DR. TONI GALARDI
Life Transitions Focused Psychotherapy and Astrological Coaching
I was interviewed by Emily Bouchard on her google hang out show - Wealth Psychology
This outlines the seven secrets of abundance, Italian Style.
Ask the LifeQuake Doctor – Counselor Magazine, Jan 2011
Dear Dr. Toni:
I am the parent of a 17 year - old son. I am also a single mother and I picked your magazine up at my therapist’s office. My son has been away at boarding school and I found out he was smoking hash while on a field trip to Spain last summer. He claims that he isn’t now and actually placed him self in a drug testing program the school administers periodically for kids who want to stay drug free.
Here is the problem: Although his testing has consistently come up clean, he seems to be depressed. How do you tell between adolescent malaise and depression? He seems to think that maybe there was something in the drug that is still in his system. His therapist wants to put him on anti-depressant medication but I really would prefer not to do that if possible. What do you suggest?
Keeping in mind the limits of an advice column, I will say this: he may need a full toxicology screening to see if there is some kind of residue in his system that his body is reacting to. You don’t indicate where you live but I would suggest that if you would like to first try a holistic protocol for the possible depression, do some research and see if there is an ortho-molecular psychiatrist in your area.
An ortho-molecular psychiatrist has at their disposal certain subclinical tests for looking at neurotransmitters along with traditional blood tests for any toxicity or other abnormalities. A website to go to is: http://www.acam.org. They provide physician contact information in the field of integrative medicine.
After a psychiatrist who comes from this orientation does thorough diagnostic testing, they may suggest taking certain amino acids and nutritional supplements to detoxify the liver, cleanse the organs, and then nourish and support the brain and nervous system which inform balanced neurotransmitters. One of my colleagues in Los Angeles Hyla Cass, M.D. who is this kind of psychiatrist and also has vast experience in addiction medicine has a great deal of information on her website: http://www.cassmd.com to begin educating yourself on this treatment approach.
If a holistic approach to mood disorders is not effective, then it is best to research psychiatrists in your city that specialize in both addiction and adolescent psychiatry.
Dear Dr. Toni:
I am a psychotherapist who has been working in the field of addiction treatment for 15 years. My practice has started to dwindle and I can’t bring myself to drum up new clients by going to networking functions.
It isn’t the networking I hate so much as I am beginning to think I may be in burnout. This scares me because I don’t know what else to do for a career, and in this economy, it seems insane to give up what I’ve been doing to try something else. I’ve thought about public speaking but getting up in front of a room full of people scares me too.
What do you suggest? I am totally confused and starting to get depressed.
I completely empathize with you. It does seem like a risky time to make a career transition. However, forcing yourself to go to networking events to promote a business you are in burnout over may be a waste of time.
Energy expands where there is a passionate focus, either good or bad. If you put negative energy on what you don’t want to be doing anymore, you will get more of the same. For three weeks, pay attention to what lifts your energy without trying to figure out how they all connect.
At the end of three weeks, either by your self, with a friend and/or a coach, analyze the list. See if there are any connections that could be something that supports a new vocation. For example, what are the issues you care about? What in your life or work as a therapist have you learned that you could pass on to others through writing articles or public speaking.
I hear you that the idea of public speaking is scary but it is for most people until they do it frequently. I still am nervous before I get up to the podium after all these years of being one myself. I would recommend joining Toastmasters International. It is a safe environment to practice your speaking skills.
When the work we’ve been doing is no longer growing us, boredom sets in. If we don’t begin exploring new ways to express our work, the second stage (outlined in my change model) is often experienced by symptoms of depression. If you still do nothing to change your life, stage three is triggered by a crisis. So, take action and start executing some professional risks so that you can discover your new vocation of destiny and move out of a downward spiral.
Dr. Toni Galardi is a licensed psychotherapist, career coach, public speaker, organizational consultant, and the author of the book, The LifeQuake Phenomenon: How to Thrive (not just survive) in Times of Personal and Global Upheaval.
