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.


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.

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.


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

Substance Use Disorder

Are you or someone you know suffering from a Substance Use Disorder?

If you use more substance than you intend too, have failed to cut back from substances, or spend excessive time in obtaining, using, or recovering from substance use– you may be suffering from a substance use disorder.

It doesn’t matter your viewpoint on the legality or reasons for using drugs, alcohol, or other substances. In fact, you may still support the legality or reasons for people using a substance, without personally overindulging in its use. Substance Use issues are discovered based on a misuse or overuse of the substance that causes one, or one’s loved ones to suffer.

Substance Use Disorder symptoms could include having cravings for substances, use of substances affecting daily life such as work, school, or home, and using it in dangerous situations. If you’ve given up work, social, or recreational activities that could all be an indicator of substance abuse. Being persistent despite awareness of the problem, gaining a tolerance, or having withdrawals are also warning signs you’re suffering from substance abuse.

There are multiple levels of a Substance Use Disorder. If you experience 2 to 3 symptoms– the problem is considered is mild, 4 to 5 symptoms is moderate, and 6 or more symptoms is considered severe. It is important to have a medical professional evaluate you, if you believe you are suffering from a Substance Use Disorder.

Another important factor to consider is: Are you have any underlying symptoms that are influencing you to misuse drugs, alcohol, or other substances? Such symptoms can include: Anxiety, Depression, Social Anxiety, Relationship Issues, prolonged grief, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms.

There are many things you can do to help yourself overcome a Substance Use Disorder. The first step is observing how you feel after an episode of using substances, or accept feedback from a close friend or family member. Some ways to begin curbing a substance use disorder are: Admitting to yourself that you have an issue, becoming involved with sober-friends, joining a SMART recovery program, trying out a 12-step program, as well as beginning to recognize your triggers (for using). Adding meditation or yoga to your daily routine can help you begin to have more mind and body awareness of how you feel, both sober and intoxicated. Working on changing your diet to include healthy proteins and vegetables and supplementing with extra omega 3’s can also help.  Light exercise is also recommended to help one curb substance use. Other methods that can provide relief are art therapy, finding a mentor or wise helper, becoming part of an activity group which does not center around using substances, getting an animal companion, finding an active “outdoor” hobby, or planting a garden. Taking apple cider vinegar, ginkgo biloba (herbal medicine), and caffeine can be a healthier alternatives to drugs, alcohol, and other substances.

Since battling a Substance Use Disorder can become quite complicated and difficult, since many people have many social influences that may make it difficult to avoid drugs, alcohol, and other substances–it is important to consider that you may need a combination of help and personal self-help solutions, including professional help, medical interventions, a support group, and personal self-care.

A number of medical interventions can help you overcome a Substance Use Disorder. In fact, Clinical hypnotherapy has proven to be very helpful, specifically for smoking addiction.

Other medical interventions that could help are:

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

If you feel that your substance use is out of control, you can call a hotline to get immediate help, learn more here:

To find local support groups, check out these websites:

Smart Recovery:

Alcoholics Anonymous:

Learn more here about Substance Use Disorders here:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 

National Center for Biotechnology Information 



The story of Francis Assisi and the current zeitgeist

The story of Francis of Assisi and its relevance to the current zeitgeist w/ Rafe Adams [Episode 18 of the Intentional Clinician Podcast]

In this episode, Paul Krauss MA LPC invites Rafe Adams to tell the story of Francis of Assisi. You’re bound to enjoy his telling of this tale. Rafe expertly frames the cultural context and captures mood of the historical events. Rafe discusses the famous conversion of Francis from a young man of privilege into one who took a vow of poverty and lived with lepers in order to live out the words of the gospels, literally. He further goes on to explain the rejection of Francis by his own father and brother and draws parallels to the current zeitgeist of the United States. He doesn’t only speak on the gap between the rich and poor, but what happens to those born of privilege when they challenge entrenched ideas, laws, and economic forces of the day. In the interview Rafe also discusses the cultural, historical, political, and spiritual significance of Francis’ founding of the Order of Friars Minor (aka “The Franciscans”). This episode showcases Rafe’s talent of storytelling and how he can artfully move from his points about Francis of Assisi’s life and work and connect to themes of the broader human experience. Fans of philosophy, counseling, sociology, and spirituality are bound to enjoy this episode.

