Hi! I'm Vicki Smith. Thanks for taking time to check out some information about how I work and to see if we are a fit. Take care!
Licensed Professional Counselor in Atlanta, GA
Mindfulness is a way of life. As I practice and study this, I am convinced it will save us all! No joke! Though I practiced meditation for 20 years, mindfulness offered me a framework to take my meditation off the cushion. Noticing my mind telling stories or time traveling to the past or future, allows me to actually STOP and BREATHE and decide how I want to proceed. It has allowed my clients to change habits they thought they would never tackle. No more reactivity! What a gift!
When I first experienced IFS it was as a client and I felt like someone had given me a road map to my inner world. This modality has given me the confidence to be able to sit with so many different people. To help clients understand entrenched patterns and slowly as well as compassionately untangle them. Of all the modalities I use, this is the only one that makes clients say, "Wow! I have never thought about "it" like that before!" When I hear that I know we have made a breakthrough!
A lot of new clients will share on the intake call that they just want to like themselves. I get it. There are days when all of us feel like we are just propping ourselves up and trying to make it to the end of the day! For me, self-esteem is a root issue. How we feel about ourselves started way back in childhood based on how we were treated, how our emotions were attended to (or not) and whether our environment offered a safe place to process our experiences. Working with low self-esteem entails learning how you managed emotions and situations in the past when you didn't have as many resources as you do now as an adult. A lot of us go to perfectionism and people pleasing as a means of controlling the external environment once we are adults. We don't know how to take care of our emotional experiences. Most of us have a pretty harsh inner critic that comments on everything we do, say and feel. This only perpetuates perfectionism and people pleasing. Relaxing the critic is a first step in addressing self-esteem issues. Mindfulness is helpful as it gives us tools to notice how often our inner critic chimes in, as well as tools for self-compassion and eventually, self-acceptance. Its so easy to use the outside world to define your inside experience of yourself. Its encouraging to see clients begin to soften towards themselves, unburden themselves from outdated inner dialogue and let themselves be imperfect human beings.
Anxiety is a fast paced emotion and it can ramp up quickly and easily. Slowing down is the antidote, but its not as intuitive as we would hope. I help clients name, label and diagram their pattern of anxiety. We do this in effort to un-blend from the chaos anxiety creates. From an outside perspective we can understand what causes these intense feelings and how we have naturally and automatically tried to calm them. And, take an honest look at how those ways of managing the emotions have worked out for us. Most of us come in to therapy after using the same coping strategies for decades. Expecting to simply change those strategies is unrealistic. Slowing down, un-blending, creating clarity, and learning to stay with what we are feeling is my approach to anxiety treatment. Most of us who have intense feelings react with resistance to them. Learning to stay with a feeling and build a relationship with your emotional self is key to managing anxiety.
I really enjoy working with clients who have a hard time saying "no". As we look into the makings of the pattern of "external compliance and internal defiance", clients begin to learn how to work with the Fear, Obligation and Guilt (F.O.G.) that comes with codependent behavior. I love helping clients dive into the personal beliefs about why we can't say "no", and unraveling those beliefs so we can decide for ourselves what is important and what isn't. Watching clients feel the weight of emotional, mental and physical responsibility dissolve, and witnessing their empowerment and personal freedom never gets old! It may take some time to work with the underlying factors that contribute to people pleasing, but its possible to begin to prioritize yourself without guilt. Its been work I have done personally and work I have seen professionally. Finding your voice, your preferences and your confidence is life changing!