Mental Note Podcast Banner
Podcast
Mental Note

44 - Loneliness vs. Solitude - Is There a Difference?

By Zach Rawlings

Mental Note is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Search for Mental Note, and subscribe so you never miss an episode!

With infection rates falling and vaccination rates rising in the United States, it seems like the summer has almost returned to normal. But maybe it’s easier said than done...

What are ways that prolonged loneliness and isolation may affect us? What self-knowledge can we glean from the worst pandemic in 100 years?

Dr. Zach Rawlings will guide us in taking a deeper look at the various ways people respond to loneliness + solitude and how those responses influence our post-pandemic mental health.

Transcript

Ellie Pike:
With infection rates falling in the United States and fewer and fewer masks being required in public, it seems like the summer has almost returned to normal. But maybe it's easier said than done. I mean, can we suddenly pretend like the pandemic didn't happen and live like it's 2019? What are ways that prolonged loneliness and isolation effect us? To live through this time without gleaning some insight seems to me a big waste. I mean, I don't want to live through another pandemic, but I also realize it has the potential to eliminate parts of ourselves that rarely get looked at. To take a deeper look at the various ways people respond to loneliness and solitude, I've invited one of my favorite people to the show. Meet Dr. Zach Rawlings.

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
I'm Dr. Zach Rawlings. I am a mental health therapist and I practice in New York City. And I work mostly with LGBTQ+ individuals with a variety of issues but particularly I work mostly with eating disorders and PTSD.

Ellie Pike:
Dr. Rawlings or Zach, as I may call him from time to time, is here to talk with us about loneliness its effects and our relationship with ourselves. You're listening to Mental Note Podcast, I'm Ellie Pike. I'm going to just do a little spoiler alert for all of our listeners that I actually know Dr. Rawlings. And we went to grad school together a while back. And one thing I know about you is that you're a fantastic party thrower and you love hosting events, but more than just creating a great vibe and so much fun, you really like connecting people and that's a passion of yours. And I have gotten to experience that firsthand. And one thing that sticks out to me is when I came to one of your dinner parties, and there were about, say, six people, maybe eight people there, and I didn't know anyone and your whole goal was, "Let's connect you all. So sit down, enjoy your meal. Oh, wait, pick up your plate." And when we picked up our plates, we all had different questions under our plates that helped really introduce us to each other and start the conversation.

Ellie Pike:
So with that being said, I think that what I know about you is personally, and then you as a therapist, this is a perfect topic for you to be talking about where we're actually talking about connection with others, connection with self, and some of the lessons that we've learned throughout this pandemic and what we're still processing as we're starting to come out of it. So Zack moving into kind of the context of this podcast, I think I've shared a lot of stories, a lot of education throughout the pandemic, and we've even tried to do some entertaining like episodes about what people are doing to stay busy during the pandemic. I think the truth is that we've all learned a lot about ourselves and how we've handled this pandemic. Having to be more isolated in our homes has really changed our perspective about how we cope, how we relate with others, how we relate with ourselves. So I'm curious what you have noticed, especially in your clinical experience through your clients, but also personally.

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
I've actually noticed a lot of diversity in how people have managed this year plus of coping with the pandemic. And I think of I'm thinking of my friends, I'm thinking of my loved ones and also my clients and have they've experienced it and shockingly, some of my clients that I'm thinking of have not actually had that much difficulty with the last year, surprisingly. When we think of COVID-19 and the pandemic and everyone kind of being shut into their houses or their homes, most of us think that, "Oh gosh, everyone is really, really struggling or this is a really difficult time."

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
And that is true for a lot of people, but I've also noticed that there's a group of folks that have actually thrived in some ways over the past year for varying reasons. So I've noticed that. And then I've also had friends and clients who have also really, really struggled because of that. So I've actually noticed quite the spectrum and the experiences.

Ellie Pike:
Sure. And how do you explain that. Since we're, yes, all unique individuals, but we're still all going through this very cultural, traumatic experience. How do you explain how some people handle it better than others?

