June 28, 2017

Reclaiming Sexuality & Desire

Today, we conclude our series with, Ewa Litauer. In this beautiful post, she encourages survivors to take back their bodies, sexuality, gender identity, sexual orientation, desires and more so that you can live whole and fully.

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All life is sacred.
Your body is a living temple.
Sex is raw life force; it is connection to all of life.
We are born of sex.
Sexuality is sacred.

What if we had grown up with these life-affirming truths? What if our sexuality was being honored as our birthright? What if the sanctity of our bodies was a core value held by society, mirrored by our family and reflected by our community? What if all consensual explorations of sexuality were seen as part of our human experience? What if diversity was celebrated and all individual choices based on consent respected?

In our society, sex is tricky. The invention of the pill and the sexual revolution of the 60’s have given (foremost white privileged) women much greater control over their sexuality and made sex outside of conventional heterosexual marriage acceptable, yet we cannot escape the commercialization of sex and particularly women as sexual objects and a prevalence of rape culture, reflecting anything but true sexual liberation.

While the equal rights of non-hetero-normative people are threatened or denied, sexual assault perpetrators on college campuses so often walk away free from their violent actions due to a failed justice system and sexual abuse is a leading health risk for children, most often perpetrated by a family member or known person.

Often, children who were abused at a young age were robbed of their natural innocence of exploring their own bodies. An inherent curiosity about their bodies and the bodies of others and a natural desire for pleasure has been taken, twisted, and used through the acts of violence and for the selfish need of the perpetrator. Many who have experienced sexual abuse and the exploitation of their bodies have learned to mistrust their own bodies and emotions, and may feel afraid or disconnected from their own sensuality, desires and experiences of pleasure. Some may have "learned" to hate their bodies or feel disturbed by their sexual turn-ons and fantasies and some take refuge in self-punishing or self-denying behaviors.

As therapists or health practitioners, working with those who have experienced childhood sexual abuse, we assist people in the process of uncovering and reclaiming their own sensuality, sexuality, desire and passion.

A sex-affirmative or sex-positive approach to trauma-informed healing encourages and supports survivors to say ‘no’ as much as to say ‘yes’; to set boundaries as much as to welcome intimacy and ultimately to freely choose
ones sexual experiences and expressions from an empowered place and move from coping to thriving in your sexuality as much as in the rest of your life.

Those who are healing from sexual abuse and violence can reclaim their sexuality through the use of hypnotherapy, Reiki or other trauma-informed care so that they may not only be free from flashbacks in intimate situations or enjoy sex free of triggers, but clients can also learn to utilize breathing techniques, guided imagery, dialogue with the body or energy healing techniques to release blockages that may be preventing a full and fulfilling sexual expression of the self.

When we work on reclaiming sex, we work not just with our bodies but also with our minds. Yes, we invite our senses to open to the present moment and we learn to trust ourselves in the exploration of pleasure. AND we work on removing the damaging layers of traumatic memories and experiences as well as societal, cultural and political messages. We help uncover that authentic core self, that core that is whole and complete and alive with vital life force. Clients learn to use the power of their own sexual energy as a positive, creative force in their lives.

To reclaim the sexual self, ones own sexual power, we call sex back from all the places it was taken from us, we call sex back from former lovers or those we wish we would not have been lovers with, we call sex back from those who violated us and those who disappointed, and we call sex back from those who make us feel sexy and those who don’t. Calling sex back means that this is your energy. It is life force energy running through all living things. You can begin to feel this energy up and down through your body connecting you to earth and sky.


Guiding those who have experienced sexual abuse in the process of reclaiming sex, we are assisting them also in releasing shame, guilt and suffering and reclaiming pleasure, passion, power and self-determination. Having access to our own vital life force allows us to use this energy to fuel all our endeavors, weather to dance, create art, garden, work, study, stand up for justice and equal rights or make love with our whole selves.


