New Year’s Resolutions by Cecelia Tarr

January 4, 2024

As we step into a new year, it’s only natural for many of us to set intentions and resolutions for the months ahead. While the excitement of a fresh start is contagious, it’s important to approach these aspirations with a mindful and compassionate mindset, especially for those battling with eating disorders.

First, let’s acknowledge that setting positive intentions doesn’t necessarily mean making drastic changes, or adhering to strict resolutions. Instead, it’s about cultivating a mindset that promotes self-compassion, self-love, and overall well-being.

1. Embrace Self-Compassion:

As you embark on this new year, approach yourself with kindness and understanding. It’s easy to be hard on yourself, but remember that change takes time and progress is not always linear. Embrace the journey, celebrate small victories, and be patient with yourself.

2. Set Value Driven Goals:

By aligning your choices with your core values, you create a foundation for sustainable and meaningful change. Instead of focusing solely on external resolutions, consider what truly matters to you on a deeper level, by making decisions that resonate with your values, you embark on a journey that not only supports your recovery but also enhances the overall quality of your life.

3. Cultivate a Positive Support System:

Surround yourself with individuals who uplift and support your journey. Share your intentions with trusted friends, family, or a therapist who can offer encouragement and understanding. Having a reliable support system can make a significant difference in navigating the complexities of managing an eating disorder.

4. Practice Mindful Eating:

Mindful eating is a powerful practice that encourages you to be present during meals, savoring each bite and listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. By focusing on the sensory experience of eating, you can develop a healthier relationship with food and cultivate positive intentions around nourishing your body.

5. Seek Professional Guidance:

If you’re facing challenges in managing your eating disorder, seeking professional help is a courageous and proactive step. A qualified therapist or counselor can provide tailored guidance, coping strategies, and emotional support to help you navigate the complexities of recovery.

As you step into the new year, remember that your well-being is a journey, not a destination. By embracing positive intentions, practicing self-compassion, setting realistic goals, and cultivating a supportive environment, you can make meaningful strides toward a healthier relationship with food and yourself. Here’s to a year filled with growth, self-love, and nourishing moments!


Ask an Expert: Sheri Flaherty

December 19, 2023

Written by: Elisabeth Hutchins

Interviewed: Sheri Flaherty

What made Sheri decide to become a therapist?

Stemming from one of the core attributes of a therapist, empathy was the backbone to Sheri’s why to become a therapist. Empathy in brief, is one’s ability to put oneself in another’s shoes regardless of differences. Through her work with clients, Sheri supports clients in understanding themselves and navigating the world and relationships that surround them.

What types of clients does Sheri love working with?

While this question was challenging for Sheri, since she enjoys working with a wide variety of client populations, she was able to pinpoint the populations that she loves the most. Sheri enjoys working with adults who are dealing with life transitions and grief, and children/teens who are dealing with ADHD, depression, and anxiety. Sheri believes the most important aspect to support the overall therapeutic relationship and client growth is the client making the choice to be in therapy.When clients choose therapy to help themselves, they are open and engaged in sharing their thoughts and feelings.

What is Sheri’s methodological approach to therapy and what does Sheri like about it?

Sheri mainly works from a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach. The CBT approach as a therapeutic foundation works for Sheri because she feels the approach gives the functional control to the client. The client is empowered to change and is credited with the progress in therapy, not the clinician. The client is challenged to make changes in their thoughts that will ultimately support them in reaching their personal goals of improving feelings and behaviors.

What is the biggest concern Sheri hears from clients regarding going to therapy/getting therapy? How does Sheri help clients overcome this concern?

Sheri feels the biggest concern she hears from clients is how difficult it was to ask for help. Sheri finds she can overcome this challenge by affirming that asking for help is a strength, and she feels reviewing key take away messages at the end of session is key. Through these steps Sheri helps clients identify their progress.

What does Sheri wish society or clients understood about getting therapy or working with a therapist?

This question came with a heavy discussion and heavy-heart from Sheri regarding where mental health stands today and where she hopes it becomes in the future. Sheri wishes mental health to be a valued part of the social ideology and for clients to focus on their mental health issues rather than overcoming the stigma of attending therapy in the first place. In addition, Sheri wishes mental health medication to be less feared and more accessible to clients who could benefit from their mechanism of action.

What is the one piece of advice Sheri would offer about mental health?

