Dr. Rachel is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Love Alchemist, Conscious Communication Expert and Spiritual Mentor. She also happens to be our new go-to-gal when it comes to all of our unanswered questions.
For well over a decade, Dr. Rachel has been supporting people to deepen and sharpen their ability to live happily. She helps eliminate self-doubt, enrich communication, and set healthy boundaries. In addition to the many years spent in clinical training, she’s also explored Eastern and Spiritual approaches to healing with interests far exceeding Meditation, Energetic Release, Nonduality, and Buddhist Psychology.
You can imagine how thrilled we were when she said YES to becoming our FIRST Clinical Psychologist at Mental Movement Magazine! Dr. Rachel will be debuting her clinical column, ‘Real Talk with Dr. Rachel’ in our next print edition, answering and exploring some of the questions you really want answers to!
But before we get down to asking her every burning question under the sun, we thought we’d get to know her a little better and ask her some questions of our own…
Dr. Rachel, it’s so great to welcome you on board our little team, thank you for joining us! Let’s start with, what your journey to becoming a clinical psychologist looked like?
Dr. Rachel: Becoming a clinical psychologist has felt like an undeniable calling. It’s likely something that has been an implicit part of who I’ve always been from an early age, and the pursuit became increasingly undeniable the more I connected to my interests, took risks, and followed what I was being called to do.
Although I initially started off in college as a theatre major, I switched to psychology realizing it would likely yield me more opportunity in career. I was always just fascinated by people and dynamics. I was a shy kid and was always observing, and I’ve always been sensitive and empathic. My mom emphasized the power an educated woman has, and so higher education was a deeply held value in my family and one that I felt proud to be able to connect to and experience.
My work means everything to me, and I feel fortunate to have the passion and purpose that being a psychologist provides me with.
What fascinates you the most about what you do?
Dr. Rachel: I’m enthralled by the depths of the psyche, and the ways in which the interwoven realities of life contribute to our internal experiences. We have so much alive within us; our internal landscapes are staggering.
I’m fascinated by the ways our early experiences contribute to the ways we learn to defend ourselves. There is great power in the healing work to strip ourselves of the wounds that have been built up. There’s an incredible interplay between biology, environment, genetics, ancestry, astrology, psychology, culture, society, race, and systems that contribute to the acquisition of identity. I’m endlessly interested in deconstructing and understanding this.
Our internal worlds are alive, and my curiosity targets how we navigate that, evolve as a species, and how psychology (among a ton of other significant healing modalities) contributes to a strengthened place of love, regulation, and safety of self and with other.
I’ll never stop learning. My hunger for more knowledge about the intricacies and depth of the human condition is insatiable.
What three pieces of advice could you lend to someone struggling with their mental health but unable to tap into services that might help them?
Find places, spaces, people, and experiences that help you feel safe and understood. Support is imperative for us all, and no one can overcome anything without help. There are an array of free resources accessible across the world, especially with the ever-emerging age of free online content through social media. I encourage anyone struggling to reach out and find support; it’s out there. No one should expect themselves to cope with barriers to mental health alone because, the truth is, it can’t be done without support, guidance, and help.
Get up and out. I know it can feel hard especially if you feel worthless and the world has been a threatening scary place to you. The only way to heal wounds and recover is to reconnect to the parts of yourself and the world that are pure, safe, welcoming, and kind. Staying isolated, holed up at home is fertile ground for a worsened internal state. Isolation and social withdrawal are repellant for mental health. Nature, walking/exercising, connecting to others who are supportive will help you come to life. It’s okay if it feels scary. It’s worth doing. Courage over comfort, always. Start small (a brief walk around the neighbourhood, a text to a friend saying hello, a tea at the local coffee shop) and go from there. One step at a time.
Take hold of what you can control, let go of what you can’t. You can control what you consume (in terms of diet, social media content, television programming, social interactions). You can control if you commit to a gratitude practice, journaling, and any other behaviour that will help you live aligned with your deepest held values. Find power in that. Let go of everything else that life and the universe are in charge of. It’s wasted energy fretting and dwelling; radical acceptance of that which you can’t control, and letting go of those things elicits true liberation. In that space, mental health thrives.
One extra for good luck: self-compassion! Always, often, daily, with diligent commitment.
How might you help someone connect to their own discovery of self?
Dr. Rachel: It starts with a willingness to be better. You have to be open to understanding yourself with curious compassionate confrontation. In my work, I help people more closely and compassionately critically examine their deeply held beliefs that are self-limiting, untrue, or a result of trauma, societal programming, or familial expectations that are misaligned with who the person really is. It’s a delicate process composed of patient persistence and healing from ways people unconsciously operate in their lives. I guide people I work with in treatment towards looking with a closer eye at the patterns, narratives, and self-defeating behaviours that keep them stuck in themselves, their relationships, and lives overall.
Self-discovery is an expansive process that requires someone’s willingness to ask the hard questions, admit fears, confront pains, expose shames, and offer unconditional nurturance, context, and understanding to why and how those internal realities have been running the show for as long as they have.
I incorporate Buddhist psychology, evidence-based cognitive and behavioural interventions, spiritual connection and advancement, and risk-taking to experiment with where true authenticity lives within them and how to embody that across all meaningful aspects of their lives.
