Are you ready to Quit Smoking?

Quit Smoking for good at Health for Life Grand Rapids

Even if you’ve smoked forever…

Even if you’ve tried to quit a million times…

Even if you enjoy smoking…

You can quit.

Hypnosis has been shown to be an effective method for quitting. No gum, patches,

or prescription medications required.

Clients who use hypnosis to quit tend to experience fewer withdrawal symptoms

and begin their smoke-free life motivated to making healthy choices!

The Great American SmokeOut is November 16th!

To quit smoking, contact Stacey PreFontaine CMS-CHt, FIBH

at Health for Life Grand Rapids.

Call Stacey directly at 616-828-2153.

Or email Stacey at : 


Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths every year, or 1 of every 5 deaths.1

In 2015, about 15 of every 100 U.S. adults aged 18 years or older (15.1%) currently* smoked cigarettes. This means an estimated 36.5 million adults in the United States currently smoke cigarettes.2 More than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease.2

Current smoking has declined from nearly 21 of every 100 adults (20.9%) in 2005 to about 15 of every 100 adults (15.1%) in 2015.2


“If there’s everything all health professionals agree on, it’s this: put down the smokes, any way you can, no matter how silly you feel about being hypnotized or obsessively chewing Juicy Fruit or starting talk therapy with a counselor. Don’t feel foolish if you start describing yourself as “smober,” as some NicA members do. It may be corny, but getting sober while continuing to smoke is tantamount to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic: a nice way to relieve stress in the moment but an activity that’s still going to take you down.”


quit smoking with hypnotherapy at health for life grand rapids

Buddhist Psychology as a Science of the Mind

Buddhist Psychology as a Science of the Mind [Episode 11 of the Intentional Clinician podcast]

In this episode Paul Krauss MA LPC interviews Sivie Suckerman, MA LMHC about Buddhist Psychology as a philosophy, a science of the mind, and its various clinical and life applications. Paul and Sivie discuss the universal teachings of Buddhist Psychology in a way that is accessible (and non-threatening) to anyone, no matter their background, culture, or religion (or non-religion). Sivie and Paul discuss the differences between “regular mindfulness” and utilizing mindfulness exercises along with Buddhist Psychology. True to the Intentional Clinician, there are many details about how utilizing the concepts from Buddhist Psychology in counseling can help with anxiety, depression, and more.

Sivie Suckerman MA LMHC received her Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 2007 and has practiced in community mental health, crisis services, school-based mental health, residential, and women’s health agencies. Currently, Sivie has a full time private practice in the West Seattle neighborhood of Seattle and has been in private practice for 3 and a half years. She is also a Certified Mindful Schools Instructor and Level II Little Flower Yoga Teacher. In addition, she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Acting with an emphasis in Original Works from Cornish College of the Arts in 1998. Learn more here:

You can subscribe to the Intentional Clinician on itunes or though podbean.

Paul Krauss MA LPC practices counseling and is a counseling supervisor in Grand Rapids, MI. Paul has his private psychotherapy practice at Health for Life Grand Rapids, located on 781 Kenmoor Ave SE, Suite C. Grand Rapids, MI 49546. Check out his clinic which features himself and many gifted clinicians (each with their own specialty).  If you or someone you know is in need or just wants to give counseling a try– call Paul at 616-365-5530 (direct), or at the office 616-200-4433. Here is Paul’s email:

Learn more at and  and

Original music, used with permission:

“Shades of Currency” [Instrumental] from Archetypes by PAWL

“The Twin” from Archetypes by PAWL

“Moment in the Sun” from Archetypes by PAWL

A Fall Perspective or SAD

A Fall Perspective or SAD by Dr. Shannon Bennett, ND

Ahhh, smell the crisp air, the burning leaves and the awareness that holiday celebrations and new beginnings are on the horizon. In the first few mornings of a seasonal change, you feel the honeymoon stage of excitement. While idealizing upcoming plans and nostalgia fill your brain on the morning commute, you tend to have a momentary lapse of the cold bite of your seat and steering wheel. But after several days, weeks and months of the same ice cold seats, plummeting outdoor climates and brown slush as winter approaches, it’s easy to forget those fleeting feelings you once had at the beginning of the season.

And why is that? Something so appreciated in the beginning stages of its return each year, turns into an annoyance that reminds us to keep our eyes on the warmer months. It’s easy to get into the Scrooge mindset and start lamenting the cold weather with every encounter with it. It reminds us of spending extra money on presents, hectic shopping malls and risky driving on icy roads.

If we dive into the mindset of Power of Positive Thinking, we know that our thoughts and emotional well being can be subtly, but significantly altered with the seemingly harmless comments that come out of our mouth.

What if the crunchy leaves falling to the ground wasn’t a sign of death, but a sign of rebirth coming from the forest confetti that fall brings? What if we could keep this positive outlook, just by being more mindful of the words that we speak? By altering “I hate this cold,” into remember the good things this time of year brings, “Ahh, this snow means being with loved ones is near!” we may alter our perception of fall and our knee-jerk reaction to the cold. Below is a list of easy exercises to get you in the jolly mood, preparing you for a warm-hearted season ahead.

  1. Write a list of gratitudes

It has been studied time and time again and the research shows, taking the time to reflect and write out what makes you happy will actually do just that, make you happy. So at the start of each new season, while still in that honeymoon phase, write a list of all the gratitudes this seasonal shift brings to mind.


  1. Connect With Others

During these colder months, it is easier to stay in and bundle up rather than braving the cold to be with others. However, we were created for human connection and when we spend time with one another, we are building a network of communion around us. Connection with others is a huge factor in our health, mentally and physically. Infact, those with healthy relationships around them, are more likely to heal fast, get sick less and live longer. So volunteer at your local food bank, YMCA or shelter; get involved in religious small groups; visit the elderly in a local senior center; plan a neighborhood ‘friends-giving’.