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
So I think there's a lot of reasons. So I'm going to break it down and maybe it might sound overly simplistic at first, but this is what I've been observing and how I've been thinking about it. And as a clinician, we're taught about emotions. That's supposed to be our expertise as therapists is emotions and how people handle them. And there's this concept that we learn and that we often teach our clients, it's called emotion driven behaviors. And essentially all that means is that every emotion drives us to behave in a certain way. It's biological, so when we feel a certain way, we're driven to behave a certain way so that we can then meet that emotion's need. So whatever that might be. So for example, if we're afraid the behavior might be to run away. That's the behavior.

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
If we are feeling an emotion of hunger, then the behavior might be then for us to go get a snack or eat. So what I've noticed over this year is that there's been a lot of diversity in how people have behaved in response to the emotions that they felt with COVID-19. So I think in some ways I've observed some of my clients who are already a bit anxious and feeling anxiety at a pretty high level that the tendency or often the behavior to respond to that emotion is to socially withdraw, to isolate, to stay home. And those behaviors are very compatible with the last year that we've all lived through. That's actually been the medical advice from Dr. Fauci and the experts is, "Stay home, withdraw, don't socially engage." And for someone with anxiety who might tend to do that anyways, that has actually not been that difficult for some of those folks to do.

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
I was just actually thinking of one of my clients as an example of that. As the restrictions have lifted in recent months, she's become more depressed than she was during the pandemic. And part of that is because she's been able to keep her anxiety at bay over the last several months, because she hasn't felt like she's really missed out on much. She hasn't felt the pressure to go out and socially engage. And now as she goes out in the city and she sees people congregating in parks or hanging out, or there's these social events going on, she's beginning to feel all that anxiety and all that pressure for social engagement again. And her anxiety is actually upticking. So in some ways she's having maybe what some might think of as a reverse reaction to what you might think of with COVID-19 restrictions lifting and us coming out of this lockdown, but her mental health is actually giving her a little bit more problems as her anxiety is spiking again.

Ellie Pike:
I think that that is something that a lot of people can relate to where they feel maybe like the odd one out of like, "Oh no, does anyone understand what this is like for me? I'm actually anxious about going back to things in person. I've been able to hide in a lot of ways." And that's been the advice, but to add to what you were saying, I have also heard a lot of people struggling with depression through the pandemic-

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
Absolutely.

Ellie Pike:
... that that has also been their emo, depression, their emotion tells them to isolate, tells them not to engage. And then the pandemic just reinforces that behavior and the emotion. So it can be so challenging for a lot of people right now, trying to think of, "How do I move out of this? How do I reintegrate into a world where it's been pretty scary to do so for a long time?"

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
Yeah, absolutely. It's and a lot of people are finding that they've been able to avoid some of those cues that cause their anxiety because they've just been so disconnected from others and now those cues are ever more present than they have been in the past year. So now folks are beginning to realize, "Oh man, I have to learn how to cope with this again. It's an unfamiliar territory because I haven't had to cope with it for a long time." So we're seeing a lot of people needing to re-engage in that way.

Ellie Pike:
So Dr. Rawlings, I really appreciate how you're talking about this and that isolation in itself, the act of isolating can actually help an individual avoid some of those uncomfortable emotions and avoid some of that anxiety, the social anxiety that they would have felt if they were going out right into our culture and our world. Is there another end of the spectrum?

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
There totally is. And just as I said, those folks who are able to avoid their anxiety because the last year has made a lot of those triggers and those cues to make them feel anxious less prevalent, for other people the pandemic has done the exact opposite. Because another common way that folks deal with anxiety, or depression, or stress is to gather close to others, to pour themselves into their work, or to go out to dance clubs, or get together with their friends and those things were taken away. So often for some folks when they're left by themselves or when they're left not being able to engage with others socially, they're kind of stuck with themselves.

