A Compassionate Guide to Talking about LBGTQ Issues

by Robyn E. Brickel, M.A., LMFT and Emily Sanders, LPC

On November 7, Virginia voters elected Danica Roem to the Virginia House of Delegates. Roem is the first openly transgender state legislator in America. Her campaign focused on local issues, especially improving traffic problems, which resonated with voters. But she has also broken a cultural barrier that brings attention to the LBGTQ community. Her public life opens new opportunities for us to talk about transgender issues.

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To Heal Trauma, Free Your Most Compassionate Self

The experience of trauma makes a profound mark on a person. It doesn’t matter whether the injury is grave and evident, like the bruising of a battered person, or hard to see, like the emotional neglect of someone detached and withdrawn. Whatever the cause, when a person feels threatened, helpless, and unable to escape, that person knows trauma.

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How Essential is Compassion in Opiate Addiction Treatment?

Within the last few weeks, I have heard of two more young people dying from heroin overdoses. Tragedies like this are becoming ever more common.

Right now, in my opinion, there is a heroin/opiate epidemic going on. It’s spanning all ages, all races, all genders, and all socioeconomic statuses! It doesn’t matter if your town has a Starbucks or a beautiful, organic farmers market.

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Understanding Self-Harming Behavior: Healing with Self-Care and Compassion

The phrase “self-harming behavior” may call up images of troubled teenagers with cuts on their arms. But self-injury can occur for people of any age, in children, adolescents and adults, whether male or female. This is not at all a teenage fad!

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Why People with Eating Disorders Need Our Compassion

From the outside, it seems puzzling that any person could develop an eating disorder like anorexia, bulimia or compulsive overeating. When we see someone starving themselves or eating themselves into obesity, the temptation is to criticize or correct them: “Just stop it! Can’t you see you’re hurting yourself?”

But criticism or judgment is the last thing a person with an eating disorder needs. If we want to help people

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How to Ease Holiday Stress With Self-compassion

Good cheer, happiness, family and a spirit of giving are a big part of the holiday season. But for many people, stress and loneliness are major players that upset plans to stay positive. If your tension level rises when the decor goes up, you are not alone. It is common for some people to feel more anxious or lonely as the season begins.

Holiday stress can trigger negative thinking that builds on itself. To avoid this cycle, we can take this opportunity to find new comforts and enjoy the holidays differently. We can take simple, meaningful steps for healthy self-care, and put some fun back into our celebrations.

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How To Feel Attractive and Worthy—Just the Way You Are!

Feeling confident and attractive in today’s world is a huge challenge for all of us. Images, voices and messages from mainstream media can get in our heads, holding us up to impossible standards. Self-acceptance and healthy sex after trauma can be even more challenging for those with a history of sexual abuse. Add those unrealistic ideals to past abuse or trauma, which lends itself to a negative self-concept, and a person can be left struggling with a very painful self-image.

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Jenna Watson, MSW, LCSW

Jenna is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the Commonwealth of Virginia and a therapist at Brickel & Associates, LLC in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia. She holds a Master of Social Work degree from Catholic University in Washington, DC, as well as a Master of Education degree from Harvard University.

Jenna embraces a strengths-based and solution-focused, collaborative, holistic, and empowering approach in her therapeutic work. She integrates her understanding of both mental health and adult and adolescent learning principles when supporting clients in comprehending and making desired changes to their thoughts, feelings, and behavior. This approach helps foster hope, self-compassion, and acceptance to improve overall wellbeing and functioning.

Jenna utilizes an eclectic approach to therapeutic care, including Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies (CBT),  Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), writing and other expressive arts, and mindfulness-based interventions. She has also completed training in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Her goal is to help clients compassionately understand the origins of unhelpful beliefs, behaviors, and relational patterns and replace these with healthier and more fulfilling alternatives.

Jenna has experience working with individuals, couples, families, and groups.  Jenna is committed to helping clients engage in healthy, respectful, safe relationships of all kinds.

Jenna has advanced clinical training in sexual issues affecting adults and couples and also brings sound understanding of concerns related to maternal mental health. She is also interested and experienced in working with LGBTQ+ populations.

Jenna has extensive experience in supporting survivors of all forms of domestic abuse, intimate partner violence, sexual assault and sexual trauma, stalking, harassment, bullying, and cyberabuse. Jenna also brings significant experience addressing the grief/loss and shame that commonly accompany these and other life challenges.

Jenna is also experienced in supporting clients contending with anxiety and panic, depression, body dysmorphia and appearance or eating-related concerns, addictions and self-harming behaviors, perfectionism and excessive self-criticism, specific phobias, obsessions and compulsions, adjustments to significant life changes, and challenges with health, employment, and family.

As an experienced trauma therapist, Jenna endeavors to help clients understand and heal from the impacts of trauma on the body and brain while maintaining their emotional safety and fostering their resilience and post-traumatic growth. She believes in a creative approach and that therapy can be joyous and fun,

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How to Have a Healthy Sex Life After Sexual Abuse

Sexual trauma, abuse and violence affects a huge number of people — maybe even you or someone you know. Nearly 1/2 of women and 1 in 4 men report having endured sexual violence at some time in their lives (reports the National Sexual Violence Resource Center). One in 2 trans-identifying people report experiencing sexual violence, says the Center for Family Justice. Survivors face a huge challenge to enjoy healthy sex after sexual trauma.

Past sexual trauma undoubtedly impacts a person’s view of sex in the future—even if they are having sex now in a healthy, secure relationship.  How do you enjoy healthy sex and intimate relationships if earlier trauma triggers terror or confusion around sex?

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