Category Archives: General

The Psychology of Hope

In Greek mythology, the familiar story of Pandora’s box is often cited. When she opened the mythical box, despair and dark emotions came tumbling out. However, at the bottom of the famed box was also the emotion of hope.

According to the clinical psychologist, Dr. Shane Lopez, who studies despair and hope, hope can be learned.
Hopeful people share four core beliefs, according to Lopez:

The future will be better than the present.
I have the power to make it so.
There are many paths to my goals.
None of them is free of obstacles.

Hope includes a range of emotions, such as joy, awe and excitement. But it’s not empty, tunnel-vision, blind enthusiasm. Hope is a combination of your head and heart, as Lopez writes. He describes hope as “the golden mean between euphoria and fear. It is a feeling where transcendence meets reason and caution meets passion.”

In my own doctoral research, I studied both optimism and pessimism. Pessimists actually had strong positive outcomes for performance, adjustment, and mental health. Hope is the belief in a better future, but it can actually come from expecting and preparing for the worst.

Hopeful people pick good goals, know how to make them happen, and spot and seek out the pathways that will move them forward. Research also indicates that picking goals that you’re excited about and align with your personal strengths is absolutely crucial.

Importantly, hope is also contagious. Your social network, friends, role models, colleagues, family, and community, also share in the experience.

Being able to have hope allows us to connect with our deepest human roots, our BEING in this world.

Surviving A Relationship Break-Up

Surviving a relationship break-up can be one of the most difficult things we ever do and on an emotional level can be one of the most painful processes in our lives.

People are not well equipped to deal with break-ups, because we rarely are taught anything about healthy coping after a break-up.

By using these suggestions, it will not stop you from experiencing the pain of the loss, but instead, will help you move through the grieving process as quickly as possible and let you move on to ultimately have more satisfying relationships in the future.

1. Don’t Fight Your Feelings
A break-up is often accompanied by a wide variety of powerful and negative feelings including sadness, anger, confusion, resentment, jealousy, fear and regret, to mention a few. If you try to ignore or suppress these feelings, you will likely only prolong the normal grieving process, and sometimes get totally stuck in it. Healthy coping means both identifying these feelings and allowing ourselves to experience these feelings. As hard as it is, you cannot avoid the pain of loss, but realize that by experiencing these feelings, they will decrease over time and you will speed up the grieving process. The stages of grieving frequently include: shock/denial, bargaining, anger, depression and eventually acceptance. Extreme grief feels like it will last forever, but it doesn’t if we cope in some healthy ways.

There are several conditions that will likely intensify your negative feelings, including:

    • Not being the one who decided to break up.
    • Not seeing the break-up coming.
    • This being your first serious relationship.
    • Your ex being your only real close friend.
    • Continuing to run into your ex.
    • The relationship having made you feel whole or complete.
    • Your ex starting to date someone right away.
    • Thinking about your ex being sexual with their new partner.
    • Believing that your ex is the only one in the world for you.

2. Openly Discuss Your Feelings
Talking about your feelings related to the break-up is an equally powerful tool to manage them. As we talk to supportive friends and family members, we can come to some new understandings and relieve some of our pain. Holding all of these negative feelings in just doesn’t work, although there may be times when this is necessary, such as in public settings, at work, or in class. As we talk to others, we usually discover that our feelings are normal and that others have survived these feelings. Above all else, don’t isolate yourself or withdraw from those people who can give you support.

3. Write Out Your Thoughts and Feelings
In addition to talking to others, it can be very helpful to journal your thoughts and feelings related to the break-up. People are not always available when you need to get out your feelings and some feelings or thoughts may be too private to feel comfortable sharing with others. The act of writing your feelings out can be very freeing and can often give you a different perspective about them. The psychologist, James Pennebaker, found that writing out your thoughts, stream of consciousness, in a journal, 15 minutes a day, had significant therapeutic effects that were commensurate with therapy.

