How to Talk to Your Kids About Divorce

November 15, 2017

Going through a divorce can be one of the most stressful and emotional times in a person’s life. It’s hard enough wrapping your own head around the event, but trying to break the news to your children can be especially difficult. Many parents struggle having this conversation because they worry they may not be able […]

How to Talk to Your Kids About Divorce

Going through a divorce can be one of the most stressful and emotional times in a person’s life. It’s hard enough wrapping your own head around the event, but trying to break the news to your children can be especially difficult.

Many parents struggle having this conversation because they worry they may not be able to keep their emotions in check. They also wonder if shielding their kids from the ensuing pain isn’t the loving thing to do.

Though it may seem like avoiding this conversation is the right idea, it can actually be quite detrimental to your kids and, in the end, cause behavioral or emotional issues. While it will no doubt be difficult and uncomfortable, having an open and honest conversation about your divorce is the best thing to do.

Here are some guidelines:

Have Both Parents Break the News

This might be difficult for some couples, but ideally, a joint conversation with your children is the best option for a few reasons:

  • They’ll get the same message from both of you instead of a he-said, she-said scenario.
  • It shows them that no matter what, when it comes to parenting, you are both committed and on the same page.
  • It instills a sense of security that though family dynamics are changing, there will still be a family structure that you will all create together.

Be Transparent

You may feel uncomfortable during the conversation and want to be… less than honest at times, but it’s important to be completely transparent while speaking with your kids.

First of all, children have a knack for sniffing out dishonesty in adults. Trying to pull one over on them, even if you believe it’s for their own good, may only cause them to feel angry and resentful. Also, if you don’t give kids truthful answers, they will wind up creating their own answers just to quell the anxiety.

Obviously, there may be age-appropriate guidelines to the discussion, and specific language may have to be either included or excluded, but at the end of the day, honesty truly is the best policy.

Discuss Upcoming Changes

When children are told their parents are getting divorced, they can’t conceive of what that means in terms of what life will be like in the future. It’s important that you let them know what they can expect when it comes to things like where they will live and how much time they will have with each parent. If you yourselves don’t have all of those answers yet, then communicate this to your children and let them know you will share this information as soon as you’ve made decisions.

Don’t Push Your Children for a Reaction

Once the news has been broken, many parents want immediate feedback from their kids. But it’s important to remember that children will all process the news differently. Some kids may feel comfortable talking openly about their feelings, while others may struggle. While your intentions may be good, pushing your children to give you a reaction before they are ready to react can be detrimental.

The best thing you can do is to let your children know you love them, and that you are available to them whenever they are ready to share their thoughts and feelings, or if they have more questions.

The divorce process will be difficult for all family members to cope with, and it may be difficult for everyone to communicate effectively when emotions are running high. If you feel you could use some help, it’s a great idea to seek support and guidance from a family therapist. They will be able to facilitate loving and open communication and help your family adjust to the changes that lie ahead.

If you’d like to explore treatment options, please be in touch with me. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families.

How to Tell if You’re a Highly Sensitive Person

November 6, 2017

Some people seem to be born with nerves on the outside of their skin. These people tend to be more sensitive than their parents, brothers and sisters, or the kids in their class. They can’t get through a movie (even a comedy!) or a TV commercial without shedding a few tears. The slightest bit of […]

How to Tell if You’re a Highly Sensitive Person

Some people seem to be born with nerves on the outside of their skin. These people tend to be more sensitive than their parents, brothers and sisters, or the kids in their class. They can’t get through a movie (even a comedy!) or a TV commercial without shedding a few tears. The slightest bit of criticism causes them real pain, and they are empathic to anyone around them.

Chances are these people are told by everyone, “You’re too sensitive!” Well the truth is, some people are more sensitive than others. They are not only sensitive to emotions, but also to energy, sound, light, and other physical stimulus. These people are, literally, called Highly Sensitive People, or HSP for short.

Are You a Highly Sensitive Person?

Do the following characteristics ring true for you?

You’re very emotional

Whether positive or negative, you experience emotions intensely, react strongly to them, and cry easily.

You’re very compassionate and generous

You have always been a natural caretaker, seeking to offer comfort and help to those who suffer. You also go out of your way to avoid offending anyone or hurting their feelings.