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
And for some that might be a really, really uncomfortable feeling because the emotions that surface when you're by yourself when you're not distracted might be really distressing. They might be not used to having to deal with that level of distress or even some of the thoughts that they might have when they're by themselves and not know how to then manage it. So I've also seen that with a lot of my friends and clients. And I even had to navigate some of that myself over the last year through this lockdown.

Ellie Pike:
I think you really hit the nail on the head. There's a lot of us that have just been living in a chronically busy life and we may not even understand why we're using those behaviors. It's the pattern that we've all gotten into over time. But as soon as, I know for me, my commitments were kind of stripped away or move to virtual, I was alone with myself so much more. And for a lot of people that's really, really uncomfortable and something that they are not used to. I know a lot of people feel really uncomfortable with silence and with their thoughts. So then maybe the next coping mechanism is to avoid that discomfort by, like turning on the TV or calling a friend. Some are more healthy coping mechanisms, some are less healthy. So using those examples, I'm just curious if you have an answer for why some people are more uncomfortable with themselves when they are left alone in silence and when they're left alone with their thoughts and their personal emotions?

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
That is a million dollar question in many ways. And initially my thought is that it's going to be different for every person but I do think there are some themes that we can kind of borrow from to understand generally why people might be uncomfortable with that. And the first thing that I think is is that we're just not used to it. We're not used to it. We live in a society that does not really give us the option to acclimate to being quiet and to being with ourselves. Most of us are over-scheduled, most of us are really, really busy and when we're not busy or over-scheduled, most of our hobbies, or interests, or social activities and don't really center around quietness or solitude, most of them are the exact opposite. So I think part of it is our brains aren't used to it.

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
We've not adjusted them to be comfortable with silence or to cope in a way that requires us to be by ourselves in some way. I'm thinking of a friend of mine, he's an ER doctor here in the city and when the pandemic first hit over a year ago, he struggled so much. And of course, everyone knows like New York City, it was horrifying here because we had such a high death count and there was not room in the hospitals and ventilators were short and he was going into work every day to the ER feeling completely unequipped to treat what was coming in to the ER each day. None of his medical training he felt had trained him for that. And he really, really struggled. And he shared with me how his normal ways of coping, which was to get together with friends, to go out, to socialize, to go out to restaurants and all those things were not working for him.

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
And he just had to figure out a different way to be with his thoughts that he was not used to, because he had never really had to figure out a different way before. So I think that's a part of it is that we're just not used to it. And secondly, I think that many times we are not equipped to manage some of the scary things or some of the darker things that might surface if we are quiet or we fear what will surface if we're quiet. There's this misconception that if something makes me uncomfortable or it scares me, it must be avoided. And part of that's just a natural response. But what we know in psychology is the exact opposite is often true. That the more that we engage with things that are frightening, overwhelming, or scary in a way that feels progressively tolerable, the more our nervous system is able to handle it and the more resilient it becomes.

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
However, the more that we avoid things that are scary, fearful, or distressing, the less resilient we become and the less able our nervous system is to manage it. So I think for some of us, we just might feel that instant pain of loneliness and be like, "Oh gosh, this is bad. I can't engage it. How do I distract myself from it?" When actually what we know is that if we are able to sit with loneliness, explore it, focus on the sensations that it creates, try to understand what it is that we're actually feeling the loss of, that that is what causes us to be able to engage that emotion in a more effective and helpful way. But it goes against maybe if it might feel counterintuitive to a lot of us, and we've maybe ingrained some patterns that are quite compatible with that way of being with our emotions. Does that make sense?

Ellie Pike:
It does. And as we talk about it, I'm a very visual person and I think of the metaphor of a Chinese finger trap. Do you remember the first time you stuck your fingers on the Chinese finger trap? [crosstalk 00:16:24] Because for me, I remember like pulling on them and kind of getting this panicky feeling. And then I pulled harder and I pulled harder. And I remember it felt like my kid blood pressure was going up. And that's the metaphor I think of as you described the need to pause and notice our emotions versus pulling away from them nonstop, it actually can make it worse and it can actually increase our anxiety or increase our panic. And instead kind of like what the Chinese finger trap, if we pause, we notice our emotions and maybe even lean into them, like bringing our fingers together, it might actually create some sort of release or understanding maybe in my words of what that emotion is and why it's there. So can you relate with that metaphor at all?

