless, prejudices, mistakes, assumptions, and fears.” – C. G. Jung.

To hear more about my evolution that led to 10 years of providing psychotherapy, click here.

Why is Anxiety on the Rise?

Why is Anxiety on the Rise? 

By Nicole Vega LMSW, CHC

As someone who has been working in the mental health field for over a decade, one trend I have noticed is that anxiety is on the rise. With all the advancements in medications, therapies, and access to information one might believe that anxiety and related issues would be decreasing not increasing. So why are many people struggling more than ever?

Unfortunately, there is not one size fits all answer. Since people are all unique—with different experiences, thresholds, and predispositions; we cannot expect that we can create the same treatment plan for them all. If a person comes into my office experiencing panic attacks related past traumas I am not going address their symptoms in the same way that I would work with someone who is experiencing panic attacks related to postpartum hormonal shifts and an unbalanced thyroid. Nor would I refer them to the same resources. I treat each person as a unique and individual person— not as a grouping of symptoms to be fixed.

As many different symptoms of anxiety that exist, there are just as many different root causes for how and why people come to a place of feeling restless, panicked, exhausted, etc.

So with all that being said, you may be wondering: What are some causes of my anxiety? How can I figure out what is causing my anxiety? Well, a good way to look at what is causing your anxiety is to first rule out what is not. So ruling out medical causes is my first and foremost recommendation when an individual begins experiencing anxiety— especially if it seemingly comes out of nowhere. So visiting your physician, getting lab work done and a regular physical exam is a really good place to start. Did you know that an out-of-whack thyroid can mimic many symptoms of anxiety? Hyperthyroidism for example can include symptoms such as a racing heart, dizziness, panic attacks, and many other anxiety-like or anxiety producing symptoms. So if you’re feeling like something is off with your body, honoring your intuition and seeing a physician can be a vital first step toward recovery. Dr. Kelly Brogan often speaks about what she calls “psychiatric pretenders” which are symptoms that present as anxiety, depression, panic and other can be attributed to physical health concerns such as deficiencies in vitamins and nutrients. Also, gut health or the lack of gut health is a huge culprit when it comes to fluctuating mood and other symptoms that can present as anxiety. Dr. Nicole Cain at Health for Life Grand Rapids has an amazing Gut Psychology Program that addresses just that.

We live in a world where we are inundated with noise, pollution, distraction, stress, and all sorts of things that impact our mental health. And many aspects of the aforementioned issues simply cannot be avoided. The amazing thing is that our bodies are incredibly resilient and can handle quite a bit of the toxins and stressors thrown at them when we are creating other habits that can allow our body to thrive in a less than perfect world.

So what are some things that can help to reduce your current experience of anxiety? Each individual is different, but some of my go-to strategies are the following:

1) Rule out the medical – make sure there is no underlying medical condition causing your anxiety.

2) Drink your water – this allows your body to better detox all the toxins and stuff thrown at it each day.

3) Eat clean – notice I did not say eat perfectly. 4) Sweat – this is another powerful way to reduce your body’s toxic burden and assist with reducing stress.

5) Address your gut health- this may mean getting tested for food sensitivities or taking out what you already know to be inflammatory in your body i.e. added sugar. Lastly, giving yourself grace and understanding that many of us at one time or another has experienced anxiety maybe even intense anxiety but have found ways to cope and reduce our symptoms.

If you’re currently struggling with anxiety or panic the staff at Health for Life Grand Rapids are uniquely trained to assist you.

What is Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder?

What is Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder?

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) involve persistent inattention or hyperactivity interfering with functioning for 6 months or longer. This condition usually begins to be seen before the age of 12.

Main Symptoms

There are two main symptom groups involved in ADD and ADHD. They  are inattention and hyperactivity. In-depth descriptions of each symptom group are in the table provided below:

Inattention Inattention to detail

Difficulty sustaining attention

Doesn’t listen well

Poor follow through on tasks

Poor organization

Avoids homework or large projects

Often loses things



Hyperactivity Fidgets or squirms

Leaves seat often

Runs around inappropriately

Can’t play quietly


Always moving

Overly talkative

Blurts out answers

Difficulty waiting or taking turns

Interrupts frequently

If your child is experiencing 6 or more of the above symptoms they may be suffering from ADD or ADHD symptoms.

