By Abby Maher
We live in a society that regards
heterosexual and cisgender as the norm. For LGBTQ+ folks, this means we are so
often excluded from the institutions and traditions that were built on the
premise that heterosexual, cisgender people are the standard against which
everyone else is judged. As an LGBTQ+ person, this can feel extremely
isolating. It can feel as though there isn’t space for us. When we are simply
tolerated by heterosexual cisgender people, it can feel as though we should
praise them because they made room for us to simply exist in their world. In my
personal experience, the feeling of constantly being on the outside has made
conforming to heteronormative ideals seem like the most appealing option. I
have felt the pressure to fit myself into the boxes that are considered
“normal” in order to get along in an environment that didn’t want to tolerate
me as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. I have also encountered many kind, well-intentioned
people who wish to be inclusive and accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, but I
have found that even inclusivity can come with constraints. I think society as
whole doesn’t really tolerate things that it can’t explicitly define and place
in a box. So for those of us who exist outside of the heterosexual, cisgender
boxes, society has created a new set of standards about what a lesbian is
supposed to look and act like, what a gay man is supposed to look and act like,
what a transgender woman or man is supposed to look and act like, and so
on. Once I discovered that I simply
couldn’t squeeze myself into the heteronormative box society tried to place me
in, with a swell of pride in my identity, I searched for inclusivity within the
LGBTQ+ community. I tried really hard to ascribe to the values, thoughts and
ideas I was “supposed” to have as someone who identifies as a lesbian. A lot of those things don’t define who I am at
my core, but after all I am a human and I crave love, inclusion and acceptance.
I have had to ask myself however, if I
have to betray my authenticity in order to receive those things, is it even
love, inclusion or acceptance?
So therein lies the dilemma, as an LGBTQ+ person I am often
outcast from the majority of society because I cannot mold myself to fit, and I
often feel outcast and left behind within my own community because I do not see
myself reflected in the assumptions society makes about me.
As a future mental health counselor who hopes to work with
the LGBTQ+ community, I hope to use this feeling to guide my work. I am aware
that these boxes I have mentioned often tell LGBTQ+ people how to love, how to
have relationships, how to express themselves, and how to find acceptance. If I
had one wish for any of my fellow LGBTQ+
folk, it would be for them to be able to see beyond the constraints of these
boxes, to get in touch with how they want to love, how they want to have
relationships, and how they want to express themselves. Above all, I wish for
them to feel that their truth does not make them less valid if it doesn’t align
with the standard, and finally I wish for them to know that they can find
unconditional acceptance through these truths. As a counselor I see it as my
role to help clients do the work of silencing the voice that tells us as LGBTQ+
people what we should be, so that they can find their own voice that tells them
who they truly are. Beyond that, I see it as my role to help clients feel
empowered enough to share that voice with the rest of the world, so that they
may be loved, included, and accepted without conditions.
By Abby Maher
The alpha-stim device has been billed as a drug-free treatment option for pain anxiety, depression and insomnia. It functions by passing a low-voltage electrical charge through the body between two electrodes. For treatments involving anxiety, depression, or insomnia, the electrodes are placed on each ear via clips. The device is worn for 20 minutes and treatments can be done daily or as needed.
According to research, alpha-stim has been found to assist
sleep and elevate mood by stimulating associated brain regions and hormone
producing portions of the brain. Devices like this have been in use in the United
States for 50 years and have been considered safe.
How does it feel?
Placing the electrodes on my ears, I felt a little
reservation. The device comes with instructions that says to gradually increase
the intensity of the charge until you feel seasick, then turn it down. I didn’t
really believe that the two little clips could make me feel seasick until I
felt it for myself.
Once I had it at the correct level for me, it felt like a
gentile tap on my earlobes. It was easy to ignore and not painful at all.
Does it work?
When I had the clips in place, I felt a little tired and was
fairly relaxed. Once I removed them, the feeling continued for a little while.
I am not currently suffering from any of the
conditions that alpha-stim is designed to treat. However, I can imagine that
the calming effect of the alpha-stim would be effective for use in treating
those issues. I think alpha-stim could
be a useful part of a treatment regimen and is worth giving a try.
or your partner had difficulties conceiving? If so, you are not alone.
