Sunday, November 3, 2013

Avoiding Holiday Burnout

The demands of an over-scheduled life, especially during the busy the holiday season, can leave you feeling overwhelmed and drained. The loss of energy and commitment, coupled with exhaustion and frustration, can be the first sign that burnout is settling in.

However, some research is starting to show that regular exercise can help prevent burnout. According to a recent study by researchers at Tel Aviv University in Tel Aviv, Israel, people who exercise at least 150 minutes per week were significantly less likely to experience job burnout than their underactive counterparts, and those who exercised closer to 240 minutes a week showed little to no signs of job burnout.

This should come as no surprise, considering we’ve known for years that exercise can help relieve symptoms of stress. Feel like 150 minutes is time you don’t have? Consider setting aside smaller daily goals. In addition to massage therapy, try squeezing in these mood-boosting activities.
Get Out and Recharge

  • Take a brisk walk: After a long meeting or period of sitting still, go stretch your legs. A quick walk or jog around the block can do wonders. Keeping a quick pace will raise your heart rate and help you clear your head. 

With busy work schedules, getting outside every day might not be possible for you. However, there are many things you can do at your desk. Consider integrating a few of these exercises into your routine and see how your endorphins soar.

Lower Body Exercises

  • Jump squats (10 reps): Only perform this exercise if you have a good amount of space. Bend your knees into a half-squat with your arms behind you, then jump up, swinging your arms overhead, and back to start.
  • Side lunge (10 per side): Step out to one side, point toes forward and bend one knee while keeping other leg straight. Push back up.
  • Knee lift (20 reps): Bend arms at the elbow. Raise one knee while simultaneously straightening your arms so that your arms are down when your foot is up.
  • Hamstring curl (20 reps): Similar to the knee lifts, start with your arms bent, then bend one leg behind you while letting your hands fall to your side.
  • Leg extension (16 per side): Sit straight up with your abs pulled in. Extend the right leg until it’s level with hip. Hold for 2 seconds, lower and repeat.
  • Inner thigh (16 reps): Place a rolled towel, water bottle or an empty cup between the knees as you sit straight up with the abs tucked in. Squeeze the bottle or cup, release halfway and squeeze again.

Chair Exercises
  • Chair squat (16 reps): While sitting, lift yourself up until your hips are just hovering over the chair, use your arms for balance. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, stand all the way up and repeat.
  • Dips (16 reps): Use a stable chair (without wheels) and place your hands next to your hips. Move your hips forward so that they are in front of the chair. Bend your elbows, lowering your body until they are at 90 degrees. Push back up to start and repeat.

Upper Body Exercises

  • Bicep curl (12 per side): Hold water bottle in right hand and, with abs pulled in and a straight back, curl bottle toward shoulder, repeat.
  • Desk push-up (15–20 reps): Place hands on edge of desk, shoulder width apart, legs out behind you. Keeping your body flat, lower your chest toward your desk and push back up to start.

Ab Exercises

  • Side bends (10 reps): Hold a water bottle in both hands and stretch it up overhead keeping your arms straight. Gently bend toward the left as far as you can, contracting the abs. Come back to center and repeat to the right (bending to the right and left is one rep).
  • Ab twists (10 reps): Hold a water bottle at chest level and, keeping the knees and hips pushed forward, gently twist to the left as far as you can, contracting the abs. Twist back to center and then to the right (twisting to the right and left is one rep).
  • Forearm plank: Lie on your stomach on the floor, and spread your legs hip-width apart. Flex your feet and tuck your toes under, pressing the balls of your feet into the floor as if you’re going into push-up position. Position yourself on your forearms with your hands balled into fists or clasped together. Pull in your abdominals and keep your black flat. Hold as long as you can.
  • Don't let shorter days and over-scheduled weekends keep you from being active this winter. Schedule exercise when and where you can, and be sure you are integrating massage therapy into your regular health routine. Stave off burnout before it has the chance to affect your motivation and commitment to a well-balanced life.

Source: This article was excerpted from mtj® (Massage Therapy Journal®) Winter 2012. Subscribe to read the entire article.

Please share this with your friends and family.  Help them de-stress this holiday season.

The Gift of Massage for the Holidays!
Show your friends and family you have a stake in their health and wellness by giving them the gift of massage. There's no better time of year to treat those on your nice list to a massage, a proven stress reliever.

Pre-paid gift cards are available for massage with Jill Johnson, LMT

in the amounts of $10, $60, and $90

Stop and Smell the Roses

By Jess Albright, LGPC

With all of the new and fancy technology we have these days there is instantaneous access to limitless information.  With the same technology we also make ourselves accessible 24/7 to the latest and greatest news as well as to the world.  Everything is constantly go, go, go.  But what about all the small joys in life that we have become too busy to enjoy?  What about all the little things we simply overlook anymore?  

