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

An Integrative Approach to Children's Wellness: Speech Therapy

Late Bloomer or Developmental Delay

When my son was eighteen months he did not speak in real words.  We were living in France at the time and he sounded like the old Frenchmen who we saw sitting outside the corner Cafe.  His pitch went up and down like their speech and he would add some gestures and a very French belly laugh. When my father-in-law came to visit he said that he thought Tommy was speaking a foreign language.  Tommy would call from our garden to the trash men and police men as they walked by, they would wave to him and speak in French and he would wave back and speak in his jargon.  They thought he was speaking American English.
Being a certified and licensed speech language pathologist I was worried.  He had met his motor developmental milestones with no problem.  He walked at nine months and was running by ten months.  He was physically fine but he did have a history of chronic ear infections and there was also a family history of late talking; both of my brothers were in speech therapy through third grade.  I began discussing my concerns with my speech therapy colleagues back in the U.S.  When I asked if they thought he needed speech therapy I really didn’t get any definitive answers.  That’s when I approached my pediatrician in the U.S. with my concerns.

My pediatrician sent us to a pediatric ENT who worked with a pediatric audiologist for a hearing assessment and a tympanogram to assess the possibility of fluid in his ears.  Somehow he passed the hearing assessment, but the tympanogram show that there was indeed fluid in both ears.  The ENT said that when children have fluid in their ears, it sounds like it does when you are talking under water at the pool.  I knew that a child first needs to hear speech before they can produce it, so I was no longer surprised that Tommy’s speech was delayed.  He also said that when children’s ears are full of fluid they do one of two things – they either act out or they withdraw.  This was another eye opener.  Tommy was never one to withdraw, but his constant activity seemed to have increased and he didn’t respond to our requests.  Now everything made sense, he wasn’t talking because he was hearing distorted speech sounds and he wasn’t following our directions because he couldn’t hear them.

We worked with our ENT to come up with a treatment plan.  We decided on the placement of tubes in both ears and I began providing Tommy with speech therapy and I taught my husband and daughter how they could help stimulate his speech development.  I also talked with Tommy’s preschool teachers and I explained how important it was for Tommy to see their faces when they were talking to him.  I also asked that he sit close to the teacher when she was reading stories or leading other group activities.

Waiting for Tommy’s speech to catch up was hard and I know that waiting is very difficult for all parents, especially when you are concerned about your child’s development.  It’s hard to know the exact age a child will meet speech and language milestones; but there are milestones that children consistently pass through.  At twelve months, a child can say one or two words, like dog, hi, dada, mama.  By eighteen months, the child should be able to understand simple questions, like Who’s that? Where are your shoes?  By two to three years, the child is able to put three words together and familiar people understand their speech.  By five years old, they can tell a short story, understand most of what is said at home and school, and say most speech sounds in words. 

If the child is not able to do these things in the time frame listed above, they may be exhibiting a delay in speech and language development.  If parents are concerned about their child’s speech and language development, they should consult with a speech language pathologist.  A speech delay is when a child has difficulty producing sounds in words.  A language delay is when a child has difficulty with the code that we use to communicate thoughts and to understand others.

When parents bring their child into my office, I analyze the child’s utterances for both what they understand and the speech and language that they are using.  I determine factors that may be slowing down the child’s speech and language development and I council parents on the next steps to take to help their child.  The treatment services that I provide as a speech language pathologist varies depending on the child’s specific areas of difficulty.  Some children may only need help with language.  They may have problems with understanding what others are saying, their vocabulary may be small, they may have trouble thinking of words, and they may have problems saying words and sentences; while other children may need help with the mechanics of producing speech.  They may substitute one sound for another, they may leave out sounds, and they may change how sounds are made.

As parents, there are things that you can do at home to help your child understand and talk.
·        Talk, talk, talk.  Talk naturally to your child and use a lot of different words.  Talk about what your child sees and talk about what he – and you – are doing.  Ask questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer.
·        Listen.  Take time to listen to your child and respond to what he says.  Don’t interrupt or correct speech sounds.  If your child makes some mistakes with sounds, it’s okay.  You can say the sounds correctly when you talk so that your child can hear the correct pronunciation of the error sounds.  A child must first be able to hear the sound before he can be expected to produce the sound.
·        Read.  Ask questions and talk about the story.  Help your child retell the story using the pictures in the book.
·        Play.  Talk about the toys as you and your child play with them.  Set aside a special time each day to play with your child.  Provide your child with blocks, dishes, dolls, boxes, cars, trucks, dress-up clothes, paper and crayons.  Reward your child’s play with attention and praise.
·        Have your child’s hearing tested if you have to repeat a lot or use a loud voice.
·        Set limits for TV and computer time.  Use the time for talking, reading, and playing together.
·        Good resource books are “Beyond Baby Talk” by Apel and Masterson and “Talking on the Go” by Dougherty and Paul.  These books are available at

While every child grows at their own pace, it is always better to consult with a specialist when you feel that your child is lagging behind.  Speech language pathologists are certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and they have completed their master’s degree and earned ASHA’s Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC).  If you are concerned that your child may have a speech or language delay, please contact me.

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

An Integrative Approach to Children's Wellness: Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy now offers two ways to treat attention problems without the use of medication! 