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Ewa (pronounced Eva) Litauer works as a Certified Clinical and Medical Hypnotherapist (CCHT), Restorative Yoga Teacher and Reiki Master Teacher in the Usui Tradition.

Ewa brings a transpersonal approach to her therapy and teaching work. She draws on various systems of energetic healing, spiritual and meditative practices and a deep foundation in feminist psychology, blending them into a unique model of empowerment to assist everyone in bringing out their best selves. Compassionate, respectful, and caring, she is passionate about guiding people toward greater health and well-being by connecting them to their inner resources. 

Ewa offers workshops, classes, and her one-on-one services to various medical and health clinics in the Bay Area, as well as in private practice in SF and she is available for private sessions worldwide on Zoom or Skype. In 2011, she assisted with a study with the University of California investigating the benefits of stretching and Restorative Yoga for the Metabolic Syndrome and she is bringing Restorative Yoga and Reiki workshops to various studios in the SF Bay Area.

http://sfhypnotherapy.com/

June 21, 2017

A Guided Hypnotherapy Meditation for Accessing Internal Resources

Today, we continue our series with, Ewa Litauer. You'll learn a simple strategy for connecting with self, accessing internal resources, and calming your nervous system.

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We have learned how traumatic memories and experiences can become stuck and held in the body, manifesting as physical reactivity to triggers, a heightened sense of vigilance, habitual stress or tension in the body and so on. And we also learned that the body has inner resources and an innate tendency toward balance and harmony, which we can tap into and strengthen with the help of Reiki as a trauma informed touch and energy healing practice.

Our subconscious minds also hold resources and wisdom to help us navigate all life circumstances and for those of us who survived trauma, abuse and sexual violence, these resources have already served us well in keeping us safe and alive. 

Now, we could even think of those who have experienced trauma as people who have also experienced their ‘super powers’ in action. For example, dissociating (detaching from a sense of self and the present time) during an attack can help someone get through the traumatic event; it proves to be an effective coping mechanism at the time of the event. While in our day to day lives we generally strive to stay present in our bodies and environments, we can use this ability to ‘dissociate’ – or enter a different psychological state - to our advantage in a therapeutic setting to bring about deeper healing to the subconscious mind.

Hypnotherapy is of great assistance in the healing process for those who have experienced trauma and abuse, because it enables the client to enter different psychological and biochemical states at will, reorganizing, mastering and integrating past experiences and gaining a greater sense of control.

As a way of strengthening the ego, we can use a variety of techniques to help someone make direct contact with various parts of themselves that are strong, wise and brave. Techniques like empty chair dialogue help facilitate emotional processing of unresolved feelings toward significant others.

Clients also learn to modulate their physical reactivity. Mindfulness skills, like observing and attending to the breath and the here-and-now sensations of the body are taught to help with emotional containment in case of a flashback. People with traumatic experiences in their past reclaim their own strength, voice and unique talents and virtues and are finding a healthy sense of confidence and pride moving forward into their best selves.

Recent research on the neuroplasticity of the brain (see Norman Doidge’s The Brain’s Way of Healing for an accessible account of discoveries in neuroplasticity) shows that the brain has the capacity to change and heal itself. 

Hypnotherapy offers an effective way to directly speak to the subconscious mind and rapidly and creatively engage the clients’ internal resources.

When I use hypnotherapy and teach clients self-hypnosis to address recurring nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts or feelings of shame, guilt or worthlessness, we generally start with establishing a safe place and a grounded way of being in the body.

I invite you to follow these suggestions – or adapt them to your own liking – to connect to yourself right now.

1. Invite in a sense of calm and relaxation into the breath and body and some ease into your posture and the space around you . . .

Breathing out . . . releasing tension and anything not needed, breathing in . . . taking in nourishment and a sense of peace and spaciousness.

2. Feeling yourself breathe and relax . . . and welcoming those pleasant sensations spreading all the way from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet, feeling your face relax, your shoulders, your heart, your hips relax.