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
Absolutely. I absolutely can. And I want to point out that it may not feel great initially, it will probably feel very distressing the first time you allow yourself to lean into the finger trap, if that's the metaphor we're using, it will probably feel a little panicky at first. However, over time it does progressively becomes more intuitive and we can kind of lean into it a little bit more and it becomes more tolerable and we're just more comfortable with ourselves when we can be with ourselves in that way.

Ellie Pike:
I think about when I was working full-time as a therapist and I would have clients come in and we would start to explore the idea, just what if? What if you sat with your emotions? What if you sat with yourself, or if you journaled about your thoughts or what you're feeling? And we would start to practice it together. And some people were like, "Oh my gosh, I can jump right in." That was really rare. If we've been avoiding something for so long, it's usually not going to just come quickly to us to start sitting with it.

Ellie Pike:
So we would start with one minute at a time. And now as we talk about this, I think about how hard it must be for so many people that you can't do one minute at a time when all of a sudden the whole world shut down last March. It was a flood of being by yourself, a flood of being alone and overwhelmed by emotions and thoughts, perhaps for a lot of us. But now that we can have some retrospective analysis and thought behind it, what are some ways that you advise people to start to gain that relationship with themselves and to slow down and start to notice their emotions or thoughts?

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
Great question. And as we engage in this, what's now again feeling a bit more normal for us as we're coming out of this more and more, and the majority of us are vaccinated, some of us might be eager to leave this last year behind. I know that I [inaudible 00:19:31], I just want to leave it behind and look forward to something more optimistic and hopeful. However, if we've realize some things about ourselves and our relationship with our emotions, there are some things that I can think of that could be helpful.

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
And the first one is just very simple, but it's to notice when you have an emotion, and that might sound very simplistic. But to many folks who have spent a lifetime of trying to avoid emotions through a variety of means, simply noting when you have one can be really, really helpful and profound, and it can be as simple as like, "Wait, I feel tightness in my chest. Let me see if I can identify that what that might mean for me emotionally," or, "I feel a little strange in my stomach," or, "I feel butterflies in my stomach. I feel flush in my face."

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
So being able to connect the physiological responses that you're having to what the emotion might be. And then a next step from that is trying to understand what caused me to feel this way, "That's weird. This just happened when I was watching this movie. Oh, and I was reminded of this event that happens and maybe that's why I'm feeling this."

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
So trying to give your emotion some context that you can just have more integration. And then when you have those parts, you can begin to understand what do those emotions make you want to do. So going back to what we started the beginning of the conversation, these things that we call emotion driven behaviors.

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
So what is it that you're wanting to do? Does it make you want to reach for an alcoholic drink? Does it make you want to order a pizza and eat it all? Does it make you want to call a friend to distract yourself from the discomfort that you're having by being alone? What are those things that that emotional response is causing you to do and what to take part of? So that's the first step that I would recommend to anyone. Another thing that you can do simply is just to focus on your breathing for five minutes.

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
Because what that does is it forces you to be in your body and where the emotions are, and to just kind of be at peace with them. And if you feel tightness or anxious, just being in your body and focusing on the breath causes you to just to be with that emotion and to observe it as an external entity, as something that's external from you. So those are just a couple of beginner tips that I could maybe offer to someone who's wanting to engage with their emotions differently right now.

Ellie Pike:
Thank you so much for those tips. I'm going to even summarize them to make sure I understand exactly what they are. But the key thing that stood out to me about all of that was you're really just asking for awareness, not judgment. So nowhere in there did I hear you say, "And then you judge yourself and tell yourself you should've done something differently." Instead, you're just asking us to pause, pay attention, and then notice. So maybe our breath, maybe our emotion and the context for why we might be feeling that emotion. And then the behavior that arises that we want to act. How do we want to act because of that emotion and just noticing it.

