Adjusting after the Loss of a Loved One

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Losing a loved one shakes up someone’s world in a way that is unique and can be highly disorienting. If you’ve lost a loved one close to you, you know the deep pain and overwhelming feelings that come with trying to adjust to the world without your loved one. This is precisely one of the primary tasks of the mourning process that theorists like William Worden have identified.

Adjusting to a world without the deceased is a deeply personal process that looks different for every person depending on who you are, whom you’ve lost and what the nature of your relationship was. Once the reality of the loss has set in, the adjustment process becomes a main focus including external, internal and spiritual adjustment.

External adjustment refers to the bereaved person’s adjustment to the world around them and navigating their life without the deceased. As the person mourns, they become increasingly aware of all the roles their loved one played in their life. One of the most difficult losses a person can sustain is the loss of their spouse, in part because a spouse covers so many roles in one’s life. What a specific spouse provided is unique to that person, circumstances and the relationship. For instance, were they a financial provider, primary or co-parent, friend, sexual partner, the one who managed social events and communicated with the kids’ school, filed the couple’s taxes, the family cook, the house handyman or woman, etc? Adjusting to life without a spouse usually means learning new roles and taking on responsibilities the person hasn’t done in some years, or perhaps ever. It can take a few months to even realize all of the roles the spouse fulfilled.

Internal adjustment refers to the bereaved person having to adjust to their own sense of self which, depending on the loss, may be significantly altered. If they conceived of their identity in relation to the deceased, it can be even more difficult. Being a husband, wife, mother, or father changes a person and if the spouse or even child dies, the internal adjustment is significant. Often to a lesser degree, but still significant, is seeing one’s self as your parent’s son or daughter and losing the parent also means losing that identifier. A grieving person has to reorient who they are, answering such questions as “who am I now?” and “who am I from having loved this person?”

A spiritual adjustment is also often necessary after the death of a loved one, particularly if the death was of a younger person, was unexpected, or violent in nature. We have a tendency to see the world as primarily safe and have some idea of how we fit in the world and death can sometimes challenge those views. To make a healthy adjustment after losing a loved one, it’s necessary to ask ourselves those tough questions and wrestle with the challenges until coming to a new or stronger consensus on our spiritual views.

Many people work through the death of a loved one without the benefit of therapy and manage well. It’s a natural phase in the life cycle. However, many others benefit from a professional assisting them in these adjustments, particularly for those less expected deaths or deaths that cause complicated grief. The Adne Institute has therapists that specialize in grief work. Contact us if you need assistance during such a painful and challenging season!

Habits of Healthy Couples - Part 2


Our last blog shared four of the habits that healthy couples practice. This second installment of the habits of healthy couples provides four more examples of habits that improve any relationship.

Express Love in your Partner’s Love Language

The concept of love languages (which originated with Gary Chapman) contends that individuals have different ways of feeling loved and, as a result, tend to communicate and express love to others in the same way. However, couples often have different love languages and therefore when one partner is communicating (in some form) their love to the other, the other partner may not actually feel loved. You can see how important it is to know your partner’s love language and consciously try to show them love in the way they perceive it! The five love languages are words of affirmation (someone who feels loved by hearing loving words, receiving compliments, etc), quality time (deliberately investing time in them), touch (affection as much as sexual intimacy), gifts (receiving thoughtful or meaningful gifts, especially spontaneously), and acts of service (doing something concrete to help the other person like doing the dishes to taking care of the car).

Have Both Shared and Separate Interests

Even among healthy couples, there is a continuum in this category, but a balance of having some shared, but also some separate, interests is important. Having shared interests is a way to stay connected and have fun together while having separate interests is a way to maintain one’s identity as an individual and not put pressure on the relationship to share every activity. Since not every couple naturally has many activities they both enjoy in common, it may take both of them being flexible and a little adventurous to try new things and together, discover mutual interests.

Remember You’re a Couple First, then Family

If you and your partner have children, especially young children, they can consume so much time and energy that it becomes difficult to remember you are also, and first, a couple. Developing an identity though as a family, to the exclusion of being a couple, does a disservice to yourselves and even your children. For you to feel connected and fulfilled in your relationship, you need to relate directly to your spouse or partner, not through the children, and for your children to feel as secure as possible in their world, it helps them to know their parents have a solid relationship and it doesn’t depend on them.

