Taking deep breaths is the number one coping skill that radically shifts your physiology and psychology.
Board-certified therapist and author Juliet Lam Kuehnle (@Yep,Igototherapy) discusses the importance of destigmatizing therapy and getting the support you need in her podcast and new book, Who You Callin’ Crazy. This woman is on a mission to normalize and elevate positive dialogue around therapy. She’s the founder and owner of Sun Counseling Wellness, out in North Carolina, a thriving therapeutic practice helping individuals thrive.
“A good therapist will guide you.”
– Juliet Kuehnle
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I’m Mark Divine. And this is the Mark Divine Show. Super stoked to have you here with me today on the show, I explore what it means to be fearless through the lens of the world’s most inspirational and compassionate and resilient leaders. I love talking to folks from all walks of life, and each episode will distill the remarkable experience of my guests, from Stoic philosophers to startup entrepreneurs to elite Navy SEALs even, and I try to find actionable insights to help you build the most compassionate, courageous and powerful life of your own. I’m excited to have as my guest today, Juliet Lam Kuehnle, she’s a therapist and author of the book Who You Callin’ Crazy. The journey from stigma therapy. Juliet is a national board-certified counselor therapist who’s passionate about ending the stigma around mental health. She’s working, normalize and elevate positive dialogue around therapy. She’s the founder and owner of Sun Counseling Wellness, out in North Carolina. And. she works with clients with a multitude of processing concerns; anxiety, depression, grief loss, and she specializes in EMDR, which is something we’ve talked about a few times. She also hosts the podcast called Who You Callin’ Crazy, and been featured on multiple TV shows and publications.
And I’m super stoked to have her here today, Juliet, thanks for joining me on the Mark Divine Show. So really nice to meet you. I like to kind of ask guests really what their origin story is, like, where did you grow up? What were your parents like? And how do they shape you good, bad, or ugly or indifferent? I think it’s fascinating. And you know, as a therapist, how much one’s origin story influences everything else? Right. And I mean, by origin stories, all that conditioning, from the moment you pop out as a little cherub, you know, through all your formative years, and just soaking up everything that happens from your parents and their views and how they treat each other, you know, and then the traumas and, and big issues and challenges and breakthroughs in your life. So what were some of the key things in your life that shaped who you are today?
Juliet Kuehnle 1:59
Well, I love nothing more than a conversation that gets right to the vulnerable stuff right away. So thanks for creating space for that. Because it gives other people permission to access that too, and to relate to certain things. So that is, that’s my mission as well. I am born and raised in Pinehurst, North Carolina. So I’m a golfer, which is the first question I always get, you got to do that, if you’re from there. I am the youngest of three and the only girl. So inherently, there comes some stuff just from birth order. And being the baby girl and all of that. And my older brothers were are pretty significantly older than me. So in some ways, it’s almost raised as an only child, I have, just like most people a complicated background, a family of origin that was doing the best they could, that I experienced trauma as a young kiddo went to my first therapist at age eight. And pretty much knew at that point, that that’s what I wanted to do with my life. Which sounds kind of cliche, but I think that’s you know, kind of part of my thing is that I’ve been on both sides of the couch, now for a really long time. And it’s been incredibly valuable in my life. So to be able to walk in other people’s stories and have that give that gift to them too is now the most rewarding thing for me what that trauma looked like childhood sex abuse, it looked like, you know, some other family things that still aren’t out in the open. So it’s not really my story to tell, but that I had to navigate. And that continued that framed and continues to frame in a lot of ways my self-concept. And so I’ve always been somebody with anxiety. And like I said, really, I continue to work hard to not over identify with that label, and to see my anxiety as a superpower now, but I’ve not always seen it that way. So sexual trauma is most of my traumatic background. I was raped when I was in college, and some physical abuse as well. So it’s not something that I’ve actually had the space in the air airtime to talk a lot about. I’ve written about it, but it’s something that I also when I can I have worked so hard on the shame. So I’m okay being forthcoming, as you know, with that being a part of my story, and I think it informs my work as a therapist, too.
Mark Divine 4:19
It’s so important, like you said, to create the space where it’s okay to talk about this because I think so many people just repress that stuff and hide it from even from themselves because they just think they’re going to be judged and they think they’re going to be they just think it’s just awful people that they are or it’s just not safe, they have no language for it. There’s no opportunity really to expose it and to work on it. And so therefore it just kind of festers in the background. And I call that your background of obviousness, right, it’s there. It can be obvious to others who love you. Right? This is why relations are such a great opportunity to do emotional development, right? But it’s also a great source of friction and exasperation when when you have that unresolved and kind of hidden trauma that, you know, one member of the relationship just won’t go there.
Juliet Kuehnle 5:09
Mark Divine 5:09
Now, so it’s cool that you were able to go there, and you’re helping other people go there. And I think we’re starting to see a thawing right of the, you know, untouchable frozen ground of some of these conversations like sexual abuse, sexual assault, other types of physical, verbal and emotional trauma that, in my view, is probably much more prevalent than anyone would be really willing to admit.
