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Nassau Guidance and Counseling
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Today is the 20th anniversary since I purchased Nassau Guidance and Counseling. I have chosen this momentous occasion to share my story with you. Throughout the years, many people including my mentors have encouraged me to do this. They believed that it might be helpful to others to see that it is possible to overcome adversity and realize one’s dream. Traditionally, therapists do not share details of their lives, and it is a bit scary for me to do so.
This is just an excerpt of my article. It is too lengthy for this platform. If you would like to read my story, in its entirety, you will find the link at the end of this post, which will bring you to our website.
Kathleen Dwyer-Blair: Overcoming Adversity
I was raised in an alcoholic, dysfunctional family and at the age of 5, I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa: deterioration of the Retina, which results in a slow loss of vision. By the time I was fifteen, I had lost most of my vision. But if I hadn’t had the childhood that I’d had and the life experiences that I’ve had, then I wouldn’t be the person and therapist that I am today. I can be very patient and have incredible empathy for others – because I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to struggle and to feel ashamed.
Still, losing my sight was, as you can imagine, a huge source of insecurity and self-consciousness, making me feel “less than” in many ways. And from the very start of that downward slide in my vision, I began to encounter many people, children and adults both, who had prejudices against people with vision problems. They couldn’t see that I was a person despite the blindness.
During high school, even though it seemed like I knew what I wanted to do in life and, to everyone else, I must have looked like a typical high achiever headed to college, I knew for sure that I wasn’t going to travel that path. Traditional school was just too much of a struggle. I was always trying to fit in to both worlds—the sighted and the non-sighted—and not really fitting into either since I didn’t see fully but wasn’t fully blind.
I couldn’t wait to get out of school and planned to be an office worker. But when I was seventeen, everything changed. I went to mobility training to learn how to use a cane (the time had finally come!), and there was a counselor I encountered that was so horrible, so awful, and such a negative influence, that I could only think, “She’s doing this, and she’s terrible at this. I could do this and be really good at it. I could help people.”
At that moment, I resolved to become a psychotherapist. I knew I could do a better job than the counselor I had encountered during mobility training. But my newfound resolve meant that I was going to have to go college, and even grad school, to fulfill my dream.
After completing grad school, I began working with prisoners at the Nassau County Work Release Program and Nassau County Jail. I was the coordinator for the drug and alcohol tier for minors.
At the time, I was also undergoing my own therapy regarding my tumultuous childhood and that included working on releasing my need to keep my visual challenge hidden from others. I learned to really embrace this part of myself. It had been so uncomfortable to be okay with this part of me, but after some great emotional release work and a lot of therapy, there came a day in which I finally decided that I wanted to get a guide dog. It was a pivotal moment for me. I would no longer have a cane that I could fold up and put in my purse. No! Getting a guide dog meant that I was putting my lack of sight out there for the world to see.
Even as I was coming to terms with this vital aspect of myself, though, the state penal system in which I worked with the prisoners made it harder and harder for me to be there. I then made a decision to transfer to Nassau County Department of Drug and Alcohol addiction. I was working with people addicted to substances, those in recovery, as well as clients experiencing trauma and codependency issues. While working at the department of drug and alcohol addiction, I also had a small private psychotherapy practice which was profoundly satisfying. And so, after many years I reached a very heart-wrenching crossroads: I decided it was time to go into full time private practice in order to do the work that I wanted to do.
The opportunity to purchase Nassau Guidance and Counseling then presented itself. Here was my chance to hire the kind of therapists that I could be proud to match with clients! But the thought of running a business, with all of its financial and emotional risks – I just wasn’t sure I could do it. How could I leave my safe and stable position to do something this crazy? I feared that I didn’t have the experience or the skill set to run a business.
But then I recalled all that I had gone through, everything that I had achieved, despite the odds, and knew that I could do it. This was my chance to really practice the therapy that spoke to my heart, to develop a practice of kind and compassionate therapists who catered to clients from all walks of life – this was my dream, and I was going after it.
What I did focus on, though, was keeping my end-game in mind: in order to be able to help people on a larger scale, in order to match potential clients with the best therapists, then I would have to master some of these other tasks. Just as I encourage my clients, I kept asking, “What is my intention, what is my goal, what is my dream?” And those questions kept me going even when I wanted to quit, because if I quit, that would mean giving up on my dream. Some dreams require doing things that we are uncomfortable with and don’t know how to do or don’t want to do. Every time my resistance came up, when I was thinking about things like, “But how do we design a website, how do we reach out to people?”, then I would work through that resistance and fear, and I kept coming back to knowing that it was important for me to learn to do these things if I wanted to pursue my dream.
That process parallels with therapy. If someone wants to heal, or to work though the grieving process, to reduce their anxiety, or enhance their relationship, then even though the process can be really hard and painful at times, you can keep going by holding the goal in mind. Which is also why I only hire therapists who have done their own personal work; if you haven’t worked through your own personal issues, then you have no idea how the process of true healing occurs.
We originally started out with only five therapists, and now we’re at forty-two therapists and counting. As we grew, I remained true to my goal: hiring the kind of therapists who could provide the best care for anyone who called. Now it wasn’t just about my own clients, but knowing that everyone who came in the door was going to be matched up with an amazing therapist.
Moreover, I continued to grow as a psychotherapist, too, changing and expanding the way I worked. My influences became more gestalt, more emotional release therapy, and I started to understand that I wanted to really bring the body, mind, and spirit connection into my work. I wanted to work with clients on releasing the emotions, and that meant that I was expanding the ways in which I was working with people into more body-centered and holistic approaches.
This heart-centered approach is how I continue to practice with my clients, bringing heart, body, mind and spirit into the partnership between my clients and myself. I see all of those that I work with as a unique and real person, with their own path to healing, and I respect their journey, wherever they are on that path. I feel blessed to have been given the gift to connect and help facilitate healing of my clients and assist with attaining their goals and dreams. I am so thankful to be sharing my dream with others each and every day.
For my complete article click on the link below:
https://www.nassauguidance.com/…/c…/523-overcoming-adversity