Avoid Attacks and Generalizations in Arguments

As noted in the first part of this blog, resolving conflict well is essential to a healthy relationship. Some of the principles of fair fighting make a significant difference in this regard! In any conflict with your partner, try to stay on the topic and the specific behavior that is problematic for you, and avoid attacking their character or making generalizations that cause shame and are difficult to discuss productively. Focusing on just the conflict at hand and specific behaviors greatly increases the odds of having a successful resolution to the conflict.

For more help in your relationship, don’t hesitate to contact the Adne Institute!

Habits of Healthy Couples - Part 1

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Everyone who enters a relationship wants it to be healthy, fulfilling one. And yet, relationships frequently end or, even if a couple stays together long-term, are far from healthy. There is a gap between what we want and what we are able to achieve. What are the habits of healthy couples?

1. Having a shared vision for the future

While opposites may attract, it is important to have a shared vision for the future of your relationship. Some of the aspects that should be agreed upon can be anticipated at the onset of a relationship, for instance, if you both desire to have children or not. Others may not be anticipated and need to be negotiated, perhaps years into the relationship. An example may be that one person is offered an amazing job across the country when moving was never something the couple planned. It’s important both at the beginning of the relationship and throughout to be forming a shared vision and expectations. It requires knowing what aspects of the future are very important to you (your values) and what aspects are flexible.

2. Check in with each other when you part for the day and when you come back together

Many couples lead fairly hectic lives due to their work hours, which are often different from one another, and the kids’ schedules. Making a point to even briefly acknowledge the moment when you part ways at the beginning of the day and when you come back together at the end of the day can make the difference between feeling connected as a couple and feeling like roommates. This doesn’t need to be elaborate or overly time-consuming. Just a kiss and a “have a good day” or “good to see you again” can set the tone for the day and therefore your relationship.

3. Practice Transparency

It’s often been said that trust is the building block or foundation of a healthy relationship and it’s very true that when trust is betrayed or broken, the path to healing can be long and challenging. Establishing a mutually trusting atmosphere avoids much pain and a key way to do this is by practicing transparency with one another. Inform your partner if your plans for the day are out of the ordinary, like if you’ll be home later than usual for any reason. Having a shared calendar (and using it) also accomplishes this. Knowing one another’s passwords on devices and sharing your location with your partner boosts confidence in the relationship and, in time, makes doubts obsolete. Similarly, having equal access to bank accounts (even separate accounts) eases communication and eliminates some conflicts before they start. Naturally, this should be voluntary and mutual. If one partner demands access to the other without giving it, it is a red flag for controlling, or even abusive, behavior. Done with the shared understanding, however, that you are living your lives together and have nothing to hide, it goes far in establishing trust. A practical byproduct is that should there be a medical emergency, or the like, one partner is able to act as needed to maintain stability in other areas of life (pay bills, inform the affected partner’s place of employment, etc).

4. Make a point to actually resolve conflict

Conflict is a normal and, in many ways, healthy part of a relationship. In fact, when couples report they don’t experience conflict with one another, it typically means one or both parties are not being authentic about their feelings or desires (or don’t even know them for themselves). If two people are being authentic, it’s inevitable that there will be differences. When in a conflict with another person, it’s human nature to want to “win” or be right. Approaching conflict with that goal, however, undercuts any ability to actually resolve the conflict, and prolongs the pain for both parties. On the othe end of the spectrum are couples who ignore conflict and allow issues to fester, prolonging the pain indefinitely. If instead the goal is to actually resolve the conflict, coming to a deeper understanding of one another and what exactly triggered the distress or disagreement, and then acheiving actual resolution, the relationship can actually be enriched and strengthened by the conflict.

Many aspects of being a healthy couple are easier in theory than in practice, for a multiple of reasons. Couples therapy can be a practical way to develop healthy habits and work through negative habits that hold a couple back from achieving the potential and joy together that they could. If you find yourself needing help with developing a more healthy relationship, consider contacting the Adne Institute to schedule an appointment with a couples therapist!

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression

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If you’ve struggled with depression and considered therapy at all, it’s likely that you’ve heard of CBT or Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. It’s both a popular and evidence-based modality for the successful treatment of major depression. The theory observes the intrinsic connection between our thoughts and behaviors and our mood or emotions. While none of us can simply change our emotions at will (“just be happy”), we do have the capacity to examine and change our thoughts or behaviors. 