I’m here to propose that you stop and take the time to see, feel, hear, taste, and smell all of the beautiful things around you.  Free yourself from the constant bombardment of updates.  Take some time to enjoy the simple joys that life holds.  It’s really quite liberating!  But you don’t have to take my word for it.  Here is a list of 30 fun and simple things to do (one for each day of the month) that you can try for yourself.  Kids, parents, adults alike – don’t hold back.  Everyone can gain from stopping to smell the roses! 

  • Dance/play in the rain (Don’t forget to splash in the puddles too!)
  • Go for a walk outside and take in all the surrounding sights, smells, and sounds (Yes, that’s right, leave your iPod at home)
  • Rake up a big pile of leaves and jump into it (Remember how much fun that was as a kid?)
  • Walk in the grass with your bare feet and let the blades tickle your toes (Unless of course you are allergic to grass…)
  • Write a letter to your best friend (You know the kind that you put in an envelope and requires a stamp.)
  • Lay on a blanket at night and star gaze (Can you find the Big Dipper?  Where’s Orion’s belt?)
  • Volunteer to return an elderly person’s cart at the grocery store (A smile on his/her face can put one on yours as well)
  • Wear a really silly pair of underwear (Nobody knows except you!)
  • Find a clear spot and watch the sunset (I’d say sunrise, but who wants to get up that early!)
  • Go to the nearest playground and swing on the swings (If you close your eyes, it feels like you’re flying!)
  • Build a fort in your living room (Cardboard boxes, sheets – whatever it takes!)
  • Eat your favorite cereal from when you were a kid (Yum…Lucky Charms are so delicious!)
  • Play your favorite board game from when you were a kid (Hungry, Hungry, Hippos anyone?)
  • Bake and eat homemade cookies (And don’t forget the glass of milk!)
  • Go to the nearest body of water and skip rocks (I got 3 skips.  Can you beat that?)
  • Put a puzzle together (I always say that life is like a giant puzzle…)
  • Have a paper airplane distance competition (Remember the old trick of adding a paperclip to the nose?)
  • Climb a tree, take in your surroundings, and be one with your thoughts (Don’t go too high!)
  • Give people unexpected compliments and watch them smile (Smiles are contagious, so be ready for one to appear on your face too!)
  • Have a pillow fight (Body pillows really get the job done!)
  • Listen to your favorite rock music and jam out on the air guitar (Dude, you rock!)
  • Draw on the driveway/sidewalk with chalk (Hopscotch anyone?)
  • Speak with an accent for the day (Good day, mate!)
  • Go outside and blow bubbles (Can you catch one in your hand?  Can you catch it on the end of the wand?)
  • Finger paint (Don’t have paint?  Try using chocolate pudding—it’s fun and delicious!)
  • Buy some bubble gum and have a bubble blowing contest (Gum stuck in your hair?  Don’t forget the old peanut butter trick!)
  • Buy a package of Jelly Belly jellybeans, blindly pop them in your mouth, and try to identify the flavor (Watch out for the jalapeno flavored ones!  Yuck!)
  • Make pancakes.  Better yet, make them into shapes (Snowmen and Mickey Mouse are always crowd pleasers!)
  • Color in a coloring book (Who says you have to stay in the lines?)
  • Make up your own list of 30 fun things to do (Let your creativity soar!)

Updates to Meditation Programs offered by Pam McDonald at the Healing Circles Wellness Center

This fall Pam McDonald, LCSW-C, is expanding her meditation offerings to include weekly meditation groups at Healing Circles! 

Pam will continue to offer her 30-day meditation coaching program to assist beginners in getting started with a meditation practice. Pam will guide you to discover and experience meditations that fit your needs and lifestyle. The meditation coaching package includes:

  • Weekly, 50-minute meditation practice and coaching sessions at Healing Circles
  • 4 digitally recorded meditations to keep your practice going
  • Daily emails delivered Monday through Friday to inspire and strengthen your practice
  • Personalized coaching and instruction to fit your needs

Dates: NEW! This program is now offered on an ongoing basis. You may sign up at any time and begin when it fits your schedule.  

Meditation practice times: Meditation coaching participants will meet with Pam for her meditation practice sessions on Wednesdays from 6:00-6:50 p.m.

Location: Healing Circles Wellness Center, 10 N. Jefferson Street, Suite 203, Frederick, MD 21701

Cost: Receive 30 days of supportive meditation coaching for only $100.

In addition, Pam is now offering her open meditation group every Wednesday evening. These mid-week meditation gatherings are a great way to learn and experience the benefits of meditation through an informal format with a guided meditation.

Format: At each gathering, Pam shares a short inspirational reading followed by a guided meditation. Questions and comments are welcome after the meditation. 

Location: Healing Circles Wellness Center, 10 N. Jefferson Street, Suite 203, Frederick, MD 21701

Meditation schedule: Every Wednesday evening from 6-6:50 p.m. (Exceptions: No meetings on Wednesday, November 27 and Wednesday, December 25).

