COVID-19 Update

We remain open for all of current clients and welcome incoming clients that would like to schedule an intake appointment. Our appointments are virtual at this time, per the CDC recommendations. We will resume in-office appointments once we are able to, and you are welcome to transition into an in-office visit at that time. If you have insurance questions regarding telehealth, please give us a call, email, or text and we would be happy to look into your benefits; most major insurers are covering telehealth services as the pandemic continues.

Some of our incoming clients are interested in working through anxiety, sadness, and concerns about the personal and global impact of the pandemic. Others are seeking support in dealing with needs that were pre-exisiting. We are here to help support anyone seeking services, regardless of insurance status and needs. We truly believe we are all in this together and want to support the local and national efforts to work as a community. Please reach out if we can be of help and/or connect you to additional resources. We strive to respond to all inquiries as quickly as possible.

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melissa: kintsugi + wabi sabi

During times that feel (and are) particularly challenging, as has often been the case in the past couple of years, we are often left wondering how to continue to find hope, heal, and even thrive. One thought that usually comes to mind is the Japanese concept of kintsugi. “Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold — built on the idea that in embracing flaws and imperfections, you can create an even stronger, more beautiful piece of art.”

In the West, the concept of kintsugi is often paired with the phrase wabi sabiLoosely translated, “wabi” is simplicity, whether elegant or rustic; “sabi” means the beauty of age and wear. While many academics have varying definitions of this phrase, they all often come back to a generalized concept of embracing that which is flawed, asymmetrical, unfinished, and imperfect. The etiology of these concepts trace back prior to the 14th century, when the phrases began to take a more “positive” feeling of noting the beauty in the imperfect and unfinished.  For Richard Powell, “Wabi-sabi nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”[6]

One can do a very deep research dive on kintsugi and wabi sabi and find some beautiful ceramics, theories, research, books, quotes, and so much more. As many of us tend to do, you can easily start your reading on Wikipedia, and take off from there, should you be so inclined. If you desire no further research or reading, simply imagine yourself as a ceramic pot with a few cracks and breaks, assembled back together with gold, with light shining through. That unfinished, asymmetrical, lopsided, beautiful piece of art work is you, and it can always be repaired when, inevitably, it has a tiny (or large) crack. That, surely, is an endless source of hope.

Copyright © 2022 Melissa A. Frey, LCSW. All rights reserved.

 

melissa: free mindful apps

One of the questions we are often asked is regarding where to find useful mindfulness resources and apps for meditation and/or anxiety, sleep and mood. Look no further, mindful.org has compiled a list of free apps to consider and their descriptions. A list of those free mindful and meditation apps can be found here. Interested in books or journals? We’ve got our list here. If you’re looking for additional resources that are not listed here, let us know!

“Don’t search for anything except peace. Try to calm the mind. Everything else will come on its own.”

Baba Hari Das

Copyright ©Melissa A. Frey, LCSW 2022. All rights reserved. 

 

mindful moment

There is a life-force within your soul, seek that life.

There is a gem in the mountain of your body, seek that mine.

O traveler, if you are in search of that, don’t look outside, look inside yourself and seek that.

-Rumi

mindful moment

My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far beyond the road I have begun,
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has an inner light, even from a distance-

and changes us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave…
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.

 

-Rainer Marie Rilke, “A Walk”

melissa: kind of coping

As 2022 marches on, I think we are all finding ourselves in the category of “kind of coping.”  We are looking for moments of peace, purpose, hope, and happiness and are managing to find it in small ways, in every day moments.  The New York Times has a good piece on How to Improve Your Mental Health in 2022, which you can access here. While there is no “one size fits all” bit of advice, there’s always something to point you in the right direction. The article outlines some tips on how to cope, and, dare I say, improve your mental health during even the toughest of times.

Copyright © Melissa A. Frey, LCSW 2022. All rights reserved. 

The blossom will always grow.
The seasons will always change.
People come and go,
Their shadows comforting and strange.

The flowers will always bloom
Once the darkness subsides.
When every corner is filled with gloom,
Remember the sun just hides.

Brighter days will follow.
Earth will keep moving.
Look for the brighter color.
Help lift the darkness looming.

-Jessica Bryan

mindful moment

Hope abides; therefore I abide.
Countless frustrations have not cowed me.
I am still alive, vibrant with life.
The black cloud will disappear,
The morning sun will appear once again
In all its supernal glory.

