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Posted: December 27th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

I thought this article might be well-timed as we interact with family, coworkers, and friends during the holiday season.  Sometimes physical interactions can be welcome, particularly when they match levels of intimacy that seem to fit with the relationship.  But then there can be hugs that uncomfortable or worse, creepy.

Here are some factors to keep in mind to ensure the hug is positive for both parties (most relevant with those with whom we have limited personal history or relationship):

  1. Ask permission.  I know that this might seem like a foreign idea to some but it allows receivers to have choice over their body.  You never know who has endured abuse, has a different set of comfort levels with touch, or is just not in the mood.  Asking is a way to avoid having to guess and to offer an important form of respect.
  2. The degree of bodily contact.  For those we do not know well, a side hug or one that only involves shoulders and arms touching feels much less invasive.
  3. The duration of the hug.  With acquaintances or colleagues, keeping the hug short and sweet is preferable to most.
  4. Avoid pulling someone into a hug.  This suggests that there is some level of control being exercised rather than a mutual exchange.
  5. Unless romantically involved, be sure your energy is neutral.  People often have an intuitive sense when the other person wishes for more.

Here’s hoping that you get all the hugs you need and give generously when possible to bring love and beauty into your piece of the world!




The End of Arapahoe House

Posted: December 19th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

It’s a sad day.  After 42 years of serving the community, Arapahoe House has to close its doors.  For those unfamiliar with this program, it has involved over 200 staff members and numerous volunteers serve those afflicted with the impacts of substances.  Many clientele could not otherwise afford treatment so they have relied on grants and donations to stay afloat.  As costs have outweighed income, reserves have run out so they can no longer continue.   So with a heavy heart, I thank you for serving  more than 15,000 Coloradans each year.  Lives have been saved and numerous people have been able to find or hold onto sobriety with your help.  You’ve truly been an invaluable safety net for our community.  You will be sorely missed but your legacy will live on through the lives you helped change.



Personal communication: 12/19/17


Do More Than Grin And Bear the Holidays

Posted: December 9th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

The holidays are not easy for many people.  Perhaps you are one of those who endure, with white knuckles, through the season.  Since being around difficult family members has been a prominent concern this year, the following are ideas on how to handle the season with style.  With determination and preparation, you can implement creative responses so you don’t go from jolly to jaw clenching self-restraint.

Acknowledge your triggers and pre-determine ways to take care of yourself.   This is a time of triggers. If you take a step back and think about what upsetting feelings emerge around this time of year, you can go in with an action plan.  For example, if your cousin tends to dominate conversations, consider sitting somewhere in the room that is further away.  Perhaps there is someone who loves to find fault in everyone.  Identify ways you can stay grounded and neutral so you have the choice whether or not to engage.  Keep in mind that the more time you take between the trigger and the response, the greater the chance you are choosing how to respond rather than simply reacting.

Liberate yourself from expectations.  The reality of expectations is that when you set the bar high, anything that falls beneath that line will not be appreciated. Lots of loving acts go unnoticed because they were not exactly what had been anticipated.  Without conditions for what is o.k., you can be more open. You eradicate the fear of disappointment and create space for flexibility and new experiences.  (A great example of this is depicted in the Christmas Story, a movie when the glorious turkey is devoured by the neighbor’s dogs. The family winds up enjoying their Christmas meal at a Chinese restaurant!)

Re-evaluate the roles you play.  Roles are everywhere.  At an early age, we are conditioned to engage in certain ways and deterred from other behaviors.  Soon these responses become automatic and unchallenged.  Do any of these sound familiar:  the baby, the success, the responsible one, the fat one, the thin one, the rebel, or the black sheep? These are all different boxes we can get stuck in. We are denied the opportunity to be present in the moment and respond in ways that fit with our ever maturing values and needs.  Determine what roles you have been asked to play and consider ways to step outside of them.  You are so much more than any box you’ve been put into.

Of course, not all of the struggles are about family.  Feel free to peruse the following articles that might be more tailored to your needs.  If these strategies are still not enough, therapy can be a place to get extra support, skills, and strategies.  Call 303.915-5597 to find out more.

What to do when you are not so jolly this time of year




I wish you peace and all that you need to have a happy holiday season!

It’s Time To Wake Up!

Posted: December 2nd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

We are in the middle of a social awakening.  Brave individuals are coming forward and acknowledging the sexual dangers women face on a daily basis.  With the growing number of voices, society cannot minimize or pretend that this is not a pervasive issue.  A male friend recently said to me, “I don’t know how any woman can ever let down her guard.”  He is right.  There is no career, economic status, ethnicity, or religion that is immune.  There is no place where women can be assured safety.

Consider these striking statistics

  • 33% of girls under the age of 18 endure sexual abuse
  • One in four women will experience an attempted or completed sexual assault in their lifetime
  • 700 people are sexually assaulted every day in the United States
  • Three fourths of these assaults are perpetrated by someone they know
  • 31% of female workers reported being harassed at work.  100% of those women said the harasser was a man
  • 60% of assaults go unreported, which means that the numbers above greatly underrepresent what women endure

The numbers are staggering.  It continues to astound me that many men possess outrageous entitlement to see women as objectified sex toys that are there for personal gratification.  There is no consideration about the other person who is being denied consent.  Each woman has the right to determine what kind of sexual experience she allows and who earns the privilege to engage in the various levels of intimacy. When this is ignored, it is not without consequence to the other person.  There is confusion, humiliation, a sense of being used, disconnection from the body, and an understandable fear of further harm, to name just a few impacts.  There have been breathtaking tolerance and victim blaming that have served to silence women so they have to bare this alone.  (Current form: calling this a witch hunt).  Women have the right to be treated with decency and respect. As a society and as individuals, it is time to believe that these stories are real and all too common.  It’s time to believe that these offensive actions can have lasting, devastating implications and need to be faced head on.  Finally, we need to give compassion and support to those who have endured sexual mistreatment, doing all we can to preserve/restore self-worth and dignity.