Cost: By donation (suggested donation: $10.00)                  

RSVP’s appreciated. For more information, please call Pam at 301-712-9015, x1022 or email at On the web:

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sensational Kids Preschool Playgroup

Ages: 3-4 Years
Thursdays 9:30-10:15
Beginning October 17th for 6 weeks

Located at Healing Circles Wellness Center
10 N Jefferson Street, Suite 203
Frederick, MD  21701

$125.00 - only 4 spots available

Play is how kids learn.  This group will focus on building a strong foundation that supports success in everyday activities.  Each day will begin with gross motor play accompanied by sensory exploration, imaginative interaction, and games to build self-regulation, ending with fine motor play to enhance your preschooler's pre-writing skills.  Most of all, no diagnosis is needed.  The group will be FUN - using the Occupation of Play to foster development.

To Register:
Call 301-712-9015, Ext 1028

Thursday, May 2, 2013

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month

Parents Advised On How to Detect Communication Disorders in Their Children

Although more than 5 million children in the United States have a speech, language, and hearing disorder, parents are often uninformed and unsure about what to do when they suspect their child may have a communication disorder. This May, and every May since 1927, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has used the May is Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM) celebration to provide parents with information about communication disorders to help ensure that they do not seriously affect their children's ability to learn, socialize with others, and be successful in school.
Speech and language problems can occur at any time in a child's life. They can be caused by accidental injury, illness, or inherited by birth. Child speech and language problems include:
§  Stuttering
§  Articulation problems ("wabbit" instead of "rabbit")
§  Language disorders such as the slow development of vocabulary, concepts, and grammar.
§  Voice disorders (nasal, breathy, or hoarse voice and speech that is too high or low)
Parents who suspect their child has a communication disorder should see an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist. These professionals identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems including swallowing disorders.  Fortunately, most children with speech, language, and hearing problems can be helped.  Even if the problem cannot be eliminated, a speech language pathologist can teach the child strategies to help them cope with their communication disorders, or provide them with the appropriate technology. By promoting Better Hearing and Speech Month, I hope parents will learn about communication disorders, what they can do to help their children, and how speech-language pathologists can help with their child's communication disorders.
Hearing loss, like speech and language problems, can have a negative impact on a child's social and academic development. Communication disorders like hearing loss in children can occur at birth or as a child grows older due to chronic ear infections or exposure to noise. The earlier hearing loss occurs in a child's life, the more serious the effects have on the child's development.
Typical signs of a hearing loss in children include:
§  Inconsistently responding to sound
§  Delayed language and speech development
§  Unclear speech
§  Sound is turned up on electronic equipment (radio, TV, CD player, etc.)
§  Does not follow directions
§  Often says "Huh?"
§  Does not respond when called
§  Frequently misunderstands what is said and wants things repeated
As a first step, people who think their child is displaying many of these warning signs and think they may have hearing loss or other hearing disorders should see a certified audiologist. These professionals specialize in preventing, identifying, assessing, and treating hearing disorders. Also, they provide treatment for hearing loss including fitting hearing aids and other assistive listening devices, and they can teach children with hearing loss how to concentrate on hearing all sounds.
ASHA (American Speech Language Hearing Association) recommends that children at risk for hearing loss, such as those who suffer from chronic ear infections or in cases where there is a family history of hearing loss, be screened by a certified audiologist as frequently as needed to ensure they are hearing well. Otherwise, for children ages 5-18, hearing screenings should occur on initial entry into school and annually in kindergarten through 3rd grade as well as in the 7th and 11th grades.  ASHA maintains an online directory of audiology programs that may be accessed at .
Laura A. Michie, M.Ed. M.A., CCC-SLP is an ASHA certified speech language pathologist at Healing Circles Wellness Center.  She identifies, assesses, and treats speech and language problems including swallowing disorders.  To find out more about the services that Laura provides, contact her at, 301-471-3169,
About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 166,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists.

10 Tips for Surviving Allergy Season

1) Use a neti pot.  A neti is a nasal irrigation vessel that looks like a genie lamp.  It uses a sea salt solution that washes away allergens from the sinuses and soothes the sinus tissue.  Many allergy sufferers swear by their neti pots.  It should be done every day for those with chronic allergies and sinus issues.  Keeping your neti pot in the shower helps to make it a part of your routine.  Make sure you use bottled water in your neti and not tap water!  The salt is sold in packets as pharmaceutical grade salt.  Sometimes it is helpful to add some anti-microbial herbs into your neti solution if you are prone to sinus infections.

2)  Certain foods can stimulate the inflammatory immune response (aka allergies).  Avoiding these foods as much as possible can have an impact on your degree of symptoms:  sugar, alcohol, dairy, wheat, orange juice, processed foods.  These can all stimulate more mucous production and irritation of the sinuses.  

3)  Certain foods have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.  Try to incorporate more of these foods: lemons, blueberries, onions, garlic, green leafy vegetables (kale, collards, broccoli, spinach, etc.), avocado, cayenne and chili pepper, ginger, turmeric

4) If you tend to have sinus congestion, pressure, and headache, sinus steams with essential oils can be incredibly helpful.  Many chronic sinus issues are fungal rather than bacterial, and essential oils have activity against both.  The steam vapor carries the oils into the sinuses.  Pour boiling hot water into a bowl and drop a few drops of eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender, or sage essential oil into the water.  Cover your head with a towel and inhale deeply, closing your eyes.  Do this until you are tired of it or the steam dissipates.  If sinus pressure is an ongoing issue, try doing sinus steams every day or every other day to loosen the congestion.  