3. And as you continue to enjoy this easeful flow creating a unique inner state of peace and well-being . . . you know there is this core center within you, knowledgeable and wise . . . this core center that’s always been there, since you were born. It has helped you survive . . .

4. And your core center is connected all the way down to the core center of the earth, the place of all resources, as you are a child of the earth.  And you can sense into this connection or imagine it as a root, going down from your core center to the core center of the earth . . .

5. And if there’s anything right now that prevents you from being here and in your body right now, simply send it out and down through your root – for the earth to compost and transform into new energy . . . releasing, with your outbreath and down and out into the earth. Make some sounds if you wish.
And we know all our emotions are simply energy for the earth . . . she receives whatever it is you’re letting go off as pure energy – transforming it back into new energy for you and I to take in . . .

6. And as you create space, take some moments to feel into that space and whenever you’re ready beginning to draw in and up from the earth anything you need at this moment to become more present in your body . . . in your heart . . . in your day right now. Drinking in whatever nourishment, element, mineral brings you back here and now.

Breathing in being present . . . breathing out being present.

Welcome back to yourself!

TIP: Record yourself reading through these steps so you can play it back any time you need it!


In the course of Hypnotherapy we not only emphasize the client’s internal resources but we assist the client in learning to direct those resources toward correcting, reorganizing and integrating experiences from the past. Supporting the client’s ego strength, we assist in trauma resolution by helping release feelings of shame and guilt and transforming those into healthy confidence, pride and an integrated sense of self.


In addition, I also like to encourage and support everyone in seeking out and establishing community and a social support network, so that trauma survivors have opportunities to form healthy connections with others and learn to reach out in appropriate ways.



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Ewa (pronounced Eva) Litauer works as a Certified Clinical and Medical Hypnotherapist (CCHT), Restorative Yoga Teacher and Reiki Master Teacher in the Usui Tradition.

Ewa brings a transpersonal approach to her therapy and teaching work. She draws on various systems of energetic healing, spiritual and meditative practices and a deep foundation in feminist psychology, blending them into a unique model of empowerment to assist everyone in bringing out their best selves. Compassionate, respectful, and caring, she is passionate about guiding people toward greater health and well-being by connecting them to their inner resources. 

Ewa offers workshops, classes, and her one-on-one services to various medical and health clinics in the Bay Area, as well as in private practice in SF and she is available for private sessions worldwide on Zoom or Skype. In 2011, she assisted with a study with the University of California investigating the benefits of stretching and Restorative Yoga for the Metabolic Syndrome and she is bringing Restorative Yoga and Reiki workshops to various studios in the SF Bay Area.

http://sfhypnotherapy.com/

June 14, 2017

Your Breathing Body: The Healing Power of Breath

Today, we continue our series with, Ewa Litauer. In this post she shares how the use of breathing techniques can help us calm our nervous system and reconnect with our bodies.

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I am often asked for a simple way to describe how a Reiki treatment makes everyone feel better. And one of the first things that come to mind is the breath – and coming back to the awareness of your own breathing body. 
After a Reiki treatment people leave breathing easier and lighter, often walking lighter, feeling calmer, brighter and refreshed. Many of my clients come in for a first Reiki session after having experienced trauma and report that receiving safe healing touch allows them to become present with the body and their emotions in a non-judgmental way. The Reiki touch induces a relaxation response in the body allowing the receiver to come back to their own natural breath.
Our breath is our most direct connection with the world – we enter the world and we start to breathe. Breath is life force in the body; breath brings life to the body. And the way we breathe affects our nervous system, our heart, our brain, our concentration, our digestion and our sleep. 
Even at times when we feel isolated or disconnected from the world we are in, we are fundamentally connected to and sustained by the world at every moment through our breathing. Our breath can help us cultivate a sense of being in the world and in present time.
For survivors of trauma and sexual abuse certain experiences or stimuli, like smells or sounds or being yelled at for example can trigger memories and involuntary stress responses in the body that connect back to the past and the time of the traumatic experience. 
Those who are affected by PTSD (Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder) can use the breath as a first tool of self-regulation to directly impact their physiological responses to internal or external triggers. Over time we can cultivate a deeper relationship with our breath and notice when we need to make adjustments, take a cleansing or refreshing breath and bring ourselves back to the present moment, free and safe.
A quick breathing technique to use when you are triggered or experiencing a flashback:
  1. Breathe in for a count of 4.
  2. Hold your breath for a count of 4.
  3. Breathe out to a count of 4.
  4. Hold your breath to a count of 4.
  5. Repeat this sequence 2-3 more times.

