Thoughts on the New Year | Marty Laska, LPCC-S, LICDC-S, ACHT

Posted by on Jan 2, 2020 in Ask The Therapist, Blog From The Experts | 0 comments

Written by Marty Laska, LPCC-S, LICDC-S, ACHT


Here are some thoughts I am moved to share:

I have read many lists, books and listened to many teachers on the topic of what a person should do if they want to be successful, spiritual, mature… and so on.
What I am reminded is this: all the lists or requirements are developed by someone else. And even if we make our own list, there is a judgment involved of “in order to do better” there is some behavior or thought that needs to be rooted out. As if by magic, if I am perfect I will be happy or successful.
How about just allowing yourself to have an open mind? How about asking “What do I want to do with this precious 1/2 hour?”
Of course, there are basic rules – we know we cannot live on Christmas cookies! (Sigh) But give an open mind approach to your day to day life and see where you go. Happy New Year!

EMDR: How the Heck Can Eye Movement Help Trauma?

Posted by on Sep 25, 2019 in Blog From The Experts, Hot Topics | 1 comment

First, let’s talk about trauma. There are all kinds of trauma both physical (like a serious injury) or emotional (like an assault). Sometimes there is a combination of both.

We all have a pretty solid grasp on how our bodies can heal from physical trauma, but healing from emotional trauma is not so clear. Here’s a common example that illustrates this. We have all gotten a splinter at some point. A splinter in our skin would be a physical ‘trauma’ or injury, and when that splinter is removed, your body works to heal that wound. Now in a different scenario, what happens when that splinter is not removed? That wound becomes irritated, swollen and causes pain.

While it may be a simple task to remove the real-life splinter, how can an ‘emotional splinter’, or painful traumatic memory, be removed so we can heal? The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health. If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering. Once the block is removed, healing resumes.

EMDR or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms of emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life events by effectively processing the memory and resolving it.

What is EMDR session like? An EMDR certified therapist and his or her client will have determined which traumatic memory to target in session. The client is asked to hold different aspects of that event or thought in mind while also using his eyes to track the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth across the client’s field of vision. During this procedure, patients tend to “process” the painful memory emotionally and cognitively in a way that leads to a peaceful resolution.

So how does EMDR work? There are a couple of different theories behind the effectiveness of EMDR, and both involve ‘over-taxing’ the brain with tasks to make the traumatic memory less emotionally painful. One theory is that the left-to-right movement in EMDR causes bilateral stimulation in the brain. Bilateral stimulation in the brain has a calming effect on the nervous system, causes increased attentional flexibility (feeling less ‘stuck’ on an uncomfortable thought or memory) and has a distancing effect (making the uncomfortable thought feel smaller or farther away). All of these effects help the client process the painful memory more easily.

The other theory that explains the effectiveness of EMDR has to do with ‘working memory’. Working memory is also referred to as ‘short-term memory’. We use our short term memory system to store and manage the information required to carry out complex cognitive tasks such as learning, reasoning, and comprehension. This system has a limited capacity so during an EMDR session when the client is asked to recall an emotional memory and also start following the left/right movement, the competition of these two tasks on the working memory reduces the memory’s vividness and emotionality. As a consequence of this, the less vivid memory is what will be pulled up in future recalls.

There has been so much research on EMDR therapy that it is now recognized as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization and the Department of Defense.

Relationship Tips for People with Anxiety

Posted by on Jul 5, 2019 in Hot Topics | 0 comments

Relationships can be stressful. From the very first date you might be worrying, ‘Do I look ok in this outfit?’, ‘What if there are awkward silences during dinner?’ and ‘Is he/she going to like me?’ And it gets more complicated from there, because being in a relationship, getting to know someone and building intimacy requires being vulnerable. This is hard for anyone. 


Now lets add on top of that, you are a person who already wrestles with high anxiety or an anxiety disorder.  If you, your partner or both of you have anxiety, it can make it even harder to have a strong and healthy relationship.

Below are a few tips to help keep your relationship strong if you or your partner has anxiety.


Communication is Key

Anxious thoughts are extremely personal and you might be tempted to avoid talking about it with your partner.  But it’s important to remember, the tough conversations are what will bring you closer. One of the most effective ways to cope with anxiety in a relationship is to be open, honest and direct with your partner about it and about how they can best support you when you are feeling anxious.


Learn Together

It can be very difficult for someone who has experienced significant anxiety to understand how it feels. Explaining what it feels like to have intense anxiety can also be hard to convey. Share some articles or websites that help describe what your anxiety feels like and look at them together. Let your partner ask you questions to help clarify what it feels like to be in your shoes. 


Boundaries are Important
Talking is healthy, but talking over and over about the same thing can be draining on your partner. If your partner sets some boundaries with you when it comes to your anxious feelings, know that it is not because your partner does not love or care for you. Boundaries are important to enhance your relationship, not to push against it. This will help to keep the connection strong.