4. Understand That Break-ups Are Often An Inevitable Part Of Loving/Dating.
Remember that many of our dating relationships will end up in a break-up. This is the very nature of dating. Until we find our best match, we are going to be moving in and out of relationships, so expect it. This way, we won’t feel so devastated when it does happen. Relationships usually end for some good reasons and they should end if we want to find our most suitable partner. Of course, no match will be perfect and we have to decide how long to keep looking and what we can live with. Finding a complementary partner is more than about love and therefore, it is going to likely take many dating relationships to find.

5. Don’t Personalize The Loss
It is natural after a break-up to blame yourself, but try not to personalize the loss for too long. Much of the pain of a break-up comes from seeing the loss as your fault and regretting the choices you made while in the relationship. This process of self-blame can go on endlessly if you let it.
It is far more helpful to see the ending as a result of conflicting needs and incompatibilities that are no one’s fault. Each person in a relationship is trying to get their own needs met and some couples are able to help fulfill each other’s needs and others are not. One of the biggest issues is being able to communicate and negotiate those needs. It’s not easy to learn, so don’t blame yourself and try not to blame your ex. He or she is likely also doing the best they can, given their personalities and life history. No one goes into a relationship with the goal of making it fail, or hurting the other person.

6. Prioritize Basic Self-Care
Self-care refers to ensuring that your basic needs are being met, despite the fact that you may be feeling upset and depressed due to the break-up. You may not feel like eating but do it anyways, and try to make some healthy choices in what you eat. Give yourself ample time to sleep, particularly since this may be difficult for you. The short-term use of some herbal alternatives or sleep medications may be necessary to ensure you get the sleep you need. Sleep deprivation will only compound your suffering. Keeping up or starting an exercise routine can also make you feel better both physically and psychologically. Remember, exercise causes the release of endorphins, which can make you feel better.

7. Get Back Into A Routine
Since going through a break-up can create a sense of chaos in many areas of your life, continuing on with your routines will give you a better sense of stability or normalcy. Although taking some expectations off yourself temporarily can help, returning to routines shortly after the initial blow can help calm you down and give you a returning sense of control. This might include routines around wake-up and bedtimes, meals, educational or work related activities, exercise, and time with others to mention a few.

8. Indulge Yourself
If there was ever a time to pamper yourself, it is after a break-up. You need to do something that will actively make yourself feel better. Indulgence can take many forms, depending upon what you really enjoy, but could include: going to a special restaurant, going to a movie with a friend, having a hot bath, trying a massage, going on a short trip, buying something new, taking the weekend off, taking a yoga class or reading your favorite book.

9. Give Yourself Some Slack
Expect that you are not going to be functioning at full capacity for a time due to the distress you are experiencing. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to lighten your load for awhile.

10. Don’t Lose Faith In People Or Relationships
Since you may be feeling very hurt after a break-up, it is easy to assume that all men (or women) are bad or untrustworthy, but this just isn’t true. By holding on to this belief, you will be denying yourself all kinds of opportunities for a great relationship in the future. We can’t over-generalize from relationship history and assume that it will never work out.

11. Let Go Of The Hope You Will Get Back Together
Unless there is some very strong evidence that you will reunite with your ex, try to let go of this possibility. Bringing closure to the relationship is impossible if you continue to hold onto the hope that the relationship will be resurrected. This means don’t wait by the phone for a call, or try to e-mail or text them to try to have a little more connection, or beg to get back together, or make threats to get them back (i.e., you will commit suicide). These options will only perpetuate your emotional distress in the long term and make you come across as desperate, which will further impact your already shaken self-esteem. Life is too short to wait for someone to come back to you after a break-up.

12. Don’t Rely On Your Ex For Support Or Try To Maintain A Friendship
It’s not helpful to depend on your ex after a break-up, especially to help you overcome the pain of the break-up. It makes it a lot harder to get over someone if you’re continuing to see them or trying to maintain a friendship. After a significant period of no contact, a friendship might be possible, but wait until you’re feeling very emotionally strong again.