5) Try taking freeze dried stinging nettles in capsule form or nettle leaf tea.  You can also eat the young spring tops of the nettle plant as food. Nettles contain compounds that reduce the inflammatory histamine response in seasonal allergies or hay fever.  They also contain many nutritive vitamins and minerals that nourish the body.

6)  For that irritating post-nasal drip sore throat and cough, try drinking fresh squeezed lemon in water, or 1 T apple cider vinegar in water throughout the day.  These things help the body to clear pollens and mucus from the body and soothe the tissues.  Licorice tea can also be helpful for soothing the throat.

7)  Using raw local honey and pollen is said to be helpful for prevention of allergy symptoms.  The idea is that by eating the pollens you introduce them as food to the body, so the body doesn't overreact to them when they are encountered through the nasal passages.  This method works best if you start with small amounts a couple of months before allergy season begins.

8)  Make sure you are taking probiotics or eating fermented foods (sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi) to help balance your immune system.   Probiotics help to "educate" the immune system to that it is more accurate in its reactions.  This is also a long term strategy that is helpful for all kinds of allergies, autoimmune disorders, and gastrointestinal health.

9) Try taking quercetin on an empty stomach, 500mg 2-3 times per day.  Quercetin is an anti-inflammatory bioflavonoid in the vitamin C family that can help prevent mucus production.

10) Turmeric root is another herb that can be helpful for seasonal allergies.  It is highly anti-inflammatory, and aids the liver in processing histamines and clearing toxins from the body.  

Here is a recipe for a yummy tasting allergy tea.  This recipe is kid and husband approved!  It makes a great berry flavored iced tea.  These herbs can all be found in the bulk herb department at the Common Market.  The parts give you the proportions for one full dose (measured in grams), and you can multiply out for however much you want to make:

Nettle leaf            2 parts
Lemon Balm         2 parts
Elderberry             2 parts
Calendula flower    1 part
Licorice root         .5 part
Hibiscus              .5-1 part

8g, steeped in hot water for 10-15min.  Strain and drink, or add honey and cool in fridge for iced tea.  

 Susan Hirsch can be contacted at 301-712-9015 ext. 1016, or

What Does Acupuncture Do?

Acupuncture is new to Healing Circles Wellness Center. Maybe it’s new to you, too. Maybe you are curious and don’t know much about acupuncture. If you are like a lot of people I’ve spoken with, you may be wondering, “What does acupuncture do?”

Our bodies, like everything in the universe, are made up of matter and energy. As modern science is continuing to unravel, there is a continuous relationship between matter and energy--matter becoming energy, energy becoming matter, all the time!

Developed over 4,000 years ago in China, acupuncture corrects imbalances in the energy of the body. This energy is called Qi (pronounced “chee”). They found that by correcting the flow of Qi, they were able to help people heal on a physical, mental-emotional, and spiritual level. Over the course of many centuries, pathways of energy in the body were mapped out and studied. In English, we call these pathways Meridians. When we are feeling great, the pathways of energy in our bodies are in constant graceful motion. These Meridians weave together into a beautiful tapestry bringing life and awareness to every part of our being. When we are stressed out, our energy is locked up in ways that cause us to feel exhausted, hyperactive, overly-emotional, or in pain.

Along these Meridians, there are points where the energy flowing within can be touched. These are the acupuncture points. At these points, your body holds an awareness of a particular energetic movement, one single movement in the dance of energy that is who you are at your best. By inserting a very fine acupuncture needle, we are able to unblock that energy, giving the body a gentle reminder of how to do the dance of life more gracefully.

Acupuncture has the ability to return your body to a “no stress” way of being -- free and easy and you at your best. You have the ability to learn how keep your body in this stress-free state. Acupuncture reminds you what it is like to feel good in your body and lets you escape the cycle of stress and exhaustion so that you can choose how you respond to the stressful events in your life.

 Liz Robinson is an Acupuncturist and just joined Healing Circles Wellness Center. She can be contacted at 301-712-9015 ext. 1046, or

Friday, March 8, 2013

Kids' Meditation Group

If you are between the ages of 9 and 15, and have always had the feeling that you were different, this is the group for you!  You may have feelings of anxiousness and feel that you are “uber-aware” of the feelings of others.   Perhaps you love to be creative and have difficulty focusing in school.  This is the group for you!   Come and learn that your sensitivities and intuition are a actually GIFTS!     

Through meditation, the arts, and your imagination, you will learn tools to set healthy boundaries, build self-confidence, and importantly, meet others who share your creative inspiration. 

When: Every other week. 

Where:  Healing Circles Wellness Center

Who: Kids of all ages! 

Cost:  $110.00 for all 4 classes, or $35.00 per class. 