***Great interview on NPR’s Weekend Edition about the legality of these issues. (12/2/17)  (Please cut and paste the following into your search bar)


New Voices in Politics

Posted: November 14th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

There are so many human rights issues that are challenging respect for diversity and dignity.  We are being called to not continue the fight for progress, but to also protect the huge strides that have been hard fought. Last Tuesday, a group of voters did just that.  Exciting new voices have been added to the political stage, creating a new ability to impact policies that effect our social landscape.  See some of these exciting stories for yourself!  As the article mentions, Roem was able to defeat Marshall, one of the main proponents behind the fabricated issue of transgender individuals being unsafe in public bathrooms.

Benefits of Halloween Scares

Posted: October 26th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

It’s Halloween!  This is the unique time of year when people of all ages can play pretend and be something/someone totally different than who we are in our day to day lives.  Then there’s ….. well… chocolate.  Others enjoy the ability to dabble in the stuff of nightmares.  Ghosts, ghouls, zombies, and even the dark sides of the human extremes can be explored in movies like “Psycho” “Halloween”, etc.  An avid horror film fan once shared that it is a chance to be scared in a safe way.  “It’s just images on the screen.”   Interestingly, Time Magazine wrote an article that highlighted emerging research about other reasons these images might be beneficial.  In case you are having to defend the time spent screaming under a blanket while watching scary movies, now you can have some data to back up your fun:

**There have been some folks who have said the links are not working.  If you want to still get the information, please cut and paste into your search bar.



Interesting Facts About Forgiveness

Posted: October 18th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

We live in a world where we deal with human error, conflicting motivations, and different needs.  In other words, human interactions are complicated.  Sadly, some of those experiences are painful, anywhere from disappointing to traumatizing.  A major challenge is to figure out how to live with these wounds without being forever weighed down by anger, resentment, or guilt.

While the following does not have any answers (please see previous articles I’ve written for some recommended steps), it does provide some interesting facts about forgiveness and why it is important:


A Friendly Way to Understand Mindfulness

Posted: September 5th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

One of the key ways to move from reactivity to thoughtful intention is to engage in mindfulness.  This set of skills is intended to help us step back from a situation and determine what factors are contributing to our emotions and how best to respond in a way that is both in line with our values and healthy.  The following article is a wonderful overview that will help turn reluctance into motivation.

Mindfulness: 5 Secrets To Making Your Mind Happy

Making the Most of Donations

Posted: August 31st, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

It is hard to fathom the kind of devastation people are facing in Houston.   There have been so many pictures and stories of people trying to wrap their heads around everything they have known and built literally washed away in just days. Many of us are looking for ways to help, with the particular need for both immediate needs and the long-term efforts to rebuild whole communities.  For those interested in offering financial support, please go to Charity Navigator, a site that helps determine the quality of the organizations available.  They research which charites are known to be effective, particularly minimizing overhead so that the majority of the money goes to those in need:

Here is hoping that this is a time that when our divided nation can be our best selves for those who need many, many helping hands.

Deafening Silence

Posted: August 21st, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Over the last week I have been dumfounded by the events unfolding on the national stage.  This is not due to Trump. Although his behavior has a bizarre, chaotic pattern, statements in recent days are no different than rantings he has made before.  Nor am I surprised at the bigotry and hate we have seen reported and recorded.  Minorities have been dealing with this in various forms all along.  The only change is how emboldened hate has become with Trump’s permissiveness, allowing it to leap out of the shadow and into the lime light. My shock, my pain is about the silence from our representatives and other governmental leaders.  Where is the outcry?  Where is the unified disgust over Trump trampling on our constitution?  This document is the basis of our democracy, not some quaint relic.

I have sought to make sense of this moral vortex we are stuck in but my research and hunches are disturbing, not comforting. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the CNN poll that reflected 66% of Republicans still stand behind our President.  As a therapist, my role is to not only provide care to those in distress, I am also called to advocate for my clients and community.  Therefore, we must stop all attempts to use some mythical hierarchy to judge genetics. It is time to embrace the fundamental truth that there is only one race- the human race.  Until we do, it is all too easy to devalue, demoralize, and dehumanize each other.  Take action: call your governor and state representatives and implore them to take a stand. Break the silence, shout from the streets to the mountain tops that we are unwilling to tolerate this behavior.  This is not about partisanship. We are fighting for the health of our democracy and more critically, our country’s soul.

For those in Colorado, here are the numbers to call  Feel free to reach out daily and ask anyone willing to do the same:

  • Senator Michael Bennett:  719-328-1100
  • Senator Corey Gardner:  202-224-5941
  • Governor John Hickenlooper: 303-866-2885
  • Congressman Ed Perlmutter (7th District): 202-225-2645

If you are unsure about what district you are in, or live outside of the 7th district, you can find out your representative here:

As Robert Kennedy said, “Each time a person stands for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, they send a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring.  Those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”  Let’s ban together and make waves!

For examples of Trump’s challenges to the constitution, hear a professor at Brown University share reflections at


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Side by Side Counseling.

Tania Henderson
M.A., L.P.C., N.C.C.