13. Avoid Unhealthy Coping Strategies
There are several ways of coping with a break-up that are considered quite unhelpful and will likely only compound your problems. These include such choices as drinking excessively, doing drugs, overeating, self-harm, gambling or shopping excessively, or becoming a workaholic. You may be tempted to do whatever you can to avoid feelings of loneliness and pain, but it is essential to find healthier ways to cope.

14. Make A List Of Your Ex’s Annoying Qualities
If you have been feeling bad because you keep thinking about how much you miss your ex or how well suited you were to them, it can be helpful to make a list of all of their less endearing qualities. Particularly if you didn’t initiate the break-up, it’s easy to focus on everything about your ex that you will miss, which can only magnify your suffering. If you spend some time reflecting, you may come to see incompatibilities in the relationship that make it easier to let go and come to see that there is likely a better match out there for you.

15. Avoid The Temptation To Take Revenge
The idea of retaliating against someone who you feel may have hurt you significantly is very tempting, but making this choice may have unforeseen consequences.

16. Examine What You Can Learn From The Relationship
We can learn a lot from all the relationships we have been in, particularly ones that are painful. It’s very helpful after a relationship ends to spend some time thinking about and writing down what you have learned so that you can have better relationships in the future. However, don’t use this as an opportunity to beat yourself up or blame yourself for the relationship not lasting. Learning promotes growth, while self-blame (i.e. feeling you’re a failure) only extends your suffering.

17. Make a List Of All The Benefits Of Being Single
Although being single again may be an unwelcome event, if you were not the one who chose to break-up, it is worth reminding yourself there are some definite benefits to being single.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

    • You are now much more able to put your own needs first.
    • You will soon have the excitement of dating again, even though this may feel a little
    • You will have more control over your daily routines, not having to negotiate these with someone else.
    • You can spend more time with friends and family, who may have been feeling neglected.
    • You can do some traveling, that you might not have been able to do with your partner.
    • You can eat what you want, when you want to.
    • You can go to bed and get up on your own schedule.
    • You will be able to meet lots of new people, since you now have more time to do so.
    • You may now be free of criticism.
    • You will have much more individual freedom.
    • You have the whole bed to yourself.
    • You now have more time to read.
    • You can be as messy as you want.

18. Perform A Closure Ritual
At some point in the process of letting go and grieving the loss, it can be very helpful to have a closure ritual. This symbolic gesture can be very meaningful if it is well thought out and considers the right timing. This could involve such things as: writing a letter to yourself or to your ex with your final words regarding the relationship, removing all of the photos you have of your ex, or burning some reminders of your ex in a ceremonial fashion.

19. Remember That You Can Survive On Your Own
It is important after a break-up to remind yourself that you were able to survive on your own before you entered the relationship and you will be able to survive on your own now that you’re no longer together. Relationships do not and should not make us whole, even though they are a part of our life and our happiness. We all need to be able to stand on our own and meet our own needs, regardless of the status of any one of our relationships. Remember, the healthiest relationships are with two people who are able to meet their own needs.

20. Start Dating Again
Although it is often hard to decide when the best time to date again is, don’t jump right back in and don’t wait forever. You do need to grieve the loss and discover what you can learn from the past relationship, but you also have to move on, which means beginning to date again. Keeping the dating more casual at first might be wise, rather than jumping right into a deep, meaningful, long-term relationship. Dating can help you see that there are lots of other possible connections out there, if you open yourself up to this possibility.

The Psychology of Loyalty

Loyalty is defined by being OK with things not being OK. Decision theorists, who analyze data for a living, call it a paradoxical move, hurting today to feel better tomorrow, taking a disadvantage today for a possible advantage tomorrow–delayed gratification, but more accurately delayed uncertain gratification, a leap of faith. And while animals make such paradoxical moves by instinct, we humans have much more leeway in choosing our paradoxical moves. However, the mental flexibility that’s involved in loyalty, is defined by our frontal lobes. It’s the highest form of intellectual functioning.