  1. Retrain Your Habits

It takes 120 days of consistent effort to build a habit, so you have all season to work on this one! When we stop to think before we allow thoughts to become words, we have the power to change our environment. Every time you think to say a negative or complain about the weather, rephrase your statement with a gratitude or a positive outlook. Once getting in the habit of this, you’ll notice that you those negative thoughts become few and far between, and you’re easily able to redirect your perception.

For more information on positive living to help curb your tendencies for seasonal depression, set up a free consultation with Dr. Bennett today! Call 616-200-4433 or email

Dr. Shannon Bennett ND is a Naturopathic Doctor in Grand Rapids MI

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” – Albert Camus

fall perspective at health for life grand rapids

Poetry Changes Everything

Poetry Changes Everything [Episode 10 of the Intentional Clinician]

In this episode, I interview Marcel “Fable” Price, the current Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids, Michigan. We discuss poetry and the transformative act of writing and self-expression. We talk about how participating in a live poetry event can be helpful for people of all ages. Fable and I discuss our current “superconnected” internet culture and how overuse of the internet can lead to “disconnection” and how putting down your phone and picking up a pen and paper can help people struggling with mental illness. In addition, getting out of your domicile and going to an open mic or live poetry can be a way to sublimate your pain and difficulties into art. We discuss Fable’s journey from a difficult time in his life into his love for writing, poetry, spoken word and hip hop–and how poetry is now actually his job. All of this and much more is discussed in this episode:

Marcel “Fable” Price. Poet Laureate of Grand Rapids Michigan. Author of “Adrift in a Sea of M&M’s” Fable is a Bi-racial North American writer, teaching artist, community advocate, spoken word poet, and motivational speaker. Fable The Poet is highly noted for his work with the youth; spreading Mental Health Awareness using his own stories to consume the audience. “At times, we all feel fragile. We are paper boats entertaining the waves of life.” He is an official partner of Mental Health America and is known across the nation for crowd-interactive features that leave those attending enlightened and empowered. Buckle up, prepare to make a new friend, and enjoy the ride.


Follow the journey:

If you like the intentional clinician podcast, you can subscribe on itunes or through podbean.

Paul practices counseling in Grand Rapids, MI. Paul has his private practice at Health for Life Grand Rapids, located on 781 Kenmoor Ave SE, Suite C. Grand Rapids, MI 49546. You can reach Paul at 616-365-5530 (direct), or at the office 616-200-4433. Here is Paul’s email:

Learn more at and and

Stay tuned for more intentional clinician episodes. Feel free to send in show topic requests. Thank you for listening. -Paul Krauss MA LPC

And if you are in the Grand Rapids area, check out Fable the Poet performing live!

Fabel the Poet of Grand Rapids, MI

7 Days of Self Care Challenge

7 Days of Self Care Challenge

by Nicole Vega, LMSW, CHC 

(A counselor in Grand Rapids, MI)

In a world of expectation, chaos, and struggle, it is vital that we find time to center ourselves and create a body that allows for inner and outer resilience. One of the best ways to allow for this is to learn practices that allow you to connect with who you are now, and who you desire to become.

To assist you on this journey, I have designed for you, what I call the 7 Day Self Care Challenge, or as I often refer to it as, the Love Yourself Challenge. In this challenge we are going to start with small daily practices, to leave you with a new set of tools that will help you to improve the quality of your life. These are things we can all do, even if you are incredibly busy with a career, raising a family, or both. Over these next 7 days you will try a new technique aimed at improving your overall well-being, so that by the end of this challenge you can determine what best suits your individual needs.


Day 1: Take 10 Minutes to Breathe

Science has come along way with what it can tell us about how quieting our mind and breathing can impact our health. This simple activity of breathing intentionally and being still can help to quiet the nervous system and rewire our brain. Some call this act of quietly breathing with intention, mediation. I prefer to call it “surrendering to your breath”. Many people see the act of surrender as giving up, however, I have learned as both a clinician and coach that just like vulnerability is key for creating positive changes, so is surrendering those thoughts and actions that keep you stuck on a path in which you feel lost.

Day One take 10 minutes to breathe


Day 2: Drink Half Your Bodyweight (in ounces) of Water

So why do I want you to drink water on this self-care journey? Well, because water is an incredibly simple and powerful way to nourish both our bodies and minds. We need water to survive, and many of us are running around drinking everything but water these days! To be mindfully aware of how much water you drink in a day, creates the habit of being aware of how you do other things. I often find clients believe they need to change 100 things before progress can be made, however, this is not the truth. All change comes about with choice, making at least once choice. to do something differently.

day two drink half your body weight in ounces


Day 3: Start Your Morning with a Nourishing Breakfast Smoothie

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a reason, and although I feel all meals are important. I find that starting your day out with a nutrient rich meal, sets the stage for you to make better choices throughout your day. I encourage my clients to start out with making breakfast both simple and nutritious, which is why I am a big fan of smoothies. When I am working with clients I will often state that their smoothies should consist of healthy fats, protein, and low sugar fruit, such as berries. My personal go-to shake in the morning is a combination of avocado, strawberries, unsweetened almond milk, water, and a plant based protein powder. This meal keeps my blood sugar balanced, cravings for junk low, and allows me to begin my day feeling fueled, rather than temporarily satisfied.

day 3 nourishing breakfast smoothie


Day 4: Find Movement You Enjoy and do it for a Minimum of 10 Minutes

As someone who has been on her own health journey for over 3 + years, and has supported many other individuals along the way. I can tell you that finding movement you enjoy is key to consistency in your workouts and improvement in your overall well-being. I also want to emphasize that the type of movement you enjoy may change as you age, and as you enter different seasons of life. I know this has been true for me. I used to be someone who enjoyed very intense workouts because I thought they would make me “skinny” or “get me to my ideal weight”. I have learned through much trial and error, however, that my body truly thrives with more gentle movement, such as yoga. I have also reached a healthy and ideal weight by surrendering to the type of movement that my body truly needed, rather than forcing it to do others.  

day 4 move for 10 minutes


Day 5: Go to bed by 9 p.m.

