Straightening Towards the Light

Deeply dashed expectations have the potential to lead to profound suffering. Through radical acceptance, we can experience true freedom and be open to the magnificent opportunities life provides. A deep, immeasurable beauty flows from the recognition that regardless of the winds of change, our true form grows around the hatched knots, perpetually straightening toward the light.

On this day, I share a poem that simply and honestly speaks to this resilience:

The Hawthorn
by David Whyte

The crossed knot
in the hawthorn bark
and the stump
of the sawn off branch
hemmed by the roughened
trunk. In that
omniscient black eye
of witness
I see the dark no-growth
of what has passed
grown round by
what has come to pass,
looking at me
as if I could speak.

So much that was
good in her,
so much in me,
cut off now
from the future
in which we grew together.

through the window
of my new house
that hawthorn’s
crooked faithful
trunk round
an old and broken
my mouth dumb

Dante’s voice
instead of mine
from the open book

Brother, our love
has laid our wills to rest.
Making us long
only for what is ours
and by no other thirst

Our life not lived
must still
live on apart,
longing only
for what is ours
each grow
round the missed branch
as best we can,
claim what is ours

though not forget
loved memories,
nor that life
still loved by memory,
nor the hurts
through which we
tried to learn

Our pilgrim journey
apart or together,
the thirst
of everything
to find its true form,
the grain of the wood
round the hatched knot
toward the light.

Treatment for PTSD: My Approach to EMDR

“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” – Kahlil Gibran

Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR, is a well-established, best-practice treatment for PTSD. When working with clients seeking EMDR, my approach is to partner with you to face difficult experiences in a way that helps you move forward in life.  Painful events may lead to negative self-beliefs that can become engrained over time. We can know in our head that these things are not true and yet, we feel stuck, unable to integrate that head knowledge into our hearts.  EMDR is an integrative approach that facilitates the natural process of healing moving towards wholeness, resiliency and more positive self-beliefs.  Your brain and heart want to naturally heal themselves.


EMDR consists of eight fluid phases that are woven together to address present triggers, past experiences and future actions. When we first meet, you will be asked to share your story with me and together, we will determine if EMDR is a good fit for you.  If so, we will discuss what supports you have in your life. If needed, we work on enhancing supports before moving into traumatic material.  Once we establish safety for you, we will develop three things  – an image or mental picture that is representative of the most difficult part of an experience, the negative self-belief you hold around this memory, and what would rather believe.  For example, a common negative self-belief I see in my work with clients is “I am not good enough.” With this one, we often work towards “I am okay just as I am.”

Once we develop these three things, I will ask you to rate how disturbing this image is to you in the present and through the desensitization phase, I will ask you to hold that image with the negative self-belief while we utilize eye movements. Through this process, we will work together to bring the level of disturbance down.  From there, we work to install the more positive, adaptive belief.  During the desensitization phase, I will often check in with you to see what comes up. I always encourage my clients to relax as much as possible and allow your brain to take you where to need to go.

Often people want to know what to expect from the first session. Depending on whether we have been working together already, it is important that you feel comfortable with me and know that I am here to support you.  Many people prefer this type of treatment for PTSD because you do not have to verbalize all aspects of the traumatic event. There is a wealth of research supporting this integrative approach.  Please see for more information on the efficacy of this treatment. If you are interested in setting up an appointment for EMDR, please contact the office at 828-254-0749.

Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention: An Emerging Model in the Treatment of Addictive Behaviors

Note: I attended a MBRP Training in Seattle in January 2013 when I originally wrote this post. 

Dog MeditationAt this writing, I am sitting in a café in Seattle working to integrate things I am learning this week about a rapidly emerging treatment model for addictive behaviors – Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention. This model has roots in John Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Alan Marlatt’s model of Relapse Prevention.  Though it may be a new way of presenting the materials, mindfulness practice has existed for thousands of years.  Being with a group of about 30 professionals from around the country seeking new ways to bring mindfulness practice into treatment for addictive behaviors was inspiring.  I was most impressed that the facilitators (also the creators of this model based at the University of Washington) were very heart-centered and rooted in research.

MBRP, at its core, is about creating awareness and space for choice. It integrates cognitive-behavioral relapse prevention skills with mindfulness practices. This model is ideal for people in recovery who have already completed initial treatment for substance use disorders. It is designed “to bring practices of mindful awareness to individuals suffering from the addictive trappings of the mind.” The goals are to bring awareness of triggers, habitual patterns and “automatic” reactions that seem to control many of our lives. The goal is to work towards “freedom from deeply engrained and often catastrophic habitual patterns of thought and behavior.

In my own mindfulness practice, I sometimes get lost. I sometimes fall asleep. I’m reminded of what a dear friend told me once when I was struggling with letting go of a particularly difficult situation in my life… she looked at me and said, “Kim… I have some news for you…Congratulations… you are a human being.” I really liked what Joel Grow, one of the MBRP facilitators, had to say about mindfulness meditation practice – it is about creating a space between indulgence and suppression. At times, we are tempted to follow thoughts out, to fall asleep, to rebel against whatever the facilitator suggests. Okay. Fine. We are human. The goal is to notice this and to learn what messages our own thoughts, sensations, feelings and urges have for us. Depending on our own individual desert journeys, perhaps we need to let go and indulge at times. Or, perhaps we need to learn the art of compassionate discipline where we imagine our thoughts as leaves rolling down the river, letting them go and coming back to our breath. The goal is learning that we have choice. We do not have to be swept away by old habitual patterns. We can pause and decide we want to do something differently.

I plan on offering this 8-week program at the practice soon. Please check back for details. For more information on Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention you can visit


Welcome and thanks for visiting! This is the first post on my newly launched website. This website exists to provide information about my practice and to disseminate relevant information and resources for my clients, friends and colleagues. I will post updates about upcoming groups, healing practices and other interesting topics related to mental health and addiction recovery. More soon.
Love and light. -Kim