For information/Reserve a space:
Contact Christy Van Horn:  443-896-3058 Email:

Fibromyalgia Support Group

Living with fibromyalgia creates many challenges both physically and emotionally. This 8 week support group will provide an opportunity for participants to explore the challenges of fibromyalgia in a supportive and safe environment. If you would like to gain support and understanding while learning new strategies to manage symptoms, increase resiliency and improve your quality of life, then this group is for you.

Start date: Monday March 18th 
Registration deadline: March 11th (space is limited)
Cost: $50 per session
For more information or to register contact Kristi Hallman, LCSW-C at 301.712.9015 x 1012 or

An Integrative Approach to Self-Care: Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapists are skilled at activity analysis, and coming up with adaptations of activities and environments, so that people can do the things they need to do or want to do, better.  When life gets hard due to illness, disability, or even stress, modifying the expectations for oneself AND the activities one is expected to do every day, becomes essential.  With knowledge of how the brain and body interact to accomplish every day tasks, including self-care and other activities of daily living, occupational therapists have the skills to make recommendations about HOW to do activities, the TYPES of activities to do that will promote recovery & optimal function, and how to change WHERE the activities are being done.  Simple principles of energy conservation, biomechanics, and sensory processing may be applied to every day life to improve a person’s daily experience so they “feel” better.  When people “feel” physically better they may become less anxious and may be more motivated to participate in their every day activities. Occupational Therapy offers practical strategies and can be a way of supporting people of all ages to live their lives to fullest.

Kelly Beins, OTR/L can be contacted at 301.712.9015, ext. 1028, or,

An Integrative Approach to Self-Care: Nutrition

The end of winter is in sight, even if a last snowstorm fights a rearguard battle. Within a couple of weeks, nature will start its annual spectacular rebirth. It will take just two months for it to come out of hibernation and bring new life, colors and a bristling activity into our world.

One can just imagine the black bear coming out of its den with a yawn, stiff legs, blinking eyes, and sniffing left and right to make sure the time has come.

Satisfied, the black bear returns to its lair, sniffs again and says: "Wow, time to let some fresh air in!"
For most of us, winter is a long period of seclusion, with thick layers of clothing, little outdoor activity, heavy food, darkness, closed doors and windows, and the constant humming of the heating system.

Let's get ready to come out of hibernation! Let's take the greatest possible advantage of spring, that blessed season when we can shut off heating and air conditioning, dust off the house, get rid of dispensable junk, and start our annual self care of body and mind.

Here's what I suggest you do and, if you are remotely like me, you will feel happy and energized in no time:

"Spring clean" your body: Give your system a break from rich and heavy foods by cleansing for a short period. Cleansing will tune up your body to "spring and summer" mode. Make green juices and smoothies, drink lots of warm water with lemon, and eat vegetable soups for dinner, hot or raw. Eliminate your alcohol intake for a while, and watch as an easier digestion boosts your energy level.

Open the windows: Literally. The same stale air has been going around in a closed circuit for months. As the black bear says, time to let some fresh air in. Even if your heating system is still working, shut it off, every day; open the windows on every floor, in every room for about 10 minutes to create a draft. Also, keeping your bedroom window open at night will help you breathe better in your sleep and feel decongested as you wake up.

Get out of your den: Stiff limbs? Take a walk every day and you will see how fresh and cold air stimulates your blood circulation and clears your mind. Excellent for your health and essential if you feel down.

Schedule time for You: We are all overwhelmed, except for a few precious moments when we decide not to be. You can't keep running on the same batteries for ever, you need recharging. This means time for you, and no one else, in a secluded place. It could be music, a book, meditation, a hot bath, yoga, crochet or a walk in the woods (watch out for bears!). Shut off your computer, cell phone, IPods, spouse and children for a few moments every day. You deserve it.

Watching nature get back to life is fascinating, even if you live in an urban environment. Birds are busy like never before, they have a lot on their plate. Daffodils are sprouting everywhere. Even if our way of life tends to shield us from seasonal changes, let nature's rebirth enter your home, your body and mind. Open the windows and shake off the dust.

You will be more in harmony with nature.

Anne Brown, HC, AADP, can be contacted at 301.712.9015, ext. 1026 or,

An Integrative Approach to Self-Care: Meditation

Incorporating meditative moments into your life can be as simple as a walk in your neighborhood where you silently observe nature, sitting quietly with a cup of tea or coffee—and savoring every sip, pausing to acknowledge your blessings at the beginning or end of your day, or having a joy-filled laugh with family or friends. You may also want to set aside 10-15 minutes a day to sit quietly with yourself in a more formal meditation practice. It is the quality of your attention that makes these activities a meditation: When you focus on the present moment and bring your full awareness into your everyday acts, you are doing an active meditation. Meditation is the conscious act of bringing your awareness to your senses and thoughts and feelings with acceptance, compassion and non-judgment. It is the experience of being fully present with yourself and your inner world.

Why is meditation important? Researchers are finding that practicing meditation on a regular basis can promote relaxation, increase energy, support the immune system, activate higher brain function, and increase resiliency.