As someone who is without a doubt a “night owl”. I have always found myself going to bed later in the evening and sleeping in as late as I could, maybe even hitting snooze a few too many times. I had always decided this was just “who I was” and that I could not change it. I have learned, however, that for many of us, going to bed earlier can create a powerful shift in our energy, productivity, and well-being. While I know we cannot always go to bed early or even on time. I do think it is something to aspire to, at least a few times a week, in order to refuel and reset our bodies. Sleep is where our body naturally repairs itself, so it is vital for your overall health, no matter what your age. So for day 5 of this challenge I am asking that you power down early and pay attention to how you feel the following day.


Day 6: Give Back — Participate in an Act of Service

Now before you look at this and think “I don’t have time to volunteer”. I want to be clear this is not about a grand gesture, or devoting hours to a volunteer position. An act of service can be anything. It can be making a delicious meal for a family member, offering to babysit a friends children for an hour or two, picking up the groceries for your spouse, etc. When we help others, we feel more connected. It is this connection that allows for better psychological, emotional, and physical well-being.

day 6 give back- act of service


Day 7: Take an Epsom Salt Bath

The last task within this challenge is simple, yet so many people struggle to take the time to do it. The act of taking a warm relaxing bath, has many health benefits. So adding in another element such as epsom salt or essential oils can help boost an already beneficial act of self-care. Why do I specifically suggest epsom salt baths? I suggest these because they promote many benefits to the body, including: soothing sore muscles, boosting levels of magnesium in your body, and decreasing swelling, to name a few. So if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, this may end up being your favorite day of the challenge!

day 7 take an epsom salt bath


Lastly, whether you choose to participate in this challenge or not, it is important for you to know, that you are worth taking the time to care for. You are worth setting aside a few minute or hours a day, to give back to YOU. We live in a society where self-care can be seen as selfish. It is NOT selfish to have a desire to want to feel balanced and well cared for. People who care for themselves, can better care for others. You are worth it.

About the author: Nicole Vega is a fully licensed clinician and certified health coach. Nicole received her Master’s in Clinical Social Work in 2012 from Western Michigan University and became certified as a health coach in 2016. Her work is founded on the principle that individuals are the experts of their own lives, and therefore their own best healers. Nicole believes it is her role to establish a safe therapeutic space where she can assist her clients in focusing on their strengths and uncovering the tools needed to address what is causing them discomfort and stress in their lives; which may be manifesting as anxiety, depression, weight gain or other obstacles.

Contact her directly at   


Phone: 616-389-0291

nicole vega health coaching

From Fragmentation to Wholeness

From Fragmentation to Wholeness [Episode 9 of the Intentional Clinician podcast]

In this solo episode, Paul Krauss MA LPC (Counseling in Grand Rapids, MI) discusses methods of moving from fragmentation to wholeness, how our attitudes and personal habits affect the way we live, and how to bring about change in a fast-paced world, with regards to the following broad concepts: the concepts of fragmentation and wholeness, feeling overwhelmed by choices and the constant bombardment of media in our current culture, how to deal with the paradox of risk and uncertainty in life, how to find a passion and keep it, and go from being a master of none to a master of something. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. Paul Krauss MA LPC will use many of his own stories throughout, stories that he has heard, as well as quotes from authors and philosophers.

You can subscribe to the Intentional Clinician on itunes or though podbean.

Paul Krauss MA LPC practices counseling and is a counseling supervisor in Grand Rapids, MI. Paul has his private psychotherapy practice at Health for Life Grand Rapids, located on 781 Kenmoor Ave SE, Suite C. Grand Rapids, MI 49546. Check out his clinic which features himself and many gifted clinicians (each with their own specialty).  If you or someone you know is in need or just wants to give counseling a try– call Paul at 616-365-5530 (direct), or at the office 616-200-4433. Here is Paul’s email:

Learn more at and  and

Below is some of the content from this podcast episode:

It is likely that have you have experienced the feeling of fragmentation in life.

One definition of fragmentation or fragmented as a verb means “to break or cause to break into fragments” (fragments are, of course, when used as a noun: a small part broken or separated off something). So in a sense, we are feeling like parts of us have broken off and we cannot reunite with that piece of ourselves. I mentioned the divided life, which is a related concept—in one definition it appears that the word divided could be used as a synonym for fragmented: “ separate or be separated into parts.” In a way, a similar feeling to being fragmented—we have been separated out into different parts. Yet, a second definition of the word divided reads “disagree or cause to disagree.” An example of this would be, “the extra task the CEO asked of her company, had divided the employees since its announcement.” So, divided can be construed as not only the feeling of being separated into parts, but actually being in disagreement with oneself. Have you ever felt ambivalence about something? (Ambivalence is the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone). Often times we experience ambivalence  about a concept, a person, a goal, a job—but what if we are feeling this ambivalence strongly about different aspects and parts of ourselves? Well when we are living a life that feels fragmented and divided—we are essentially experiencing a strong sense of being separated from ourselves (for example, our voice, our “true self” or what we really believe, really want to say, and really want to bring into action, but are somehow stuck into not revealing that desire). When we feel divided, we are not only separated into parts, but the parts of ourselves, actually disagree with one another, which can lead to chronic struggles both on our insides and in our actions on the outside. For while what we experience in the outside world affects our inside feelings, our inside feelings of course, affect our outside actions in the world.

Most humans have a deep desire to feel whole (even if they are acting out as a result of a distortion, a trauma, or not getting their needs met—but that is a discussion for another podcast). Most of us, want to feel congruent about our thoughts and actions. And people will do all sorts of things in life, both healthy and unhealthy to achieve the feeling of wholeness and congruency. I know that some of us may have memories of a time we felt whole—some of us do not.