Juliet Kuehnle 5:33
Agree. And I, you know, so two things come to mind. One, I didn’t find that permission right away to talk about it, I think it’s important to say there were a lot of years where I didn’t, or a lot of years where I called it something else. And it took me a long time to get to the point where I could call it trauma, I could call it sexual assault, I could call it rape, and find people that that was okay to name it with. And there are still some people where it doesn’t feel safe to me, of course. So I think that’s an interesting part of it. But yes, the conversation than the dialogue, so many people are having about mental health, mental wellness, mental fitness, in general, is so different because of the pandemic. I mean, then that’s why I wrote my book at that time is because it’s, it was the first time we all went through this collective trauma together. So it gave us this permission to say like, things aren’t good. Things are really hard. I guess what I’m not actually okay. And I my passion right now is how do we keep that going? How do we not revert right back to the hustle culture and the pretending and the performing that we’re also used to doing pre pandemic? And how do we keep this vulnerability and authenticity going? So conversations like this help?
Mark Divine 6:42
Absolutely. And I agree with you, it’s, we don’t want to go back, right, there is no perfect past. I know, this is kind of another thing that came to my mind when you are talking. But as a Navy SEAL, I have a lot of friends who you would think are going to be like, almost impervious, right, because of our mental training in the Navy SEALs. And even I’m involved in training SEALs, young SEAL candidates. And I call it in pre resiliency, like preparing him upfront for combat by giving him all the coping mechanisms that you would teach someone in kind of a recovery program, I give him up front, we teach them breath control, we teach him positive self-talk, and you know, imagery work to be able to navigate, you know, both the dangers and opportunities. And teach them how to rely on each other and to open up and be you know, we don’t use the term vulnerable, but be authentic, right to be able to receive direct feedback and not take it personally, all these things. And where I’m going with this is that in spite of all that, we’ve had, like massive amount of mental trauma and post-traumatic stress from obviously from the constant combat, but what I’ve noticed is, is the combat really isn’t the prima facia cause of their of their challenges. It’s that the combat exposed hidden trauma that was already pre-existent but unresolved. And so those individuals who had a lot of hidden trauma that hadn’t been resolved, or they had never taken a look at, or maybe never admitted it to themselves, suddenly, all this stuff got really radically exposed by the trauma of combat, and then they, they had difficulty dealing with it and often became suicidal, if not actually committed suicide. So I think that what, there’s a similar thing that happened with COVID, I’m just making a stab here, that COVID exposed a lot of hidden unresolved trauma that basically Westerners in general, and Americans in particular, have been just avoiding, through this constant distraction activity of on the go, like you said, climbing the corporate ladder, constant trying to perform, you know, putting out the the image of perfection on social media, and just not pausing and sitting down long enough to recognize it. Everything’s not okay, under the surface.
Juliet Kuehnle 8:49
Mark Divine 8:50
And COVID Pretty much exposed all that someone had to face it.
Juliet Kuehnle 8:54
Right, and then we didn’t have so many of our go to coping strategies, whether they were adaptive or maladaptive. You know, meeting a friend out for dinner or go into a group exercise class. It trauma is interesting, because it’s what my brain records is traumatic for me, the same thing may happen to you, and you may not record it the same way. So it’s such an individualized thing. And whenever, you know, something, overwhelms our ability to cope. So I talk a lot with clients about Big T traumas and little T traumas. And we’re really, unfortunately, we’re really good at convincing ourselves like trying to convince ourselves it wasn’t that bad. It was just that minimizing it dismissing certain things. And little T traumas can be really impactful, too. And it’s, you know, the example I always give us some, you know, just thinking about like, you’re on the third grade playground and they’re picking kids for the kickball team and you don’t get picked and one kid may never remember that story. And the other kid that marked something in his life that made him feel unlovable, and he now carries that core belief with him all because of that experience on the playground, to different kids to different, you know, experiences of it, how it, then it then impacts their self-concept going forward. So the slowing down, like you’re mentioning that happened over COVID, being alone with our thoughts, being in that quiet and having it all catch up to us can sometimes reveal like those core beliefs, and then we have to decide what we’re going to do with it.
Mark Divine 10:24
That’s right. And that’s where, you know, people kind of like stare into that abyss and like, Oh, my God, you know, I’m not feeling good, all of a sudden, and now that the dust of the activity had settled down, and all this stuff is starting to come up. They didn’t have the tools or the language.
Juliet Kuehnle 10:37
Mark Divine 10:37
Not only did not have the tools and language, but there is this stereotype, typical kind of anathema toward, at least in my view, where I grew up in back in the East less so in Southern California, this is prototypical, or the stereotypical view of therapy is like, man that’s really for screwed up people, or that’s like you do that if things are really bad, or if your wife or husband dragged you into couples therapy because your relationships about to blow up.