There are lots of ways to meditate and it is easy to learn. Some of the clinicians at Healing Circles integrate mindfulness practices into their work with clients. Pam McDonald, LCSW-C, offers a 30-day meditation coaching program to support clients in getting started on a meditation practice that fits their needs. The coaching series and an ongoing drop-in meditation group are offered regularly at Healing Circles.

An Integrative Approach to Self- Care: Reiki

Reiki is a gentle, hands-on energy healing modality that helps the body and mind relax, release stress, and promote healing. You may receive a Reiki treatment from a trained Reiki practitioner or learn Reiki through a class and give yourself the healing energy. A Reiki treatment is usually about 45-60 minutes in length and involves receiving the healing energy through your hands or from a Reiki practitioner. The Reiki energy promotes deep relaxation and stimulates the body’s natural healing capacity.

Reiki is a wonderful modality for self-care because it is easy to learn and use for self-healing and relaxation. It is gently soothing and calming to the mind and the body. Kristi Hallman and Pam McDonald are Reiki Masters at Healing Circles. They are available to help you experience and learn this healing system. 

Pam McDonald, LCSW-C can be contacted at 301.712.9015, ext. 1022, or,

Kristi Hallman, LCSW-C can be contacted at 301.712.9015, ext. 1012, or,

An Integrative Approach to Self- Care: Herbs

1) Facial steam. Combine raspberry leaf, calendula blossoms, chamomile blossoms, comfrey leaf, and a bit of lavender. Pour very hot water over 1/2-1 cup of herbs in a small bowl. Put a towel over your head, close your eyes, inhale the steam, and relax. Enjoy until the heat dissipates. Splash with cold water to close the pores.

2) Soak your feet in epsom salts. Add ginger or cayenne powder to the water to really heat things up.

3) Massage your body with oils. Give yourself one or beg one from someone. Use almond or olive oils and add 5 drops of lavender or sandalwood essential oil.

4) Drink Holy basil tea if your spirit needs lifting. This tea is calming, helps balance the body, and gently lifts the spirit.

5) Passionflower, hibiscus, skullcap, valerian, and lemon balm may help relax muscles and lower blood pressure.

6) Nettle tea contains calcium and magnesium, which helps to relax muscles and induce sleep. It also contains minerals to replenish the hair that fell out from stress.

7) If you are so stressed and anxious that you can't sleep, try ashwagandha caps, or passionflower tincture to lull you to sleep.

8) If you have a heavy cloud over your head and can’t see the light, St John’s Wort may be able to bring some sun rays into your life.

9) Hawthorn leaf and flower, rosehips, raspberry leaf, and roses are all in the rose family, and help to support the heart muscle, ease anxiety, and soothe grief.

10) When in dire straits with anxiety and panic, kava kava can step in and totally change the game! It's not for long term use, but can really help when you're in a bind!

Susan Hirsch, LDN, can be contacted at 301.712.9015 ext. 1016 or,

An Integrative Approach to Self- Care: Psychotherapy

Stress - everyone has it.  Whether it is managing the details of happy events, handling day to day tasks, experiencing relationship difficulties or dealing with loss or trauma, stress can have a profound impact on the way people feel and experience life.  Often people tell themselves that stress is a part of life, so they should just be strong and carry on. The reality is that everyone needs support at one time or another and psychotherapy can be a wonderful resource for individuals wanting to reduce the stress in their lives. A psychotherapist offers a safe and confidential place to explore your thoughts and feelings. Through this relationship, you will have the opportunity to identify and understand the stressors in your life, identify negative thinking patterns that may contribute to your stress, develop positive communication skills to improve relationships and reduce conflicts, develop coping skills which can strengthen your resiliency, and learn to prioritize yourself while you develop self-care and stress management techniques

Kristi Hallman, LCSW-C can be contacted at 301.712.9015 x 1012 or

Clinician in the Spotlight

Laura A. Michie, M.Ed. M.A., CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist

Laura Michie is delighted to be with Healing Circles Wellness Center.  Laura is a certified speech language pathologist who treats both children and adults who present with communication disorders due to stroke, head injury, Alzheimer ’s disease, autism, cerebral palsy, speech and language developmental delays, and progressive neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.  Laura strongly believes that communication is vital for a fulfilling life and that speaking, hearing, understanding speech, reading, and writing connect us to what is most important – our families, friends, jobs, schools, and communities.

Laura earned her M.Ed. in speech language pathology in 1984 from the University of Virginia.  As a graduate student, she completed an externship at the Veteran’s Hospital in Richmond, Virginia.  Her Clinical Fellowship Year was completed at the Northern Virginia Easter Seal’s Society.  Laura has 28 years of experience including employment with the INOVA Fairfax Hospital System, Johns Hopkins Home Care and Pediatrics at Home, and the Copper Ridge Institute.  She was a Senior Therapist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and, while at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, she served as a Faculty Instructor for the Pediatric Series.  In 2006 Laura completed a second Master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University.