One definition of the word whole that was interesting to me was “ in an unbroken or undamaged state; in one piece.”

In the journey of life, it is inevitable that we will face suffering in one form or another—as will everyone we know. So it is no wonder that many of us feel broken and damaged all the time. Yet, there are many ways and paths and practicing to feeling whole, even though life has broken us multiple times and we will carry scars from things that have happened for our entire lives. Of course, scars are not a terrible thing to have, as long as we can make meaning out of the scar and in the present moment we can see that we are not divided. Scars are an ok things to carry if we are feeling congruent about our actions and subsequent thoughts and feelings. While the process of being scarred may not be fair and may not make sense, it is easier to deal with a scar if free congruent in the moment or are working toward wholeness.

This is surely a discussion that could continue in countless books, podcasts, and conversations, but I will aim to provide three simple points with examples today to help us walk through the concept of moving from fragmentation to wholeness. I do not believe that anyone ever achieves complete wholeness, but we are certainly experience moments of wholeness, and even through our brokenness, difficult experiences, and lives, we can feel more fully human and like a whole person. I am sure that these concepts will come up again in future podcasts and blogs.

Here is a quote about wholeness that spoke to me: “Wholeness does not mean perfection, it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life.” – Parker J. Palmer

I love quotes, but it is important to consider the context from which they are spoken so I tell you that I am quoting his book  “A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey toward an Undivided Life”. Parker J. Palmer is an amazing author and teacher—if you haven’t read his books, I highly recommend it.

Remember, we are not aiming for perfection—we are aiming to be in agreement with our actions or forgiving ourselves if we are not in agreement. Wholeness is, in a sense, acceptance of one’s self. How are we feeling about our self late at night before drifting off to sleep, or in the morning upon waking?

Now I am going to address these concepts in 3 parts.


Our modern life is full of distractions, “easy answers”, and gateways to addiction. The nonstop availability of information that is available 24/hours a day and in all forms of media, the non-stop availability of entertainment and services, and advertising, marketing, and organizations to become a part of—can have an overwhelming affect on our minds, body, and our psyche (the soul). There are countless ways paths that can cause us to change into autopilot and become immersed in consumption, distraction, and other possibly harmful activities. By the time we get a moment to reflect on our lives and our habits—we find ourselves feelings fragmented in our activities, and divided in our heart. When I use the word heart, I am obviously not speaking of our actual hearts. I am speaking metaphorically of the emotional feelings that most people experience in their torso and chest—usually these feelings are accompanied by thoughts in the brain, which are noticed by what we call “the mind.” If we feel fragmented and divided a lot of the time, it can become difficult to focus, figure out what our true feelings about something are, understand what we want to do with our lives, relationships, and even our time.

I was at a conference in 2009, and I heard James Hillman say something like, “Most people are fine working on goals in therapy—yet the most resistance I have ever encountered is when I try to treat their schedules.”

In the book Essentialism by Greg Mcknown, comments on our current society’s overwhelming amount of options. I am summarizing some of his concepts here with my own thoughts added: The United States in 2017- we have too many choices—so many choices cause decision fatigue: the more decisions we are forced to make, the more the quality of our decisions decreases. We have too much pressure regarding out decisions—much more social pressure if you are connected to social media or are exposed to advertisements on the TV, magazines, or on the internet. Now we have an explosion of opinion overload with social media and the advent of so-called “fake news.” 3. And of course, the American myth—that we can have it all. People working so much to buy stuff they don’t even have time to enjoy—or ignoring valuable relationships, or hardly engaging in some of the most important years of their lives.

With all of this constant noise in our modern culture, how do we distinguish things of value from the vacuous?

When we are overwhelmed with options, often time, we don’t even notice our own thoughts and voice—and we go into autopilot mode.

Self-awareness and moving toward self-actualization is part of becoming whole—and doing this “inner work” will help us learn to discern what is necessary and what is not. It can help us move out of fragmentation and into a state of wholeness.

But how do we have self-awareness in the land of constant noise and entertainment.

The simple answer is We need time, space, and stillness.

Requirement: The courage to unplug,  The space to become intentional, Space in our lives

Taking time out by ourselves—it doesn’t have to be much.

Only then can we begin to figure out what we are entangled in—what is necessary what is not.



Reconnecting with nature

Spirituality. Our generation is often turned off by organized religion, but that doesn’t mean we should abandon any sense of spirituality or not larger answers.




Not filling up our schedule



-Ask yourself these questions:  How do I become whole again? What is missing? What do I need?

We need to learn how to tell ourselves the truth:

In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act. – George Orwell

Even reading poetry can open us up to our awareness. As T.S. Eliot said “Poetry may make us a little more aware of the deeper unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves.

The lesson begins with the inner work:

“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” ~ African Proverb

(Putting aside time to be alone is one practice in becoming whole, is not isolation as a lifestyle—we still need people and animals in our lives). In the next section I will address other obstacles to wholeness, as well as the need for community.



If we were lucky enough to have loving and mindful parents, as a small child, life seems simple. We learn the rules, we play, we eat, we go to sleep, repeat.

Now, if we had a difficult childhood, we may have felt fragmented and divided from the very beginning—and we are still seeking to feel whole, for the first time.

One day we start going to school, and it can seem fun and joyful, until the first time you remember someone attacking you, either verbally or physically.

I certainly remember my bubble being burst on my first day of school in first grade—when I was introducing myself to a third grader on the soccer field, and he said back to me “PAULLL, What kind of name is Paul? That is not cool!” I remember being shocked—why would say that? Was he telling the truth? I felt shame for my name. What did this say about my parents? They were the ones who named me? Other thoughts continued “Why would he pick on me just because he didn’t think my name was cool?” “Am I welcome on the soccer field?” “Should I avoid this person?” I started to feel fragmented and divided. Now, this was not the first time I experienced such a division—there were other instances both in my neighborhood and school which occurred, time-wise, before this incident—but this podcast is not an autobiography, I use these experiences from my own life to illustrate a point.