The best way to practice CBT is to learn the techniques with a therapist and practice them until they become something you can do independently when you feel depressive feelings rising. CBT, perhaps more than other therapy modalities, is a form of treatment that clients can and, over time, should be able to use as a means of helping themselves when necessary, an empowering perspective that’s attractive to many clients. The Adne Institute has clinicians trained in CBT who can teach the various techniques but as an introductory example, consider this means of examining distorted (or inaccurate) thinking as a way to combat depressive feelings. It is helpful to write these steps out as you proceed through them. 

Notice the Emotion and Situation

Begin with simply noticing when a disturbing emotion arises. Are you feeling particularly sad, angry or anxious? What was the situation within which the emotion occurred? 

Identify the Automatic Thoughts 

We have numerous thoughts within our minds at any moment and at various levels of thinking. Some thoughts are surface level, “I need to buy milk”, and other thoughts go much deeper. An automatic thought, which is often what leads to particularly intense emotions, is typically a statement of our beliefs about ourselves or the world. It’s something we were thinking within the core of our being. Examples are numerous but may include “no one likes me”, “nothing works out for me”, “I’ll always be alone”, etc. A therapist can be very helpful at this stage to assist in identifying the automatic thought. 

Once we realized what we’re truly thinking or believing in that moment, the resultant emotion is quite logical. For instance, if we are thinking “nothing works out for me”, we are likely to feel despair. Identifying the automatic thought helps us feel less out of control as we realize our thoughts and feelings are actually in sync. 

Consider the Validity of the Automatic Thought

We all tend to believe our own thoughts simply because we thought of them. The good news is that as we learn to evaluate our own thinking, we can identify where it may be distorted or inaccurate and then replace the distorted thought with a thought that is more in line with reality. To continue with the aforementioned example, one could evaluate if it’s accurate that nothing ever works out for them. What is the evidence that this thought or statement is true? What are other ways of viewing the situation or other plausible explanations? Would a close friend see it the same way? It’s probable that there are exceptions to that rule and seeing all the situations where something did work out is important. Again, a therapist trained in CBT can be helpful here in learning how to evaluate distorted thinking as there are a number of patterns that distorted thinking tends to fall into. 

Observe the New Emotion 

After going through the process of evaluating your thinking that occurred during the original situation and produced the painful emotion, now observe what emotions you feel. It is likely that the current emotions are less intense or more hopeful or optimistic than the original feelings. Since depressive or anxious thinking is often rooted in beliefs that are more extreme and negative, accurate thinking that aligns with reality is often much more encouraging and produces emotions that are far more manageable. 

The above exercise is but one of the CBT techniques but is very powerful when done thoroughly. A trained clinician can help provide that framework until a client is able to do it independently. Contact us at the Adne Institute for further assistance! 

Helping a Friend with Postpartum Depression 

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If you follow us online, you already know that the Adne Institute has psychiatrists who specialize in the cross-section of women’s reproductive health and psychiatry, including postpartum depression, as well as therapists skilled in treating PPD. Postpartum depression has been increasingly recognized as a significant health concern and breaking down the stigma around it has resulted in more women being comfortable getting treatment. 

If you suspect a new mother in your life has postpartum depression, be encouraged to know there are ways you can help. Just being knowledgeable of how prevalent it is already helps the new mother in that someone is aware she may be struggling in this area. The “baby blues” is an extremely common emotional reaction that occurs in the first couple of weeks after giving birth, often concentrated around day 4 or 5. 70-80% of mothers experience baby blues which are characterized by feeling sad, anxious, lonely and stressed while adjusting to the new baby and all the changes that come with that. For about 1 in 7 women, though, the symptoms don’t alleviate within the first two weeks and morph into postpartum depression or anxiety, a condition that is much more persistent. 

So what can you do if you suspect a friend or loved one may have postpartum depression? 

* Ask about her more than the baby. Typically, so much of the focus is on the new baby that the mother may feel that she is no longer seen or valued. Focusing on her allows her to express her emotions and how she’s feeling about all the changes and encourages her in knowing she’s not alone. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. Ask how she feels about the baby, and if she particularly seems to be struggling, ask if she’s had any thoughts of hurting herself or the baby. Asking this doesn’t introduce such ideas to the mother, but rather gives her an opportunity to voice disturbing thoughts that she is otherwise unlikely to mention. Reassure her that feeling depressed after the birth does not mean she doesn’t love her baby, a common misconception that increases a mother’s feelings of guilt. 

* Encourage her to seek professional help, either medication or therapy or both. Postpartum depression or anxiety often doesn’t improve spontaneously and can be severe, endangering both the mother and baby. Encourage her to talk to a professional about it. Treatment has high rates of success. 