To submit questions for “Ask the LifeQuake Doctor” or would like to consult Dr.Galardi for phone coaching, she can be reached through her website at http://askthelifequakedoctor.com or 310-890-6832.
The Paradox of Chaos: Are You in a LifeQuake?
In Ancient Greek mythology, chaos was the primordial womb from which the first gods and goddesses were born. Gaia, the first deity, emerged from this dark void space. Symbolically, she would come to represent Mother Earth, the very stuff from which we evolved. So, in a manner of speaking, you could say that chaos is in our DNA. In the world of quantum physics, once organisms reach their maximum structural potential they burst into chaos in order to reorganize at a higher level. A more readily visible example of this actually comes by way of the cycle of the four seasons: things that come to life in the spring flourish in the summer, only to die in the autumn. After falling to the ground, they decompose, fertilizing the very ground they came from. Yet when cycles end in our own lives and things start to deconstruct, we resist the change and resultant chaos even though it is every bit a natural part of life as the passing seasons.
Given the extreme economic contraction, national and international disasters, and the rise of addiction worldwide, I find chaos a relevant topic and one worth examining more fully.
More importantly, how is it manifesting for you and how much are you resisting or embracing needed change in your life? Maybe you've recently noticed a distinct shift in the nature of your relationships with others. Or perhaps you've become aware of a loss of passion and fire a feeling that, come to think of it, has been around a lot longer than you care to remember. Even more difficult, maybe what you've been feeling lately isn't even that discernible. You might say it's like a spiritual itch you can't quite scratch.
These can all be early signs of what I call a LifeQuake™.
So, what exactly is a LifeQuake, and how does it show up? If we see ourselves as microcosms of the planet, then we too each have a core encased in layers. I call it the Wholy Self. Your “Whole-y Self” is in your core being, the highest manifestation of the person you really are. Abraham Maslow referred to this as self - actualization. However, it is typically buried under layers of societal programs, familial indoctrination, and even religious beliefs, which can keep it from reaching full expression.
When your Wholy Self begins to emerge, your core starts to rumble, softly at first, but if left unattended, it does so with ever-deepening intensity through numerous wake up calls. If you resist the messages by ignoring them, pressure builds where there are fault lines in your psyche. As in an earthquake, so it goes with a LifeQuake the longer the quaking, the more devastating the fall out. When left to reach its most intense level of resistance, the tremors within you will bring catastrophe into your life from which there is no retreat now you have to change, like it or not.
My name is Dr. Toni Galardi. I coined the term 'LifeQuake' to describe a phenomenon I have witnessed in both the lives of my clients and seminar attendees, as well as in my own personal life. I began to see symptoms that looked like typical clinical depression, anxiety, and addiction patterns but were actually paradoxical signs of awakening - an awakening to a life led by your intuition with a career that's a calling not just a job.
As a Jungian based psychotherapist, I see it as part of this chaos that the Ancient Greek philosophers spoke of. If reframed, it can also be seen as part of an evolutionary shift that is taking place on our planet. Anyone in recovery would agree that their addiction provided a catalyst for evolving into their recovery.
I have been working in the field of addiction recovery for over twenty years, both in private practice and as an external consultant to residential treatment facilities. In recent years, the clientele in my practice evolved to include many health practitioners, physicians, and psychotherapists experiencing burnout in their professions. I have also begun working as an organizational consultant to the staff of facilities involved in the treatment of addiction. I am also a media expert called upon often to both weigh in on my views on the rise of addiction and provide innovative treatment solutions.
Counselor Magazine, recognizing my expertise in our field has graciously invited me to become their advice columnist. Whether you are working in the addiction field and/or in recovery, my passion and mission through this column is to provide a forum for you to write in with your questions on how you can take your LifeQuakes or the LifeQuakes of your clients and evolve yourself and the world around you, so that eventually you can learn how to prepare for and adapt to change without the need for catastrophic crisis as a catalyst.
As someone who has endured three near fatal experiences because I feared making major changes, I easily could have been the “poster child for the change impaired”. I understand that even the most compassionate, well educated and trained professionals in this field (who see themselves as still in sobriety) can have fears around change that produce a pattern of addiction to drama as a means of evolving.