Ellie Pike:
So also, Dr. Rawlings, sometimes we might be able to pause and notice that emotion before we act, it sounds like this would also work if we already acted, and then we stop and we just slow down and we notice what just happened. "I felt really angry because my kid was throwing food and my dog was jumping on my lap and I was running out of time." That's the context for why I felt angry and then maybe I yelled or I was abrupt. And that was my behavior. So just noticing that and the chain of reactions, it seems like that would be helpful for awareness so that I would be able to maybe slow myself down in the future.

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
Exactly. And I love the part that you said, Ellie, about the non-judgment, and that's a really important part of this is being nonjudgmental about our emotional experiences. Many of us have been conditioned to feel badly, or judgmental, or ashamed when we have an emotional reaction. And that does no good for anyone. So we call those secondary emotions. They're the emotions that we have about our initial primary emotions. So if I'm feeling sad that [inaudible 00:24:16], maybe I'm feeling disappointed because a friend had to cancel plans, but then I start to feel angry at myself or ashamed of myself for feeling disappointed and being like, "Come on, grow up. You shouldn't feel that way." That's what we call that a secondary emotion. It does nothing for us to have optimal emotional processing. It actually clogs the process up and it causes us to have more unpredictable or problematic emotions. So the more that we can free ourselves up of those secondary emotions, those judgemental ones that we're having, the better this process will go for us and the more effective we'll be at it.

Ellie Pike:
You know, that's a really interesting concept. So if I bring it back to the metaphor of the Chinese finger trap and use the example I just used, anger was the emotion I was feeling because I was so frustrated and frazzled because of all these external things happening. If I judge myself for that and get angry at myself for the behavior I used, which might've been yelling or getting impatient, that just makes it worse, versus if I were to able to just step back and observe myself and say, "Okay, that happened. I noticed that I was feeling really angry because of this, this and this." You're right, even as I talk that out, I can feel myself deescalate and I can feel myself feel more in control because I'm aware of the emotions and the context of my emotions. Thank you for allowing me that experience too just to analyze what a secondary emotion is using that metaphor.

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. It was helpful.

Ellie Pike:
So then as we start, maybe any of us on this journey starting to pause, notice ourselves, notice our emotions, our relationship with ourself or our breath, I think that lots of different emotions can arise. Some of us can start to feel some of that awareness and peace, and some of us might feel really alone or lonely. So I imagine there's a difference there between the solitude that we could experience and loneliness. Can you speak to that?

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
Yeah. I think those are great ends of the spectrum of being with ourselves that on one end that might be more negative and produce more negative feelings as loneliness, the other end of being alone, which can produce more positive feelings is we can think of as solitude. And typically loneliness is marked by a feeling of disconnection from others, which is why it feels so painful because we're disconnected from someone we feel completely and utterly alone. The other end of the spectrum though, solitude is that we're by ourselves, but we still have feelings of connection to others, that we're being by ourselves, we're being alone without feeling those pings of loneliness. And there's a lot of reasons why someone might vacillate toward one end of that spectrum over the other. And a lot of it might have to do how your perceived level of connectedness to others.

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
That could be a big indicator as to why you might feel lonely, or you just may not be used to being by yourself. So you might have kind of reaction that if you are by yourself, then you need social connection to distract yourselves from what's going on internally. But to take it back to something I said earlier, the key to moving towards solitude is fostering that awareness. Why am I feeling lonely? What is this saying about me? What are the difficulties I'm having about what that is saying about me? And contending with that more so that we can practice becoming more comfortable with ourselves and engaging solitude in a way that feels effective for us and overall helpful for us.