We have language which enables us to imagine future satisfaction, a vision of our goals achieved. For example, you might picture your future as a lawyer, entrepreneur, or doctor, and so decide to borrow money and stay up all hours studying for exams and deadlines, when you don’t want to. You’re loyal to your goal.

Alan Turing, the inventor of the digital computer, called it the “halting problem”. Essentially: Programming a computer to search for a pattern in a string of seemingly random numbers, you have to also program in when the computer should halt the search, in effect giving up on finding the pattern. You can call this Turing’s Blurring Anxiety. When you’re trying to accomplish something, unless and until it is accomplished, you won’t know whether it can’t be accomplished or just hasn’t been accomplished yet. The distinction between those two outcomes is blurred.

In everyday life, Turing’s halting problem could be called the loyalty problem. Loyalty to a person, a project, a task, or a belief is a dogged and deliberate commitment. In essence, loyalty is one of the ultimate cognitive measures of executive functioning. Stick-to-it-iveness. 

Lucid dreaming

Lucid dreaming is the experience of achieving conscious awareness of dreaming while still asleep. Lucid dreams are generally thought to arise from non-lucid dreams in REM sleep.

An obstacle to experimental studies of lucid dreams is that spontaneous lucidity is quite rare. However, some participants in studies can be trained to become lucid via pre-sleep autosuggestion.

Subjects often succeed in becoming lucid when they tell themselves, before going to sleep, to recognize that they are dreaming by noticing the bizarre events of the dream. Often after a lucid dream, they are asked to document the dream in a journal.

Some research has pointed to potential benefits of lucid dreaming, such as treatment for nightmares. However, other studies argue lucid dreams may have a negative impact on mental health because they can disturb sleep and cause dreamers to blur the lines between reality and fantasy.

While normal dreams can occur during different stages of the sleep cycle, studies have shown most lucid dreaming takes place during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. REM sleep constitutes the fourth and final stage of a normal sleep cycle, and is considered essential for consolidation of memory and learning. With REM deprivation, there are a variety of negative psychological effects that occur. A number of studies on REM deprivation have indicated psychotic like symptoms that occur, including hallucinations, visual phenomena, and severe anxiety.

Lucid dreaming strategies have been used with people who have PTSD and other trauma conditions. The most common are:
Reality testing: This technique requires participants to perform tests throughout the day that differentiate sleep and waking. For example, a participant may ask themselves whether or not they are dreaming during the day; since self-awareness is not possible during non-lucid dreams, being able to answer this question proves they are in fact awake. Reality testing is based on the notion that repeated tests will eventually seep into the participant’s dreams, allowing them to achieve lucidity and distinguish between the dream state and waking.

Mnemonic induction of lucid dreams (MILD strategy): This technique involves training oneself to recognize the difference between dreams and reality during sleep. Subjects wake up after a period of sleeping and repeat a variation of the following phrase: “Next time I’m asleep, I’ll remember I’m dreaming.” Researchers will induce lucid dreams using the MILD method by waking up subjects after five hours of sleep.

Wake back to bed (WBTB): Some people can induce lucid dreams using this technique, which involves waking up in the middle of the night5 and then returning to sleep after a certain amount of time has passed. WBTB is often used in conjunction with the MILD technique. When these two methods are used together, the most effective length of time between waking up and returning to sleep appears to be 30 to 120 minutes.

Lucid dreaming appears to have a mix of positive and negative outcomes.

Active Listening

In addition to listening our ears serve many purposes. Three of the most important are balance, coordination, and body movement. I believe this vestibular balance can be applied to relationships. Balance, coordination, and body movement (eye contact, no phones, body alignment). These are the ingredients of active listening.