Focus on Them

When you are feeling anxious, it can almost feel like a bubble that you can’t get out of. Those thoughts bounce around you and consume you, and it can sometimes lead to neglecting your partner’s needs. One way to pull yourself out of that bubble is to focus on someone you care about and making him or her happy.  Take some time to give your partner attention, gratitude affection, touch or have conversations just about him or her.


And the most important thing to remember… always… is that you are not defined by your anxiety and there is plenty of good that comes with loving you, regardless.

The Benefits of Private Yoga

Posted by on Jan 15, 2019 in Blog From The Experts | 0 comments

Perhaps one of your New Year’s resolutions this January is to get your health back on track.  Yoga could be a great option for you as it can help with anxiety, depression, sleep, chronic pain, flexibility… the list goes on. But joining a yoga class can be intimidating, especially if you are new to yoga.  You may not have thought about doing a private yoga class (just you and your instructor), or you may have thought about it and decided that it’s not worth the money.  I would like to take a minute to discuss how amazing one-on-one yoga can be.

Private space to discuss your health history:
In a group class, it can be difficult to catch your instructor alone to discuss any injuries, surgeries or illnesses you may have. Even if you can tell the instructor before class, he or she may not be able to take class time to help you with specific modifications. In a private session, you can discuss this and he or she can help you modify poses or offer alternatives until you can do them on your own.  Yoga can be good for anybody -and any body-, but it can be a much more rewarding practice when your instructor understands your specific needs.

Get exactly what you want and nothing you don’t:
Just like a fitness coach, when you pay for private instruction you get the undivided attention of a trained professional who will get to know your body and your needs and create a routine specifically for you. That might mean working specifically on deep stretching poses for increased hip flexibility, or the right pose adjustments for your knees, or a focus on breath work to help with anxiety.  Those needs may even change session to session, and your instructor will communicate with you on what you need that day.

Feel confident in group classes:
Not only can it feel overwhelming to go to a big yoga class, it can be risky if you are a novice. A big class will likely have students of all experience levels, and it can be hard to always keep an eye on the instructor for guidance on poses. Following others in the class could lead you to doing a pose incorrectly. This could leave you open to injury.  Having a few private lessons will help you learn the proper way to get in and out of every pose safely. It will also be a more enjoyable class if you are less focused on form, and more focused on being present and enjoying your yoga practice.


Battling Winter Boredom at Home

Posted by on Jan 5, 2019 in Hot Topics | 0 comments

We all know the feeling that comes around during January where the Holidays are over, so now what? It’s cold outside and we are more inclined than ever to just sit around inside. You also could be battling Seasonal Depression, which makes getting anything done even more difficult. Here is a list of things you can do inside that will also help you get moving and stay moving.


Organize a Section of Your Home

Whether it is a closet or the top of your fridge, clearing out old junk and organizing the more cluttered part of your home can give you a sigh of relief. Sometimes self-care is not always spa days and massages, it is in part keeping your environment tidy as well. Don’t wait until Spring time when you would rather be outside, you might as well just get it done now while it is cold out!


Learn Some at Home Workouts

Getting to the gym, like everything else when it is cold, is even more difficult. Picking up some new at home workouts can be a solution to this. There are many learning tools at hand for you such a YouTube. The term “workout” does not necessarily always include weights. It can be things like calisthenics or yoga which are much more accessible in your own home.



The times where you are stuck inside are perfect for cooking or baking! Try out some new recipes you have been meaning to learn or make some old favorites.


Plan a Night In

Having a night in with some of your closest friends can be very stress-relieving. You can keep it simple, maybe just dinner or even appetizers and drinks. Using this time of the year to catch up with those around you can really lift your spirits.



Getting Ready for The New Year

Posted by on Dec 26, 2018 in Hot Topics | 0 comments

It seems that every year there is the expectation of the classic, “New Year’s Resolution.” This can come with a lot of pressure, and as we all know, a lot of people find it difficult to follow through. A lot of times, this is because when someone promises to make a change, sometimes they just aren’t physically, mentally, and spiritually thinking through the change.

New Year’s Resolutions are great if they are truly thought out and taken seriously. Even if you have good intentions, it is easy to look over the logistics of your decision.

While it is important to make a realistic goal, you also need to make sure you aren’t talking yourself out of something that could be a good change. Just because something is going to be difficult and require a lot of effort and planning, doesn’t mean you should avoid it. The key in a successful New Year’s Resolution is to plan, be prepared for change, and stay consistent. They say that a habit only takes 21 days to form, so by that rate, you will be on a better track before the end of January!