According to womanshealth.gov, 10% of US women struggle with becoming pregnant
or carrying to term. Infertility is defined by the World Health Organization as
being unable to conceive after 12 months of regular unprotected sex. Some
reproductive specialists believe that this is overgenerous. They believe that
after 6 months, couples 35 and older should begin the testing process for
If you or
someone you love has ever gone through this, you may understand how difficult
it is. 20% of couples who have been diagnosed with infertility, don’t know why.
Many others are left with frustrating diagnosis such as premature menopause,
low ovarian reserve, PCOS, low sperm count, or endometriosis. All of these
disorders are outside of individual control and difficult, if not impossible,
to treat medically leaving many couples with no other options except for
expensive, and perhaps financially prohibitive, treatments.
many aspects about infertility that go unaddressed by medical practitioners.
Women and men who discover that they are incapable of having children without
medical support experience:
over the loss of this ability
at their body or their partner’s body for not working
for other’s who do not have difficulty conceiving
of loss of control over one’s body
may see a reproductive endocrinologist, gynecologist, and/or urologist for your
physical concerns, many forget that mental health is equally important. Because
many individual’s experiencing fertility challenges may not feel comfortable
sharing them with friends or family, isolation and depression commonly occur.
have been involved in reproductive treatments for a while, you already know
that reproductive health has a vernacular all its own. Step into any online
chat community for infertility for the first time and the acronyms and drug
names will overwhelm you. Individual’s new to the process may feel completely
lost when speaking to doctors and may struggle to even know what to ask.
mental health counselors specialize in providing support to individuals who are
dealing with the stressors related to this process. As a patient of an
infertility clinic, you may dig into supplements and diets all geared to help
you produce the best quality eggs or sperm you can. While you are doing all
that you can to take care of your body, don’t forget to take care of your mind.
stress can alter your hormonal balance. In an article written in 2008 in
“Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience” researchers were able to tie stress
related hormones to worsened pregnancy outcomes when patients are undergoing
assisted reproductive techniques (ART). This seems to correlate with anecdotal
stories that seem to show that couples are more successful when they are less
stressed. Everyone has heard of a couple who tried for years. At some point
they stop trying and go on a vacation and come home pregnant. Although this
definitely does not work for most couples, lowering stress hormones can
increase the effectiveness of treatment.
mental health counselor who specializes in treatment of clients experiencing
fertility challenges. There are many interventional therapies which can help
you reduce stress and become more resilient when faced with the obstacles of
Harmony US has a new intern we would love for you to meet, Abby.
Hello everyone, I am a master’s level student in Northwestern University’s clinical mental health counseling program. Having completed a practicum experience through which I provided supervised counseling to a variety of individuals, I am now in my internship year where I am able to provide counseling to individual adults, couples, groups, children and adolescents. My major areas of interest include working with the LGBTQ community, gender, sexuality, and healing from trauma. I am also a major advocate for the idea that counseling is for everyone, ranging from those who wish to heal from trauma to those who are experiencing the stress of every day life. I welcome the opportunity to work with anybody! My approach to counseling is very much relationship based as I believe that a truly safe, warm, collaborative and trusting environment can sometimes be the most powerful aspect of counseling. My hope is that the things you discover about yourself, and the things you learn through our counseling relationship can be applied to your life in order to empower you to become the best version of yourself.
Harmony US is pleased to introduce you to one of our amazing mental health interns, Nattalie.
Hello Everyone. My name is Nattalie Roepke. I am a student at Northwestern University and have joined HarmonyUS to complete internship within my Master’s degree program. I am a Florida native and love calling Tampa my home.
I have worked as an educator and an education administrator
for many years. I have my undergraduate degree in psychology and am excited to
be completing my Master’s degree program and to be working within the HarmonyUS
I have many areas of interest. I am currently working toward
my certification in fertility counseling (which provides specific support for
individuals and couples who are experiencing difficulties becoming pregnant,
have had miscarriage(s), are seeking or currently using assisted reproductive
techniques, or are building a family using egg donor, sperm donor, or
surrogacy). I am also familiar with traditional psychoanalytic techniques,
cognitive-behavioral therapies, and solution-focused therapies.
I am also familiar with the treatment of anxiety and PTSD
with cannabis and can provide information and resources in this area.
I am available to see clients on a limited basis. I look
forward to meeting you.