You’re sensitive to criticism

Criticism doesn’t feel constructive so much as it feels personal and painful. You are not able to let it roll off your shoulders as others do, and therefore allow criticism to keep you safe in your comfort zone.

You feel different from everyone else and sometimes alone

You’ve always known, or had it pointed out to you, that you were somehow different from everyone else. Because other people have told you that you need to “toughen up,” you see your sensitivity as a weakness and often feel alone.

You’re sensitive to external stimuli

While no one else around you seems to notice that the buzz of the overhead lights is driving you nuts! As is the sound of your coworkers chewing, the rough fabric of your shirt and the smell of the extravagant flower arrangement.

You overthink and worry

You notice every detail and overthink what should be a simple decision, like where to go for lunch. You also get stuck in the rehashing and what-if rut.

You’re intuitive

You walk into a room and instantly get a “feel” for it. You know how people are feeling. This is fine when the energy is positive, but when it’s negative… watch out!

You’re often tired and overwhelmed

Because you deal with the emotions of yours and others, as well as so much stimulation all day-every day, you easily become overwhelmed by all of it and feel as though you need to sleep more.

What You Can Do

Living life as an HSP is not easy, but there are some things you can do:

  • See your sensitivity as a positive, not a negative
  • Remind yourself there is nothing wrong with you and you are not alone
  • Avoid negative people, places and situations
  • Set boundaries with people who take advantage of your compassion
  • Learn to relax through exercise and meditation
  • Give yourself the same sympathy and kindness as you do others

If at any time you find yourself feeling depressed or anxious because of your sensitivity, it’s important that you seek the guidance of a therapist who can help you manage your emotions.

If you or a loved one are an HSP and would like to seek treatment options, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families.

Why People Misunderstand Anxiety

October 19, 2017

Did you ever play the game called “telephone” growing up? One kid whispered a secret message into the ear of the kid next to him. That kid then whispered the “same” message into the ear of the kid next to her. On and on each kid would whisper the message around the circle until you […]

Why People Misunderstand Anxiety

Did you ever play the game called “telephone” growing up? One kid whispered a secret message into the ear of the kid next to him. That kid then whispered the “same” message into the ear of the kid next to her. On and on each kid would whisper the message around the circle until you came to the last kid, who would then announce the secret message aloud.

Often the final message sounded nothing like the original message. That’s because every person has their own way of hearing and sharing information. Sometimes it’s accurate – sometimes it’s not.

In this way, you could say that language is a necessary evil. Without it we would not be able to share ideas and information with each other. But when each person has their own language filters, information can become skewed.

Personal information and language filters can make discussing and understanding anxiety disorders difficult. While we all experience anxious moments from time to time, 18% of adults in the United States are actually affected by a form of anxiety disorder.

But how many times have you heard a friend or a coworker say something like, “I was totally having a panic attack yesterday when you didn’t show up!” They weren’t actually having a panic attack, they were merely concerned you were late.

When everyone assumes they have an issue with anxiety, they believe they have first-hand experience of the disorder and therefor know what it is. But using certain language that may or may not be accurate to convey a common feeling (ie – being nervous before a job interview) is not the same thing as truly knowing something.

Panic Disorder VS Social Anxiety

There are two main types of anxiety disorder and for this discussion, it’s important to make the distinction between each.

Panic Disorder

People who have been diagnosed with and suffer from panic disorder believe very strongly that the “panic attacks” they experience mean something is physically very wrong with them. For instance, many sufferers believe they are having a heart attack. Some may believe the dizziness and shortness of breath is a result of some serious and undiagnosed illness such as a brain tumor.

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

People with social anxiety disorder experience anxiety when faced with social situations. They do not believe their anxiety is related to an illness or disease, yet have little control over their fear of social interactions. Their anxiety becomes debilitating when the person feels they may be singled out, embarrassed or ridiculed.

People who suffer from social anxiety disorder will do anything to alleviate their fear. This means decreasing the amount of social interactions they have on a daily basis as much as possible. This disorder negatively impacts the person’s ability to emotionally connect with others, and holds them back in their career and academic life.

Because of language discrepancies, those who don’t have an anxiety disorder sometimes believe they do, while those that do may assume they don’t.