Sheri answered this question without hesitation. Her advice would be for clients to view therapy as part of their self-care. Many people look to societal norms for self-care such as exercise and spa treatments but therapy is just as valuable. Mental health, much like exercise, is a lifelong journey. One does not get stronger or faster after one personal training session, and the same is true in regards to therapy.

What strategies or things does Sheri do to support her own mental health?

Strategies Sheri implements to support her mental health are to have enough down time to feel emotionally rested, obtain plenty of sleep, eat healthy foods, ride her Peloton several times a week, and stay involved with family and friends. In this list Sheri highlighted the importance of taking care of her mental AND physical health.

What is one thing Sheri wishes clients understood about the grief process?

While Sheri felt she could not share just one thing that she wished clients understood about the grief process, she did share her passion for working with this population. Sheri made it clear the process of grieving is different for every client due to the complex nature of the events surrounding the death and relationships prior to the death. Many know that there are stages of grieving, though Sheri notes that clients move through these stages at their own pace and move fluidly between and within stages. Lastly, Sheri notes the pain that overcomes a client during the grief process. Sheri encourages her clients to go through the pain to allow their future selves to begin living again. This approach allows the client to not get stuck in the pain of grief and move forward towards a path of healing.

12 Days of Relationship Connection During the Holidays – Adrienne Dwyer

December 11, 2023

The holiday season can seem like a whirlwind time to be in a relationship. Between the normal work/life balance, family get-togethers, ‘friendsgivings’, and trying to create traditions of your own while in a partnership…the weeks can go by quickly. That is why it is important to take time to be present and grounded, both in yourself and in your relationship.

These are some tips for mindfulness and grounding activities to do by yourself or in a relationship during the holidays:

  • Day 1: Breathing: If you and your partner are finding yourselves having a particularly draining day, try the ‘4, 7, 8’ technique. Begin by holding hands, then inhale for the count of 4, hold for the count of 7, exhale for the count of 8. This can be a quick way to re-center.
  • Day 2: Self Reflection: If you and your partner are finding yourselves having a particularly busy day, try to take a moment to reflect on your emotions, as well as your needs. Remembering these things, and then communicating them, can lead to intimate moments between partners.
  • Day 3: Set Boundaries: If you and your partner are finding yourselves in conflict with either each other or extended families, remember that setting clear boundaries about wants and needs during the holiday season can be the best way to achieve the most satisfaction and mindfulness during this time.
  • Day 4: Go For a Walk: If you and your partner are finding yourselves stagnant, try changing the scenery with a walk.
  • Day 5: Volunteering Your Time: If you and your partner are needing a change of perspective, try volunteering at a local organization. There are many that are in need of extra hands during the holiday season, and this can be a great way to give back…together.
  • Day 6: Try Something New: If you and your partner are needing a change of pace, try looking into some local activities (holiday related or not!). A favorite of my own is a holiday light show.
  • Day 7: Attend a Spiritual Gathering: If you and your partner are in need of re-centering, try attending a spiritual gathering together. This could be a prayer group, congregation, yoga, and more.
  • Day 8: Get Creative: If you and your partner are feeling depleted, try being artistic together. Whether it be painting, drawing, or origami…art can be a great way of reconnecting.
  • Day 9: Traditions: If you and your partner are in need of remembering why the holidays are special to you, try carrying out one of your favorite childhood traditions together. My personal go-to is decorating holiday ornaments.
  • Day 10: Movement: If you and your partner are in need of some extra movement, try taking a work out class together. This can be a fun way to ground, and there are many options such as Zumba, pilates, hot yoga, and more.
  • Day 11: Physical Touch: If you and your partner are feeling disconnected physically, try slowing down and recentering by going back to basic touches such as rubbing each other’s back, or laying together, somehow intertwined.
  • Day 12: Plan: If you and your partner are feeling particularly lost in all the holiday chaos, try planning some kind of post-holiday activity to look forward to. It could be as simple as an advanced reservation at your favorite restaurant, or a weekend getaway in late January. Having events (especially events that breed connection) to look forward to is a piece of advice I give to couples (and to myself) all the time.

How to Blend Holiday Traditions in a New Relationship – Adrienne Dwyer

November 22, 2023

Blending family traditions and rituals during the holiday season can seem like a daunting task, especially at the beginning of a new relationship. It is natural for people to feel emotionally tied to holiday traditions and memories they have had since childhood. And, it is equally as natural for people to feel like they want to somehow tie their partner into such special occurrences. However, with this being said, attempting to ‘marry’ two individuals’ multiple traditions during a four week period can cause a magnitude of stress and tension for some

So, how can couples navigate these potentially trying times? One way is by remembering that sharing in these vulnerable moments of either talking about, or carrying out positive traditions and rituals is a form of intimacy.