It is Laura’s goal to provide quality, compassionate treatment that is designed to meet the needs of the individual in a safe and nurturing environment.  As a licensed speech language pathologist, her professional services qualify for reimbursement through most insurance plans.  Please visit Laura’s website at  

You may contact Laura with any questions that you may have regarding her practice at, 301-712-9015 (ext 1030) or 301-471-3169.

Monday, February 25, 2013

April Wellness Wednesday

Wellness Wednesdays:  Balancing Life Wellness Series

Topic:  A New Beginning Through Positive Self-Image and Self-Esteem

Date:  Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Cost:  $10.00

Flowers begin blooming, leaves are unfolding, and spring showers saturate the ground. It’s a new season of growth, a new beginning, a time for renewal. It is a time, too, to think about personal growth and self-renewal. It can be a time to examine one’s self-image and self-esteem, the most important factors in having and maintaining happiness and a sense of well-being. Having a positive self-image and self-esteem can be difficult, however, especially if one is affected by life’s disappointments or hardships.

Join psychotherapist, Susie Mason, for an evening of self-examination and exploration into the topics of self-image and self-esteem.  Participants will learn ways to determine their own levels of self-image and self-esteem and explore ways to improve them. A balanced approach to examining these aspects of oneself will be to identify and acknowledge one’s good qualities.

An Integrative Approach to Parenting

Presented by The Child & Family Services of Healing Circles Wellness Center

Tuesdays 6:45 - 7:45
April 9th  - May 14th, 2013
$180.00 for the series or $35.00/session - Space is Limited!!

  Join us for a 6-week lecture series that will empower and support parents to build healthier and more satisfying relationships with their children.  Each session will address information related to brain and body function and how that applies to real-life challenges and solutions for kids of all ages. 

 "No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I'm not talking about the kids.  Their behavior is normal." - Bill Cosby.

 April 9th - "Beliefs & Buttons: Explore parenting Styles and Influences and get closer to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be"  -  Presented by Kristi Hallman, LCSW-C

 April 16th - "Is it Sensory or is it Behavior?  An Introduction to How Sensory Processing Influences Behavior and How to Recognize and Influence Both"  -  Presented by Kelly Beins, OTR/L

 April 23rd - "The Power of Play: Enhance and Support Development in Children of all Ages"  -  Presented by Kristi Hallman, LCSW-C & Kelly Beins, OTR/L

 April 30th - "They are What we Feed Them:  Nutrition and Brain Health Tips for Raising Healthier Kids"  -  Presented by Susan Hirsch, LDN & Anne Brown, HC

 May 7th - "Turning Parent Pitfalls into Positives:  Communication, Discipline, and Sibling Rivalry"  -  Presented by Dr. Elise Abromson & Jess Albright, LGPC

 May 14th - "Parenting the Intuitive Child"  -  Presented by Christy Van Horn, LCPC

Click Here to Register for the series
Click Here to Register for Session 1
Click Here to Register for Session 2
Click Here to Register for Session 3
Click Here to Register for Session 4
Click Here to Register for Session 5
Click Here to Register for Session 6

Friday, February 1, 2013

Parenting the Highly Intuitive Child

Working with intuitive children is an exciting journey, but can often feel confusing and overwhelming to parents. Join Christy Van Horn, LCPC in a four- part series to help gain insight into the beauty and challenges of parenting the highly intuitive child, sometimes called and “Indigo Child”.  In a fun and supportive environment, we will look at understanding intuitive gifts, challenges that both child and parents may face, as well as coping skills to manage these sensitivities and gifts.  Becoming informed and aware of their intuitive gifts is the best way to help you child navigate the world and build self-esteem when they already have a sense they are different. 

When: Four consecutive Wednesday,  6:00 -7:00 pm: 2/13, 2/20, 2/27, 3/6

Where:  Healing Circles Wellness Center, Group Room

Who: Parents, caretakers and friends of intuitive children: (to name a few) May already exhibit intuitive gifts like sensing what others are feeling, or  more.  May have presented as articulate at an early age, with a known or stated a clear life purpose early in life;  gifted intellectually, yet struggles to relate to children their own age. 

Cost:  $110.00 for all four weeks, or $35.00 per session.

Meditation Opportunities

30-Day Meditation Coaching Program

Pam will guide you to discover and experience meditations that fit your needs and lifestyle. The meditation coaching package includes:
  •       4 weekly, 45-minute meditation practice and coaching sessions 
  •       4 digitally recorded meditations to keep your practice going
  •      Daily emails to inspire and strengthen your practice
  •      Personalized coaching and instruction to fit your needs

Dates: This program is offered monthly. It begins on the first Monday of each month with an introductory email.

Meditation practice times: We meet for four Tuesdays at 6:00 p.m.  

Location: Healing Circles Wellness Center, 10 N. Jefferson Street, Suite 203, Frederick, MD 21701
Special Offer:
Receive 30 days of supportive meditation coaching for only $100.

To register, please call Pam McDonald at 301-712-9015, x1022 or
email at On the web:

Evening Meditation Group: Open to All!