The main point to get across here is this:

It is normal to feel anxious, fearful and worried from time to time. But feeling anxiety on a daily basis, to the point where you are concerned for your physical health or are compromising your career and personal relationships is not normal.

Anxiety Disorders Are Treatable

No one should have to live with a debilitating anxiety disorder. The good news is, anxiety disorders are treatable. A therapist can help to uncover the root cause of the fear and provide tools and strategies to cope.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families.

5 Reasons Why Parents Don’t Discuss Child Sexual Abuse

October 10, 2017

According to the US Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused by the time they are 18, and 44% of rape victims are under age 18. Sadly, but not surprisingly, victims of sexual assault are three times more likely to suffer from depression, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, […]

5 Reasons Why Parents Don’t Discuss Child Sexual Abuse

According to the US Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused by the time they are 18, and 44% of rape victims are under age 18. Sadly, but not surprisingly, victims of sexual assault are three times more likely to suffer from depression, 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol, 26 times more likely to abuse drugs, and four times more likely to contemplate suicide according to the Rape and Incest National Network (RAINN).

Recognizing the real threat of sexual abuse against children is only half the battle. Talking to children about it is necessary to keep them safe. Unfortunately, many parents, particularly those of little children, have a hard time speaking to their kids about sexual abuse.

Here are some of the top reasons parents don’t discuss sexual abuse with their children:

  1. Child Sexual Abuse Doesn’t Happen in My Community

Wrong. Child sexual abuse happens everywhere, from big cities to small farming communities and everywhere in between. No matter your location, religion, race, or yearly income, your life can be affected by it.

  1. Our Children Know Better Than to Talk to Strangers

Sadly, 93% of all child sexual abuse happens at the hands of someone the child knows and trusts. Parents who teach only stranger danger are doing a disservice to their child.

  1. My Child is Too Young to Handle This Discussion

You may be surprised to learn that the appropriate age to begin discussing the topic of child sexual abuse prevention is when a child is three years old. You can teach your young child about appropriate and inappropriate touch by saying something like, “Did you know that the parts of your body covered by your bathing suit are private and are for no-one else to see or touch?” Be sure to include any exceptions to this rule for potty training, hygiene and doctors’ visits. Also, explain that if someone does give them the “bad kind of touch,” that they are to tell Mommy or Daddy or their teacher.

  1. I Don’t Want to Frighten My Child

You most likely don’t refrain from teaching your child about traffic safety for fear that your child will be scared to cross the street. Teaching body safety is equally important and, if done properly, can empower children.

  1. My Child Would Come to Me if Something Ever Happened

Most children don’t immediately tell their parents. Typically, the perpetrator convinces them that the act is “their little secret” or that their parents will be angry with them. Be sure to tell your children that you would never ever be angry at them and they should come to you immediately if they ever became a victim of sexual abuse.

Children who have been the victim of sexual assault will require love and support. Parents of victims should consider seeking the guidance of a trained therapist who can help the child communicate facts and handle feelings.

If you or someone you know is a parent of a child who has been sexually abused and is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families.

Sleep as a New Mom: 4 Strategies to Restful, Restorative Sleep

September 20, 2017

Life before the baby came was so different. You were cleaner. You ate out more often. And the hours and hours of sleep you used to take for granted! If you’ve recently had a baby and are having a hard time getting enough rest each night, you’re not alone. According to a study by PLOSone, new […]

Sleep as a New Mom: 4 Strategies to Restful, Restorative Sleep

Life before the baby came was so different. You were cleaner. You ate out more often. And the hours and hours of sleep you used to take for granted!

If you’ve recently had a baby and are having a hard time getting enough rest each night, you’re not alone. According to a study by PLOSone, new parents, particularly new mothers who are breastfeeding, are often sleep-deprived. And this deprivation can last for a long time, with mothers registering “medically-significant levels of sleepiness” even after 18 weeks.

Besides having nightly sleep cycles interrupted with feedings every 2 – 4 hours (or 1-2 hours!), new mothers also experience a combination of euphoria and nervous energy, which can also keep them awake all night long.

The result?

They are zombies the next day – zombies who are still expected to take care of their newborns while working an outside the home job, or being a full-time mother and also expected to clean, go grocery shopping, etc.