It’s truly a treat to listen to Rafe and Paul converse about how both in Francis’ time and and in modern times, people risk rejection by family and “cultural tribe” if they speak the truth about certain issues in their community, or work for causes that help “the least of these”, refuse to invest in certain economic trends, or speak loudly and passionately about unpopular truths. In addition to the aforementioned topics, the following topics are also discussed: personal transformation, rejection, counseling, psychology, spirituality,  and (most savory of all) BBQ.

The Rt. Rev. Raphael Adams (Rafe Adams), MS OTR/L is the Bishop of the Mid-American Diocese of the Ecumenical Catholic Communication. He is a member of the Franciscans of Reconciliation. He is a former professor at Rush University Chicago, Psychosocial Rehabilitation Consultant, and Occupational Therapist.

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 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, in Grand Rapids MI and is frequently visits Phoenix, AZ for work as well. Questions? Call Paul at 616-365-5530 (direct), or at the office 616-200-4433. Learn more about Paul at

Original music:

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

Corridor of Dreams from Midnight Cleaners by The Cleaners from Venus

Music available here:

How is Health for Life Different?

How is Health for Life Different?

This Week, Grand Valley State University student Ana, interviewed Health for Life’s Paul Krauss.

Ana: Thank you for agreeing to answer my Questions.

Paul Krauss MA LPC: Absolutely Ana.

Ana: What services does Health for Life offer?

Paul Krauss MA LPC: Well, we have multiple services. Currently, we have counseling services, naturopathic medicine, hypnotherapy, and health coaching. Let me tell you a little bit about each. So we have 6 Licensed Counselors who provide counseling and therapy services to adults, families, and children–and we accept pretty much all the major insurances. We also have a Naturopathic Physician who is board certified and licensed in the state of Arizona, which is an interesting fact and she can provide expert education and options to clients in Michigan and throughout the Midwest. We have a Clinical Medical Support Hypnotherapist who provides several types of hypnosis sessions for various situations and conditions. For instance, she has even helped people with quitting smoking, sleeping better, and people facing surgery to help them get through it with hypnotherapy. One of our licensed counselors is now providing Reiki sessions for stress relief and we have a new Health Coach starting in September.

Ana: So tell me, how is Health for Life different than other clinics?

Paul Krauss MA LPC: Well, I think one of the main things that set Health for Life apart is that our clinical staff here is that we are really devoted to keeping up with the latest research and the other thing is we are all really attempting to have an open and nonjudgmental attitude, sort of like a safe place for people to come.

Ana: Interesting. How does that work in terms of practice?

Paul Krauss MA LPC: Well, for instance: One of the ways I think it works is that I would describe us as a kind of inclusive clinic, We’re not a one-size-fits-all clinic, for instance, we all have different training; we’re trained in a vast variety of empirically proven techniques and treatments. So basically, what that means is that we will customize a plan that works for your unique personality, situation, and needs. We are never going to force you to accept a treatment paradigm or approach that doesn’t seem to click with you. A lot of patients come in here and tell us that they were told there is only one way to do something–so we’re trying to be different than that, we don’t think that’s best practice (to tell people there only “one way”). In addition, we continue to practice our skill sets and basically try to learn new methodologies and improve our skills so that we can understand people from all walks of life and best serve them. Dr. Cain and I first started Health for Life with sort of this mentality that we’re gonna go for the root cause we aren’t just doing lawn maintenance here.

Ana: That sounds great. So what does this mean for the average person walking into your office?

Paul Krauss MA LPC: Well, this means I think for them that we look at them as a whole person, including their personal experience and cultural values, not just what their complaint would be. To kind of summarize, we are not just categorizing people by their symptoms or slapping a label on them. You know while we are fully trained in the medical model for safety purposes, and obviously best practices we don’t want people to feel like they are just keeping their heads above water, and you know having to deal with some giant burden we want people to feel that they are thriving and getting joy out of life again. We don’t believe in having patients for life, we want to give the people that work with us, health for life—basically, that means that they can take their experience with us and go out into the world and find a community of like-minded people to continue growing and healing. Dr. Cain always talks about how clinicians are like lily pads there to support the individual on their healing journey in the pond of life.