Approach with wonder
If you are in conversation assuming that you already know exactly how another person is thinking and feeling, you close yourself off from discovering something new about another’s perspective. Cultivating curiosity is about meeting another with a sense of openness and a willingness to learn. Practice this by asking for more details, seeking clarification where needed, and mindfully noting any assumptions or judgments held. Learning from another is the richest of experiences. 

Tune into your inner silence
As the legendary Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Han discussed in his book, How To Love, to truly listen depends on a kind of inner silence. It requires that we empty ourselves and make space to receive something new. It’s a fact that most people have formulated what they want to say before the other person has even stopped speaking. Tuning into your inner silence is not about denying your own needs, feelings, or beliefs. Rather, it is about setting your own views aside for a time to better understand the experience of another. If the mind races while your partner speaks, you can come back to your inner silence simply by noticing your breath and then returning open attention to the person.

Listen to understand rather than to respond
What is your intention when listening? Are you listening to understand or to respond? It is not uncommon when someone is speaking to formulate a counter argument. However, true listening requires presence and a yearning to understand. Moving into a place of understanding does not mean condoning a particular behavior or agreeing with a certain belief; it simply means you are open to seeing where another person is coming from. It is indeed possible to understand and to validate without agreeing.

The couples therapist Harville Hendrix teaches a deceptively simple strategy of reflection (from Imago Therapy). Being able to reflect or mirror what the other person is saying without adding anything or changing the context is not easy. This mirroring might seem awkward at first, but it creates a practice of actually hearing the other person and letting them know that they were heard. I call it passing the baton. Taking turns listening intently, and reflecting exactly what was heard teaches communication in a different way than we are used to.

At Embolden Psychology, we have put forth a number of recommendations for managing feelings like stress, boredom, anxiety, depression, fear, and loneliness during social distancing, including:

Shifting the mental framing of social distancing- believing that one is “safe at home” versus “stuck at home” can have a profound effect on sense of agency, and reduce feelings of helplessness and fear. Agency matters.

Maintaining remote social contact with friends and colleagues can help limit feelings of loneliness. Text, FaceTime, call.

Enjoying simple physical comforts, like a hot shower, sipping a hot beverage, cuddling a companion animal, or wrapping oneself in a blanket may reduce feelings of loneliness.

Please spend time outdoors. Our bodies cannot store vitamin D, and we need this essential nutrient for mental health and wellness. Whether it’s taking a walk down your street or sitting on your deck, sunlight is essential.

Keeping to routines. Go to bed at the same time, wake up at the same time, as much as possible. Make sure you eat at regular time intervals. Keeping to a schedule helps maintain mental health.

Resources that rock:
1. SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline: 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters–call 800.985.5990
2. 7 Cups: A free online text chat service that connects individuals with a trained listener for emotional support and counseling – visit:
3. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Those who are experiencing suicidal thought and impulses can call 800.273.8255 or text HOME to 741741 for support

Brain trauma and psychological functioning

One of my amazing mentors was Dr. James Lewis, clinical psychologist and neuropsychologist, whom I met when I was studying for my doctorate at Catholic University, in Washington DC.

While completing my neuropsychology training, I worked with Dr. Lewis, who often represented many patients in court, innocent victims in cases of lead poisoning, shaken baby syndrome, and traumatic brain injuries.

When there is a direct blow to the head, shaking of the child (as seen in many cases of child abuse), or a whiplash-type injury (as seen in motor vehicle accidents), the bruising of the brain and the damage to the internal tissue and blood vessels is due to a mechanism called coup-countrecoup. A bruise directly related to trauma, at the site of impact, is called a coup (pronounced COO) lesion. As the brain jolts backwards, it can hit the skull on the opposite side and cause a bruise called a countrecoup lesion. The jarring of the brain against the sides of the skull can cause shearing (tearing) of the internal lining, tissues, and blood vessels that may cause internal bleeding, bruising, or swelling of the brain. In simple terms, your brain/us around inside your skull, which is very hard, and creates damage.