Integrated Listening Systems (iLs) and Interactive Metronome (IM) are two new services being offered by Occupational Therapy at Healing Circles.  iLs and IM are two brain-based activity programs being offered in a combined office-home format that treat problems of attention and a range of challenges that kids might be facing.  Parents have reported fewer emotional meltdowns, improved sleep, decreased battles over homework, improved motor coordination and strength, increased independence in play, and improved attention and focus. Both programs involve use of a headset/earphones and doing individualized activities while listening to specific sound(s).  iLs uses full-spectrum sound and IM uses the sound of a metronome.  Use of therapeutic quality sound while doing a specifically designed therapeutic activity, facilitates the brain and body working effectively together.  Neurons that fire together wire together and the sound along with the other sensory inputs of movement, touch, and vision stimulates neurological messages that get organized through various parts of the brain, as the child is doing the activity.  In this way, the brain and body learn as they go, how to function more effectively. 
Integrated Listening Sysytems
"ADHD is typically defined as a problem with inattentiveness, lack of concentration, hyper-activity, impulsivity or a combination thereof.  Most current strategies for addressing these symptoms are behavioral or pharmaceutical.  The behavioral approach is a good start but it relies on the cognitive processes of the cortex, our “thinking brain,” which are often ineffective when it comes to self-regulation and impulse control.  Pharmaceuticals can be very helpful, but the negative side effects can create a whole host of new problems"(

"There exists a growing body of literature describing the neural timing deficits in ADHD, Dyslexia, Autism, Reading Disorders, Auditory Processing Disorder, Parkinson’s, and other conditions.  Traumatic Brain Injury or Stroke may also disrupt timing in the brain. By addressing timing in the brain with Interactive Metronome (IM) alongside functional therapy interventions you are not only addressing areas of ability that impact achievement and independence but also the heart of the problem, that of deficient neural timing within and between regions of the brain that are underlying many of the problems you are working on in therapy.  This leads to more efficient treatment and better overall treatment outcomes” ( 

Interactive Metronome
The therapeutic potential of these tools is exciting in that, 1) they are proven to work with children of all ages, 2) they have the potential to engage clients who may not be responding to more traditional “verbal” methods of therapy, 3) they can be used at home which means increased frequency of service and thus greater potential for improvements/progress,  4) they build skills which could complement other methods of therapy and limit or prevent the need for medication, 4) they require family involvement and commitment, which means the opportunity for relationship-building in families, 5) they target a broad range of skills and challenges that children may be having including daily activities like homework, sleeping, and playing with other children as well as personal things like  motor skills, attention/concentration, following directions, managing transitions, and organization.  iLs and IM are proven effective methods of helping children grow and develop.  Ask our OT for more information or call with questions! 

Kelly Beins, Occupational Therapist

An Integrative Approach to Children's Wellness: Expressive Arts Therapy

What Is Expressive Art Therapy?

Before there was language, we commemorated great moments of history through art and symbols.  The rise and fall of civilizations were marked in cave dwellings.  We danced and drummed in celebration of births, weddings and funeral ceremonies.  Today, we continue to seek the arts when faced with tragedy and words fail.    Expressive Arts Therapies taps into uses this wisdom through different modalities, including visual arts, guided imagery, music, poetry, movement, dance, drama, writing, to facilitate the healing process.   You don’t have to be an Artist!  It is through creating art in any modality, that we have the opportunity to transform and find healing. 

Paola Knill is known as the founding pioneer of Expressive Arts Therapies, during the early 1970’s.  And while it’s natural to assume it is only “for children”, we adults benefit from this process as well.  The first official documented use of Art Therapy was used to help soldiers suffering from “shellshock”, or PTSD, after WWII.    What was previously deemed a task for children was quietly providing relief for those suffering from the psychological traumas of war.   The arts were providing a diversion in thought,  a non-threatening outlet to express the feelings and process trauma, to find a place of beginning to create meaning and healing of the atrocities of war. 

Let’s be clear… Kids benefit greatly from Expressive Arts Therapy!  With “adult-sized” feelings, and limited vocabulary to talk about them, the arts are a perfect channel of expression  to understanding themselves and the world.    What does a session look like?  There are times when the session is directed with a specific goal of unlocking the problem/issue at hand.  Other times, the session is client-centered and the art process provides space for what arises.  Specifically, the arts can use the child’s creativity and give the therapist insight into how they perceive the problem to better guide them through the healing process.  For example, a child who is experiencing fear and night terrors after having  witnessed a traumatic event might be asked to re-create the fear as a character or monster and develop its story.  Where does it live?  What is it scared of?  What does it need to feel safe?   In answering those questions, we have a good idea of how the child is feeling and seeing the situation which then directs the session.  Suddenly the Monster is not as scary, the child has control to create a new story, identifying new coping skills.    

Kids are tremendous human beings.  With huge souls in little bodies, they need extra care and guidance learning to navigate this world.  Make art with your child and watch what happens!  Connection, attachment, self-esteem, safety, the rewards are priceless.   Create this bond in non-crisis times, and you will help to build trust for the challenging ones.  The arts naturally facilitate this process in the office and at home.  Spend time making art today.  You It’s not about the masterpiece.   Draw with your left hand… Eyes closed…Singing the theme to Bob the Builder…IN FRENCH!  

Christy Van Horn, LCPC
(301) 712-9015, Ext 1034