Ellie Pike:
I really like that you differentiated being alone versus being lonely because I think I even stated the question of we might feel alone versus solitude with ourselves. So I'm going to rephrase that. So the two ends of the spectrum when we are alone with ourselves, is one, we may feel lonely, or two, we may actually feel solitude, which is a more peaceful connectedness with ourselves and others.

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
Absolutely.

Ellie Pike:
So I really like being able to visualize that spectrum. What are some of the ways that we can feel connected with ourselves and others while alone and in that place of solitude?

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
You know, I think one thing that I think of with loneliness is that often I said earlier that it's feeling of disconnection from others, but I also will say that is one of the things that makes loneliness so painful is that we can also feel quite disconnected from ourselves. So that can feel even more painful as well, because we can't be with ourselves. We cannot have a relationship with ourselves. We don't enjoy spending time with ourselves. And that can be what makes loneliness feel really painful at times as well. So we outsource to other people to make us feel okay with ourselves. So to go back to your question of, how can we foster more solitude or move toward that solitude is, I would suggest maybe looking at what are some of the things that make being with yourself feel intolerable? And actually looking at those honestly. And maybe you might need the help of a therapist, or a friend, or another person to help you kind of navigate that.

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
But that's where I would start. What is it that's making this intolerable for me? Maybe there's things you don't like about yourself. Maybe some of the things that you're avoiding are some feelings of self-hatred or feeling like some of the darker thoughts that you have about yourself will cause you to engage in behaviors that you're not proud of. And if that's the case, it could be a good sign to maybe have some professional help to help you navigate that if you feel unequipped to do it by yourself. But the first step of all of this, as you said, Ellie, is that awareness, that awareness of actually what's going on, being able to sit with it, being able to contend with it and then that way you can think more clearly to take those next steps.

Ellie Pike:
And what do you think about asking others for their feedback as part of that process of gaining awareness?

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
I think it could be helpful depending on who the others are. And if these are others that you've built trust with, if they have a history of wanting the best for you and they know you well, then I think that that could certainly be helpful. There's a lot of places that folks can go though, and there's a lot of people that may not be able to offer that space or hold that space. So I would just suggest maybe that you have some sort of history and trust built before doing that with someone.

Ellie Pike:
I really appreciate that perspective and making sure that when we asked for feedback, it's from a really trustworthy source and someone who has our best interest in mind. I think about if there's somebody who's really had a hard time being with themselves or even gaining some of that awareness of why it's hard to be alone, maybe even asking a loved one, "Hey, what is it about me that you enjoy being around?"

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
Yeah.

Ellie Pike:
Because if we get that feedback from others, like, "Oh, it's because you're kind, you're giving, you're compassionate," maybe those are pieces that we can extend to ourselves as well. Am I kind, am I giving, am I compassionate towards myself? And how can I maybe start there with qualities I know I already have and just gaining awareness around that.

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
Yeah. I think that's a great place to start as well.

Ellie Pike:
So Dr. Rawlings, I really appreciate all of the input that you've provided. And we kind of started with talking about how there's two ends of the spectrum and the lessons that we've learned from pandemic. There's some of us who have been put more into isolation over time where it's been a little bit easier for us or we can cope a little bit better or maybe it's actually been negative and it's really allowed us to stay socially isolated or to stay alone, especially if that's what our depression has told us to do. And then there's this other side of the spectrum where we've lost socialization, but maybe socialization wasn't always used in the most positive way to cope, maybe it was a way of actually avoiding our inner world.

Ellie Pike:
So you've done an incredible job of helping us know just some primary steps of stopping and being mindful, being aware, just noticing our emotions, noticing the context for them, and then also the behavior that wants to arise from that emotion. So I'm just wondering if you have any closing thoughts for listeners who are like, "Oh man, this was really insightful. Where do I go from here?" And what would you tell them?