This helps interrupt the fight, flight or freeze response of the autonomic nervous system and allows you to get grounded to the present moment.
But apart from triggers, when we generally experience ongoing stress or pain in our daily lives, physical or emotional, our breathing is easily affected, becoming habitually restrained or blocked, shallower and barely moving the chest or nourishing our cells. When we become disconnected from our bodies, the breath is a great tool to bring us back to the present and to our felt experience, back into our bodies.
  1. So, start by noticing your breath right now. We always begin where we are. Just observe.
  2. Become present, even curious, to the movement and sensation of your body breathing in - and out.
  3. When you watch your breath you are giving your mind a focus to become still.
  4. Notice if you are judging and come back to the breath.
  5. Breathe in and notice the sensation in your nose, mouth, throat, chest, . . . notice if you’ve felt some judgment in response to judging yourself earlier. You may even say to yourself ‘how interesting‘ and come back to your breath and the rhythm and sensations moving through your body.
  6. Now, invite in some deeper breath all the way down into your belly.


Abdominal breathing has a calming and relaxing effect and can help us add more life energy. We absorb more oxygen and release more waste products with fewer but more effective breaths.
In fact, our breath doesn’t actually need our attention, as it is controlled through our autonomic (involuntary) nervous system, which means it happens independent of the conscious mind. But since we can also use our voluntary system to influence our breath, we can think of the breath as a connecting bridge between the conscious and the unconscious mind. 
Of all the various functions of our autonomic nervous systems, from heart beat to hormonal release, the breath stands alone as the only subsystem the conscious mind can put into ‘manual override’.
So imagine, since breathing in and out is something we do on average 17,000 – 30,000 a day, we have all these opportunities to bring our presence to the breathing body and an invitation to take in the nourishment that the oxygen provides with a conscious awareness. And so it is through manipulation of the breath that we can recalibrate the entire system.
  1. Turn your attention back to your breath now. Take a moment to adjust your posture so you are comfortable or take up a familiar meditation posture.
  2. Breathing in, become aware of your face. Breathing out, become aware of your face.
  3. Stay with your breath as you scan and move through your whole body this way.
  4. Stay with each area until you feel you have made some contact with that part of the body.
  5. Notice what is happening on a physical level and on a feeling level.
  6. As thoughts come up, notice that and recognize them as distractions and come back to the breathing body.
  7. Once you’ve scanned your entire body, become aware of any areas that feel tight or tense; notice, be curious maybe and come back to the flow and the rhythm of your breath as you bring a gentle attention to any sensitive areas.
  8. Listen for any parts that may have something to say.
  9. Breathing in, you can encourage a sense of spaciousness or softening. Sense your breath moving in, creating space, breathing out, releasing toxins.
  10. Feel what areas need more attention and enjoy making contact.
  11. Come back to a general awareness of the whole body and the rhythm of the breath and expand your attention to the space and room around you. Become aware of the street or trees, your environment, sounds, smells and just sit for a few moments, feeling yourself part of this, here, now.