How many of you remember a flash point— a moment when you went from thinking you were safe, that you were a good person, that you looked nice in your new outfit, and that things were going ok in your life—and the next moment the idea was shattered by a person or unexpected event?

We all have a story, full of these

Being with people, can break us and hurt us deeply.

Or maybe we are the one hurting people?

We have been hurt, and so we grown hard in our hearts and rationalize that it is ok to hurt others.

In Japan, broken objects (such as family bowls and plates) are often replied with gold.

The flaw is seen as a unique piece of the object’s history, which adds to its beauty.

“Let everything happen to you

Beauty and terror

Just keep going

No feeling is final”

Rainer Maria Rilke

“You will never truly know yourself or the strength of your relationships until both have been tested by adversity.”

~ J.K. Rowling

Some of these may also have traumatic events in our lives, and some of these are so serious they may negatively impact our mental health completely and cause various problems in our lives and relationships—I will address traumatic events and ways to heal through counseling and otherwise in a future podcast. With traumatic events, there is often a great need to get serious and intensive treatment—so I am not negating the seriousness of it—but today’s podcast is not about traumatic events and their treatment— I will do a podcast on this in the future.

What story are you telling yourself? Were you able to integrate a bad experience into part of your story, with you overcoming, or is this experience crushing your self-esteem, even now?

Honest w self— are you in denial about something terrible that happened to you? Are you hiding your hurt feelings? Are you hiding your anger? Are you just ashamed?

The first step is often to acknowledge the harm that was done. The next step is often to speak it.

The hard part is, we often struggle with shame and blame ourselves.

Friends who are willing to be authentic with you

A place that you feel safe in

Finding a Community

A Mentor

An organization to be a part of.

Even a support group

Listening to other people- i know i hurt people when i didn’t listen

If we can’t find that—it may be time to begin individual and even group counseling.

PARKER PALMER —discusses the difficulties of when people are trying to fix us or we are trying to fix others.

In counseling, we are not aiming to fix people— as a counselor, I have methods and techniques to help people heal from trauma—but I am not aiming to “fix them.”

I don’t know what is best for their life. I know that often times, people who are suffering, need to be heard —no one has taken the time to hear their story—they have just rushed in with advice. 


In life there are so many options, so many paths, and opportunities.

Yet, when presented with so many directions and choices—people often feel paralyzed by indecision and anxiety.

When we are young children, many of our paths are chosen for us—it is only over time that we gain a sense of self, and may eventually strive for autonomy or individuation from our parents or caretakers. And in some ways, our experience as children can inhibit or enhance our desire for certain paths depending on who are parents or caretakers are as people, where we live, what opportunities are presented to us, and socioeconomic status. Yet, many people eventually come to a place when they are old enough to choose a path, no matter limitations in their lives.

Often times, I talk to people who no matter what their age are unsure of what to do with their lives. They are afraid of committing to any path at all. Many times they present with a great deal of anxiety and often times feel stuck in their lives—and experience some depression because of it. Yet, each and every one of them could, with help, work to find something of interest to them, and even begin small steps of pursuing a related goal—whether it led to a hobby, a vocation, a new relationship, a new way of spending time. Each and every one of them could change their lives in a small way, as they move down a path to purse something of interest to them that could eventually lead to a new way of being. I will discuss career and vocation in a future podcast.

Today, I am going to tell a little bit of my story and how I eventually found the path I decided to take. This is not an autobiography by any means, but this is a rough overview of some events which led me to where I am today—there is much more to the story.

In many ways, my childhood was a nice experience and in other ways it was confusing and frustrating. I had two parents who loved me, a place to live, and food on the table. I grew up in a lower socioeconomic status, but my parents were decently educated. I had many opportunities to meet a lot of people and learn from them. Yet, to my detriment, I did not have much consistency in my life.

For instance, and for various reasons I attended 3 different elementary schools, 2 different high schools. As a young person I was ashamed because I couldn’t play sports, play instruments, or act as well as some of my peers. When I was young, I assumed it was my fault—that I was untalented. It wasn’t until I was 15 that I realized if I didn’t start to change my path, I was going to be very unhappy. That realization came after what I believe was one of my first long period of depression—where I isolated for a while and didn’t attend events at my school.  That was when I took up working out, cooking, reading, playing the piano, and singing—and I demanded to change schools and environments. Luckily, I had always been a reader because my parents limited my television consumption until I was 13, and computer use was only in a class at school.  Yet, even with this change, I still wasn’t as talented in many ways. Because I’d never consistently followed through with music lessons or sports before the age of 15. Sure I tried things out for a while, maybe even a season, but I was not forced to continue. I would usually start something and then stop out of frustration, because I did not have the raw talent. I had heard that the key to becoming good at something was “practice, practice, practice” but like most children, I didn’t listen to my parents, like I would only learn by example combined with trial and error. Luckily, at my new school I made some good friends who did “practice practice practice” around age 15 and they did influence me to change and work on my skills in a variety of areas.

And once I started prioritizing my interests and devoting my time to learning and practicing, my life began to change. First of all, I was excited that I had found interests and by practicing, over time, I could see my skills improving. Second of all, I was able to start shedding some of my negative shame of thinking that “I just lacked natural talent.” Another benefit of me applying myself was that I also learned what I did not like to do, which was very important to slightly narrowing my path—and helping me find a general direction for what I liked to do. I still did not know that I was interested in psychology or counseling at this point.