I was so emotionally moved and affected by this song that I wanted to share it with all of you. Although it was written a while back, it is particularly relevant and poignant, given what has happened recently in Las Vegas.
"Dear Hate"
By: Maren Morris (feat. Vince Gill)
Dear Hate
I saw you on the news today
Like a shock that takes my breath away
You fall like rain, cover us in drops of paint
I'm afraid that we just might drown
Dear Hate
Well, you sure are colorblind
Your kiss is the cruelest kind
You could poison any mind
Just look at mine
Don't know how this world keeps spinning 'round and round
You were there in the garden like a snake in the grass
I see you in the morning staring through the looking glass
You whisper down through history and echo through these halls
But I hate to tell you, love's gonna conquer all
Dear Hate
You were smiling from that Selma bridge;
In Dallas, when that bullet hit, and Jackie cried;
You pulled those towers from the sky
But even on our darkest nights, we'll keep spinning 'round
Dear Love
Just when I think you've given up
You were there in the garden when I ran from your voice
I hear you every morning through the chaos and the noise
You still whisper down through history and echo through these halls
And tell me love's gonna conquer all
Gonna conquer all
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUPR5-igTVY

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“A man travels the world in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” ~George Moore

Do You Need A Vacation?

Giving ourselves the gift of a vacation is a way of taking care of ourselves. Whether it’s time in the Caribbean, laying on a beach on Long Island, or a staycation, taking time off from our busy, stressful, structured lives is vital, and from my perspective, emotionally healthy.

Break the Cycle

Every day we wake up to a written, or mental, list of tasks we have to complete for our family, our job, and to maintain our household. This routine can become mundane, or frustrating, as we often delay things we want to do, in favor of what we have to do. A vacation provides us with permission to forget about that list for a while. It’s so important for our emotional health to break the cycle of, “have to’s”, and allow ourselves to experience, “want to’s”, for a period of time to prevent the feeling of being burnt out.

Whether we are an executive of a major company, a healthcare professional, office worker, auto mechanic, or a stay at home mom, or dad, we all need time away from our daily routines. This break provides us with the opportunity to take care of ourselves.