Things You Can do at Home

There are many things you can do at home to work on prevention such as staying active, eating a healthy diet, and planning ahead. There are many factors that can cause ADHD and ADD symptoms to become exacerbated, including stress, not enough exercise, a child not understanding their situation or schedule, and certain nutritional or food triggers. Other things you can do include:

  • Educating yourself about ADD/ADHD
  • Avoiding chaotic settings where one might be overstimulating
  • Encouraging them to fidget with a toy
  • Staying organized
  • Teach your child mindfulness skills

There are also many at home changes that can be made to help with ADD and ADHD. The first being adjusting your parenting. Trying to be consistent yet still setting limits and having clear consequences for behavior is key. Having boundaries can help their anxiety, and get them used to a routine. Having a routine that includes things like: morning activities, meals, chores, TV, and sleeping will help organize the child’s attention and repeatedly remind them what’s expected.

To ensure the routine and expectations it’s important to avoid multitasking when talking with your child. Setting any kind of distraction down, such as phone when talking to your child is crucial. Make eye contact when giving instructions. If instructions are followed through make sure to praise your child. Praise or rewards for good behavior can nurture a positive relationship with your child and encourage great behavior.

Sharing these recommendations with teachers or caregivers will help the routine to continue throughout the day. This will decrease the impact of the condition on the child’s life. In addition it will help keep the child organized throughout the day, which will help them stick to the routine. Some anecdotal evidence has suggested that children suffering from ADD/ADHD may need more physical activity before and after to school to “burn off energy” and also require frequent breaks during studying or learning. Studies for the aforementioned ideas are still emerging.

Medical Interventions

If you feel you will need medical interventions to help with the ADD/ADHD there are plenty of options: The first being counseling; using talk therapy, mindfulness-based techniques, or EMDR therapy can help one process underlying issues and understand how to deal with their emotions as well and work through their feelings. Another therapeutic option is Naturopathic Medicine and working on the root biological causes of the symptoms. Health Coaching can help if there are certain foods or food dyes that are triggering the condition. Clinical Hypnotherapy can also help ADHD and ADD symptoms by helping an individual learn to slow their mind down through hypnotic techniques and exercises. Other medical options include are seeing a psychiatrist, and utilizing bio or neurofeedback.

These techniques do not replace medical advice. Speak with your healthcare practitioner if you think you are suffering with ADD or ADHD. The DSM-5 strives to conceptualize an illness as a spectrum, with a domain that should be construed as normal.


Meet Clinical Health Coach Sarah Bramstedt, M.Ed., CHHC

From the desk of Coach Sarah:

“Being healthy shouldn’t have to be hard.” This is what I had read online by a website trying to sell me a one-size-fits-all program. This is what we are subconsciously told everywhere we look–eat clean, exercise more…practice self-care… it’s simple.

But what if it hasn’t been simple for you? What if there is conflicting information everywhere you turn, you haven’t had personalized guidance for your unique body, nor a support system, and you get derailed whenever life gets too stressful…or there’s #donuts at the office?  What if your gut is unhealthy and your body is in an inflammatory state, so it doesn’t respond well to what you try?

Pursuing your health goals can be a frustrating up-and-down roller coaster, where you spend hours on the internet researching your struggles and “their” solutions, listening to podcasts and stories of other people’s successes wondering why it’s been so challenging and unsuccessful for you, or you gear up for the next popular restrictive diet protocol that is going to “change your life”…only to beat yourself up when it’s unsustainable and you still don’t see lasting transformation.

What if lasting health and wellbeing begins with your mindset, with looking at your whole life with the help of a wellness expert to see what could be getting in the way of total vitality for you?  What if you may need some detective work to get to the bottom of digestive problems, cravings, weight loss resistance, food-related mood issues, or poor energy and sleep?

My passion is helping clients uncover and beat their roadblocks to lifelong wellness, and to help them become empowered through education, mindset coaching, and practical diet and  lifestyle changes that work for their unique body. By integrating clinical “detective work” like food sensitivity labs, candida testing, or journaling and self-reflection exercises, I help clients make powerful healthy changes, while removing inflammatory triggers that cause a whole host of problems for the body and mind.  I am thrilled to be able to partner with Dr. Cain at Health for Life GR so that my clients’ health coaching programs are clinically-informed and personally-tailored for achieving holistic vitality. Take the guesswork out of achieving your wellness goals, and schedule a free health coaching consult today!

Contact Coach Sarah Today!