I am going to skip over many pivotal areas of my story at this point in the podcast because this is not an episode about how I became a counselor—that is a story for another day. Suffice to say, I had a series of menial jobs starting in adolescence and continuing through my college days. These jobs, whether in fast food, hospitality, labor, painting, writing and editing, and even a local TV station, helped me define what I did like and mostly what I did not like. I very quickly decided that I did not want to work at a fast food restaurant for a career, nor a motel, I didn’t enjoy tons of physical labor (while I enjoyed the exercise, I couldn’t imagine myself doing that for 40 years), I didn’t like painting, I realized that while I liked writing and editing my own work or my friends—I didn’t like the job of editing and helping other’s write, and most astonishingly I learned that I did not like the lifestyle and hours and pressure that accompanied working in any aspect of local television. Ironically, after dropping my Telecommunications major, I still worked as a camera person for 4 years during college. It was fun and a relatively easy job—once the pressure of doing this for a career was lifted. What I did during my late high school and college years was really explore. I didn’t just sit in a room and internet search “What should I do with my life?” I went out and tried a bunch of different jobs. I also worked at exposing my self to different types of people and their opinions. This exposure brought me out of my comfort zone and helped me learn more about what others valued and what they wanted to do as well as helping me on my path to figuring out what I wanted to do. Since we are discussing wholeness, having all of these different jobs also showed me something that I wasn’t quite aware of at the time. I noticed that I felt energized when I worked 2 jobs during college, one was mentoring younger students in the residence halls, and another was volunteering at a local middle school. At the time, it led me toward pursuing an education degree, but later on, after 1 year of working in high schools—taught me again, that my path was not to become a traditional teacher, but to pursue psychology and eventually to become a counselor.

I am greatly summarizing some my story to make a global point about being intentional with practice, but also in trying things and really immersing  yourself in a variety of experiences and jobs, so you can figure out what you like and do not like. I want to say, having all of these jobs and breaking out of my comfort zone was not easy—I was terrified the entire time. Yet, after each new experience, I became less nervous over time. I will discuss anxiety in a future podcast for sure. I had many times where I felt as if I had failed because I didn’t like the job I was doing, or I had great expectations of a new experience or meeting with someone that turned out to not be as great as I had imagined in my mind. During this time, I had plenty of doubts and periods where I was depressed. Yet, I remembered that someone once told me that 99% of life was just showing up…so I kept showing up, most of the time, in spite of my doubt. And I knew already that I didn’t want to work in an hourly wage job for the rest of my life. I didn’t come from money, quite the opposite, so I could not depend on my parents for much support. Yet out of this time of uncertainty I grew as a person. Growing and learning are values that are very dear to me. I don’t ever want to stop growing and learning—because any time I grow stagnant and begin living on autopilot, my joy and happiness as well as my excitement about life, decreases. So I still constantly pursue learning and growing, and attempt to work on my weaknesses, to this very day. Public speaking is not one of my strong fronts, and I have never attempted a podcast or spoken-word recording until the Intentional Clinician.

When you’re first trying a new activity or skills and you’re learning how to do it— you are just not going to be good at it yet. It will not feel “effortless.” Some people will comment, when watching a talented individual that “they’re a natural” at sports or violin or whatever. I just don’t believe that. While certain people seem to have amazing abilities in an area, the only way you can get there is intentional or deliberate practice. You aren’t just born an Olympic athlete or a world-class Chess player—these are skills that need to be developed over time.

According to some researchers it takes about 10,000 hours practice to become a master at a skill. I know I’m well over 10,000 hours of providing psychotherapy (also known as counseling) as I’ve been a licensed counselor since 2007. And it’s fun. I love what I do. love helping people to find their voice, to heal, to change, to meet their goals. At time it is quite challenging but I have always found it rewarding.

Similarly to practicing my counseling skills through trainings, mentorship, evaluation, and working with people—all of my hobbies and interested that I spent time cultivating through intentional practice became joys in my life.  For instance, I may not be the best pianist, bicyclist, or cook, but I have gotten to a level of skill where I actually enjoy the practicing and performing with others. If you are struggling with whatever you are doing: Sports, Crafts, socializing, writing, singing, playing an instrument, cooking—you may have not had enough deliberate practice, and/or you haven’t received instruction and helpful feedback.


Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book Outliers that 10,000 hours of appropriately guided practice was “the magic number of greatness,” regardless of a person’s natural aptitude. Gladwell claims that with enough practice almost anyone could achieve a level of proficiency that would rival that of a professional. It was just a matter of putting in the time with proper instruction and help.  K. Anders Ericsson, professor of psychology at Florida State University, whose research began the dialogue on “10,000 hour” rule that Gladwell wrote about,  stated in a recent article that this claim appears to be true aside from physical limitations, of course, which can be a constraint for growth and progress in an area.

Genius is perseverance in disguise. ~ Mike Newlin

Aristotle stated, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.”

Remember, perfection is a myth. Don’t let other’s wonderful talents and skills stop you from starting.

The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.- Carl Rogers

So I tell you, whatever it is the you are interested in JUST DO IT.



If you don’t like it or you realized it is not for you, stop and try something else.

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”

~ Goethe

“Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great.” Orison Swett Marden

Why not take the risk and apply for a job, you can always change your mind later if you decide it is not for you.

Not sure what to do? Many of us learn by experience- I discussed having a variety of jobs as a young person—it certainly informed me as to what I did not like doing— as well as what aspects of each job I liked doing—such as working in a Pizza Parlor, I loved the customer interaction, but hated making pizzas and cleaning. Customer interaction was a form of a social skills, which is something I use as a counselor to this day.

So many people have an idea to write a book—yet they haven’t taken the time to start by writing a short story or poem.

We have to learnt to crawl before we can walk, and walk before we can run.

“When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.” Zig Ziglar

Living in a culture of “easy answers” and “instant gratification”—can lead one to be disappointed if their first try at making something, doing something, or starting something isn’t “amazing.”

Don’t aim for perfection. Aim to do something.

Taking action is the most difficult part of starting to doing something you love.