Ana: Well said, Paul. How do you know how to help people so deeply?

Paul Krauss MA LPC: Well that’s a difficult question Ana because I don’t know if we know how to help everybody, but we are honest with our clients. We don’t pretend to know everything—for instance if there’s a condition or a certain situation that their facing if we don’t know the answers, we’re gonna take our time to research and find out some possible answers, yet regarding meaning and purpose that is a highly personal process that happens in counseling and other services, and so in that we take a very encouraging strength-based approach and stand alongside our clients as they seek their meaning and we will encourage them to continue that. So in practice this means, we’re both collaborative and integrative we utilize the synergy of different approaches and backgrounds as clinicians to find the right combination of treatments for our clients, for instance we will encourage clients to you know if we believe it’s best practice to work with another treatment modality or another doctor outside of our office because we want people to get the best combination, and we’re really educated on tiers of care and knowing what tier people can be in. So, the other part of this about how we have known to help people so deeply is we have a lot of experience and we are all avid readers and information seekers. One of the things about our clinic is that we wanted to hire people to work here that really are learners for life. And so, we are trained in multiple types of therapies and techniques we haven’t just stopped with our graduate education or doctorate education. We are not a clinic that’s founded on an approach, like a single approach or a trendy book or some sort of formula. We really pride ourselves in pivoting and adjusting our techniques and approach to what best serves the client. So in addition to that, we have a large emphasis on the relationship. We never want there to be a power dynamic, we are people just like you, who happen to specialize in helping others. So we’re not gonna tell you what to do, but we will help you find your best answer. We will provide suggestions and education as appropriate but we’re not gonna have that sort of attitude that we know best. We believe people know themselves best. We will give people the education, as in lab results, and different things depending on what you’re doing. So to summarize: I’d say we provide Counseling and Other services without a cultural judgment. We want to provide a customized approach for each individual, and we are trauma-informed and science-based practitioners and doctors with a heart for people.

Ana: It sounds like you’re really devoted to challenging the status quo.

Paul Krauss MA LPC: Absolutely Ana. Modern Medicine would not be what it is today without many clinicians that have gone before us, challenging the standard of the day. A recent example I can give is that many people suffering from traumatic events, recently, even this year I’ve heard of this happening they were labeled as having severe mental illness’ and even character issues. Many of them were shamed and told they would need to be on medications for their entire life and that they would probably need some type of cognitive manipulation therapy in large doses for years. Well, Ana, this has simply not been true for most people. We have learned a great deal from studies like the Adverse Child Experiences Study (ACES) as well as books like “The Body Keeps the Score” and the Interpersonal Neurobiology series from Norton which is on the brain and the nervous system and how counseling and different holistic practices, and medical practices can help people recover from trauma and other books like by Peter Levine and Francine Shapiro that help us understand us as both a person with a nervous system and also you know with a personal meaning. We now know there are many scientifically proven therapies that can relieve both acute and chronic symptoms from people who have suffered from a traumatic event. Well, a lot of people don’t know that. I’ve had people come into my office that thought that there was just something wrong with their brain forever and that there was no such thing as brain plasticity and that there were no therapies to help them. So some of these therapies that have helped people with trauma include EMDR therapy which you can read about on our website that’s been endorsed by the World Health Organization and the CDC, Somatic Experience Therapy, Clinical Hypnotherapy, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, Trauma Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and some of these therapies have just not been well known in West Michigan. The research is clear, they are highly effective and can provide relief to people who have been suffering and believed that they could not get better before. So, one of our missions as a clinic is also to help the West Michigan community learn about these therapies and interventions, both other clinicians and of course the consumers. So if we could help educate the public, people will be able to better understand themselves and have hope that they can recover.

Ana: Thank you for sharing. I understand that you actually have a Naturopathic Physician at Health for Life.