Other solid ways of navigating the holidays as a couple:

  • Manage the expectations you have on yourself and your partner (whether it be the ‘perfect’ gift, the ‘perfect’ date, the ‘perfect’ blending of the families, etc… it is important to remember that setting expectations can sometimes cause disappointments)
  • Remember that flexibility is important and celebrations can actually be on any day. For example, if one partner’s family is having a large gathering on Thanksgiving day, maybe the other partner’s family would be open to having a smaller celebration on the Saturday after. What is most important is the feeling of being all together and present, not the date that it falls on.
  • Communicate to your partner about traditions that mean the most to you. For example, if cutting down a Christmas tree and decorating it is the top ritual you value at the holidays, be vulnerable and communicate that, and then be willing to listen to your partner’s favorite as well, and make a plan of how to execute these favorites.

What Ted Lasso-like Media Can Teach You About Success

September 15, 2022

This will not be an analysis of the leadership of Jason Sudeikis’ character, Coach Ted Lasso. While I would debate that there is value in looking at this unlikely protagonist to guide leaders, this is a discussion on how media like “Ted Lasso” can be part of a strategy to enhance success in your life. It is how we can choose media to prepare our brain to be in an optimal place of functioning.

Read the whole article here.

Falling In Love Again With Your Spouse: Dr. Robin Buckley On 5 Things You Need To Rekindle Love In A Marriage That Has Gone Cold

September 15, 2022

To rekindle love is to work on a mission statement. Many individuals know the mission statement for the organizations they work for, and they can tell me why a mission statement is valuable. But few couples have a written mission statement for their relationship. And how strange is that? We know mission statements help move an organization towards a defined goal. Keeps people aligned with the goal of the organization. Creates a sense of connection. But couples either have a vague idea of their mission somewhere in their heads, or don’t have one at all. Sitting down to write out a mission statement together can connect you, and can enhance communication.

Read the whole article here.

Is it pandemic anxiety or is it OCD? – Elian Beattie

March 17, 2022

Is it anxiety from the pandemic or is it OCD?

Over the past two years, the fear surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic caused a lot of us to take a closer look at our hygiene, where germs live in our home, and how illness might spread from person to person, even on a microscopic level. People without obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) might have found themselves wiping down groceries with Clorox wipes, fearing social interactions without distance or masks, and excessively washing their hands, for example. Some of those individuals are finding that even after the immediate threat of death or hospitalization is decreased, their behaviors persist. How do we know whether anxiety-based behaviors are OCD? Below are some initial questions to ask yourself.

Are your habits context-dependent?

If you found yourself wiping down your mail in March 2020, you are not alone. At the time, little was understood about how the virus spread or what we could do prevent exposure. Now, infectious disease experts have more information about risks to spreading the virus and provide specific recommendations regarding safe practices. If you are able to adapt to new standards of safety and shift your behaviors depending on the context, your health anxiety is unlikely OCD. Individuals with OCD experience intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and engage in compulsions (behaviors or mental acts) regardless of the context.

Someone with OCD might say, “I know the risk of spreading COVID-19 by touching something is not significant, but I still can’t stop wiping down my counters multiple times per day.”

If your habits are interrupted, do they take over your mental space?

You might have picked up some new habits during the pandemic that you continue to do and find helpful. Maybe you upped your cleaning routine and have tried to stick with it. Maybe you keep some hand sanitizer in your car to have on hand. These habits themselves are not enough to determine whether behavior is OCD related. The more important question is asking yourself what happens if you can’t do these things? Can you still eat a snack in your car if your hand sanitizer ran out? And, if you did, could you let it go? If you would spend your day thinking about the routines you missed, or the small possibility of the “worst case scenario,” then you might be experiencing OCD symptoms.

Do your habits get in the way of your values?

We have all experienced a universally high level of stress during this pandemic. Taking care of our mental health involves understanding what “refills our cup” and doing more of that. Could you skip a cleaning day if something more compelling to do came up? Flexibility is key to maintaining mental health. If you miss out on time spent with your loved ones to maintain a rigid routine, that routine might be indicative of OCD.

If you are concerned that your symptoms may be clinical OCD, there is hope. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) is used to treat OCD and is one of the most effective evidence-based therapies available. If you or a loved one might be struggling, the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) is a good place to start navigating your next steps. Visit their website for more information about OCD and treatment options near you.