Remember, we can live our lives as a hero’s journey with all the attendant chaos that comes with living courageously or we can live as drama kings and queens. Which archetype are you living?
Dr. Toni Galardi is a psychotherapist, career coach, public speaker and author of The LifeQuake Phenomenon: How to Thrive (not just survive) in Times of Personal and Global Upheaval.
To submit questions for ‘Ask the LifeQuake Doctor’, contact Dr. Toni Galardi through DrToni@askthelifequakedoctor.com (no period after the Dr). For those seeking phone coaching, Dr. Toni can be reached at 310/890-6832 or through her website, wwwaskthelifequakedoctor.com
People underestimate their capacity for change. There is never a right time to do a difficult thing.
Dear Dr. Toni:
I am 33 years old. I am a professional woman and I live alone. For two years I was addicted to the prescription med Xanax to get to sleep. I either didn’t dream or didn’t remember my dreams the entire time. After going into a treatment facility, I have successfully gotten off this dependency and have been in recovery for six months.
Recently, I began having what I would call nightmares. I have had a recurring dream in which someone gets killed. In the first dream there was a terrorist shooting everyone and then he aimed his gun at me. The last dream I had I dreamt that I had arrived at a workshop only to find out that the workshop leaders were going to kill each of us by the end of the weekend and we knew it was going to be a painful death. I agonized the whole time about how they were going to kill me imagining being burned alive or my head chopped off. At the end of the weekend they announce that this was all a ruse. They put us through this experience to see how we would prepare for our death. Then the dream ended.
I am curious as to what you think it means. You have mentioned in other columns you do dream therapy so I just wondered what your take is. My shrink doesn’t deal with dreams much. His approach is very here and now in this reality. I should add that I do remember seeing a documentary with the former psychologist and guru of sorts Ram Dass. He said that when he had his stroke, he didn’t think of God. He just went into a lot of fear about dying or what was happening to him. The meditation practice I follow talks about a practice of being ready for your death at all times. So, anyway, what do you think, doc?
First off, congrats on getting clean and getting help to GET clean. Tranquilizers are tough to kick by yourself. Sometimes when dreams return early in recovery, they come back in a ferocious manner. One can speculate endlessly as to why that is but I prefer to devote the time here to address potential meanings of your dreams.
Recovery brings a kind of death with it. We can no longer numb ourselves to our fears or emotional responses to life’s stresses. It can also unleash the inner critic/terrorist while we sleep in the form of nightmares. Given that the documentary about Ram Dass had a profound effect on you, perhaps there is a powerful message here in this new chapter of your life. How are you now living your new life every moment? If you knew you were going to die a painful death in two days, do you want to spend the last precious hours you have obsessing about how you will die or do you want to be as present as is possible? Many spiritual teachers have said that our state of mind at the end of our life is most informed by our thoughts right now. So, what parts of you are you ready to die to, to let go of?
We are dying every day. Therefore, how are you living inside of this day that you are dying to as well? In my book, The LifeQuake Phenomenon I spoke of a practice I give my clients I call “Death Becomes You”. I invite all my readers to do this one at least once:
Imagine you’ve just been hit by a car or are a passenger in a plane that’s going down and you know you’re going to die. You have ten minutes. As you recall your life, what do you regret having done or not done? Think of three things. Now, how might that inform choices you make from now on. Is there someone you need to clean things up with or words that you’ve felt toward someone, but haven’t said? Is there a life change you could make that would transform having any regrets at the end of your life?
Now, imagine you are invisible at your own funeral. You have the opportunity now that you’re disembodied to hear people’s real thoughts. What do you imagine people will say about you after you’ve gone? What would you like them to say? Now write your most ideal eulogy. Imagine it being presented at the service. What do you need to let go of or change about yourself to live up to your ideal eulogy?
May your dreams bring your soul homeward.