Paul Krauss MA LPC: Yes we do. Another thing that sets Health for Life apart is that we are an integrative clinic and Dr. Nicole Cain, is the co-founder, she actually has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology as well. She was trained and is recognized as a primary care physician in the state of Arizona. Now Dr.Cain works with people with all sorts of conditions but she has an expertise in integrative mental health. She maintains her medical license in the State of Arizona and is able to provide expert education in this State. She also provides clinical consultation to our team at Health for Life, which is pretty awesome. Having been on staff at a large medical school and she does some speaking nationally with one of the largest Behavioral Health Continuing Education Organizations called PESI Inc. She’s really been a great asset and lends a great perspective to our care here at Health for Life.

Ana: Interesting. What is the difference between a Naturopathic Physician or Doctor and a Naturopathic Practitioner?

Paul Krauss MA LPC: Well, that’s always a mouthful and it’s kind of hard to explain the differences between those but a Naturopathic Physician or Doctor graduated from a federally accredited medical school in either the United States or Canada. They learn all of the basic education and curriculum as an MD or DO, which you’ve probably heard of and do clinical medical rotations as a part of their education. For instance, in Arizona, where Dr. Cain is licensed, she can legally diagnose, order labs, perform minor surgery, and prescribe medications. All of the things that a DO or MD can do. Naturopathic Physicians are also taught alternative treatments like acupuncture and botanical medicine, and they have a particular emphasis on preventative medicine and functional medicine. On the other hand, you mentioned a Naturopathic Practitioner they do not have a medical education but they have simply taken some courses in alternative health modalities. There is no license or regulation applied to these people with naturopathic practitioner title, and therefore they cannot be considered a doctor. Unfortunately, the leaders of the schools that they attended decided to use a similar name—Naturopath, thus the confusion for the consumer. To learn more, about what a naturopathic physician is about this you can visit the Michigan site which is, . To learn more about naturopathic physicians in Michigan.

Ana: Excellent information. I have one last question: Why did you choose the name “Health for Life”?

Paul Krauss MA LPC:  Well I’m glad you asked that question, Ana. We chose the name “Health for Life” for several reasons. One of the reasons is: to have Health for Life, we can’t just see symptoms as something that is persecuting us and ruining our lives. We believe that symptoms are providing clues both to our medical, physical, body picture and to what’s missing to help us achieve our own optimal health. In fact, symptoms can also be related to finding more purpose or meaning to our lives. So, we are not just getting rid of symptoms here– that’s not our focus. We are dedicated to pursuing Health for Life and inspiring others to follow suit. And when you do lean into the symptoms and learn about the symptoms, often times most symptoms remit. Also, secondly through intentional practices and seeking what our minds, bodies, and souls need we believe that everyone has the potential to heal and grow. No matter what their situation and background. We also believe in learning more about one’s self, the body, and health practices to help you accomplish your goals and live a healthy life.

Lastly, we believe health is not just the measurement of one’s labs or a list of accomplishments at the gym. It is also a state of contentment that comes through a balance of work and play—so by pursuing this, we can operate at our best while playing our roles in our family and community. If we have health for life, we most certainly can extend a helping hand to others in need.

Ana: Thank you so much for letting me interview today.

Paul: My pleasure Ana.


What is Major Depressive Disorder?

What is Major Depressive Disorder?

Major Depressive Disorder, commonly known as MDD can be characterized by feelings of sadness or a lack of interest in outside stimuli.

What could be my symptoms?

  • Sadness
  • Interest Loss
  • Guilt or Worthlessness
  • Energy Loss
  • Concentration Loss
  • Appetite Change
  • Psychomotor Agitation or Persistent Irritability
  • Sleep Change
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Hopelessness
  • Low Self-Esteem

(Two or more of these symptoms lasting for at least 2 weeks)

How can I relieve my symptoms?

There are many things you can do to relieve your symptoms. One of the best, and all natural alternatives being, going outside! Engaging in outdoor activities will allow your body to soak up natural Vitamin D. Not only will it help you with MDD, but getting natural vitamin D from the sun has a number of health benefits like decreasing your chance of developing heart disease.

Another great way to relieve your symptoms is modifying your diet. Adding extra omega-3’s, vitamin D, leafy greens, walnuts, and more is suggested.

Other ways to relieve your symptoms include but aren’t limited too: meditation, dancing (to increase your heart rate), limiting sugar and alcohol intake and trying something new.

