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The Queer Body Remembers: Somatic-Focused Trauma Healing By Payam Ghassemlou MFT, Ph.D.

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For many LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning) people growing up was distressing due to homophobia and transphobia. Schools felt like a scary place for those who were scapegoated as queer. LGBTQ people of color reported even worse experiences due to the additional stress of racism and racial bullying. Many of the gay men’s personal narratives that I have heard are not vastly different from my own. Regardless of national origin or skin color, we are part of a tribe with similar stories of growing up in a homophobic and transphobic world where our true essence was repeatedly assaulted. As LGBTQ people, we have connected around the theme of “love is stronger than hate” which raised awareness about our injustice and suffering. Addressing these issues have helped people to become more concerned about the mistreatment of not only LGBTQ kids, but also any youngsters who do not flow with the mainstream. More work needs to be done to make the world a safer place for m

A Somatic Approach on Working with Depression and Negative Self-Talk By Payam Ghassemlou MFT, Ph.D.

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Depression is common and treatable. It can strike anyone at any age. Consulting with your physician or a licensed mental health provider is the best way to find out if you are suffering from depression and the type of depression you might be having. A person with depression can experience a few or many of the following symptoms: Feelings of sadness and emptiness Feelings of anxiety Experiencing restlessness or irritability Losing interest in all or most activities Problems with appetite that can lead to weight gain or weight loss Sleeping problems Loss of interest in sex Low energy that can include feeling tired much of the time Difficulty with concentration or making decisions Feeling negative towards oneself including worthlessness or excessive guilt Feeling hopeless or helplessness Crying spells Increased use of alcohol or drug use in order to cope with a depressed mood Thoughts of death/suicidal ideation Many peopl

The Role of Trauma Therapists in the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius

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A great change is upon humanity. The Age of Aquarius which values social conscience combined with love and unity is replacing the Piscean Age of dualism, hierarchy, and power. No one knows exactly when each age begins or ends, but most experts seem to agree that humanity is in a very important transition period. Unprecedented change and upheaval can happen when Piscean values that have lasted for over two thousand years is taken down to make room for a new world. Perhaps the COVID-19 pandemic with its devastating impact on health and the economy is related to such a seismic shift. This transition to a new age is gradual and has been in progress for a long time. The world will become a better place once the transition is completed, and humanity can celebrate the promises of the Aquarian Age. Such promises include peace on Earth , end of poverty, love and kindness, pure spiritual awareness, true democracy and more. Some of these promises are happening now as humanity is racing to

Resource is Power in Dealing with COVID-19 By Payam Ghassemlou Ph.D.

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COVID-19 is the uninvited guest that has crashed our daily lives. This virus has forced us to take a collective “time out,” and shelter in our homes. Most of our plans are now on pause, and we are living with a great deal of uncertainty. For many of us, fear, helplessness, and confusion are among the common reactions to the coronavirus outbreak. It feels scary to deal with an invisible enemy that  can attack the respiratory system and jeopardize our well-being or the health of our loved ones. No one should feel judged for having an emotional  reaction to this pandemic.   It is important to have empathy for our painful feelings, and our struggle dealing with this situation. Everyone’s pain is unique, and no one deserves to suffer in silence. Reaching out and asking for help is a courageous act that we can do in response to our need for support. When it comes to asking for help, it is important to notice where we experience our distress. We often notice our overwhelming emotions

Breath & Love: A Different Kind of Intoxication by Payam Ghassemlou Ph.D.

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The word intoxication often gets associated with substance use. Even though some people do experience a physical high through drinking or drug use, such behaviors have nothing to do with the real desire of the soul for elevation. There is a different kind of intoxication that comes from certain body-mind practices.  Such practice draws breath and love together with the intention of a journey into the heart, which is into an inner place you can call “home.” Every journey has a beginning.   The journey into the heart starts with awareness of breath, which is one of the most accessible paths to the present moment and has the potential for transformation . Breathing is an automatic bodily function that you can consciously work with. For instance, you can infuse each breath you take with a silent mantra, which can be performed anytime and anywhere. A mantra can be given by one’s mentor or can be found through personal research. A conscious breath that is combined with

The Royal Road to Nervous System Regulation By Payam Ghassemlou MFT, Ph.D.

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Many years ago, my husband and I worked on a small movie project that involved reshooting and editing some of the scenes. Inspired by that experience, I view life as a movie with the opportunity to reshoot and edit some of the upsetting or disappointing scenes. The editing tool is our imagination. Life experiences can consist of traumatic or tragic scenes, but we don't have to live in the shadow of our tragedies. As Peter Levine, the founder of Somatic Experiencing stated, "Trauma is a fact of life, but it doesn't have to be a life sentence." With the help of our imagination, we can come up with an alternative to any unsettling life experience. Since these events impact the nervous system, the most important part of this work is noticing how the body responds to the new take along with the bodily sensations that can arise. Noticing how our body responds to a positive replica of an event can help embody a new relationship to the original experience.

Becoming Our Own Protective Container

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Becoming Our Own Protective Container By Payam Ghassemlou Ph.D. As human beings, we need a sense of safety. We can’t thrive without it. Given the current sociopolitical circumstances in America, many of us don’t feel safe.   As a gay man, it doesn’t make me feel secure when I witness the dismantling of our LGBTQ+ rights by homophobic politicians. Since the mental health of the individual and sociopolitical factors are deeply intertwined, no wonder we are seeing more anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and suicide than ever before. At times like this we need to learn to become our own protective container. A vessel in which to settle ourselves and access our sense of safety. Luckily, we all have a protective container, which is our body. Our body has amazing protective and healing potentials. We just need to learn how to access it. A settled body can be a resource to contain us during turbulent times. By learning how to work with touch, breath, movement, gestu