* Rather than vaguely stating “let me know if you need anything”, simply provide concrete help. Bring food over, do the dishes while you’re there and offer to take care of the baby or older children so she can get a break for a few hours or a nap. The transition to parenting a new baby is often overwhelming, complicating any feelings of depression or anxiety. If the mother can experience support in concrete ways, it goes a long way towards feeling less overwhelmed. 

If you or a loved one may have postpartum depression, contact us at the Adne Institute for further help during this crucial time of life. 

Boundaries - Part 2

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Our last blog discussed what boundaries are and why they are important to the function of a healthy relationship. This follow-up provides tips on how to actually implement boundaries, something that’s easier in concept than practice!

In many instances, boundaries are observed naturally and come about without a direct conversation. For instance, if your landlord always provides you notice before entering your apartment to conduct maintenance, they are observing a boundary. If your boss refrains from calling you on Saturday morning with a work question (regarding your weekday job), they are respecting an unspoken boundary. Similarly, if a partner is respectful of you as a person and doesn’t resort to name-calling even when feeling anger, they are observing a boundary. 

But what do we do if boundaries are not being observed or if the two parties in question simply have different boundaries and don’t naturally see eye-to-eye? Suppose that a family member calls you three times a day to chat when your expectation was that you have a phone conversation only once every few days. You feel pressure to answer the phone but also resentful that you have to pause your activities three days in a single day to have a conversation with them. Perhaps you’ve tried to hint in the past that you’re busy or would rather communicate less frequently only for the person to respond with hurt feelings or a guilt trip.

The first step in setting a boundary is to recognize that you have a boundary in an area that is being violated. You may feel used, resentful or angry and need to identify the reason behind the emotion. 

Once you’re clear with yourself as to what you need to be safe or respected in the relationship, it’s time to communicate it respectfully to the other person. In the example above, it may be stating clearly, “our relationship is very important to me but the frequency of our conversations is difficult for me to sustain. I would love to be in touch every few days.” Sometimes the other party immediately respects a boundary as stated (perhaps they were not aware it wasn’t convenient for you and are happy to change) but more frequently, there will be some resistance. They are used to a certain way of interacting and may feel the change is threatening. It’s best to anticipate this and not doubt the need to set the boundary in the first place. 

If the person continues to violate a boundary after it’s been stated, it’s important to allow them to experience the natural consequence of their behavior. This isn’t a punitive or vindictive measure but rather than absorbing the negative impact of their behavior (by, say, answering the phone each time even when it’s interrupting something important), allow the person to feel the natural negative impact of them violating the boundary. The natural consequence in this case would be to not answer the phone multiple times a day when you’ve already stated you’re not available that frequently. 

Many people will adjust their behavior and begin respecting the boundary when they see it isn’t working otherwise and the relationship can continue in a more healthy and genuine way for both parties. Other times it becomes very clear that they are unwilling to respect the boundary and it may be necessary to increase the distance in the relationship or leave the relationship. Examples include leaving a job that demands all of your time or a relationship with someone who is consistently disrespectful. 

Addressing boundary issues in a relationship can be challenging, especially initially, but also results in richer, healthier relationships that both parties find more fulfilling! For help with boundaries or other relationship issues, contact the Adne Institute to meet with a therapist! 

Boundaries - Part 1

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Boundaries as a concept are becoming more a part of our cultural vernacular, and yet many of us may still be uncertain as to what boundaries are and how to implement them. Boundaries are both essential to a healthy relationship and are often misused. The purpose of having boundaries is to provide for the best environment for a relationship to thrive with respect for each person and their unique needs. The analogy is often used of a yard with a fence. It’s important to have a fence in place to designate a difference between one person’s property or space and the next’s but also important to have a gate in the fence so as to be able to let the other in when desired and have opportunities to connect and relate to one another. 

Healthy boundaries are important in any type of relationship, not merely romantic ones. Family members, friends, neighbors, and work relationships are all at risk if healthy boundaries are not expressed and respected when needed. 

Not having boundaries or expressing them may look like an amicable relationship but it leads to distance in relationships as at least one person will likely experience unresolved anger or resentment towards the other and not feel the other actually knows their desires and needs. Having boundaries that are too rigid or strict limits the entire relationship as one or both persons are not allowing the other to interact with them and they choose to not be vulnerable with them. If the person in question is abusive or inappropriate in their interactions, strict boundaries are necessary but in many relationships, flexible boundaries are more conducive to facilitating connection. 