But sleep deprivation can be very dangerous. According to a study conducted by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, people who sleep less than five hours per day are four to five times more likely to be involved in a sleep-related crash. This is because a lack of sleep hinders our physical coordination and reaction times as well as our ability to focus.

If you’re a new mother who would give her front teeth to get more sleep each day, here are 4 helpful strategies:

  1. Lie Down, Even If You Can’t Sleep

Sometimes, just getting off your feet for half an hour is enough to help your body relax and rejuvenate. Don’t stress if you can’t fall asleep, simply lie there and let your body relax.

Diana Lynn Barnes, president of Postpartum Health International, tells new mothers, “Get off your feet, relax on the couch, and stay off the phone.”

  1. Get Some Help with Those Nighttime Feedings

One of the best ways to get a solid stretch of sleep is to get help from your husband, partner, in-law, friend, anyone who is willing to take on those nighttime feedings. It will be easier to hand over this job if you’re bottle-feeding, but even if you’re breastfeeding, you can pump so that someone else may feed the little one during the nighttime hours.

Or make things even easier on yourself by having your partner get the baby and bring your little one to you in your bed, and return your angel to their crib. That way you are at least partially sharing in the duties of nighttime feedings.

  1. Don’t Partake in Counterproductive Activities

It’s important that new mothers don’t unnecessarily sabotage their own efforts to get sleep. For instance, though it may be tempting to chug down a mug (or three) of coffee in the morning, overdoing it tends to mask your need for sleep and can actually prevent you from taking those much-needed cat naps when the baby is sleeping. It’s also worth mentioning that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that nursing moms try to limit their caffeine consumption to one cup a day. That’s one small cup, not one vente latte.

Also, after a hard day of being a new mom, many women sit down in front of the TV or computer to unwind, but the light that is emitted from these devices is stimulating and typically keeps us awake and alert. It’s much better to take a warm bath, get into bed, read a physical book or magazine, and drift off to sleep.

  1. Realize Sleepless Nights Won’t Last Forever

Sometimes just the stress of what you’re going through is enough to keep you awake. Though being a mother to a newborn can be likened to a sweet form of torture, it won’t last forever. Remind yourself of this every chance you get.

As a new mother, it’s natural to be scared and worried about this new and significantly important role in your life. If you find that what’s keeping you up many nights are the overwhelming emotions you are experiencing as a new mother, talking with someone can help. If you’d like to explore therapy, please give me a call, and let’s discuss how I may be able to help.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families.

How To Lessen Your Teen’s Back-to-School Stress

September 10, 2017

It’s almost fall, which means store shelves are stocked with low-priced notebooks and markers and glue, et al. Soon the familiar brake hiss of school buses will be heard in neighborhoods across the country as kids head back to school. While some kids begrudge alarm clocks and mountains of homework, they still look forward to […]

How To Lessen Your Teen’s Back-to-School Stress

It’s almost fall, which means store shelves are stocked with low-priced notebooks and markers and glue, et al. Soon the familiar brake hiss of school buses will be heard in neighborhoods across the country as kids head back to school.

While some kids begrudge alarm clocks and mountains of homework, they still look forward to school; to enjoying friendships and new activities. Some children, however, have a real fear of going back to school. They worry about potential bullying or even violence at school. Some have trouble coping with social pressure, while others feel overwhelmed at what they will be expected to learn.

If your child is feeling stressed at the thought of going back to school, here are some ways you can help:

Ask Them What’s on Their Mind

Some kids might voluntarily share any worries they have about going back to school, but many won’t. If your child is keeping mum, ask them how they’re feeling about school starting up again.

Older kids and teenagers often shut down when questioned about, well, anything really. So try to make a leading statement like, “Seeing your friends every day will be cool. But I’m guessing there is stuff that you might not be looking forward to…” Then wait for a response.

If they don’t respond, try again the next day. Eventually, they will open up to you, and when they do, the important thing is not to say the exact right thing but to simply listen, show interest and concern, and never judge.

Get Them Involved

To some children, summer means a taste of freedom, of making choices for themselves, while school means little or no autonomy. To help counter this feeling, get your kids involved in decision-making at the very beginning.