Juliet Kuehnle 11:00
My whole mission is destigmatizing these preconceived ideas we have about therapy and therapists, in part two of my book, that’s what I’m talking about, I get so many questions, or I hear so many sort of myths and misconceptions about it that I feel like we have to clear up. That it does, and you’re kind of speaking about as people think it’s this woo-woo thing, and I get that, you know, and things just like I have a best friend to talk to, why would I need a therapist? Or yeah, it’s I’m not in crisis. Why do I need to go to therapy? And I love answering those questions to help people understand the gamut of what can show up in the therapeutic room, and how we’re trained, why it’s different than just talking to your best friend, or even just, you know, going to church and praying, like, why it’s different, how it’s different, how it helps how it can change your brain change your self-concept. You and I talked about EMDR, before you got um, trained in EMDR, to have that longtime for a long time as a client. And it’s, it’s incredibly powerful, isn’t it?
Mark Divine 12:02
Yeah it is. I agree with you. 100%. I likened it in my community to you have a willingness to get a fitness coach, or a nutrition coach, or even an executive or life coach. So why wouldn’t you be interested in open to getting an emotional coach, that’s really what a therapist is, in my view. And we’re to differentiate from like a hard science psychologist, right, or psychotherapist, or, you know, there’s different names who are gonna, like, you know, you need to go to because you’ve got ADHD, and you’re gonna get the medicine, right, that’s different. Therapy really is an therapeutic process. It’s just that it’s a process of working to improve your mental, emotional, psychological well-being, your cognitive fitness, your overarching view of how you fit in the world and understanding your natural goodness, as opposed to, you know, just being trapped in the shame cycles that early childhood trauma or life’s traumas kind of keep you in. So why wouldn’t you want that? You know, and I keep exposing, especially my male clients, like, why wouldn’t you want this?
Juliet Kuehnle 13:02
Mark Divine 13:03
Here’s what I tell them also, I view all of life as training and conditioning. And so if you don’t take responsibility for training and conditioning your own mind, and emotions, and to me, they’re the same thing, then they’re being trained and conditioned by somebody else. Right. They’ve already been conditioned from your childhood. So you can’t like go back and do that over but you can in your mind with EMDR, and retrospective visualization and hypnotherapy, go back and change how you relate to those traumatizing events, and change the stories around them. And you can set up the conditions so that ever set up your mind so that nobody can damage you again. So I think that’s extraordinarily valuable. It is actually, to me, it’s the missing developmental link. It’s what we all need, in order to move on to the next stage of our development as human beings. It’s this opening of the heart and this emotional awareness, emotional depth.
Juliet Kuehnle 13:56
I of course, think mental health is fundamental to all of it. And I talked about kind of the trifecta of mental health, physical health, spiritual health, and how they all need to be tended to. I, like you do with your community talk so much about even kind of the spectrum of physical illness and when you know, it’s time to go to a doctor. And that mental health, you know, is not all cancer and broken bones. You know, like, physically, that’s not all physical health is. So when we’re talking about mental health, and you could also have this spectrum of, then there is mental illness, which kind of invites a different part of the conversation where sometimes people don’t have as much agency that you’re talking about. But for the most part, if we can get out ahead of increasing our self-awareness, understanding our emotional intelligence, understanding what that old narrative is, we might be subscribing to learning new tools to relate to our emotions differently. Then, yes, we have a better chance at recalibrating when inevitable hardships happen, because that’s the guarantee in life is that they will. And it’s how we respond to it, which I think is what you’re saying too, is that we have more agency over that when we then we tend to think.
Mark Divine 15:07
I agree. And I’ve been reading a lot about the mental health crisis that resulted from COVID-19. And the government response with lockdowns and shutting schools and all that kind of stuff. But what is it, you know, from your practitioner perspective, and actually working with clients? Like, what are some of the big issues? If you could generalize, that someone listening might be like, yeah, things don’t really feel right, but I can’t put my finger on it. What were some of the big issues? And what are the pivot points where you’ve been able to help people?
Juliet Kuehnle 15:36
Anxiety, anxiety is the number one thing that came up and out for a lot of people. And of course, the foundation for anxiety is uncertainty. So that makes sense. And so the crux of COVID was everything feeling so out of our control. So people were feeling so out of control and needing to grasp on to some sense of where we going from here. And which is a very human need to have some sort of playbook and what’s going to happen, and nobody had that answer. You know, the number one thing we saw that was might have been mixed in with other things, of course, was anxiety. And I can speak to just the increase in need for therapy. During that time, I own a group practice, and it just blew up with meet the need, and which again, is one part is that’s great, people were reaching out for help. But it really highlighted just how much everyone was struggling. And I also believe that we’re all still, we’re still really just now experiencing the fallout for a lot of that group, especially teenagers, really just starting to understand what that isolation did to them, how it impacted their social skills, how it impacted their emotional skills. And so we’re now getting a lot more teenagers in particular that are experiencing depressive symptomology. So pivot points, were helping people try to grasp some sense of control where they could, and to learn how to safely let go of control where they couldn’t, which is hard for people. Pivot points were really honing in on you know, we talked about coping skills before really honing in on what are adaptive coping skills that work for you. What do all these buzzwords that we see on social media, like self care, and mindfulness, what do those things actually get to look like for you? Because they’ve been somewhat watered down. Those are significant pivot points for people, when they really get to access what that looks like for them.