During a Reiki session, you come back to your own most natural breath by becoming aware of your breathing body. And whether you have experienced a Reiki treatment before, are new to Reiki or are a Reiki practitioner yourself, you can place your hands one on your chest and one on your lower belly, enjoying your conscious breath and it’s nourishing and cleansing effects that are already happening thanks to the body wisdom, your innate intelligence; breathing in oxygen and out carbon dioxide for the plants to absorb and transform back into oxygen for you to breathe in and so forth, participating in life around you, in and off this world and time.

Enjoy your breathing body!
Ewa (pronounced Eva) Litauer works as a Certified Clinical and Medical Hypnotherapist (CCHT), Restorative Yoga Teacher and Reiki Master Teacher in the Usui Tradition.

Ewa brings a transpersonal approach to her therapy and teaching work. She draws on various systems of energetic healing, spiritual and meditative practices and a deep foundation in feminist psychology, blending them into a unique model of empowerment to assist everyone in bringing out their best selves. Compassionate, respectful, and caring, she is passionate about guiding people toward greater health and well-being by connecting them to their inner resources. 

Ewa offers workshops, classes, and her one-on-one services to various medical and health clinics in the Bay Area, as well as in private practice in SF and she is available for private sessions worldwide on Zoom or Skype. In 2011, she assisted with a study with the University of California investigating the benefits of stretching and Restorative Yoga for the Metabolic Syndrome and she is bringing Restorative Yoga and Reiki workshops to various studios in the SF Bay Area.

http://sfhypnotherapy.com/

June 7, 2017

The Healing & Safe Touch of Reiki

This month, we begin our series with, Ewa Litauer, an amazing healer and advocate for survivors of abuse. She is also a Reiki practitioner and shares with us in this first post about how this modality can be of benefit for healing trauma.

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Our life experiences are stored and remembered in our bodies. When we experience trauma, our bodies may hold the memory as tension, chronic pain, or in form of other symptoms or blockages even if our conscious minds don’t remember. This is true for all experiences of emotional, sexual and physical violence or abuse, and especially when the trauma happened at a young age, repeatedly or at the hands of a relative, care taker or a similarly close person. Even witnessing a traumatic event can have long lasting effects that are held in the body.

The impact of trauma can manifest in a more sensitive nervous system, which means that automatic, primitive survival responses like fight, flight, or freeze, might be triggered easily by certain sensory input that others may experience as more neutral or pleasant. 

For example, some survivors of sexual trauma cannot receive massages or chiropractic care as that kind of touch is experienced as overly stimulating to the nervous system, making it impossible to receive any restorative and healing benefits.

I had worked as a psychotherapist with sexual abuse and other trauma survivors for several years when I felt that I needed to have another way of addressing and relieving some of the stored painful memories many of my clients were holding in their bodies. 

When I was introduced to Reiki (pronounced RAY-key), I not only experienced how calming and re-balancing it was on the nervous system but I could also feel the releasing, healing and empowering effects of a Reiki treatment on past traumas, both as I received Reiki as well as practicing on others as a student. 

At that time I was recovering from lower abdominal surgery, an area of my body that had experienced several previous surgeries and traumas. During my first few treatments I felt a sense of simple presence with my body and with all the emotions that came along with the past traumas. It was much easier to be present with my body’s painful memories during the sessions and to find a sense of peace through integrating them into a larger whole. 

After almost two decades of practicing and teaching Reiki and hearing many people who suffered sexual abuse share their stories of finding healing in their relationships to their own bodies, I believe that the quiet co-presence of the Reiki practitioners with the body memory of the trauma acts as a deep witnessing, acknowledging of the pain and holding space for grief, and helps integrate and allow the body to activate its own healing resources. 


Reiki means universal life energy in Japanese; life force energy that resides within and around all living things. The art of Reiki practice is a system of gentle vibrational healing that was established by Dr. Usui from Japan in the late 19th century.

Reiki is most commonly facilitated by light touch and is practiced while you are lying on a table wearing loose, comfortable clothing. You may perceive a pulsing or tingling sensation, a feeling of warmth and comfort, or a sense of release.