– Sri Chinmoy

melissa: as the world keeps turning

During particularly hard and long news/pandemic weeks, I always find it a bit challenging to articulate in a small blog post what I think might be helpful for our clients to hear or read. One thing we are hearing across the board in sessions is that everyone is feeling a bit heavy this week with the current events occurring both in the US and around the world. To that end, I think we can all relate.

While there truly is no “one size fits all” bit of advice or checklist for how to survive and cope with during difficult times, we always like to offer some ideas outside of session that are a bit more generalizable. There are some good tips for how to cope with stressful news and current events here and here. Sometimes, we just have to take time as it comes- one day at a time- as we move forever forward.

Copyright ©Melissa A. Frey, LCSW 2022. All rights reserved. 

melissa: changes

Change, it seems, is in the air. And while there’s, as it also seems, a lot of feelings on all sides of these changes- one thing remains true: change is inevitable. Learning to let go of things we cannot change and the strength to advocate for the things we can change is a lifelong evaluation process and balancing act. No matter where you stand in the face of the constant change we are in, know that you will find a path that works for you. Decision fatigue is as real as physical fatigue, and we are in the thick of it. With these changes, I hope we can shortly say goodbye to winter, and hello to some sunshine- both metaphorical and literal.

“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy.” C. JoyBell C.

We’ve made it this far and we will continue on forever forward.

Copyright © Melissa A. Frey, LCSW 2022. All rights reserved. 

mindful moment

The Rainy Day

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the moldering past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

melissa: breathing, meditation, and mindfulness

Lately, we’ve gotten quite a few requests for a better understanding on how to begin mindfulness exercises (mindful movement, generally quieting the mind, journaling, meditation, etc). Mindfulness is one of the most accessible tools we can easily access for managing the stressors or daily life, as well as the bigger obstacles and problems we face.

To get you started, I’ve listed some resources below. Top tip: even taking a minute to mindfully breathe can make big differences in our lives. Science has told us this many times over! If you’re intimated by taking on a new task, know that this one can truly take just minutes. Take a deep breath, and give it a go!

Here are some basics about meditation and mindfulness from Mindful.org.

From Berkeley University Great Good Science Center, try a five minute exercise (you can read it or listen to the recording). There are also additional guided exercises from the Berkeley Center here.

Copyright ©Melissa A. Frey, LCSW 2022. All rights reserved. 

 

mindful moment

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low but the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit…
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit!

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many failures turn about
When we might have won had we stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow…
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out…
And you can never tell how close you are
It may be near when it seems so far.
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

Edgar A. Guest

all of us: gratitude

As we approach the closing of this year, and the opening of a new year, we are reflecting on 2021. So much has changed, and yet so much has also stayed the same. While we are facing uncertainty at the closure of this year, we are also welcoming in hope and peace. We are endlessly grateful for the hours we’ve spent alongside our clients this year- as we have felt in every year that goes by. We have had so many moments of laughter, knowing and understanding, holding of space, and peace, along with the difficult moments we shared together as well. It is our honor to welcome in another year of changes and connection with our clients; knowing, in so many ways, that we face this next horizon together.

from all of us at frey & associates with gratitude: cheers to another year

 

Copyright ©Melissa A. Frey, LCSW 2021. All rights reserved. 

mindful moment

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.

-Maya Angelou

 

melissa: holidaze

The holiday season is upon us, and as a new year comes within reach, many people find themselves in a holidaze. If you, too, are in a holidaze, there are some wonderful coping strategies and words of wisdom here. Particularly this year, I think we all recognize the importance of setting boundaries and holding empathy for those around us, which is well put and outlined in the article. If you find yourself slogging through the month a bit, I highly recommend reading that article, as well as finding some comforting rituals to get you through the days. While this holiday season and new year may again look different than those of the past, there are, undoubtedly, many bright days ahead.

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all. -Emily Dickinson

Copyright © Melissa A. Frey, LCSW 2021. All rights reserved.

melissa: welcome december

December has arrived and with it, the last days of the year. I particularly like to spend time in December reflecting on the year that is nearly behind us, even amidst the ever-growing to-do list and holiday bustling. In my reflections today, I came across the poem below that summed up some of those reflection thoughts well. Welcome December and all of our musings; may we find some moments of peace and joy in the mix of the busy-ness that is our daily life.