Mark Divine 17:32
Back to the control, you know, I mean, that’s a classic kind of stoic principle, the locus of control, that one has an, you know, the stoics would say that the only thing you actually can control is your thoughts and how you respond to situations. So are you giving them you know, like cognitive behavioral therapy to help them reduce their understanding of what can be controlled by saying, okay, everything that’s out there they can’t control it, it’s going to change. So release your need or dependency on needing that certainty, and just control what’s in here in the responses.
Juliet Kuehnle 18:07
Sure. So a lot of that is rooted in CBT. And understanding, like your thinking patterns, and how your thoughts impact your feelings. A lot of that is teaching some radical acceptance, which is, you know, kind of a fancy way of saying it is what it is.
Mark Divine 18:23
Juliet Kuehnle 18:24
But it’s much more than that. Because that that makes it sound somewhat passive radical acceptance is a skill that we can build on. I equate all the skills that I teach in therapy to, you know, like weightlifting, you don’t get to just go do bicep curl a couple times and be you know, your swole and ready to go. You have to keep practicing these things. So radical acceptance is a dialectical behavioral therapy skill, where you’re really learning what it looks like to accept reality, and to not fight the things that are out of your control and what it looks like for you to not carry things that don’t belong to you. And how to cope with the uncertainty of things.
Mark Divine 19:05
That’s actually the cornerstone of, of a lot of spiritual practices as well, because radical acceptance of what is as it is, when it is right, ultimately is one of the most powerful ways to be more present.
Juliet Kuehnle 19:18
Mark Divine 19:19
And in the present moment, right, we suddenly realize that we do have control over what we need to, which is because right here, right now, here I am.
Juliet Kuehnle 19:27
Mark Divine 19:27
I’m doing okay, I’m still alive, right? I’ve still got this body. And so it’s an incredible practice, I think, just for both mental, emotional and spiritual health.
Juliet Kuehnle 19:37
Yeah. I mean, I think for the number one thing with clients, really, if you had to say, what are you doing with every client, is I’m telling them that I can’t take away their angst and their issue. And I wouldn’t want to.
Mark Divine 19:51
Your objectives isn’t isn’t to like, fix the person, right? Fix a client. I think that’s what a lot of people fear is like, oh boy, I don’t want to even I don’t want to go there. I don’t want anyone else trying to fix me right? Or tell me how to be or what do. What’s different? What is it? If you’re not trying to fix someone mentally, emotionally? What is it that you actually do?
Juliet Kuehnle 20:10
And it’s interesting you say that, right? Because I think some people are looking for the fix. And then some people are intimidated by the fix, like that idea that someone’s gonna get in there and uncover things. And it’s not about any of that. It’s about having someone collaboratively walking with you in your story, to word healing, or growth or balance, or improved self awareness or improved relationships. And I don’t want to take away your ability to feel your feelings. I don’t want to take away your discomfort, what I want you to do, what I want you to learn is that you can tolerate it, because like we said earlier, those things are inevitable. And the more we fight it, the worse they get, actually. So I often use the analogy of falling in quicksand, if you fall in quicksand, you know, your inclination might be to kind of scramble doggy paddle to the top and like kind of freak out, and that’s gonna make you sink versus you’re actually supposed to just kind of take up space and lie still. And then you’ll rise to the top and sort of float on it. And I think relating to emotions the same, our instinct might be to fight discomfort, I don’t, I don’t feel this, of course I don’t. So I’m going to fight against it, I’m going to tell myself to stop thinking or feeling this. And that’s actually going to make it grow. So therapy is helps you learn how to be with it, how to take up room, how to move through it. And in doing so you relate to it differently. And you learn to trust yourself in tolerating it. There’s been
Mark Divine 21:38
a fair amount of criticism aimed that talk therapy for that very reason. And that just constantly going back and rubbing your emotions over the coal of past traumas can actually reinforce that trauma and keep it alive. What is your feeling about that? And how do we avoid that?
Juliet Kuehnle 21:55
Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of it is having a trained, licensed professional who is using, you know, evidence-based approaches appropriately with you. There can certainly be that risk of digging into a certain narrative. And then our brain’s tendency is, you know, with confirmation bias is to continue collecting evidence of..see, I knew I was unlovable. And so if you don’t have somebody who can help you recognize those thought patterns, and truly help you understand what sort of sense your brain has made of a trauma so that you can unlearn that and learn something new. It’s kind of like, you know, digging in deeper. But when you have somebody who knows what they’re doing and can help you do that, well, you’re literally rewiring wiring and creating new neural networks and healing from it.