Or Schedule Online Now:

Sarah, Health Coach

Sarah, Health Coach

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy

EMDR Therapy in Grand Rapids, MI

Health for Life Grand Rapids is a trauma-informed integrative counseling and health center in West Michigan. All of our staff is trauma-informed and trained, multiple counselors are EMDR trained, and we have one therapist that is trained in Somatic Experiencing Technique.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is therapeutic technique used to relieve psychological stress, trauma, anxiety, and depression. It is the number one most recommended treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and has been empirically proven to reduce the emotional, mental, and physical side effects of past traumatic experiences. It is a relatively newer technique and it is safe, and easy to implement alongside regular talk therapy. The good news is that EMDR is incredibly effective and with single-incident trauma can often reduce symptoms in a large way in only 6-12 sessions. It is effective with long-term and chronic PTSD as well.

During EMDR therapy sessions you will first establish safety as well as go over different skills and techniques to calm your nervous system. Eventually you are safely guided through reprocessing of the past trauma, which causes a reduction in symptoms and an increase in overall wellness. Hundreds of studies have supported the efficacy of EMDR therapy. While outcomes vary, the vast majority of people who complete EMDR are able to be exposed to traumatic triggers without having a negative psychological or physical response in future situations.

Throughout these sessions clients are able to regain power over their emotional state and reduce the effects and frequency of flashbacks, triggers, and other disturbing symptoms of trauma and anxiety. EMDR is an effective treatment for anxiety and depression, not just trauma and PTSD. This integrative therapy can help you replace old deeply held negative beliefs with positive frameworks that will enable you to have better navigate whatever comes next.

That being said two of our therapists have recently completed EMDR training and are now accepting new clients for EMDR reprocessing and talk therapy. Nicole Vega LMSW and Billie Walters LMSW have completed EMDR training and are now accepting appointments.

There are several ways to get started today.

You may call 616-200-4433 to schedule a consultation and dial their extension.

Or contact Nicole and Billie directly.

Billie Walters

  • Call Billie on her direct line: 616-258-6419
  • You can email Billie as well: [email protected]

Nicole Vega

  • Call Nicole on her direct line: 616-389-0291
  • You can email Nicole as well: [email protected]

In addition, Paul Krauss MA LPC is EMDR trained and John Curphey LMFT is trained in Somatic Experiencing Therapy. Adam Nash and Jennifer Belmonte are both Trauma-Informed Counselors. Stacey Prefontaine has also studied trauma and is a trauma-informed hypnotherapist. Dr. Nicole Cain ND MA is also a trauma-informed clinician.

For more information on the research behind EMDR, check out EMDR.COM.

For more information on the research behind Somatic Experience Therapy, check out

EMDR Therapists

Introducing: The Manly Counselor

There is a clear problem today in America with suicide being one of the top ten causes of death (1) for men in America. Suicide grows to being one of the top three causes of death between the ages of 10-45 (2) which is a staggering thought that one of the top ways men under 45 are dying is by taking their own life. This is a sign of a deeper issue with mental health. The number one reason someone commits suicide is from depression and with only 5% (3) of men seeking mental health services depression in men goes greatly under diagnosed in today’s culture leading to more suicide among men.

Because of this mindset today Men are often told to simply “Man Up!” rather than working through their emotions and feelings of sadness and depression. Men are encouraged to be the provide for their family but today in the ever changing job climate more and more men are finding it hard to be the provider for their family and where does that leave men today? If men are told that they need to be tough and able to handle life on their own the when life gets tough and a men’s identity is tested what is a man to do?

In addition to being told to “Man Up!” there is a unspoken role that men are expected to fill in society is of the strong, stoic, I don’t need anyone other than myself mindset. We see this idea in TV and Movies with characters like James Bond (007), Ethan Hunt (Mission Impossible), and Ron Swanson (Parks and Recreation). Men who display a clear desire to be by themselves and do everything on their own. So how is a man supposed to talk about his emotions if he is meant to be alone? How does a man overcome a tough, mental health, situation that he can’t get out of on his own?

With this ongoing issue of mental health and manliness The Manly Counselor was formed with the idea of demystifying and de-stigmatizing mental health for men. Today therapy is often viewed as something that women do while men are told to simply go on with their life and avoid talking about their emotions. Because of this Adam Nash LLPC wanted to start a community where men can connect with other men and find education about their own mental health.

If you would like to join the movement towards demystifying and de-stigmatizing mental health for men The Manly Counselor can be found at Join the movement today!

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