Meet the Experts: Laura Stuart, LCP
Here at CBDistillery®, we know that taking charge of your health and wellness is a daunting task and it's sometimes overwhelming to know whose recommendations to rely upon.
Transparency is key to our approach in every aspect of our business, which is why we wanted to introduce a series of conversations with CBDistillery® staff as well as other experts in their fields. We hope that these conversations will offer more information about our company and products and help foster trust in our products.
For our third edition, Denver-based Licensed Clinical Psychologist Laura Stuart sat down with Content Strategist Adrian Crawford to discuss her areas of focus as a therapist and her insights into the concept of self-care.
Adrian Crawford: First things first: Can you give me an idea of what your line of work entails and what your focuses are as a therapist?
Laura Stuart: As far as what the work entails, as a therapist the majority of your job is meeting with clients. There is also keeping up with training and the evolving field to offer optimal therapy. If you're in private practice, you're also running a business so you wear a lot of different hats.
I specialize in working with trauma, which includes PTSD, anxiety, depression, ADHD, grief and loss issues, addiction, eating disorders, and major life changes. I used a person-centered approach, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Brainspotting, and Neurofeedback mostly. My website breaks down the different modalities we use as well as definitions of the different issues mentioned if you want more info.
A "brainspot" is an eye position that correlates with a part in the human brain that holds traumatic material. What's going on inside of our brains is directly associated with where we focus our eyes. Whenever we visually scan our surroundings for information, we're also scanning our brain for our own thoughts, ideas and emotional responses. At times, we may also be scanning our brain to find where repressed memories and feelings are stored.
By targeting the brain in a specific eye position, the brain is able to discover, dislodge and release trapped energy in the body so that it no longer causes issues. As the Brainspotting processing ensues, trauma is released and healing immediately occurs deep within the unconscious mind.
AC: Next up, the origin story. What made you want to pursue mental health counseling as a career and, in particular, the area you ended up in?
LS: Given my personal strengths and gifts, counseling was a good fit for me. I originally received my BS in Telecommunication. I liked journalism and the possibility of providing a platform for important issues to be discussed but at the end of the day, I wasn't passionate enough about the actual job to pursue it. I then worked in full-time ministry and thought I would pursue a career there working with college students. I enjoyed mentoring, guiding, and inspiring young people. I loved the job but I didn't love the politics involved working within a christian organization.
I then landed on counseling as a career because it encompassed all of the aspects of the other career options that I loved and didn't have the downfalls. Further, I focused on private practice work because I enjoy the challenges of entrepreneurship. I ended up narrowing my focus to the topic of trauma because it's a common thread between all people. Not everyone experiences trauma on a large scale, but we are all humans and experience trauma of some kind at some point in life and there's a ripple effect from it.
As a trauma therapist, I look at the root issue of trauma and help clients address what is at the heart of the adverse feelings, emotions, and behaviors they are experiencing. At the same time we address the root, core issues, I also address the current day-to-day symptoms people experience as a result and facilitate the implementation of the client utilizing different techniques to build resilience internally and externally to better cope with adversity.
AC: What challenges, in your experience, have the past few years presented for people in terms of work-life balance and stress management?
LS: Stress and people having difficulty with work-life balance has been an issue since before the Covid-19 pandemic. I suppose one way Covid added to this issue for some people could have been switching from in-office work to remote work. While some people thrive working from home, others prefer a firm boundary between work and home. When aspects of life that are usually separate are all mixed together and efforts aren't made to create new types of boundaries, that can create an imbalance.
As far as stress management and self-care is concerned, everyone is different in how they handle stress, their capacity for the amount of stress they can handle, and what kinds of stress. People also vary in what self care practices help them, how much self-care they need, and when they need it. Regardless of these factors, your nervous system will experience more optimal regulation if you're using coping skills and self care activities to mitigate the impact of stress on the mind and body.
AC: We've heard about the concept of self-care more and more often in recent years. How does "doing something good for yourself" work in the biological sense, i.e. what happens to the body when we practice self-care?
LS: "Doing something good for yourself" can help a person feel better on a biological level for many reasons, depending on what you're doing. If the thing you're doing for yourself is taking an antidepressant then you will experience chemical change in your brain that causes you to feel better. If the thing you're doing for yourself is spending time reading a book, you may experience regulation in your central nervous system by the left-right eye movement used in reading. It could also help distract your mind if you struggle with anxiety and rumination. If you're changing your diet to be more balanced and healthy you will also physically feel better and will experience an improvement in mood because you're fueling your body with nutrients it thrives on.
AC: From your professional perspective, what do you think the future holds in terms of work-life balance, making time for relaxation and people putting their mental health first?
LS: Work-life balance in America is a very complex topic. I don't think there is just one answer pertaining to what the future holds. It depends on the person, the job, the work environment, etc. In general, people can look at their individual situation and see what in their life is off balance and make changes to create balance. If you're looking at yourself through a holistic lens and you value your mental, emotional, and physical health, then you will prioritize it and create balance with whatever job you are working, if possible. Obviously, sometimes it means getting a different job or taking your career path in a different direction in order to achieve balance. So maybe one thought around this would be: Putting an emphasis on prioritizing taking care of oneself and equally valuing work ethic and jobs.