Dr. Toni Galardi is a licensed psychotherapist with a Jungian orientation and she works with people by phone, SKYPE and in person at her office in Mill Valley, Ca. If you would like to write her, she can be reached through DrToni@LifeQuake.net or 310-890-6832.
Dear Dr. Toni:
I read your column at the home of a friend that works in the addiction field. I have never written to an advice columnist before. I graduated from an Ivy League College a month ago. I am twenty - two years old and I have never had a serious relationship. They all start out great but I get attached very quickly and then the guy distances himself and then it pretty much ends.
I find myself questioning if I should continue dating guys. I fail miserably at understanding men. I get along much more easily with women and some of my girlfriends have chosen to give up men and are in happy relationships with women. Do you think I should give it a try? I come from a wealthy family and my parents would be mortified if I came out as a lesbian. They are still supporting me as I try and break into acting in New York. What should I do, Dr. Toni?
Confused in the Big Apple
Before you give up on men, perhaps you might examine why you get attached so quickly. DO you have sex with them early on in the dating courtship. I use the word courtship because, although it is an old fashioned world for young people, if what you want is a committed relationship then you need to separate inspiring a guy to court you from sleeping with him. Having sex is best left to a time when you both decide you are ready to make your relationship monogamous. That is the second phase of a relationship. The bonding hormone oxytocin gets stimulated especially in women when we have sex so we don’t necessarily make the best decisions as to whether the guy is relationship material when we’re drunk on sex hormones.
Another way to not get attached too quickly is to date more than one person at a time. Read the book, The Four Man Plan. You are young. You probably have the energy to juggle more than one guy and it will make you desirable in their eyes. Men like a little competition.
Now, to address your inquiry about women. You don’t mention as to whether you have ever been attracted to a woman or experimented with being sexually intimate with women. IF you have and enjoyed it, then perhaps there is another issue here. Maybe the heavy attachment to men right away is a compensation for trying to avoid facing any upheaval especially economic upheaval that would come from dating women. I posit both sides to this so you can do some soul searching. Notice how you feel when you are around your women friends. Is there any sexual arousal or do you merely feel more comfortable than with men on dates?
If you merely feel safer around women, make a choice for going slow with guys. Insist on taking the time to develop a friendship first. Experiment with giving yourself a 10 date rule with a minimum of one month before any sexual intimacy.
Dear Dr. Toni:
I have been in ACA recovery for about twenty years. I am fifty years old, have two children, and a thriving yoga business. My mother however is still a raging alcoholic and is now showing signs of dementia. She and my stepfather live in a nursing home. I have taken care of her estate. Mostly this consists of hiring people for upkeep of her home which I do from long distance but occasionally have to fly across country to attend to her affairs. Recently, I asked my step father for reimbursement for some of my traveling expenses and the costs of some home repairs that I paid for.
He and my mother became enraged that I would ask for reimbursement. This has triggered so many old memories of me taking care of her when I was a child and feeling like she was a bottomless pit of need with no gratitude. I am not her gurardian but I don’t think she is capable of handling her estate on her own and I would like to have some kind of nest egg for my children.
Should I just drop the expectations of reimbursement and just be in service?
You say you have been in recovery for 20 years. First of all, I would urge you to go to a meeting and get a sponsor if you don’t already have one. Unless you are prepared to step into moving for guardianship, you have two choices: walk away and let go of any expectations of an inheritance or engage the yogic practice of SEVA – selfless service. In order to truly practice seva, you must know that you can truly let go of any expectation of any reward from your efforts. If you cannot do this, from a recovery point of view, it is unhealthy to continue to feel like a doormat to your mother’s narcissism. If you are a yoga teacher, I imagine you meditate. I would encourage you to meditate and ask your higher self for the dharmic answer that is in line with your true self.
Dr. Toni Galardi has a new website – DrToniGalardi.com. Write to me through DrToni@DrToni Galardi.com. I am still doing most of my individual work through phone coaching. If you are in the midst of a major transition, call The LifeQuake Doctor at 310-890-6832 or write me in care of the column Ask the LifeQuake Doctor if you have a question.