Mark Divine 22:42
You know, Brene, Brown’s work was so valuable, because it helped people recognize that shame and guilt are ubiquitous, let’s just say, and to separate the incident from the person, right to say, yeah, things happen, right? They happen to everybody. But because they happened doesn’t make you a bad person. It’s just something that happened. When you’re a young, individual young person, you don’t necessarily have the skills or the context to be able to process negative things that happen or traumatic things have happened. And so you end up burying it, and then it shows up the shame and guilt later on. What is your approach to helping people with that deep trauma-induced shame and guilt?
Juliet Kuehnle 23:24
I mean, her work has just been incredible for all of us, helping us understand the research behind it and give the language to it. And I love so much how she talks about, you know, guilt is I did something bad shame is I am bad. And helping people make that distinction. And the first thing that comes to mind when I think about my work with clients, and that is how often we overlay hindsight on earlier stories, and shame ourselves for it, or have no self compassion for ourselves, because I should have known better. And to your point, you were a child, or a teenager, or you were overwhelmed by you know, again, this incapacity to, to handle whatever was happening to you, no matter what age you were, you were not in your thinking, wise brain. And so, so much of the work is kind of separating those things and finding where there’s room for compassion, self-compassion, and understanding of survival and how we have to go into survival when a trauma is happening to us, and then find that safety later, when we can more kind of rationally understand the situation.
Mark Divine 24:35
So when you talked earlier about coping skills, self care, and mindfulness you mentioned some of these skills are meant to like keep us in balance, so we can navigate a normal day but then there’s skills that you know, that we need to rely on to do some deep excavation. Like literally go back and face that and to recontextualize or you know, you can use different language depending upon the therapeutic process. So if someone is coming to you and they’re like, Yeah, I’ve got all this anxiety. I can’t focus. You know, I’m really distractible ever since COVID-19, the lockdowns and so you work with them, you begin to give them some coping skills. So how do you how do you get now to the next layer? You know, I’m not a therapist, and but with the coaching program, I do, it’s so multi-dimensional. It’s an integrative process. So it’s physical, mental, emotional, intuitional, and spiritual. That there’s inevitably comes a moment where these conversations start to happen about shadow and trauma and all that. But a lot of my male clients, they’re just unwilling to go there. They’ve just blocked it, or they just assume that it wasn’t a big deal.
Juliet Kuehnle 25:45
Mark Divine 25:46
Or, like a you mentioned this earlier. And I think even I dealt with this is like, you don’t even want to surface it, because those people are still in your life, it would be painful for them for you to kind of like even have a conversation about it.
Juliet Kuehnle 25:57
So I mean, I think the first part of the question was like, how do you get to that next layer. So there’s teaching coping skills, which that made me think of, I tend to sort of categorize coping skills, there are avoidance-oriented coping skills, which are about distracting. Which we all need, you know, we’re not supposed to dive into every emotion all the time. And then there are emotion-oriented coping skills, which are kind of the skills you learn in therapy, to really process and move through. And then there’s problem-oriented or solution-oriented coping skills, there’s a problem, I know how to solve it, here’s how to execute that. The important thing is knowing and being more intentional about when we’re utilizing kind of which category of coping skills. So that was, the first thing that came to mind was just that it’s important for people to understand that we’re not asking you to all the time, feel your feels too. Part of my work is helping people understand how they are embodied how they embody certain emotions. So your example was anxiety. Anxiety tends to be really heavy for people or people, they know kind of what their thinking cycles are kind of a hamster on the wheel and their brain. But what people are not always familiar with is how it feels in their body. So sometimes they look at me like I’ve got three heads when I ask them, like, where do you feel your anxiety in your body, and then I’ve got to back up and really kind of help them find it. And so for me, that helps us access those next layers. So I’ll speak personally, I carry my anxiety in my chest, and in my throat a lot. And when you can have somebody really embody that and get attuned to that. And then you ask questions like, what does that feeling want to say? Give that feeling some words? Or is that feeling familiar? When’s the first time you remember feeling that you can really unlock some old stuff?
Mark Divine 27:41
What is the role of imagery, or what role does imagery play in your work?
Juliet Kuehnle 27:46
One of our strategies for sometimes for grounding, we use a lot of guided imagery or just visualizations. So if someone is escalated, or they’re in that sort of hyperarousal of anxiety, or hypo arousal of depressive symptoms, or apathy, using visualization imagery to sometimes either sort of elicit sensory, you know, memories that are tied to, let’s just use an easy example, like I’m happy when I’m in the mountains, and I’m looking at a sunset, and I smell the flowers, and I feel the breeze and really helping someone to tap into the five senses as they use that imagery can help get them more into that optimal sort of window of tolerance, rather than being hyper or hypo aroused. So it’s a great grounding skill. And we use it a lot in EMDR, in particular, so if someone’s starting to get escalated, or disassociate or something like that, it’s kind of like a, like a home base.