Small things you can do at home to relieve your symptoms/self help:

  • Get moving! Go outside and take a walk. Soak up that natural Vitamin D. Stretch to get the blood flowing. The lack of energy flow in the body can cause depressive symptoms.
  • Extra omega- 3’s, vitamins B, leafy greens, walnuts, cashews, almonds, avocado, salmon, and dark chocolate.
  • Take deep breaths and listen to a meditation video.
  • Listen to music and dance – get your heart rate going
  • Accomplish a small project – start your day by making your bed
  • Limit sugar and alcohol intake
  • Try something new
  • Watch a comedian. Laugh!

Medical interventions:

  • Counseling
  • Naturopathic Medicine
  • Seeing a Psychiatrist
  • Seeing your Primary Care Doctor and asking for information and referrals
  • Magnesium and Vitamin D (Mayo Clinic)
  • Change in Diet and Increase in Exercise

What are some medical interventions that can help me?

There are a number of medical options that can help you with MDD. Counseling is a great way to help identify and manage MDD. Another great option is Naturopathic Medicine, this will give you the chance to heal holistically. Lastly, Magnesium and Vitamin D are great supplements to take to help with Major Depressive Disorder.

How can Health for Life help you with your depression?

Health for Life will provide an open, positive, calming atmosphere that will help you on your journey. With a number of experienced counselors at hand, we’ll find the perfect fit for you. In addition to the exemplary counseling that we offer, we also sell an antidepressant companion. This supplement works as a complement to an antidepressant. Antidepressant Companion aims to reduce the side effects of your antidepressant medication. In addition it restores the building blocks of a good mood. It can also be taken as a vitamin which could help restore some nutrients that may be lacking due to the effects of depression

Build a better you with Health for Life.

For more information on help, counseling, and supplements we provide refer to the links below:

Dr. Nicole Cain (Naturopathic Doctor):

Paul Krauss (Specializes in Counseling, EMDR Therapy, & Solutions):

Nicole Vega (Therapy for Women):

Adam Nash (Counseling to help Men, Teens, and Parents of Teens):

Stacey Prefontaine (Hypnotherapy):

Billie Walters (Natural Approaches to creating balance & perspective):

Jennifer Belmonte (Healing for the Family):

John Curphey: (Relationship Issues & Trauma Work):

Our Antidepressant Companion Supplement.

The information and techniques listed above do not replace medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare practitioner if you think you are suffering with depression and DO NOT make any changes without consulting your doctor first. The DSM-5 strives to conceptualize an illness as a spectrum, with a domain that should be construed as normal.

This blog is written for information and promotional use only–it is not and should not be considered medical or clinical advice.


Men in Therapy: What does it mean?

Men in Therapy: What does it mean?

by John Curphey, MDiv MA LMFT

There has been a major shift for men in our culture. In a previous generation, it was considered wise to “cut off” from your emotional self. In fact, for some, it was seen as a strength to be “stoic” and seeing men in therapy was not viewed as common. That style is no longer very effective for men, as they seek to navigate the many connections and roles in their lives. Years ago, it wasn’t common to find men in therapy, at least that they self-selected. Today men are seeking greater self-awareness. A piece of that has to do with emotional attunement. Some men are shedding the stigma and deciding to do their “inner work” through therapy. Yet, what does it mean for men to be in therapy?

With emotional awareness there are multiple advantages for men. Men can navigate their relationships in the family with greater wisdom and acuity; men can understand their internal response to external demands; men can find balance within themselves and strength for multiple challenges.

I am interested in helping men on multiple levels. Self-awareness and self-appreciation are foundational elements for healing. I find that many men and women have difficulty accessing the positive resources within themselves. They also have difficulty accessing spiritual and physical resources. I have a holistic approach. As a pastor ( recently retired ) I help clients find spiritual direction. As an emotionally attuned therapist, I support clients through emotional confusion and distress. As a somatic experiencing therapist, I support clients through the trauma events of their lives.

If you are wondering about trying out therapy for yourself, call John Curphey at (616) 208-4814 for a complimentary consultation. John practices therapy at Health for Life Grand Rapids. 781 Kenmoor Ave SE, Suite C, Grand Rapids, MI 49546 . You may email John at [email protected] 


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