Hold a “going back to school” family meeting, and make sure there are no media distractions like smartphones or TV on in the background. Discuss the year ahead, plan and set schedules for meals, homework, sports, school activities, and bedtime. Write these plans down and stick a copy on the fridge.

Talk About Bullying

Kids of all ages worry about bullying, so it’s important to bring up the topic. You could make a simple statement, something like, “Bullying is really common and it’s never OK, nor is it the victim’s fault when it happens. If anything happens to you or you see it happen to someone you know, I want you to tell me about it. We can make a plan together of how to handle it.”

Then there are those children who worry about starting school because they have issues with anxiety and depression. These children need help from a professional therapist who can uncover where the issues are coming from and offer tools and resources for coping in the real world.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families.

8 Techniques to help Kids with Separation and School Anxiety (3 Minute read)

September 1, 2017

Anxiety over school and separation from parents is very normal for children. But sometimes normal becomes abnormal when children’s anxiety affects their emotional functioning at school, home or day care. Kids can get anxious over getting up early, what dress to wear, fear of being in a new school setting, doing homework after school, and […]

8 Techniques to help Kids with Separation and School Anxiety (3 Minute read)

Anxiety over school and separation from parents is very normal for children. But sometimes normal becomes abnormal when children’s anxiety affects their emotional functioning at school, home or day care. Kids can get anxious over getting up early, what dress to wear, fear of being in a new school setting, doing homework after school, and separation from parents. Some common symptoms your child may be expressing are

  • Sleepless nights
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Stomachaches
  • Throwing tantrums

As a parent, these may trigger some of your feelings too. You might feel confused, fearful, angry, and other inexpressible feelings. Most parents think, “What can I do to fix this?”.

Some people don’t believe in Back to School Blues but it does exist. Back-to-school blues can stem from many different fears. It’s usually

  • the fear of the unknown (e.g. not knowing what teacher you’ll have or what kids will be in your class) or
  • the fear of the known (e.g. knowing that it’s going to be a hard year or knowing that the expectations are higher).

The following 8 simple techniques will help your kid overcome these struggles.

  1. Connect with your kids. Help children explain their feelings of fears and validate them by acknowledging and embracing your child’s feelings. Once you’ve listened, reflect this back to them so that they feel heard and connected.
  2. Encourage your child to share his/her fears.  Ask your child what is making him/her worried. Tell your child that it is normal to have concerns. Before or/and during the first few weeks of school, set up a regular time and place to talk. Some children feel most comfortable in a private space with your undivided attention (e.g. in bed). Other children, welcome some sort of distraction to cut through the tension of their worries and feelings (e.g. a ride in the car).
  3. Create a predictable routine. Plan a routine for the kids like a consistent waking up time, what clothing to wear, breakfast time and consistent night time routine for the kids every day. Include the kids in this planning, so they take ownership of their actions and their anxiety over the unpredictability will be reduced.
  4. Do an orientation for the kids before school starts. Taking the kids to school, introducing him or her to the class teacher, show her desk and reviewing the class schedules ahead might help the child reduce the fear of the unknown.
  5. Reduce anxiety due to last school year struggles. If last year wasn’t a good year for your child, try to think what went wrong so that you can help your child improve this year. Some examples to consider as improvements this year are (a) Have a relaxed schedule (b) Coaching her on social skills to make new friends, (c) Plan of how to respond when being bullied, (d) Structuring a homework time to reduce homework stress.
  6. Create a goodbye ritual or give a transition object. To ease the child with transition consider creating a consistent goodbye ritual like a hug, a kiss, a comforting phrase, or consider giving them a transition object that is private to both of you. I highly recommend the “The kissing Hand” book for kids who struggle with Separation anxiety.
  7. Focus on the Positives. Focusing on the positives of the school can ease the anxiety and uplift mood. Some suggestions are (a) meeting new friends, (b) having new school supplies, (c) validating their courage over their efforts of going to school despite their anxiety.
  8. Parents, leave some “Self – Care” time for you (even if it’s only a few minutes). Dealing with your child’s anxiety can be overwhelming and helpless. Take a break, it doesn’t have to be long – go outside, talk to a loved one about your day, listen to music, read a few chapters in a book, eat a snack; do anything to help you calm down and balanced to help your child cope with his/her anxiety.