Mark Divine 28:43
Right. The power of imagery is vastly understated. And to use it skillfully is important. I think that’s another role that therapists can do is to help an individual understand how to skillfully use imagery as opposed to the catastrophization, the fantasy, you know, whether the could have would have should have the past or the fantasies of the future, like to really recognize that that that is a form of thinking. It’s just thinking with imagery, and it’s either going to serve you or it’s going to hold you back.
Juliet Kuehnle 29:12
Yeah. And again, to me, the embodiment of it is really important. So how does it feel in your body when you imagine yourself in that kind of safe place? If we’re going with that example, again, how does that feel in your body, we can capture that your brain can then pull on that when it needs to. Again, if you practice this over time, it’s not just a one-time thing, but if you practice using that imagery over and over, really using your senses, you’ll get stronger at it, you’ll get better at it and be able to really use it as a true coping skill.
Mark Divine 29:43
You mentioned hyperarousal I asked my clients and people who follow me know this that, to do daily breathing practice. You know, I’ve been teaching box breathing to name started with Navy SEALs back in 2006. So since 2006. Really simple, you know controlled diaphragmatic breathing through the nostrils, you know, obviously, there’s an intervention, right, you can use it as an intervention, but I like to teach it as a daily practice. I know studies are finally coming out around these breathing practices, but um, I’ve made the assertion that this will basically de-stress you and bring your parasympathetic nervous system back online. So I just had anecdotal evidence from all of my clients who were within a month of doing these, this practice every day, for minimum 10 minutes, you know, I prescribed 20 minutes in the morning, they’re just having all this, these, all these transformations happening, because they don’t recognize how much they’ve been like locked in hyperarousal. And I think much of especially since COVID, much of our culture or society are locked in hyperarousal, hyperarousal being reinforced with the news cycle and the speed of information and the constant distraction and social media and they’re constantly being triggered into fight or flight. So I just like to get your perspective on the importance of breathing and breath control as a a practice.
Juliet Kuehnle 31:00
Yeah, like feeling when I come out of my chair, because I get so excited.
Mark Divine 31:03
Yeah I know me too. Secret weapon, isn’t it? That’s
Juliet Kuehnle 31:05
It, it sounds somewhat cliche, like, you’re gonna tell me to take deep breaths. It is our number one coping skill. Because, you know, until it isn’t, it’s always with us. And we can learn to use it for absolutely, you know, the ability to wrangle in so many things. So, I teach, you know, a box breathing sometimes with the other one I love is 4-7-8 breathing, the longer exhale, and we have some more science coming out that that does bring on that rest and digest system to counter fight or flight. But I think what we’re really saying is, it needs to be a practice. Don’t wait until you’re like, oh my gosh, I’m so anxious about something and your throats already tight. And your breathing is already shallow, and your body’s already you know, ready to run or fight. Practice it all the time. Practice it when you’re chill, because then you’re better able to pull it up when you need it. So it is the number one coping skill. I have it a little postcard in our office, I email it to everyone, you know, it’s it’s underutilized. And we don’t realize how much it can impact our nervous systems.
Mark Divine 32:09
I agree with you. And I think it’s foundational to all the all other skills, it’s like, step one, Master Miyagi, and karate kid didn’t teach the advanced, you know, flipping spinning sidekick. But he said, go wax the car, wax on wax off, or the fence, you know, paint and paint off. So that’s like, just go back to your breath, get your physiology back under control as the arousal control and when your physiology is under hold, guess what else is gonna be under control your psychology because your brain is able to operate and function in a less distracted and agitated kind of state and you literally get your your brainwaves slow down in that high alpha, low beta range, which is more minimal toward other coping skills like mindfulness to come online.
Juliet Kuehnle 32:52
And we spend sometimes spend entire sessions sometimes multiple sessions just giving psychoeducation to people around why our bodies respond in that way, too. So that’s the other thing that makes me think of, you know, if there’s a tiger that comes in this room into my wine cellar, I don’t have time to think about why is there a tiger in my house? What’s my best exit strategy, right, I’ve either got to fight it, run out of here, or play dead. And it’s amazing that our bodies are wired to do that instantaneously, that our muscles constrict our, you know, heart rates increase, like all of those things to prepare us. And when we understand that sometimes that can shift our relationship to our anxiety instead of being like, This is so annoying, I hate this, we can understand why our bodies do that. But then know that sometimes it’s, it’s on high alert. And I do think in modern society, it’s just been cranked up even more it’s, we perceive threats a lot more. But when you know why. And you can kind of pause and use your breath, like we’re talking about, and soothe that physiology and be able to say to yourself, Okay, this isn’t an actual threat, because our bodies can’t tell the difference between a tiger and just, you know, public speaking as an example. So being able to soothe it and say, you know, when there’s not a threat, and I know how to calm myself and move through this, is really powerful.
Mark Divine 34:11
As you were saying that earlier I am, you know, I’m a Navy SEAL and we trained to visualize you know, scenarios and, you know, all phases of our operations, including what could go wrong.
Juliet Kuehnle 34:24
Mark Divine 34:25
In that way, you get to have a psycho-physiological experience of a potential incident before it happens.