Interested in meditation, but not sure what it is all about? Join Pam McDonald for a guided Wednesday evening meditation
Format: At each gathering, Pam shares a short inspirational reading followed by a guided meditation. Questions and comments are welcome after the meditation.

Location: Healing Circles Wellness Center, 10 N. Jefferson Street, Suite 203, Frederick, MD 21701

Meditation schedule: First and Third Wednesdays from 6-6:45 p.m.

Cost: by donation                  

RSVP’s appreciated. For more information, please call Pam at 301-712-9015, x1022 or email at On the web:

Clinician in the Spotlight

Jess Albright, LGPC

Jess is a psychotherapist who provides mental health counseling to kids, tween, teens, young adults, and their families.  She understands that life can be really challenging, and that every individual has great value and deserves a helping hand when faced with life’s obstacles.  With a strong client-centered approach to therapy, Jess allows each client’s uniqueness help determine the therapeutic path.  Just as no two people are like, nor is her approach to each client’s needs. 

Jess’s key belief is that in order to move forward, there must be a collaborative client/therapist relationship built on acceptance and trust.  Through warmth, humor, empathy, and compassion, she strives to mirror the words of Carl Rogers, who stated, “But when the therapist does understand  how it truly feels to be in another person’s world, without wanting or trying to analyze or judge it, then the therapist and client can truly blossom and grow in that climate.” 

Jess holds Undergraduate Degrees in both Education and Art and she received a Master's Degree in School Counseling from Gallaudet University.  Through the years she has held various education and counseling positions, obtaining considerable clinical perspective.  Her specialties include anxiety, depression, stress management, conceptualization/self esteem, and life transitions. 

Jess is also fluent in American Sign Language (ASL), which enables her to work with Deaf/Hard of Hearing/Hearing children, adolescents, and families within the Deaf Community.  

Jess can be reached at or (301) 712-9015 Ext. 1024 

An Integrative Approach to Children's Wellness: An Herbalist's View

Four herbs for kids’ wellness:

Children naturally have good vitality and do not generally need to take very strong or tonifying herbs to achieve wellness.  However, situations arise and they have sensitive bodies and minds which can get thrown out of balance by emotions, infections, or unfamiliar foods.  This sensitivity helps them respond very well to gentle herbal remedies.  Herbs can be a safe and effective way to encourage balance in children without causing extreme reactions.  While it is best to consult a professional herbalist when using herbs with children, there are some herbs that have been used safely and effectively with children for centuries.  The most important thing to remember is to work with appropriate dosages.  As a rule of thumb, children do well with 1/3 of the adult dose of herbs.  They tend to take readily to teas and syrups for medicine.  Alcoholic tinctures can be used if diluted in water first, though children prefer the sweeter taste of a glycerite tincture (made from vegetable oils).  Starting your babies and children early on herbal medicines will prepare their little bodies taste buds for more adventurous herbs later in life.

There are many herbs to write about that are appropriate for children, and four stand out in my mind: Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Elder, and Catnip

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is one of the most well known herbs for children.  It can be used from infancy on to calm irritability from emotions or teething, to help ward off a cold or flu, and to ease stomach upset due to emotions or gas pains.  It promotes digestion and is good for colicky babies.  Nursing mothers can drink a cup of chamomile tea at night to encourage lactation and a deep sleep for their babies.  They can also  freeze the tea in ice cubes to be used to ease the pain of teething.  Chamomile is known as ‘mother of the gut’ in Europe and is used as a firsthand medicine for all gastrointestinal complaints.   

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)- is a calming, anti-viral herb that makes a delicious tea.    It can be used to encourage calm and focus, alleviate emotional upset, or ward off a cold or flu.  I know many mothers who use lemon balm tea to help an easily upset and distractible child focus on their schoolwork.  

Elder (Sambucus nigra)- is a native tree with important uses for the flower and berry.  Elderflower is very useful for gently reducing a fever by encouraging sweating in a diaphoretic tea.  It has a creamy, floral taste that works well in teas.  Elderberry is one of the best preventatives for colds and flus.  Taken every day, it prevents viruses from entering the cells and replicating.  It helps reduce the amount of mucus and respiratory congestion once the cold or flu has taken hold.  To top that off, it tastes very yummy in a syrup and kids generally like it.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) -This herb does the opposite for children from what it does for cats.  Instead of making them frisky, it can help put them into a gentle sleep.  Catnip is particularly good for anxiety and emotional stomach upset, and as a digestive tonic for gas.  It can be used in a diaphoretic tea for the reduction of mild fever. 

For a great tasting tea, try combining all 4 herbs: chamomile, lemon balm, elder flower or berry, and catnip.  Pour hot water over 2-3 T of this mixture and steep for 10-15 min.
{Herbs are great to use with children, but it is important to know when to go to the doctor.  If you see any of these warning signs, do not hesitate:  fever greater than 102, difficulty breathing, confusion or delirium, extreme irritation, rashes}

Susan Hirsch- Clinical Herbalist