If these techniques do not reduce the anxiety for your child don’t wait to talk to a counselor or a trained professional. As a trained mental health professional in child psychotherapy, I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families.

How to Begin Healing After Personal Trauma

August 23, 2017

No one is ever prepared for a tragedy. In fact, most of us go through our lives believing that tragedies happen to other people. When people do experience a distressing or life-threatening event, such as a car accident, natural disaster, or terrorist attack, they often develop extreme anxiety or PTSD. Many develop ongoing problems with their personal relationships and their […]

How to Begin Healing After Personal Trauma

No one is ever prepared for a tragedy. In fact, most of us go through our lives believing that tragedies happen to other people.

When people do experience a distressing or life-threatening event, such as a car accident, natural disaster, or terrorist attack, they often develop extreme anxiety or PTSD. Many develop ongoing problems with their personal relationships and their own self-esteem.

Everyone deals with trauma in their own way. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to respond to a tragic or terrifying event. Don’t let anyone, not even yourself, tell you that you should respond in a certain way.

Having said that, there are steps you can take to begin to heal and regain control of your life.

Accept Your Feelings

Ignoring your feelings of fear, shock, rage, terror, confusion, or guilt will only slow your recovery. In the moment, you may feel you must avoid your emotions. But, whether you accept or push them away, your feelings are real, and feeling them is necessary for healing. The good news is, even intense feelings will pass if you simply allow yourself to feel them.

Reframe Your Identity

After experiencing a traumatic event, it is common to feel helpless and out of control. To fully recover from the event, it is important that you eventually reframe your identity and challenge your feelings of helplessness. You can do this by taking action. Being proactive – even in small ways – will help you overcome feelings of fear and helplessness.

Consider volunteering for a cause that’s important to you. If that is too much of a time commitment, you could simply focus on helping a friend or neighbor. This will help you feel more powerful and in control of your environment.

Reach Out to Others

It is common for people to want to withdraw from loved ones and social activities following a tragic event, but connecting with others is necessary for recovery. Though you may not feel up to taking part in huge gatherings like you once did, a simple face to face conversation with a close friend or relative can trigger hormones that relieve stress.

You needn’t talk about the event with your loved ones, just simply spending time with them will help you feel more “normal.” Of course, if you feel like you need to talk about your feelings, reach out to those you know love and support you. You may also want to look into support groups in your local area so you can be around others who know what you are going through.

And finally, you may want to consider seeking guidance from a professional therapist who is trained in helping people who have experienced a traumatic event. They can help you navigate your emotions as well as give you tools to get back on your feet.

If you have experienced a traumatic event and feel you could use some guidance on your journey back toward peace and joy, please get in touch with me. You don’t have to suffer with your burden alone.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families.

Why Timing is Everything When it Comes to Marriage Counseling

August 2, 2017

Seeking help from a marriage counselor is not unlike seeking help from a mechanic. It makes little sense to take your car into the shop a month after it started making a horrific noise. By that time, too much damage may have been done and your engine may be beyond repair. By the same token, the effectiveness […]

Why Timing is Everything When it Comes to Marriage Counseling

Seeking help from a marriage counselor is not unlike seeking help from a mechanic. It makes little sense to take your car into the shop a month after it started making a horrific noise. By that time, too much damage may have been done and your engine may be beyond repair.

By the same token, the effectiveness of marriage counseling is directly related not only to the willingness and motivation of both parties to put in the effort, but also to the timing. The time to consider marriage counseling is not when one (or both) people have already thrown in the towel.

For instance, in some relationships, when one or both partners have already decided to end the marriage, they may use counseling as a “safe space” to drop the news on their spouse. This is obviously not the best timing to attempt counseling.

Sometimes issues are too ingrained and longstanding for counseling to be truly effective. If a couple has been building up resentment toward one another for five or more years before seeking help, it may be too late. While counseling is a wonderful way to help couples reconnect and heal, it is not a miracle cure.

When and How Marriage Counseling Can Help

It’s important that both individuals truly want the relationship to work. When both parties are willing to invest time and energy, marriage counseling can be the catalyst for real and lasting change.

It is also important that couples choose a therapist who’s a good fit. Both spouses must feel comfortable with the therapist for any progress to be made.