Juliet Kuehnle 34:32
Mark Divine 34:33
Of course, while you were talking about the lion coming into your wine cellar there I was, I had already visualized myself grabbing a couple of bottles of wine off the counter behind me and smashing it over the head of the lion and like, go into town and by the end.
Juliet Kuehnle 34:48
I didn’t know if you were going to take the bottles and run or if your…
Mark Divine 34:51
No, well that’s the escape scenario, you know, I’ll take the bottle and run,
Juliet Kuehnle 34:55
Right, but you’re already you know, two steps ahead. Yeah.
Mark Divine 34:59
Right, but on a more serious note, do you work with imagery in that way, like instead of looking back and rehashing stuff that happened in, you know, earlier period, let’s say an individual has a trigger, right maybe reminds you like a transference situation someone reminds you of a person who maybe was traumatic to you said you use mental rehearsal as a way to kind of cope with future incidents.
Juliet Kuehnle 35:24
Yeah. And I would say, in my work, particularly with EMDR, we do what’s called kind of a future template. And it might be something like that, like, let’s imagine going through this scenario, how do you want to feel how do you you know, want to think that other than that, and then we use the bilateral stimulation to lock that in. So in my work, that’s primarily where it shows up? And then outside of that, it’s going to be again, the embodiment of it, and walking through it, what skills do you have now, that maybe you didn’t have before? And how confident do you feel in being able to utilize those and navigate the situation differently? And then I would say that role-playing kind of comes in with some of that, too, it is a powerful tool, you get it. And it’s necessary, a lot of times, even in therapy, too, so that because there’ll be isn’t like the real world. So we can’t just have things take place just alone in that room, what you want is to take what you learn in there and apply it to real life. And so sometimes we do that through imagery through visualization and future templates.
Mark Divine 36:26
Yeah, and I think the reason I’m bringing up these kinds of use cases are tools, specifically male audiences, but not always. They’re super okay, you know, to have a sport, you know, like a sports performance psychologist, or even executive coach who’s trained in flow state or, or performance psychology. And we’re using the same tools in therapy, right, but it’s just more targeted at uncovering the blockages. Instead of trying to try to go from good to great as an individual I’ve seen, you know, people performing at a really high level to get a, you know, peak performance psychologist to try to like, carve out another 1%, when they realize they don’t realize they’re leaving, like 50% of their energy on the table, because of this unexplored childhood trauma.
Juliet Kuehnle 37:10
Mark Divine 37:10
I just want people to recognize that, you know, it’s a both and you can have the performance psychologist, but you can also use these same tools with a trained therapist, to unlock that vast potential that you’ve kind of hidden from yourself, because it wasn’t safe to process it at your younger age.
Juliet Kuehnle 37:25
And a good therapist will guide you in that it can be gentle, because how intimidating does that sound? Again, like maybe somebody doesn’t want to unlock all of that. So what we’re saying is understanding the value in doing so, but also trusting that this person will be alongside you in that process, and they’re not going to push you further than you’re able to handle. And we don’t do those things until we know you’re what we call resourced, that you have the ability and the resources to be able to tolerate if something does flare up. I just want people to know that to that to not be intimidated in that way that we’ll we’ll be alongside you during that. Yeah. So
Mark Divine 38:01
Yeah, so you wrote Who You Callin’ Crazy to help demystifies therapy, right. So what is it the main message of the book?
Juliet Kuehnle 38:10
Yeah, it’s a three-part trajectory. The first part is the, who you calling crazy. So that’s all about stigma. And we’ll talk about the different types of stigma and understanding how we perpetuate it and what we can do to stop. Part two is, maybe I should go to therapy. And it’s all the FAQs about therapy and therapists and really peeling back the curtain on what happens in there. And everything from how do I find a therapist, some things about accessibility? Because that’s an issue all the way to how do I break up with a therapist, if it’s not the right fit? And questions that you might be nervous to ask around it all. And then part three was, yep, I go to therapy, which is I picked kind of some of the most common topics that come up for every client and walked through examples of how it shows up in the therapeutic room and then in real life so that people can get a taste for what some of those things can look like in their lives. So it really walks through this trajectory of, like, I’m kind of curious. All right, and you know, all the way to I’m bought in let’s do this.
Mark Divine 39:04
Oh, that’s awesome.
Juliet Kuehnle 39:05
Mark Divine 39:06
So if someone is listening to this, and is like, yeah, that’s kind of resonates with me, I think I want to maybe go there, besides calling you, you know, if they want to actually have an in-person relationship, and they don’t live in North Carolina, and they’re not a golfer? I’m not gonna meet you on the golf course. It took me a while to find a therapist, you know.
