The New Vision for Envision 

After a long hiatus, we are relaunching! First with our blog and early 2017 with a brick and mortar location in the DC Metro Area.

Ramen in Tokyo
When I initially started writing Envision-ings, my goal was to empower and educate lay people about mental health issues. I wanted to provide education about how to recognize common psychological problems and where to get help, while creating a space that was safe for people to ask questions and share their experiences with one another. Before I could fully realize my own Envision-ing, I got an incredible opportunity in the Spring of 2014 to provide counseling and education to other Americans living in Japan.

What I thought would be a few months of solid work in a brand new place, quickly morphed into an extended period of travel and work not only in Japan, but in Europe as well. I love to meet new people and places, so I thought working and living abroad would suit me well. I was absolutely correct about how wonderful an experience this would be, but my rose colored glasses kept me from seeing the ways in which I would change and grow during my time overseas.

Amsterdam, Netherlands
For every new friend I made, there was a friend I was missing at home. For every culinary delight I tasted, there was a plate of my Dad’s barbecue and my Sister’s Macaroni and Cheese that I longed for. How could I know that bobbing my head to a five-piece jazz band on the riverfront in Seoul, Korea would make me nostalgic for the outdoor concerts at Carter Barron Amphitheater that my Mom and I attend every summer?

I never predicted how I would expand as a clinician from the challenge of giving to others, while creating a new version of my own support system. I had no clue how much I would miss being a part of my community at home, while I found community in new places and people with whom I shared only the common language of a smile and an open heart.

Like so many of you, I have also been challenged by events occurring at home in my absence. During the time that I have been away, I have heard of the deaths of more of my young brothers and sisters than I can comprehend. I have witnessed the protests demanding the value of Black lives be recognized, not just in the US, but in the streets of Tokyo.  From my bed in Japan, I have cried tears of outrage reading the Department of Justice’s report on the state of policing in Baltimore City and tears of joy watching the Simones (Manuel and Biles) swim and flip their way to gold in Rio on the same day.

The last few years have been an amazing tour of discovery and service, as I have traveled and worked across the world. Seasons change and in this season, I am preparing to leave Japan, bringing a renewed sense of myself, both personally and professionally.

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Although my original aim is still at the core of Envision Therapeutic Services and this blog, my personal growth and bearing witness to the joys and challenges of my brothers and sisters from a far have influenced a new way of seeing my commitment to my psychotherapy clients and the community in which I will return to. During the time I have been away, I have learned so much more about how to use what I have been blessed with to care for my community and the people in it.

My hope is that my renewal will translate into a psychotherapy and community service practice that empowers and spurns growth for those I am privileged to help. I hope that you will join me for this journey, realizing your own Envision-ings along the way.

Aziza

ReNew Year

New Year's Eve 2014 at Tsukiji Hongan-ji
New Year’s Eve 2014 at Tsukiji Hongan-ji

As this was my first time being in Japan for New Year’s Eve, I wanted to do as the locals do. I went to Tsujiki Hongan-ji Temple for Joya No Kane or the ringing of the bells. The Buddhist service held prior to the bell ringing is an opportunity to express upon one’s gratitude for the previous year and is a time to think about life and all that makes it possible. The bells are rung 108 times as a ritual of purification from the 108 evil desires that humans suffer from on earth. As midnight approaches, the bells are rung 107 times in the old year, with the last toll of the bell marking the beginning of the new year at midnight.

Even if you don’t share this particular spiritual belief, the ritual is a great reminder that sometimes we all need a fresh start. What better time to seek renewal than the start of a new year? If you’re not sure where to start here are a few tips:
Maintenance
Step up your self care. Do something to recharge your batteries. That could mean anything from taking a long, candle-lit soak in the tub or treating yourself to a walk in your favorite park. For others it might mean planning and actually taking a vacation. Self care doesn’t have to be a huge gesture, just the cumulative effect of caring for yourself in small ways on a regular basis. What small things can you do for yourself that will make a big impact?

Reconnection
The new year isn’t always about bringing in the new. Renewal can often be found by returning what is already there. Make a pledge to reconnect with pieces of yourself that you have let go or covered up. For instance, if you used to love writing, but have put your notepad aside, set a goal of journaling or writing for yourself at least once a week. Come up with a specific time for your new-old activity and make sure to keep your appointment with yourself.

Seek Spirit
Spiritual practice is key to renewing ourselves. Spiritual practice is connection to that which is greater than you as an individual. For some that something greater is defined as God, for others it is represented in respecting the humanity of the people they encounter or experiencing nature. If you were reared in a particular religious or spiritual tradition you may already have your renewal go-to. It might be a hymn, a prayer or meditation or a favorite verse from your faith’s religious text. If you’re not religious in the traditional sense, selecting a favorite poem or quote that inspires or singing along to an uplifting song can help to refresh your mind. Try volunteer work–serving with a community organization that supports a cause you care about can be a great way to get us outside of ourselves and connected to others.

Happy New Year!!!

Holiday Envision-ings!

Winter Illuminations in Hiroshima, Japan- Winter 2014
Winter Illuminations in Hiroshima, Japan- Winter 2014

Happy Holidays!
The holiday season is always a time of great reflection for me. As I begin preparing for the New Year and setting my goals, I think about what happened over the last year and what I hope for in the next. This year, in addition to my goals I will be setting some intentions for 2015. Unlike goals which are measurable and concrete, intentions are hopes and desires, more feeling than fact. I’ve decided that I’m great at setting goals and achieving, but I’ve been asking myself more and more, “How do I want to feel while I’m working towards my goals?”. That’s where intention comes in. So in 2015, I set my intention for the following:

Beach at Onna, Okinawa, Japan-Summer 2014
Beach at Onna, Okinawa, Japan-Summer 2014

Love

This year I want to focus on what it means to be in relationship with others–the people I am in direct connection with and humanity as a whole. In 2014, I was blessed to live in Japan for much of the year and I have begin thinking about what it means to fully love myself and share that love with others. Despite the language barrier, I have come to meet wonderful people that have touched my life and I hope that I have touched them, as well. I have also come to love a different culture and way of being. Japanese society has taught me the value of simultaneously respecting tradition while being forward-thinking and innovative. In 2015, I hope to give love by being open and accepting of new people, new places, and new experiences. I will love myself and others by setting healthy boundaries.