So, how exactly can marriage counseling help? In a number of ways:

  • Counselors help couples identify toxic behavioral patterns and give them tools to make adjustments.
  • Each partner can gain new insights and perspective into the relationship.
  • Tools help couples resolve conflicts with grace and respect so escalation can be avoided.
  • Partners can begin to build trust and improve communication.

If you and your spouse decide to try marriage counseling, here are some tips for success:

  • Take it seriously. Commit to the work and do it.
  • Be open. If you’ve chosen the right therapist, you should feel free and safe to discuss your true feelings and needs. Don’t hold back. In order for therapy to work, both people have to have the courage to be vulnerable.
  • Avoid the blame game. Each person must take responsibility for their part.
  • Be realistic about how long it will take before real change begins. While you can begin using tools immediately, healing won’t happen overnight.


If you and your partner are experiencing marital problems, don’t wait to get help. The sooner you do, the more likely your issues can be resolved. If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families.

5 Amazing Outcomes that Can Come from Family Therapy

July 15, 2017

Many people wish they could belong to a family that resembles the Brady Bunch. But the truth is, most of us belong to families that are not nearly as perfect or copacetic. Families are as complicated as the individuals who make them up. Though each family is entirely unique, all can benefit from family therapy. […]

5 Amazing Outcomes that Can Come from Family Therapy

Many people wish they could belong to a family that resembles the Brady Bunch. But the truth is, most of us belong to families that are not nearly as perfect or copacetic.

Families are as complicated as the individuals who make them up. Though each family is entirely unique, all can benefit from family therapy. Counseling can help family members improve communication and resolve conflicts.

Here are 5 amazing outcomes that can come from family therapy.

1. Surviving Those Teenage Years

It has been said that parents face the most challenges during the toddler and teenage years. That’s probably because teenagers often act like toddlers. While teenage angst is common and normal, many teenagers struggle with anxiety, huge mood swings, and other mental health issues. Family therapy helps parents and children not feel alone and assists them in communicating feelings and expectations.

With this in mind, it’s a great idea to connect with a good therapist during the pre-teen years so a relationship can be built and nurtured. That way as difficult situations arise in later years, you have someone you know and trust who can help you.

2. Gain Important Skills and Tools

It would be so much easier to be a parent if the job came with some kind of training manual. Since it doesn’t, many parents, who perhaps didn’t have the best examples given to them by their own parents, struggle to raise their children the right way.

Parenting can be much less daunting and more fun when you have the right skills and tools at your disposal. For instance, learning positive ways to communicate with your child, constructive ways to discipline, and how to avoid power struggles.

While it can be helpful to speak with supportive friends and look for advice within the pages of books and magazines, there is something uniquely beneficial to family therapy.

3. All Families Can Benefit

Many people assume they have to be in a full-blown crisis before they should seek counseling, but this is simply not true. All families can benefit from family therapy. This is because in therapy, everyone gets a chance to be heard. And any problems, whether big or small, can be dealt with in a productive way.

Family therapy offers tremendous benefits, including:

  1. Better understanding of healthy boundaries, family patterns and dynamics
  2. Enhanced communication
  3. Improved problem solving
  4. Deeper empathy
  5. Reduced conflict and better anger management skills

4. Cultivate Self-Worth


Very often it is our own lack of self-worth that causes us to treat the people we love badly. Family counseling cultivates self-worth for all members of the family and, as a result, intimacy and compassion are cultivated as well.

5. You Learn How to Deal with Anger

Very few people know how to deal with their anger and temper, and as a result, we lash out at our family members and sometimes say things we can never take back. Therapy allows for calm and guided discussion where feelings of anger can be explored in healthy ways.

A family that is in constant conflict is unhealthy and needs help. If you are aware of a potential problem in your family, or are simply looking for a way to communicate and connect, family therapy may be an excellent option to consider.

If you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today. I would be happy to speak with you about how I may be able to help.


Harini Sukumaran is a Qualified Mental Health Professional and certified Ayurvedic Physician who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. Her passion also includes helping Women suffering from trauma, depression, anxiety and Pregnancy/Postpartum mood disorders. She received her Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology and Master’s in Marriage, Couple’s and Family Counseling with special concentration in Children (Play Therapy), Women and Families.