A time where we can:
• Regroup
• Replenish
• Relax
• Nurture ourselves
It’s important to make certain we don’t wait all year for this one opportunity. Being sure to make time to incorporate fun and relaxing activities into our day throughout the year and take care of ourselves is essential for emotional health.

But there’s something really important about having several consecutive days, or weeks, during the year for a vacation to permit ourselves to do nothing more than relax.

Contrasting our daily obligations with what we have to do, with a chunk of time devoted to what we want to do, refreshes the mind and body. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D., psychology professor and author says, “Vacations have the potential to break into the stress cycle. We emerge from a successful vacation feeling ready to take on the world again.”

We Deserve to Have Something to Look Forward To

For some, getting away and out of the house is really necessary to separate from the daily routine. Whether our routine consists of a job, family, chores, or other obligations. For others, just not working feels like enough of a break. Planning time for just staying at home and experiencing a little escape from daily obligations, a staycation, may be exactly what feels right.

Staying Home? What Can We Do on a Staycation?

• Sit in our backyards
• Listen to the birds
• Read
• Swim
• Walk in a local park
• Enjoy uninterrupted time for our favorite hobby
• Visit family and friends
Participate in enjoyable activities we’ve waited to do when we have the spare time. This designated time permits us to do whatever brings us peace and makes us happy.

For more tips on how a vacation can be emotionally healthy, read my article here:

http://www.nassauguidance.com/…/459-are-you-preoccupied-wit…

My wish for you today is for you to find your happy place, and that the experience, and the memory, refreshes and rejuvenates you for each coming day.

-Kathleen Dwyer Blair, LCSW, BCD
Director Nassau Guidance and Counseling

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend." -Melody Beattie

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“Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world. Don’t let anything stand in the way of the light that shines through this form. Risk being seen in all of your glory.” ~ Jim Carrey

I’m a People Pleaser and I Can’t Stand It Anymore

Help! How do I stop this lifelong pattern of putting everyone’s feelings and needs before my own? It feels like it’s killing me emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Yet, I don’t know how to stop. Is it even possible? Is it just too selfish to even consider it? I’m exhausted. Depressed. Anxious. Downright disgusted. I am consistently praised by those I love and society for being so selfless and caring. Yet, I am stressed out and sometimes I feel like I’m dying inside. I feel like I’m drowning. If this sounds like you, then you may be a people pleaser.

What is a People Pleaser?
A person who is a people pleaser is someone who feels that they must please others, or put others before themselves regardless of the emotional or physical price. Often this pattern comes from a place of feeling that if we don’t do this then someone will be angry, disappointed, or may reject or abandon us. The thought of this may feel unbearable, so the pattern of people pleasing continues.

Is This What Life is All About?
Some of us are in denial about being a people pleaser. Explaining to ourselves that, “I’m just a caring, compassionate human being and I really like it. I love doing things for the people that I love and it doesn’t really matter how it affects me. I’m good with it.”

For others of us we do not feel that we have been people pleasing for so long that it’s just hopeless to even imagine changing it. We’ve always been the one to say yes despite the exhaustion of overcommitting ourselves. “Is this what I am destined to do forever? Please others and not myself?”

The Effects of The Need to Please
It is simply exhausting to be a people pleaser and always trying to figure out what the other person wants and needs. Especially when each person in our life wants and needs something different. Therefore, people pleasing depletes our energy—physically, emotionally and spiritually. We may neglect ourselves and our own needs and we might often become resentful. Yet we still don’t stop. Often this is where a psychotherapist can help us explore and work through these patterns.

How Did This Pattern Start?
For many of us, our people pleasing behavior was born and nurtured during our childhood. This behavior may have been a result of being raised in an alcoholic, or otherwise dysfunctional, family. Or becoming a people pleaser may have been because of being a middle child who may have felt invisible. Doing things for others may have been one of the only ways of receiving positive attention. We were the straight A student, or the child who always asked mom or dad “Can I help you?” thus, the son or daughter everyone wanted. Then the positive attention may have been reinforced by our parents, siblings, extended family and teachers.