I have heard a saying in a Yoga Class, “ the fact that you got to your yoga mat today, means that you have succeeded.”

Remember, we have to show up to get results.

Part of living an undivided life where we feel more whole is related to paying attention how we spend our time and what we have decided to prioritize and intentionally practice.

Some questions to ask your self in reflection like we discussed in part one:

What are you doing with your time?

Do you know what your interests are?

Do you know who your true friends are?

Are you worried about finding love but you don’t go talk to people that could be potential partners? Even as friends?

If you want to do something big, you have to start small.

Remember, The World is Changed by Your example, not your opinion. – Paulo Coelho

That means actions, not words, will help you reach your goal.

No matter where you are on your path, there is always an opportunity for change.

It is possible to move from a fragmented and divided life toward a life where you feel wholeness.

Remember, from part one, we must learn to unplug, be still and listen for a while to determine what we value and how and where and with whom we want to spend our time.

From Part two, we learned it is important to acknowledge and own our wounds and brokenness.

It is vital that we heal, and we cannot do it alone—we need the help of others and a safe and affirming community to do so.

In part three, we discussed the difficulties of discovering what we enjoy doing, the challenges of getting started, and what to do if we learn we don’t like the path we are one, as well as ways to grow and intentionally cultivate our skills and gifts.

I hope that something in today’s episode spoke to you. Remember, even if you have had bad experiences and do not feel like taking action:

You are worth the investment of time to contemplate your life, you are worth the time of friends and community.

And, it is never too late to begin doing what you really want to do and living how you want to live.

Leonard Cohen, from his song Anthem:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

Learn to find wholeness with experimentation and diligence in your life.

Why I stopped making fun of yoga …

Why I stopped making fun of yoga …

by Jennifer Belmonte, LMSW, CHC

(licensed therapist in Grand Rapids, MI)

Truth be told, I am a former yoga-mocker. I could not comprehend how intentional body contortions and even the practice of stillness could possibly alter one’s physical health. After all, isn’t exercising about working up a sweat, increasing your heart rate, and being near collapse at its conclusion? At one point in my life, I was a cardio junkie…running, kickboxing, stepping, even spinning. What then, could possibly be the point of something low-impact, slow-paced, and well…seemingly downright boring. The whole notion of yoga was rather confusing to me. Silliness, actually.

A few years ago, my dear sister announced she was going to pursue certification in yoga instruction. I tried my best to be supportive of her perplexing vocation. She used fancy words like “shavasana” and “namaste.” Interestingly, I began to notice that people practicing yoga seemed more relaxed, more balanced…more grounded, if you will. Slowly, and I do mean slowly… I came to a realization… Do we not practice things that don’t come easily to us…such as riding a bike, cooking, or public speaking? Perhaps I needed to practice relaxing. Yes…practice relaxing!! I was well-acquainted with the concept of mindfulness (we’ll talk about this further in a later post), and its importance on one’s mental and emotional well-being. Yoga, of course, is a manifestation of mindfulness…both physically and mentally. I began attending a few classes. Yoga eventually no longer seemed a waste of time! In fact, I began to experience greater mental clarity as well as physical strength. I realized that ideally, a strong body and a strong mind are two sides of the same coin.

Moreover, the mainstream medical culture has begun to recognize the importance of consistently practicing relaxation…ideally, deep relaxation. As Dr. Edmund Bourne highlights in The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, when we engage in this discipline, we experience a myriad of physiological changes including decrease in heart rate, decrease in blood pressure, and decrease in muscle tension. According to Dr. Bourne, other benefits of deep relaxation include increased energy and self-confidence, reduced insomnia and fatigue, and even an increased awareness of your emotions (as muscle tension is a significant barrier to emotional awareness).

The idea of practicing mindfulness or even deep relaxation may seem daunting at first. So, let’s start with intentional, every-day choices… making eye contact during a conversation, enjoying a cup of coffee (or a meal!) while seated, saying NO to things that do not nurture our bodies, our spirits, our healthy relationships. These are things that require intention and practice, especially in a culture, which glorifies busyness.

Part of my role at Health for Life GR is to help you connect the dots of your life…experience greater balance, find your voice, and be intentional in your relationships. After all, this journey called life is much more enjoyable that way.

You can see Jennifer Belmonte for counseling or health coaching, in addition she loves to teach and will be hosting many classes at Health for Life GR.

You can contact Jennifer Jennifer Belmonte LMSW, CHC directly616-920-0428 or 

Jennifer Belmonte at Health for Life Grand Rapids

Intentional Parenting Group coming to Grand Rapids, MI

Intentional Parenting Group at Health for Life Grand Rapids, Fall 2017

a 4 week journey to a healthier relationship with your children

Hosted by Jennifer Belmonte LMSW, CHC in Grand Rapids, MI

What images come to mind when you think of the word “parenting?” Bedtime stories, goodnight kisses, taxi mom, swim lessons, work/life balance? Or perhaps words like exhaustion and marital struggles? Parenting in the 21st century is not for wimps! With technology, food choices, extracurricular activities, we are bombarded with more choices today than ever before!

In this 4-week course, we will discuss topics such as mindful discipline, healthy boundaries, constructive communication between parent and child, self-awareness, and self-care.

The group will be facilitated by family therapist, Jen Belmonte, who has over 10 years of experience working with children, adults, and families. Jen offers an interactive style, with handouts, and even “homework” for those who wish!

We will explore:

  • Current myths surrounding parenthood
  • The importance of self- care as a parent
  • The role of self-awareness in our own parenting experience
  • What are your hot buttons? How were YOU parented as a child?
  • Intentional language, and how to separate the child from the behavior
  • Overcoming challenges with your child


  • Deadline for Registration – Tuesday, October 17
  • The group will meet on Tuesday nights, from 7:00-8:30pm.
  • The group runs October 24 – November 14
  • The group meets at Health for Life Grand Rapids 781 Kenmoor Ave SE, Suite C. Grand Rapids, MI
  • Ample parking, Free Water and Tea, Multiple Restrooms

How do I register?