General symptoms of a head injury:
A person may have varying degrees of symptoms associated with the severity of the head injury. The following are the most common symptoms of a head trauma.
Symptoms may include:
Raised, swollen area from a bump or a bruise
Small, superficial (shallow) cut in the scalp
Sensitivity to noise and light
Lightheadedness and/or dizziness
Problems with balance
Problems with memory and/or concentration
Change in sleep patterns
Blurred vision
“Tired” eyes
Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
Alteration in taste
Fatigue or lethargy
Moderate to severe head injury (this requires immediate medical attention).
Loss of consciousness
Severe headache that does not go away
Repeated nausea and vomiting
Loss of short-term memory, such as difficulty remembering the events that led right up to and through the traumatic event
Slurred speech
Difficulty with walking
Weakness in one side or area of the body
Pale skin color
Seizures or convulsions
Behavior changes including irritability
Blood or clear fluid draining from the ears or nose
One pupil (dark area in the center of the eye) is dilated, or looks larger, than the other eye and doesn’t constrict, or get smaller, when exposed to light
Deep cut or laceration in the scalp
Open wound in the head
Foreign object penetrating the head
Coma (a state of unconsciousness from which a person cannot be awakened; responds only minimally, if at all, to stimuli; and exhibits no voluntary activities)
Vegetative state (a condition of brain damage in which a person has lost his thinking abilities and awareness of his surroundings, but retains some basic functions such as breathing and blood circulation)
Locked-in syndrome (a neurological condition in which a person is conscious and can think and reason, but cannot speak or move)
The symptoms of a head injury may resemble other problems or medical conditions. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

The full extent of the problem may not be completely understood immediately after the injury, but may be revealed with a comprehensive medical evaluation and diagnostic testing. The diagnosis of a head injury is made with a physical examination and diagnostic tests. During the examination, the doctor obtains a complete medical history of the patient and family and asks how the injury occurred. Trauma to the head can cause neurological problems and may require further medical follow up.
Diagnostic tests may include:
Blood tests
X-ray. A diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
Computed tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan). A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.
Electroencephalogram (EEG). A procedure that records the brain’s continuous, electrical activity by means of electrodes attached to the scalp.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body. You may have to drink a fluid that helps with imaging, called with contrast.

Treatment is individualized, depending on the extent of the condition and the presence of other injuries. If the patient has a severe head injury, he or she may require monitoring for increased intracranial pressure (pressure inside the skull). Head injury may cause the brain to swell. Since the brain is covered by the skull, there is only a small amount of room for it to swell. This causes pressure inside the skull to increase, which can lead to permanent brain damage.

Lifetime care:
The key is to promote a safe environment for children and adults and to prevent head injuries from occurring in the first place. The use of seat belts when riding in the car and helmets (when worn properly) for activities, such as bicycle riding, in-line skating, and skateboarding may protect the head from sustaining severe injuries.

I very firmly tell my patients that they cannot afford to fall down or take a tumble. Please use canes, walkers, or whatever is required to prevent injury in the future, please. 

Persons who suffer a severe brain injury may lose muscle strength, fine motor skills, speech, vision, hearing, or taste function, depending on the brain region involved and the severity of brain damage. Long- or short-term changes in personality or behavior may also occur. These persons require long-term medical and rehabilitative (physical, occupational, or speech therapy) management.

The extent of the person’s recovery depends on the type of brain injury and other medical and psychiatric problems that may be present. It is important to focus on maximizing the person’s capabilities at home and in the community. Positive reinforcement will encourage the patient to strengthen their self-esteem and promote independence, which is the overall goal. 

Eye Contact and Nonverbal Communication

Human eyes are somewhat distinctive in the animal kingdom in that the sclera is very plainly visible whenever the eye is open. This is not just due to the white color of the human sclera, which many other species share, but also to the fact that the human iris is relatively small and comprises a significantly smaller portion of the exposed eye surface compared to other animals. It is theorized that this adaptation evolved because of our social nature as the eye became a useful communication tool.