Reiki can also be practiced several inches or more off the body. And this is one of the great benefits in making Reiki very safe for people highly sensitive to touch and giving the client great control over the process. 

As a trauma-informed care provider, the Reiki practitioner stays non-judgmental of the client’s ways of coping and sensitive to the client’s natural responses and needs of comfort in regards to touch. 

Some survivors of trauma may want to start out without any actual direct contact at all with the practitioner ‘holding’ the space around the client’s feet, for example. With one client I had a first Reiki session while she was lying on the treatment table and I simply held my hands at a distance from her body, standing about 2-3 feet away at her side. After a while I proceeded at the same distance to her feet and then to her head. By the end of the session the client asked me to touch her feet firmly but gently and in subsequent sessions I followed her lead in guiding the Reiki touch closer to her physical body. She later learned Reiki to treat herself as well as others, and brought Reiki into domestic violence shelters, facilitating safe touch opportunities for women recovering from the impacts of physical emotional or sexual trauma.

As trauma-informed Reiki practitioners, we invite the client to have control over the process and provide opportunities for them to practice making clear choices and setting boundaries. We also pay close attention to non-verbal communication and encourage our clients to provide feedback. One client asked that I softly announce where I would next move my hands along her body while another actively directed my hands to follow her lead.

Reiki treats the whole person and is used to reduce physical and emotional pain, to calm the mind and experience deep relaxation, to assist in times of transition, grief and life style changes. 

Reiki can help with insomnia, digestive or menstrual disorders, assist in preparing for and recovering from surgeries and medical procedures and is safe to use in conjunction with any other therapy or treatment. Many people also find a deepening connection to themselves and a greater connection to all life.

You can also learn Reiki self practice. Many of my clients have learned to practice Reiki on themselves – as well as others – finding themselves in greater control and better able to respond to any triggers and stressors in their daily lives.

The balancing effects of Reiki on the biofield (a term coined by the NIH describing the field of energy and information surrounding human beings and all living organisms) and the central nervous system are believed to strengthen the body’s ability to heal itself, i.e. the natural process of releasing physical and emotional toxins and blockages is activated.

While Reiki is always non-invasive and encouraging the system toward balance (rather than an act of “sending” healing), we can maybe think of our safe Reiki touch practice as a way to simply witness trauma and its effects, to be co-present with our clients as they may tap into and release past abuse or violence. 

At the same time we become aware of the blueprint underlying our client’s body, it’s innate wisdom of wholeness and its capacity to heal. At times we can sense the torn and abused areas maybe resting back down into the underlying healthy blue print as the individual develops clear practices and tools to connect to the present, cultivating a growing inner sense of safety in the outer world.

And today, as health practitioners we are particularly responsible to stay educated and recognize and attend to how sexual violence intersects with other forms of violence and systems of oppression and we do not use our clients as resources but find appropriate sources, courses or workshops to work on our own blind spots. 

With compassion, awareness, integrity and actions we strive to stay engaged in self-care and self-education as essential practices so we may be our best selves as we guide and witness our clients become their best selves!



Read Part 2: Your Breathing Body - The Healing Power of Breath


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Ewa (pronounced Eva) Litauer works as a Certified Clinical and Medical Hypnotherapist (CCHT), Restorative Yoga Teacher and Reiki Master Teacher in the Usui Tradition.

Ewa brings a transpersonal approach to her therapy and teaching work. She draws on various systems of energetic healing, spiritual and meditative practices and a deep foundation in feminist psychology, blending them into a unique model of empowerment to assist everyone in bringing out their best selves. Compassionate, respectful, and caring, she is passionate about guiding people toward greater health and well-being by connecting them to their inner resources. 