So what are boundaries specifically? Boundaries can be physical or emotional, and separate who we are from others. Examples of physical boundaries refer to one’s body and property. Violations of physical boundaries would be any unwanted physical contact, someone intruding in another’s home or going through your property or phone without permission. 

Examples of emotional boundaries could include not accepting someone else’s name calling or demeaning comments. In a romantic relationship, it would include agreed-upon standards of interacting with others depending on if the relationship is an open or closed one, etc. In a friendship or familial relationship, it may include spoken or unspoken agreements on how often to call one another, or to honor plans that have already been made rather than canceling them at the last minute or not showing up. 

Understanding boundaries is one thing but sometimes implementing them is a different story entirely. It takes a certain amount of assertiveness and a lot of practice. Our next blog entry will provide tips on how to practically implement boundaries.

In the meantime, if you know that boundaries are a challenging area of life for you, consider the clinicians at the Adne Institute a resource. Call today to schedule an initial consultation or therapy session!

Practicing Healthy Self-Care

What images come to mind when you think of self-care? For many, the concept of self-care conjures up notions of manicures and spa treatments which are good things! However, self-care is most effective when practiced as part of a person’s daily life. It is simple habits that together allow someone to feel more grounded and calm while navigating life’s frequent challenges. Practicing healthy self-care allows our stress levels to be more regulated and we feel more empowered to handle the myriads of situations that inevitably come our way. 

Leave room for margins

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It’s a common lifestyle to rush out of the house in the morning and into work, rush from one meeting to another all day, and then fill our evenings with too more events or to-do’s than is realistic in the allotted time, falling into bed exhausted only to do it all over again the next day. Incorporating healthy self-care may mean leaving 10 extra minutes in the morning in order to not feel so rushed, taking an actual lunch break to get a breather or fresh air mid-day, and attempting to use our evenings only to do what is reasonable so we can get to bed in a timely manner. The more reasonable pace allows the person to feel calm throughout the day and stress levels remain in a regulated state. Having margins leaves extra time for unplanned disruptions like a malfunctioning train on the way to work, whereas even small deviations from the plan can be highly stressful when there isn’t any time left in the schedule for something unexpected.

Be mindful of balance between time spent alone and with others 

Personalities vary between extroverts and introverts, with a continuum in between. Extroverts tend to feel energized by spending time around people, whereas introverts need time by themselves to recharge. Ultimately, however, everyone needs a balance of both time spent with other people and time spent alone. It’s important to have meaningful social connections and avoid isolation which can cause depression, loneliness, etc, but it’s also important to have time to one’s self in order to have space to be thoughtful and reflective and just to be able to tolerate being alone when needed. The balance as to how much of each is healthy is very individualized but knowing yourself well enough to know what balance you need, as well as actually implementing the balance between social and alone time is key to maintaining positive self-care. 

Take a break if burnout is pending 

As much as self-care should be practiced on an ongoing basis, there are still times when it’s extremely helpful to take a complete break from the regular demands of life in order to recharge and recuperate. Take a vacation if it’s financially possible in a different environment. Unplug and disconnect from that which usually causes you stress. If a full vacation isn’t possible, take a conscious break even in your normal environment. Set aside a weekend of free time, as a staycation or simply a chance to rest. If your life has often felt stressful lately, use this time to reflect as to what changes and boundaries you can implement upon reentering the day-to-day to make it more sustainable and manageable. 

Clearly, self-care is a individualized concept with many possible applications. Taking the time to consider what the best self-care practices are for you, and then implementing them, is key to maintaining positive mental health. For more help with self-care and stress management, contact the Adne Institute to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced clinicians. 

Tips for Managing ADHD


ADHD is often associated with children and hyperactivity. But children grow into adults and ADHD in adulthood is much less about hyperactivity and much more about inattentiveness and disorganization. Adults who suffer from ADHD tend to feel challenged managing their time well, and organizing their life and space for optimal functionality. Medication can be very helpful in managing the symptoms of ADHD and is often necessary. Behavioral changes are also crucial to assist in executive functioning. Here are some tips. 

Have a place for frequently used items 

If you tend to spend the last few minutes before leaving the house running around looking for your keys or wallet, have a designated spot by the door and develop a habit of always placing your keys in the same spot each day. This can be applied to anything you use routinely and predictably. Place your bag or purse in the same spot. Put your shoes away in the closet. Being deliberate with small actions can save time and frustration later if you tend to be disorganized.