In the meditation garden at Tenryu-ji Zen Temple. Kyoto, Japan-Autumn 2014
In the meditation garden at Tenryu-ji Zen Temple.
Kyoto, Japan-Autumn 2014

Joy
Joy is wonderment combined with gratitude. Fully experiencing each moment by being present and thankful for the gift and/or lesson of the moment is my focus for 2015. Over the course of 2014, I learned that life without joy is a chore. I also learned that being filled with joy is a choice. I want to continue to choose a life of gratitude and wonder as much as possible in the new year. Confession, joy is not my default setting. Left to my own devices, I can easily become pessimistic and just plain icky, so I will be striving towards joy all year, hoping that by 2016, I will be joy expert!

Community

My intention for community goes hand-in-hand with love. In love, we give and we take. We share intimacy by knowing the other person and allowing ourselves to be known. Community is love on a bigger scale. Being in community means giving recognition and support to a group of people that have something in common with you and receiving recognition and support from that group.

Living in Japan has meant physical separation from my family, friends, and the organizations and clubs that I am a part of. I have had to find and form new groups of people to belong with. In the process of “getting in where I fit in”, I’ve had to think a lot about the pieces that make up the whole me. I’ve had to decide which pieces of me need nurturing and recognition from others with similar pieces and which parts of myself I can care for on my own. As protests have erupted all over the US in response to police brutality and a demand for justice for all, I have contemplated what I can do about an issue that effects me and the members of my community, despite being a world away from it all. I would like to discover more ways to give back to my community when I am apart from it.

The Diabutsu in Kamakura, Japan-Spring 2014
The Diabutsu in Kamakura, Japan-Spring 2014

My experiences in Japan have also made me think about what it means to be a responsible member of a new community. I am an outsider that hopes to get in. I am struggling to learn the language and customs with the hope that at the very least I will demonstrate polite manners and social grace, while maintaining faith that I can come a little bit closer to being a part of the community in which I am living and creating lasting relationships with people I live among.  In the new year, I want to continue to explore what I bring to the communities in which I am physically present and what I can contribute to those communities that I am absent from.

Are you setting intentions for the new year. If so, how do your intentions connect with your goals?  Here’s to sending 2014 off with a blast and welcoming 2015 with a bang!

JUNE 18 CEU EVENT CANCELLED

The New HIV: Clinical Implications and Ethical Practice for the 21st Century

June 18, 2013          8:30 am – 4:30 pm  

1050 Connecticut Ave NW

10th Floor

Washington, DC 20036

An HIV diagnosis is no longer the death sentence it used to be.  Medical advances have transformed being HIV Positive from terminal crisis to chronic illness.  In this 6 credit workshop,* we will uncover the clinical and ethical issues that arise as mental health clinicians help those affected by HIV to move beyond survival into thriving.

*Workshop includes 3 Ethics Credits and is approved for Social Workers and MFTs; fulfills DC Social Work Board HIV requirements.

Learning Objectives

  • Increase awareness of current trends in HIV/AIDS diagnosis and care
  • Identify clinical issues commonly associated with HIV/AIDS
  • Establish best practices for mental health clinicians working with clients affected by HIV/AIDS
  • Understand common ethical dilemmas that arise in the treatment of clients affected by HIV/AIDS

Cost  $130

Dine Out For Life with Food and Friends

Anyone who knows me, knows that I never need an excuse to go out to eat.  If you need a reason here is a link to 10 great reasons!

On April 25 Dine Out for Life to support Food and Friends, an incredible organization that provides meals to people in the DC metro area who are battling HIV/AIDS, Cancer, and other illnesses.  More than 100 restaurants in the DC Metro area will be participating on April 25th.  Depending on which restaurant you choose, up to 110% of the proceeds from your meal will be donated to fund the meals Food and Friends provides to so many who are unable to feed themselves due to illness.

Food and Friends has helped many of my clients over the years and I encourage you to support their service in our community.  Stop and say hi, if you spot me eating on the 25th!

Listening 101

ImageI recently enrolled in a short term course on analytic listening.  The idea of this class is to help therapists think about how we listen and to improve our listening skills.  After the first class, I was struck by how complicated listening is.  It’s not just a one-way exchange.  We are taking information in, processing it and then ascribing meaning to it. We are also listening with our eyes.  Often we are not consciously aware of the messages we get from the other person’s body language and facial expression.

Sometimes this exchange goes really well and the person we are in conversation with feels understood, their message has successfully been conveyed and we feel that we have gotten what they were trying to say.  Sometimes things don’t go as planned.  Despite our best efforts we miss each other and don’t receive the message.  Effective communication is vital to every relationship we have and being a skilled listener is key to achieving the best version of our relationships.  So, how can you improve your listening skills?

Minimize Distractions

Put down your smart phone. Lower the volume on your iPod.  It’s easier to listen when you can focus on what’s being said to you.

Check Your Body Language

What is your facial expression saying? Are your arms folded across your chest? If so, unfold them.  Open postures and facial expressions help the speaker to feel listened to.

Make Eye Contact

Look at the person speaking to you.  It will help you stay engaged and focused on what they are saying.

What makes you feel like you are being heard?