For more tips on identifying and altering people pleasing patterns, please click on the link below for my complete article.

https://www.nassauguidance.com/…/509-i-m-a-people-pleaser-a…

My wish for you is that you can take the time today to make yourself a priority and do something that brings you happiness and joy.

-Kathleen Dwyer Blair, LCSW, BCD
Director Nassau Guidance and Counseling

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.” – Lyndon B. Johnson

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“Your body is a vehicle of your emotions and a vehicle of feelings and a vehicle of whatever you need to get done in life. And you've got to take care of that vehicle.”
~Eva Longoria

I Can’t Believe I Have Osteoporosis

So many of us are shocked when we receive the diagnosis of osteoporosis. We’ve seemingly been healthy, vibrant, and have taken good care of ourselves. We take calcium, we exercise—well, maybe not so much, but still…osteoporosis? All this time we thought this was a disease that older women had to worry about. Not us.

Often when we hear, or read, about osteoporosis it tends to address the cause, effects, treatment and how to help with prevention by building bone density. Instead I want to talk about the emotional and cognitive aspects of this frightening diagnosis.

Osteoporosis, how could it be?
So many of us have a stereotypical view of who develops osteoporosis and who does not. It’s certainly not us. We envision someone who is much older, fragile or frail, bent over, and out of shape. We’re shocked to discover that this is not necessarily true. It’s not only older women who receive this scary and upsetting diagnosis. We might be surprised that we may not even be able to detect someone who has osteoporosis.

This Can’t Happen to Me
For some of us, when we receive this diagnosis we may go into denial, or retreat into a numb place within ourselves. We may move back and forth between feeling deeply upset and denying the diagnosis. We may start obsessing about how only older women have osteoporosis and not vital, funny, intelligent, sexy women.

This, or other, obsessive patterns can deepen the depression and a sense of helplessness. Sometimes the disbelief is around the feeling that this can’t happen to me. Unlike many other diseases, this silent disease often presents with no symptoms and thus no warning. We have no time to emotionally prepare ourselves.

We’re Not Going to be a Victim
For others, after the denial lifts, we rush to fix the issue. We jump into action. We set up an exercise regime that might include walking, yoga, and aerobics. We begin taking calcium and vitamin D. These actions certainly help us to feel as if we can regain control of the body that we might feel has betrayed us somehow. Although these are all very helpful ways of addressing what’s happening, it also helps us to feel less powerless and that we can really do something about this. We’re not a victim.

Then once the new exercise and supplement regime is in place often our frozen feelings begin to thaw. Once we’re doing something about the diagnosis, hopefully feelings start to emerge because the emotions need to be experienced. There is no short cut to feeling the feelings.
Dealing with Our Underlying Feelings
For some of us, however, we need to first identify, and perhaps work through, those feelings of anger, disappointment, and resentment before following through with life changes and pattern shifting. We may experience sadness, anger, fear, resentment, anxiety and depression. There may even be a sense of guilt around this diagnosis.

For more tips dealing with the emotional and cognitive aspects of Osteoporosis, please click on the link below for my complete article.

https://www.nassauguidance.com/…/507-i-can-t-believe-i-have…

My wish for you today is that you can find positive opportunities for growth in the challenges in your life.

-Kathleen Dwyer Blair, LCSW, BCD
Director Nassau Guidance and Counseling

"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. "-Harriet Tubman

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

When people are in the midst of emotional pain due to trauma, a relationship ending, or loss, it sometimes feels like the pain will never stop. It is remarkable, however, how the human spirit can survive and actually thrive if we allow ourselves to work through what has occurred. Songstress Kelly Clarkson wrote a song named "Stronger" which speaks to her self-development following the ending of an intimate relationship.

Often people enter psychotherapy when a crisis in life happens. As a therapist I continue to be amazed, not surprised, when clients grow and flourish once they have worked through their emotional pain.

My wish for you is that you work through any emotional pain so that you can experience joy.
– Kathleen Dwyer Blair, LCSW, BCD, Director

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained." -Marie Curie
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