Follow routines 

Often, adults who struggle with ADHD find themselves jumping from one activity or thought to another, and struggle with completing any of them. It can cut down remarkably on frustration to have simple routines in place and to follow the steps accordingly. For instance, if you’re a student and have homework to complete, sit in the same place each time you need to do your homework with all your materials available to you, check your assignments and determine what to do first. Once the task is completed, put all your materials (books, papers, computer) away in a designated place so that it’s ready for the next day. If you need water or a snack, add that to the routine so that you have it there when you begin. 

Schedule time to do chores

Similarly, having set times in your schedule each week for household chores can reduce the stress of wondering when to do what. Scheduling a day to take care of a specific chore (clean the bathroom each Wednesday, buy groceries on Saturdays) can streamline decisions that may be overwhelming. Anyone with a cluttered home is likely to feel stress when in that environment. Having ADHD can make it difficult to keep a home clean or clutter-free wince chores can feel overwhelming. Scheduling chores into your week helps to break down projects into manageable tasks. 

While having adult ADHD is challenging, by taking medication and organizing life with tips such as these, symptoms can be managed and impact life much less. If you have tips you’ve found effective, share them in the comments! If you would like someone to work with you on ADHD management, contact the Adne Institute today to schedule an appointment. We have both psychiatrists and clinical therapists! 

Clinician Spotlight: Emily Almanza, LCSW


In a continuation of our series spotlighting our clinicians, we spoke with Emily Almanza, LCSW, one of our experienced clinicians, for a chance to get to know her more. 

ADNE(A): Emily, how would you describe yourself?

EMILY(E): I’m a slightly introverted people person. I love being with people and hearing their stories but eventually need time to myself. Having had a lot of cross-cultural experience, I thrive on exploring other cultures and enjoy understanding different individuals’ perspectives on life. This has been a natural bridge to my work as a therapist as each individual brings their own strengths into the therapeutic process and their own way of viewing the world.

A: It sounds like your experiences have been an integral part of creating the therapist you are today. How would you describe your approach to therapy?

E: My approach to therapy strives to be very respectful of the client’s goals and what they desire to accomplish. The process should feel supportive and challenging, but not intimidating. I believe the client should have ample opportunity to explore their story and feelings but I also provide input in our discussions through an interactive dialogue. With my social work background, I’m particularly mindful of the impact of one’s environment and past in shaping one’s identity and beliefs. 

While I enjoy working with various client needs, I specialize in grief counseling. Particularly with clients processing the loss of someone dear to them, I believe it is essential to have a safe space to share all of their feelings about their loss and I provide an atmosphere of hope to begin envisioning a life after the loss. 

A: When did you know you wanted to become a therapist?  What led you to pursue your LCSW?

E: My career path started when I chose to study counseling in undergrad. I was interested in studying psychology and had the impression that counseling would be more practical and relational. I already had a desire to help others and knew the field of counseling would be a prime way to do that. Eventually, that led to getting my masters in social work and becoming a LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker). It's a decision I've never regretted!

A: We are very lucky you followed your path, because you are such a naturally skilled and empathic therapist!  Do you find yourself more aligned with any specific therapy modalities?

E: I particularly enjoy existential therapy, which grapples with themes of life and death, the search for meaning, and personal responsibility and freedom. I’ve found that often times, our felt needs and feelings arise from concerns related to these larger themes and addressing them can be invaluable. In the grief work that I do, I find my clients are often already thinking about existential themes and appreciate someone who doesn’t shy away from discussing them.

In addition, I’m always mindful of the impact of one’s past and childhood on adult development and therefore, bring a psychodynamic perspective to discussions as well as integrating Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, when appropriate, to provide practical skills and solutions, frequently in addressing symptoms related to anxiety and depression. 

A: Thank you for sharing with us today. Before we go, what advice would you give someone considering therapy?

E: Take the plunge! It can be intimidating at first and it doesn’t always feel good but the chance to devote that time to improving yourself, your life, and your relationships is well worth it. And don't be afraid to ask your therapist for what you need!

If you would like to schedule an appointment with Emily, contact us at the Adne Institute!

Navigating Life's Transitions


Life is full of transitions. Many of them we choose and are excited about while others happen to us and we find ourselves in a position of needing to respond and adjust. Transitions can be positive and range from changing jobs, having a baby, moving to a new home, or starting school. They can also be negative such as losing a relationship or getting a scary diagnosis. What all transitions have in common is the element of change. 