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
I guess the thing that I would say is make sure that you contextualize this information with knowing the kind of society that we live in. A lot of the things that we talked about today are not things that are encouraged by the world that we live in. What I mean by that is that it's not encouraged often to be in solitude to know what's going on with us emotionally and to foster that awareness or to even ask others for input sometimes. That's not necessarily something that is often encouraged or we don't see a lot of modeling of that in different social pockets we might exist in.

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
So I say that just to contextualize is this can be hard and challenging and feel like you're going against the grain in some ways. So give yourself a lot of grace and give yourself a lot of freedom to kind of screw up and to try different things for it to feel awkward because it is a certainly a different way of being, but I think it's a way of being that comes with a lot of potential payoff.

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
So I guess that would be my parting thoughts to our conversation today.

Ellie Pike:
Well, I really appreciate that. And even coming back to the introduction that I gave a view as you are someone who really enjoys connection and social connection. And I appreciate that all of this is related to connection because we're made for social connection. By all means we're excited, we want to help support people have positive relationships, and we can't do that necessarily without also supporting individuals gaining those skills to really have a positive relationship with themselves. So everything that you gave us today is a really practical tool to just exploring that. And also Dr. Rawlings of, if someone does feel like they need therapy and just want to start talking to a therapist one time a week, is there anything that they should look for in a therapist, maybe even specific modalities that help explore this concept of mindfulness and awareness?

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
So that's a good question. I think there's a lot of really good therapies that are out there. If you're wanting to start with this concept of mindfulness and emotion driven behaviors, then you might gravitate towards some therapies that we call ACT, acceptance and commitment therapy, or CBT, cognitive behavioral therapy. Those are a couple of therapies that you might look for that a therapist practices or that you could ask them about. But overall, what I will say is that when you meet with a therapist you have to feel a connection, you have to feel safe and that they can hold space for what you're bringing to the table. So I would say that that should underpin any type of therapeutic relationship that you're looking to begin.

Ellie Pike:
Thank you so much for your input. And Dr. Rawlings we are so appreciative of your time and your expertise on the show.And we hope to hear from you again.

Dr. Zach Rawlings:
Sounds good. Thank you. Speaker 3: A difficult day seem to melt away when you're right here inside me. I can fall to sleep, I can breathe in deep when you're right here inside me.

Ellie Pike:
I hope you really heard Dr. Rawlings when he emphasized the importance of non-judgment when noticing your physical and mental responses to difficult times. If we condemn ourselves, it only leads to shame and all the debilitating effects that come with it. But if we acknowledge our instinctive responses and let them go, that act can open the door to acceptance and peace. Mental Note is a creation of Eating Recovery Center and Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center. If you'd like to talk to a trained therapist to see if treatment is right for you, please call them at (877) 850-7199.

Ellie Pike:
Eating Recovery Center and Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center are also hosting their annual conference as a virtual event this summer. Join hundreds of professionals on August 24th and 25th for the 2021 Pathlight conference titled Transformative Solutions and Mental Health Treatment. It will include 10 research-based presentations on the complexities of mood, anxiety, and trauma related disorders. Attendees can earn up to 15 CE credit hours, as well as learn practical skills to identify, assess, and treat patients with mental health disorders. Sign up at pathlightbh.com/event/pbh-conference. If you'd like our shows, sign up for our e-newsletter and learn more about the people we interview at mentalnotepodcast.com. We'd also love it if you left us a review on iTunes. It helps others find our podcast. Mental Note is produced and hosted by me, Ellie Pike and directed by Sam Pike with editing help on today's episode from Ian Kelsall.

Presented by

Zach Rawlings

Zach holds a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. He is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who primarily works with those suffering from eating disorders and the effects of trauma and ...

Eating Recovery Center is accredited through the Joint Commission. This organization seeks to enhance the lives of the persons served in healthcare settings through a consultative accreditation process emphasizing quality, value and optimal outcomes of services.

Organizations that earn the Gold Seal of Approval™ have met or exceeded The Joint Commission’s rigorous performance standards to obtain this distinctive and internationally recognized accreditation. Learn more about this accreditation here.

Joint Commission Seal