Jennifer Belmonte at Health for Life Grand Rapids
Jennifer Belmonte, LMSW, CHC


  • $125 for all 4 weeks.
  • We take HSA card, Credit/Debit, Check, or Cash at the first meeting.
  • Discount- if you refer a friend, and they register, you both get $25 dollars off.


Treating Trauma in the Refugee and Immigrant Populations

In episode 8 of the Intentional Clinician Podcast, Paul Krauss MA LPC (Counselor in Grand Rapids, MI) talks with Dr. Noe Vargas about using counseling to treat trauma in the refugee and immigrant populations. Dr. Noe Vargas discusses his experiences working with the victims of complex trauma, including children who have been victims of sex trafficking, and others who are refugees from terrible situations in other countries, or immigrants who are also seeking a better life in the United States. Dr. Noe Vargas and I discuss his experience helping people who have complex trauma and/or post traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Vargas has learned advanced techniques to treat PTSD and trauma. Dr. Vargas and Paul Krauss MA LPC also discussed EMDR therapy and how it has helped people around the world recover from physical and psychological effects of trauma. We also discuss the motivations for helping people who are victims of complex trauma in terms of personal life mission and humanistic ideals.

If you like the intentional clinician podcast, you can subscribe on itunes or through podbean.

Noé Vargas has a Doctorate in Behavioral Health from Arizona State University and is the assistant dean for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Grand Canyon University. Dr. Vargas holds an Arizona independent license as a Professional Counselor. He has been certified by the Green Cross as a Field Traumatologist, is a National Certified Counselor, holds the Master Addiction Counselor (MAC) certification, and has met the Arizona board educational requirements to be a clinical supervisor. Dr. Vargas specializes in the areas of psychological trauma and substance abuse, and he has been trained to work side by side with medical doctors integrating behavioral health and medical care. Dr. Vargas has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses at different universities and community colleges and routinely makes professional presentations on topics such as understanding childhood trauma, cultural diversity, effective parenting communication, integrated health, and other behavioral health related topics in different settings.

Paul Krauss MA LPC was first trained to practice EMDR counseling in 2009. Since then he has finished EMDR level 2 and has done over 40 hours of EMDRIA approved advanced training on EMDR, treating complex trauma, and helping those suffering from dissociative disorders. Paul practices counseling in Grand Rapids, MI. Paul has his private practice at Health for Life Grand Rapids, located on 781 Kenmoor Ave SE, Suite C. Grand Rapids, MI 49546. Check out his clinic which features himself and several fantastic clinicians You can reach Paul at 616-365-5530 (direct), or at the office 616-200-4433. Here is Paul’s email:

Learn more at and and

Stay tuned for more intentional clinician episodes. Feel free to send in show topic requests. Thank you for listening. -Paul Krauss MA LPC

Interesting Psychology: The “Doorway Effect”

Interesting Psychology: The “Doorway Effect”

by Adam Nash MA LLPC, Grand Rapids, MI.

Have you ever been in your living room and thought “Man I really want a cookie.” Then you stand up and walk through to the doorway toward your kitchen and think “what did I come in here for…?” Or have you ever been walking out of a class with a hall pass in hand, on your way to talk to the counselor about your schedule and the second you walk through the door you think “why am I in the hall? Why was I leaving class?” Or have you ever been in an office and stood up to bring that coffee mug back to the kitchen and walked out of your office, and suddenly had no idea what you were doing–only to walk back to your office and set the mug back down.

If any of these aforementioned examples ring true to you, rest assured, you are not alone. In the field of Psychology, this phenomenon is known as the “doorway effect” and it was proven in a study by a team of researchers at the University of Notre Dame (1). In the study, the participants first were asked to sit in front of a computer screen where they would pick up something (on the screen) then use the arrow keys on the computer to walk to a new destination; while walking the object that they had just picked up was not visible to them. It was determined that the participants who walked through imaginary doors had a much more difficult time remembering what they had picked up then those who walked to the new destination without going through any doors. Yet this study was completed utilizing only participants on computers.

The researchers at Notre Dame decided to see if this effect had any real-world efficacy in a real-world situation. In the second study, the participants were handed objects in real-time that they then placed into shoe boxes before walking to several new destinations. Sometimes they were asked to walk through a door way and sometimes they were asked to simply walk across a room. When they got to their destination they were quizzed on what they had in the box, the participants who walked through doorways had worse memory than those who walked the same distance, but did not walk through any doorways. Finally, the researchers tested another situation: if walking through a doorway and then back into the same surroundings that the participant began had affected their memory, while other participants were asked to walk the same distance in the same surroundings while making sure not to go through any doorways. Once again, the participants who walked through the doorways showed a memory loss greater than those who did not work through any doorways. The study concluded that people are more likely to forget when walking through doorways because the mind can only hold so many memories and, apparently, the part of the brain that deals with memory spontaneously decides that walking through a doorway is a good time to empty out some memories. Because a person’s brain can only hold so many memories it leaves behind the ones it decides are less important. And this is all happening at a subconscious level–which means that most people will not be aware of it, until they realize that they “forgot something.”

The next time you work through a doorway and forget why you entered that room, know that you are not the only one–it happens to everyone from time to time.  And the next time you are studying for a test and can’t remember the answer that you knew just a few minutes ago out in the hallway, don’t forget about the “doorway effect”. Every time you forget something while walking through a doorway, remember that forgetting is something that happens to everyone and that your brain is simply doing what it is programmed to do.

You can read the original study here:

For a complimentary 15 consultation for counseling with Adam Nash, MA LLPC

call 616-200-4433 or directly 616-676-7081

or email him at 

adam nash helping teens with anger, depression, and anxiety

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