Change, even positive change, is inherently stressful. We all become used to certain norms in our lives and comfortable with knowing what to expect from day-to-day. When a transition comes, those norms are disrupted and life feels unpredictable. If a major change has taken place (job, home, relationships), it takes time to establish new routines and feel comfortable in your day-to-day life again. 

Practicing healthy self-care during a season of transition can be particularly helpful as you navigate the stress. Getting enough sleep each night allows your mind to have a break and for you to feel restored and energized to respond to the changes the next day will bring. Try to go to bed and wake up at similar times daily so that your body can enjoy the normalcy of that rhythm and you’ll feel more regulated even as other aspects of your life are in a state of flux. 

Exercise when you can to help your body feel a sense of stability while your mind is dealing with the transition. The endorphins released during a good work-out put us in a positive mood even when the day has been stressful and can cause us to feel empowered to take on the challenges we face. 

Most importantly, any change is also a new opportunity. As you embrace the next phase of life and let go of the old one, space is created for new possibilities that you would never have had before. You’re very likely to meet people you would never have crossed paths with otherwise who can enrich your life or teach you something valuable. There are experiences waiting to be had that can make you aware of parts of yourself that you weren’t previously such as a new job that challenges you in new ways or a new community that provides unique experiences. Regardless of what kind of transition you may be going through, be alert to what new opportunities may be ahead.

If you’re in a season of transition that has become even more stressful than anticipated or you find yourself experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, contact us at the Adne Institute. An experienced therapist can walk with you through that transition and assist in alleviating any unwanted symptoms that you may be experiencing. 

Clinician Spotlight: Julie Haran-Castaneda, JD, LCSW

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For a series spotlighting our clinicians,  we sat down with Julie Haran-Castaneda, JD, LCSW, a seasoned therapist with the Adne Institute for a chance for our clients, colleagues, and friends to learn more about what drives her a person and a practitioner.   

Adne: Julie, how would you describe your approach to therapy?

Julie: My approach to therapy is very integrated. I think it is essential to work with my clients where they are. I try to assist in guiding them at the pace that they are able to best address the concerns and struggles they may have, especially those that are interfering with their daily functioning and life enjoyment. This involves looking at the many facets of who they are and working with them to keep balance.  Approaching the mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, relational, and professional aspects of each individual is paramount to successful therapy. It is best when this is collaborative with each client actively participating in formulating strategies to better help them to improve negative symptoms and to reach short-term goals as they can.

Adne: Do you find yourself more aligned with any specific therapy modalities?

Julie: I align with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as well as psycho-analytical modalities in the therapy work I do with my clients.  My training includes a certification in Evidence-Based Practices especially as relevant in counseling children and adolescents. Approaching my clients from a strengths-based perspective allows for them to build confidence in the therapeutic process as well as in themselves. Everyone needs affirming, and the re-building of hope in their own ability to change, improve, adapt, and/or accept. This is a successful method to equip my clients to move forward, and is essential our efforts as a collaborative team. However, I always hold to the adage of not working harder than my clients are working.

Adne: What inspires you about this work?

Julie: The work I have been privileged to do throughout my experience as a LCSW has truly been inspirational.  As a wife, mother of five (5), step-mother of three (3), daughter to a feisty 81-year-old, a practicing attorney, an advocate for women and marginalized peoples, a fortunate friend, and a resident of Chicago for nearly all of my life, I feel truly blessed to do the kind of helping work that promotes change and growth.  The progress I have witnessed in my clients has had a ripple effect in promoting positive life-long improvement.  Individuals, couples, families and groups have been able to benefit.  And being the catalyst that has sparked it has been a significant honor.

Adne: At times, all of us can feel stressed or slightly burnt-out. How do you practice self-care?

Julie: For me, self-care is paramount to my personal and professional life going smoothly.  Date nights with my husband, family dinners and phone calls/texts with my children, weekly lunches with my mom, regular gatherings with friends, attending church, practicing pilates, yoga and mindfulness, going to the gym throughout the week, and walking whenever and wherever I can are foundational. A favorite cup of tea, writing in my gratitude journal, binge watching some shows on Netflix, petting my pups, plugging in my essential oil infuser, and baking are other ways I prioritize self. As I routinely tell my clients, you cannot get water from an empty well. Replenishment is so important for self, to be equipped to do for others, and to be ready to rally through the bumps in life.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with Julie, contact us at the Adne Institute!

How Mindfulness Can Help You Sleep by Polina Blinderman, LCSW


Is anxiety getting in the way of falling asleep at night?