Recipe of the Week

Posted by on Dec 11, 2018 in Hot Topics | 0 comments

Black Bean Green Pepper Salsa

1 Onion
1 Green Pepper
6 Baby Bella mushrooms
½ Cup Frozen Corn
1 Can of Drained and Rinsed Black Beans
12 Cherry Tomatoes Sliced in Half
1 Avocado
1 tsp.Cumin
1 tsp. Chilli Powder
Salt to taste
Lime Juice to taste

Dice the onion and pepper and saute it water with cumin and chili powder until the pepper are soft. Add the mushrooms, frozen corn and black beans. Cook for a few minutes then add the cherry tomatoes.

Serve in a bowl topped with the avocado, salt to taste and add fresh squeezed lime.

Enjoy! This is super simple and quick!

** Tip: Do not add salt during the cooking process, just add it at the end. You will end up using so much less salt!

Dealing with Changing Life Stages

Posted by on Nov 9, 2018 in Hot Topics | 0 comments

As you have gotten older, you have probably noticed your life becoming very different as each chapter unfolds. For example, as we get older and life goes on, it is harder to stay in contact with dear friends. These transitions can be difficult and lonely at times. It can be tough to accept the fact that every day life can be tirelessly mundane and boring at times. This is how people get stuck in “the good old days” and don’t necessarily enjoy the stage they are at.

There is no getting around the idea that life is going to change. Not only within yourself, but the people around you will also change, grow, move, have kids, get married, etc. Trying to stay in the past will ultimately hinder your future. It is important to be thankful for today. Living in the present moment is all we can do because nothing else is certain, and the past is the past.

If you are currently in a stage of life where you are in a transitional period, enjoy that too. You have so much to look forward to. However, even enjoying the thought of the future only can negatively affect this present moment. Be excited for the future, but do not put all of your happiness in one place.

Learn from today, and never miss an opportunity to learn something new. Our lives can change in 5 seconds, so be grateful for what we have today. This in turn will make life’s crazy changes easier to cope with, and hopefully make it easier for you to continue to learn and grow.

Comfort Zone

Posted by on Oct 31, 2018 in Blog From The Experts | 0 comments

They say that the magic happens outside of your comfort zone. However, stepping out of our comfort zones can be a very difficult thing to muster up. At times, it can feel like you’re just stuck in one place. How can we teach ourselves to be the brave g0-getters we so heavily admire?

The very first thing to do is accept that you are going to be uneasy at first. Doing something that strays away from our everyday norms is almost always the harder choice. If we can accept this uncomfortable feeling and embrace the change, you will be in a mindset that sets you up for success.

Something else that might help you, is to sit down and assess your goal. What resources do you need to achieve it? Time? Money? Support? Once you have a clear path, the anxieties associated with the unknown will slowly slip away. Planning is a great way to combat anxiety in general. If you are unsure how to do what you need to do, talk to someone you are close to and get their advice. Learning what you need to do and setting a realistic timeline will make any life transition much easier to digest.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Posted by on Oct 8, 2018 in Hot Topics | 0 comments

We all know someone affected by Breast Cancer. Whether it is themselves, or a loved friend or family member, it is know to affect 1 in 8 women. Breast Cancer is also the second leading cause of death for women. However, this disease not only falls upon women, but it is known to develop in men, although rare. Awareness is important for everyone, because some people may come across a lump, but dismiss it. According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide, claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of women each year and affecting countries at all levels of modernization. This disease being worldwide is the reason awareness is so important. Learning the facts and symptoms can help save lives.


According to, genetic factors include: 

  • Gender:  Breast cancer occurs nearly 100 times more often in women than in men.
  • Age:  Two out of three women with invasive cancer are diagnosed after age 55.
  • Race:  Breast cancer is diagnosed more often in caucasian women than women of other races.
  • Family History and Genetic Factors:  If your mother, sister, father or child has been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, you have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer in the future. Your risk increases if your relative was diagnosed before the age of 50.
  • Personal Health History:  If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer in one breast, you have an increased risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer in the other breast in the future. Also, your risk increases if abnormal breast cells have been detected before (such as atypical hyperplasia, lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) or ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)).
  • Menstrual and Reproductive History:  Early menstruation (before age 12), late menopause (after 55), having your first child at an older age, or never having given birth can also increase your risk for breast cancer.
  • Certain Genome Changes:  Mutations in certain genes, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, can increase your risk for breast cancer. This is determined through a genetic test, which you may consider taking if you have a family history of breast cancer. Individuals with these gene mutations can pass the gene mutation onto their children.
  • Dense Breast Tissue:  Having dense breast tissue can increase your risk for breast cancer and make lumps harder to detect. Several states have passed laws requiring physicians to disclose to women if their mammogram indicates that they have dense breasts so that they are aware of this risk. Be sure to ask your physician if you have dense breasts and what the implications of  having dense breasts are.