Ewa offers workshops, classes, and her one-on-one services to various medical and health clinics in the Bay Area, as well as in private practice in SF and she is available for private sessions worldwide on Zoom or Skype. In 2011, she assisted with a study with the University of California investigating the benefits of stretching and Restorative Yoga for the Metabolic Syndrome and she is bringing Restorative Yoga and Reiki workshops to various studios in the SF Bay Area.

http://sfhypnotherapy.com/

May 30, 2017

It's Not What You Eat, It's What Is Eating You

This week, we conclude our series with Adena Bank Lees, and she wraps up her series by sharing a bit about how she overcame her struggles with binge eating, distorted body image, and more.


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“It is not what and/or how you are eating, it is what is eating you.” Hearing this changed my life. I began to explore the emotions connected to my compulsive eating behaviors and beliefs about food and body image. From there I learned about how these behaviors and beliefs were related to the sexual abuse I experienced as a child and how they served to manage, control and/or express the feelings I had about the abuse.

I realized that restricting and starving, shut down anger and sexual feelings for a while. Binging and purging only temporarily relieved the rage, shame, guilt, and loneliness I felt. Being fat, thin or somewhere in between didn’t cure the fact that I had been covertly and overtly sexually abused. No food behavior or body size protected me from comments, stares, or advances.

“Three balanced meals a day with two snacks is what your body needs to be healthy.” When I heard this from the nutritionist I reluctantly hired, I almost fell out of my seat. Parts of me entrenched in the eating disordered behaviors screamed inside my head, “You want me to eat that much food? Are you kidding me? My body doesn’t NEED all that! You don’t know what you are talking about!” What came out of my mouth was, ”Oh, that’s a lot. How do I do that?” The part of me that was desperate showed up because she knew what I had been doing was definitely not working. This part of me wanted freedom from food and body image obsession and compulsion.


In the days and months that followed, I continued working with my therapist, attended 12 step meetings focused on food recovery, and practiced the discipline of the food plan suggested. It included servings of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, vegetables and fruit. I limited my intake of processed foods. 


Emotions definitely surfaced and it was critical for me to have the guidance and support in learning new skills to deal with them. I began to breathe deeply, practiced what I was taught about feelings being like waves, lasting only 30-90 seconds. I rode the waves, sometimes with myself and other times with another person present, even if it was by phone. The parts of me that protected me from memories and difficult feelings by using food in unhealthy ways, began to settle and not be so prominent. I was replacing them and their “survival” skills with the “thriving” skills mentioned above. I journaled, got out in nature, and focused on having fun.

It has been years since I have engaged in drastic food or body obsession and compulsive behaviors. “Healthy choices” is my motto when it comes to food. I travel a great deal and treasure the flexibility I have cultivated. I am now comfortable with what I eat no matter where I am.

Feeling free around my food and body image is a gift I receive moment to moment, meal to meal and day to day. I do not take it for granted. I am certain that if I cease to adhere to the guidelines of my food plan or cease to pay attention to my emotional and spiritual life, I will be back in prison very quickly.

Each and every one of us has the right to determine what is best for them. That is the beauty of recovery from childhood sexual abuse. You have choices today. If you are struggling or simply curious about how food and food behaviors impacts your healing and ability to thrive, I support you in getting professional guidance, always paying attention to your intuition about what is right and not right for you. Enjoy the ride!





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Adena Bank Lees, LCSW, LISAC, BCETS, CP, is an internationally recognized speaker, author, trainer and consultant, providing a fresh and important look at addiction treatment, traumatic stress and recovery. She has been providing premiere clinical and consulting services for over 25 years. Adena is a licensed clinical social worker, licensed independent substance abuse counselor, board certified expert in traumatic stress, and a certified psychodramatist. She is the author of “The 12 Healing Steps for Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse; A Practical Guide” and is currently penning an educational memoir on covert emotional incest due out in late 2017. Most importantly, Adena is a thriver, enjoying travel, hiking in the Arizona desert, and filling her days with laughter.

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