Do you notice yourself struggling to sleep because of excessive thinking, worrying, or obsessive thoughts? Often times, before we go to bed, our mind may wander to thinking (or worrying) about work, family, health, financial problems, or relationships. Sometimes, just worrying about sleep itself could be the main reason you don't fall asleep easily. Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment, with intention, and without judgment Try this mindfulness activity of categorizing your racing or ruminating thoughts the next time you are having trouble sleeping:

Close your eyes, set a timer for 3 -5 minutes, and start to pay attention to the thoughts coming into your mind. 

❖ Are they future-oriented thoughts? (i.e., automatic list making, "I need to respond to that email, or schedule that appointment, etc.) Often these future-oriented thoughts may increase your anxiety. 

❖ Or, are you noticing that your thoughts are about the past? (i.e., regrets about something that has happened today, or years ago). Past-oriented thoughts tend to evoke sadness in us. 

❖ And finally, are you noticing thoughts that are about the present moment? (i.e., hearing sounds in your room, noticing smells, or physiological sensations). Noticing thoughts about the present moment can induce some feelings that are comfortable or uncomfortable. It is helpful to be aware of whatever comes up so that we create the freedom and space to know how to help ourselves. 

❖ Another way to utilize this mindfulness activity is to tap your left leg when you notice a thought from the past. Tap your right leg when you notice a thought from the future. And tap both legs when you notice a thought from the present. The tapping may also help you ground in the moment. 

❖ Finally, once the timer has gone off, notice how you are feeling. Pay attention to any changes in your anxiety. 

Practicing this activity may help focus your mind and decrease stress by reducing negative thoughts about the past and needless worries about the future. Combine this with your favorite meditation relaxation app, and you can get the Zzzzzs you've been looking for.

Contact the Adne Institute today to schedule an appointment for more help with anxiety or mindfulness.

When Grief Strikes by Emily Almanza, LCSW


Grief and loss are a ubiquitous part of the human experience, be it grief due to the loss of a loved one by death, or loss of relationship as in a break-up or divorce, even loss of friendships, homes, pets and jobs. Loss can occur suddenly or be an agonizingly gradual experience. In spite of its many different forms, grief comes to all of us, and yet walking through a season of grief can feel so very painful and isolating. 

When grief strikes, what are some of the ways one get through the overwhelming experience? 

Use Time Well

They say time heals all wounds, and while time is a necessary ingredient in healing from a deep loss, time alone actually doesn’t automatically provide healing. For the passage of time to provide healing and relief, it’s important to use the time to truly acknowledge the loss. Name what happened and how your life has changed as a result. Allow the varied emotions to each have their voice. Certainly there will be sadness but there can also be anger, guilt, regret, and even relief. As we allow ourselves to acknowledge each emotion and feel the depth of the emotion, it becomes less intense and overwhelming than it was initially.

Lean into Support Systems 

As tempting as it may be to isolate yourself, it’s important to lean into your friendships and family relationships. They may not know what to say or may say the wrong thing but connecting with others during a season of grieving is vital. If you’re lost a central figure in your life, it can feel as if you’ve lost all your meaningful connections but remembering the supportive relationships that you do still have is an important step in regaining your sense of self. Making new friends in a support group or community who has experienced something similar can also be helpful. Being in the depths of grief can make it feel like you’re the only one who feels that way but, unfortunately, there are many others who have walked a similar road.

Do Tasks That Feel Normal

Often, after a loss, it can feel as though your life has been shattered and nothing is the same. While it is true that life will never be the same, and the future will look very different from how you imagined it would look prior to the loss, there are many small elements in life that are the same. It may be as simple as brushing your teeth or commuting the same way as you used to, but look for those parts of your life that have not changed and actively engage in those mundane tasks that can feel grounding precisely because they may be the only thing that’s the same following a major loss. 

Talk to a Therapist

Going through a season of grief is the perfect time to reach out to a therapist. Having a dedicated time and space each week to honor both the loss and its meaning to you, as well as honor your own life as you must keep living in spite of experiencing such a massive change, can be so helpful in the healing process. A therapist can walk alongside you as you grieve, help you reassemble the pieces of your life and together, find a new normal that will be different from the life you had, but meaningful and beautiful in new ways. 

If you’d like to talk to a therapist at the Adne Institute to help you through your season of grief, contact us to schedule an appointment.

Welcome to Adne's Thread

Welcome to our news page, Adne's Thread. This space will provide you with important practice updates, interesting articles, and informative mental health resources. Adne's Thread is meant to be a safe forum for all those seeking guidance on their journey towards better mental health.