The conspicuous sclera of the human eye makes it easier for one individual to infer where another individual is looking, increasing the efficacy of this important form of nonverbal communication. In fact, when I am doing psychological examinations, I comment on eye contact as a behavioral observation. Animal behavior researchers have also found that, in the course of their domestication, dogs have also developed the ability to pick up visual cues from the eyes of humans, making them one of only two species known to seek visual cues from another individual’s eyes. Dogs do not seem to use this form of communication with one another and only look for visual information from the eyes of humans.

Indigenous Americans, youth, and mental health.

Indigenous/tribal communities face significant behavioral health challenges and disparities. For Indigenous Americans, multiple factors influence health outcomes, including historical trauma and a range of social, policy, and economic conditions such as poverty, under-employment, lack of access to health care, lower educational attainment, housing problems, and violence.

These disparities have important consequences. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Native American youth ages 8 to 24. Also, while there is general awareness that Native Americans experience higher rates of alcohol and substance use, the scope of these behavioral health problems is not fully understood.

With 564 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN, is the designation currently used by the Census Bureau) tribes, 100 state recognized tribes, and over 200 languages, there is a great need for the development of mental health programs aimed at AI/ANs that center culture as a dominant aspect of treatment. The deficit in culturally relevant treatment programs aimed at Indigenous Americans people living with mental illness is glaring. These communities cope with intergenerational trauma which has a historical context, occurring when exposure to trauma takes place in an earlier generation and continues to affect subsequent generations. The stress of intergenerational trauma contributes to the erosion of family structure, tribal structure and even spiritual ties. It can affect one’s identity, relationship skills, personal behavior, transmission of traditions and values, and attitudes and beliefs about the future. The stress of these traumas combined with the complex and ongoing mistreatment of AI/AN citizens contributes to the rates of mental illness in AI/AN communities and can manifest in a high rate of substance abuse disorder, PTSD, anxiety and depression.

Additional stressors such as a lack of access to health insurance, pervasive poverty and unemployment, and higher suicide rates exacerbate these issues.

I have compiled this list of resources for indigenous clients. Please note that the hours of availability may have changed, but they are all in service at the present time.

Mental Health Resources For Native And Indigenous Communities:
–  Indigenous Story Studio creates illustrations, posters, videos, and comic books on health and social issues for youth.

–  Suicide prevention.
–  National Alliance on Mental Illness.
–  One Sky Center: The American Indian/Alaska Native National Resource Center for Health, Education, and Research; mission is to improve prevention and treatment of mental health and substance use problems and services among Native people.
–  WeRNative: a comprehensive health resource for Native youth by Native youth, promoting holistic health and positive growth in local communities.
–  Ask Auntie: similar to an advice column – type in your question and it will pull up similar ones; if none answer what you’re asking, Auntie Amanda will write up an answer and notify you when it is posted.
–  StrongHearts Native Helpline: The StrongHearts Native Helpline (1-844-762-8483) is a confidential and anonymous culturally-appropriate domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans, available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT.


In her book Quiet, Susan Cain explains that, much like our national ideal appearance (thin) or ideal economic status (wealthy), there is also an ideal that extroversion is the socially acceptable way of conversing, interacting and behaving in our society. The argument posed by Cain in Quiet is that everyone is different and often we have introverts forcing themselves to become something they innately “are not” in order to feel/appear socially successful. Introversion – along with its relatives sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness – is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. However, introverts make up 25 to 40% of the population, and introversion as a personality characteristic is associated with persistence, creativity, reflection, and task completion. In treatment, helping introverts see the many strengths they possess is an important part of maximizing social, career, and personal functioning. 

Embolden Psychology

Embolden offers the ADOS-2, the gold standard assessment for kids on the spectrum.

Combined with psychoeducational testing, it helps provide comprehensive information and recommendations to help children and teens six and up.

Thank you for contacting us.