Juliet Kuehnle 39:25
Yes. Okay. So that’s a really important thing we need to drive home. The number one predictor of success in therapy is how the client perceives the quality of the relationship with the therapist. Meaning do you vibe with the therapist? So it does not matter what letters we have behind our names, how many books we published or not where we went to school, if you don’t click with your therapist, so I always suggest to people, you know, yeah, now you’re in and you’re ready, but you also have to be patient. Let’s try to find the right person. A lot of therapists will do a free Meet and Greet like a 10 minute phone call or video call, you can get a feel for their style, you can ask questions, I give a lot of scripts actually in the book for what you might ask a lot of templates for how this can look. And then I also list several websites where you can search for therapists because it’s overwhelming. So there are a lot of websites that you can go and kind of filter based on what you’re looking for demographics, insurance, any number of things. And then I suggest picking a few and doing some meet and greets, and really seeing how it feels.
Mark Divine 40:29
And what’s your take on the efficacy of virtual therapy versus in person?
Juliet Kuehnle 40:35
So the research shows that it is just as beneficial. So which is great. And some people were already doing it even pre-pandemic. And I would say anecdotally, I believe that to be true. For most clients, there are definitely certain presenting concerns or relationships where I think in-person is going to be more powerful or beneficial. But again, a good therapist will tell you that.
Mark Divine 40:55
And you’re finding success with EMDR done virtually?
Juliet Kuehnle 40:58
Yeah, Isn’t that wild? Yes. I remember being so nervous in the pandemic. But yes, it has been just as beneficial for clients, which is great. I mean, I think virtual is a great option,
Mark Divine 41:09
Do you use the hand clickers or auditory or was the mechanism for bilateral stim?
Juliet Kuehnle 41:15
There’s a website that clients can download where light blinks back and forth, and they can follow it. Or sometimes I even have clients kind of self-BLS. It just depends on the level of, yeah, kind of what the presentation is. It’s been great because virtual, I mean, it’s just so much more convenient, as we all know now. So I’m just I’m so glad that things are catching up. And now, I mean, I’m board-certified in telemental health. And so now they’re actual, you know, a lot of ethics and all sorts of things that many therapists are catching up with, which is important too.
Mark Divine 41:45
And I think it’s important to stay here for someone who’s like, I don’t know, if it’s secure or private, the platforms you use are actually certified to be secure. And so you wouldn’t generally do a session over Zoom unless like, all the options failed in which can happen, because there’s always a tech issue here and there, right.
Juliet Kuehnle 42:06
exactly. No, I’m glad you pointed that out. Yeah, very secure. Confidentiality is a big piece of stigma. But you know, so I talked about that a lot in the book, too, like, what our ethics are around all of that, trying to peel back anything that might keep someone from accessing therapy. So it’s one path to wellness, but it’s one I believe, wholeheartedly in, and so I’m glad to talk about it.
Mark Divine 42:27
So, Who You Callin’ Crazy, here do you like people to learn more about the book, and about your work, and your podcast, and etc?
Juliet Kuehnle 42:33
Yeah, thank you. Yeah. So on Instagram@ Yep, I go to therapy, and then WhoYouCallinCrazy.com is all of the Book Information and, and then because I am on a mission, I also have, you know, swag and merchandise and all these things that say, you know, yep, I go to therapy or therapy works and things like that. And that’s all on yep I go to therapy.com.
Mark Divine 42:52
Yep, I go to therapy too.com, hahaha.
Juliet Kuehnle 42:57
I love it. I knew we clicked.
Mark Divine 43:00
Awesome Juliet, I really appreciate you and the work you’re doing and you know, I hope folks you know, find yourself an emotional coach. If you don’t have one. It’s very useful.
Juliet Kuehnle 43:09
Thanks for the conversation today. I appreciate your time.
Mark Divine 43:11
I appreciate you as well. Take care.
Mark Divine 43:15
Such an important conversation to destigmatize therapy. Let’s think of it in terms of having an emotional coach to backup your physical coach and your nutritional counselor. So why not very important stuff and Juliet was an amazing guest. So much great stuff we talked about. Thank you so much Juliet. Shownotes are at my website, Mark Divine.com video will be up on the YouTube channel. You can reach out to me on Twitter at Mark Divine or on Instagram, Facebook at real Mark Divine. If you haven’t subscribed to my newsletter, Divine Inspiration. We bring that out every Tuesday with show notes from the show, a blog that I’ve been working on a practice and a book I’m reading and other interesting things that come across my desk, it’s a great newsletter, go to Mark Divine.com to subscribe and please share with your friends. Thanks so much my incredible team, Catherine Divine, and Jason Sanderson and Geoff Haskell, who helped produce the podcast and newsletter and bring incredible guests like Julia to you every week.
Ratings and reviews are very important and helpful. So if you haven’t done so please consider rating and reviewing wherever you listen to the show. Thanks so much for doing the work, for being the change you want to see in the world. Let’s do it together. Let’s do it at scale. If you’re interested in working with myself or my team, just go to Unbeatable Mind and check out the cool things we’re doing there. And hopefully you can join us in our coach training program or our community. We’re doing the work and we’re making it work at scale. Hopefully, you can join us. till next time. This is Mark Divine, Hooyah.
Transcribed by Catherine and https://otter.ai