“I heard a bird sing

In the dark of December.

A magical thing

And sweet to remember.

‘We are nearer to Spring

Than we were in September,’

I heard a bird sing

In the dark of December.”

— Oliver Herford

 

Copyright ©Melissa A. Frey, LCSW 2021. All rights reserved. 

melissa: life thus far during a pandemic

I’ve been wanting to post on the blog since hearing the word “pandemic” for the first time, but I have struggled to know where to begin. As we settle into this new normal, I thought it might be useful to point out some of the questions I am commonly hearing these days. This is one of the rare times many people are coming to therapy and discussing a lot of the truly exact same concerns.

1) I’m sorry, I know you are probably really busy, but are you still able to see me even if I haven’t seen you in a while?

Of course! Yes, always yes. Everyone in the office will honor all requests to the best of our ability, myself included.  I find many clients are worried about us, as clinicians, and how we are doing. Clinicians/therapists are trained to take care of others, and we truly want to do so. That’s why we do our jobs. It has been my distinct privilege to be on a journey with many of my clients during various times throughout their lives. While this is an unprecedented time, we are trained to assist and support people through crises. Please do not apologize for seeking support right now; this is what we do and it is our honor to be on the frontline.

2) Is everyone else having a hard time?

I have yet to come across a single person in my life, personal or professional, who isn’t having a hard time on some, if not all, days. In the first couple of weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak, things went from, “Oh, it’s just a bad version of the flu,” to “Oh no, this is really bad. Scary bad.”

Now, I’m finding many of us are growing weary. Weary and wondering: where did my structure go? When will this end? Why is it so draining to even leave the house? Did I sanitize enough when I got back from the grocery store? What is going to happen to the global economy? I feel so helpless, what can I do to help? How long can I wear the same pair of pajamas before I look like I’ve given up hope? This list could go on forever. In short, everyone is having a hard time, though for a variety of different reasons.

3) I see a lot of articles about self care and working on my efficiency at this time. It makes me feel badly; should I be doing more right now?

Ah, the good old “shoulds” and social media. Surviving is what needs to be done right now. Whatever your form of “self care” is, you take care of yourself right now. I wish I could give everyone a list of what would help them to feel “normal” again and bring back their old life. I don’t believe such a list exists. Although, if you have one, please send it my way! Otherwise, I think it’s really a good option to give yourself permission to take care of yourself however you want to: that might not involve cleaning out another drawer or worrying about how much time your children watched tv today. Your self care might involve sitting in silence and drinking coffee, even if you only can for five minutes. I believe this may be a time during which we focus on surviving not “thriving.”

4) Is it hard for other people to get out of bed right now?

Yes. It sure is. If you have seen the movie Groundhog Day, I think life feels like that for a lot of people right now. It’s really more of the same day to day. It is hard to get up some days when all you see is bad news. (I do recommending limiting news, by the way.) That being said, what a joy it is to see so many humans coming together and taking care of their neighbors. Some days, it may be hard to get up, and yet, we do.  That doesn’t mean we have to look for the silver lining, but rather making it through each day and taking it one day at a time versus looking down a tunnel and not yet seeing a light. In the meantime, as many of my clients have heard me say before: we make the best out of the worst, sometimes. Humans are far more resilient than we all give ourselves credit for. Be kind to yourself and others. This too shall pass.

5) Any tips for coping?

I would say this is a rare situation in which we don’t really have a lot of inherent coping and cognitive skills built in. So, we are all getting creative. I don’t think there’s a one size fits all for coping with this pandemic. I’ve asked my clients to create a loose list (either written or in their minds) of their top concerns, and then we work through them together to decide on what some of their specific coping skills might be.

If you want resources, let us know. We will find something that works specifically for you. In the more general sense, here are some of my favorite readings thus far: 

https://www.thecut.com/2020/04/i-dont-think-i-can-handle-18-months-of-isolation.html

https://medium.com/@amillheiser/how-to-survive-quarantine-676d4058f637

And, lastly, one of my favorite quotes that seems to fit with a variety of life situations over the course of the years:

“Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away… and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast…. be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend. Seek out some simple and true feeling of what you have in common with them, which doesn’t necessarily have to alter when you yourself change again and again; when you see them, love life in a form that is not your own and be indulgent toward those who are growing old, who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust…. and don’t expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”

Rainer Marie Rilke