Have you ever experienced symptoms relating to poor mental health like anxiety or depression? How has this informed the work you do?
Dr. Rachel: I have experienced mental, emotional, and behavioural health challenges, certainly. I don’t think there’s one among us who escapes the need to figure out how to be human. My work is so significantly influenced and inspired by my own path to healing.
I’ve worked diligently to explore, understand, and heal intergenerational, ancestral, familial, and personal trauma, grief, anxiety, aggression and defensiveness, insecurity, and disordered eating.
I’ve been in my own personal therapy for the past almost 3 years. I see my amazingly skilled and supportive in-person therapist biweekly, and I connect to an incredibly adept and wise teletherapist Monday-Friday via the Talkspace platform. It is certain that without my dynamic therapeutic duo, I would not be at the place I am in my healing journey. They’ve been an awe-inspiring source of support and space for transformation. I also connect to healing through kundalini yoga, acupuncture, meditation and regularly participating in sanghas (local spiritual communities).
I’ve rid myself of most toxins, learned how to stay emotionally regulated, let go of unavailable men, expressed my true vulnerability, and have found my communities that feel like home. I’m not perfect; none of us are. My healing has been in accepting myself fully for all of the ways in which I’m imperfect and struggle, and offering myself compassion in the face of that, and staying committed to not betraying or abandoning myself. That’s true perfection; the commitment to self in the face of struggles and errs.
Healing is an incredible, deeply meaningful journey and one that I’m proud to know intimately.
Do you believe in the power of the universe or does that go against the theoretical framework of clinical psychology?
Dr. Rachel: I’ve always been connected to and aware of the power of the universe. I love metaphysics and all things related to consciousness, which I think is where recognition of the universe lives. There are undeniable elements inherent in the fact that we live in orbit, as part of a far grander reality. The universe is objectively true, and I’m connected strongly to principles that reinforce the veracity of its power. I believe in both spirit and science, and don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive.
Ultimately, I think it’s naive and arrogant to think that we are operating independent of the cosmos or the universe which inhabits us. I’m excited to be able to incorporate spiritual principles and the science of the universe into my clinical practice. My experience is that it enhances the work, provides a richer context for people’s struggles, and helps connect those I work with to the things in life that really matter the most, instead of getting lost in the minutia of the details.
That being said, I meet people where they are. So if someone doesn’t connect to the spirit or the universe, I don’t impose it. The work I do with people is about entering their world and connecting them to what my impression is will most help them achieve a state of enhanced wellness.
We heard you have some life hacks for finding inner peace – do share!
Dr. Rachel: My top tried-and-true hacks for inner peace:
Give and feel gratitude.
Eat clean, whole foods.
Take stock of what matters, let go of the rest.
Loving-kindness towards self and others (compassion practice).
Don’t take it personally.
Build awareness of self.
Connect to communities that feel like home.
Courage over comfort.
Embrace it all.
Give yourself a break. You’re doing the best you can.
If you want to read a more fuller description of each, check out my full blog here.
What’s the most important thing you’ve ever learned about yourself?
Dr. Rachel: I’ve learned that I’m beautiful, worthwhile, inherently capable and whole because of and in spite of all of the things that are hard, painful, and shameful. I’ve learned that I’m only human and that it’s okay to be that fully. I’ve learned how to soften my edges and allow myself to be seen and expose my vulnerability knowing it makes me real. I’ve learned how to nurture my difficult emotions and provide safe space to express all of what I go through without shielding myself from any of it. This has cleared the path for true transformation. I’ve learned that my strength lies in my ability to cultivate resilience and also allow myself to falter, feel, and slow down enough to be with myself. It is through that process that I embody my true beauty and come from an unwavering place of love towards myself and others.
I’ve learned I always have myself and in that there is boundless safety, trust, and love.
We are really excited about your Real Talk with Dr Rachel column in our next magazine! Our readers are excited to ask you some important questions. What sort of areas are you hoping to help people in? What can you offer our readers?
Dr. Rachel: I hope to help people delve deep into all elements of being a human. This includes developing healthier more friendly relationships to body (diet, exercise, acceptance, image), mind (meditation, awareness, narratives, automatic unhelpful thoughts), spirit (consciousness, synchronicity, manifestation), community (connecting to others), authenticity, relationships (communication, getting needs met, dating, building intimacy, finding the right partner), and everything else that can make being a human hard and wonderful.
I offer real and raw practical guidance for modern-day challenges in an effort to facilitate healing and enhance vitality. I can help readers lived more aligned with their truest values, connect to the power of intention, and take bold and brave committed action in an effort to live a life that is rich, full of love and all of the things that make the journey grand.
Could you leave us with an inspiring quote?
“Surrender as deeply as you can to mystery.
To a mystery, you’ll never understand.
Continue whether you believe in it or not.
Open yourself however badly you feel.
And over time, and it will take time, and you’ll have to be brave
And you’ll have to be strong,
And you’ll have to have in there-
Something that you never imagined
And cannot imagine now,
Will become as clear to you as a pebble in your hand
And you’ll be amazed.
And you’ll be heartened
And you’ll be transformed.
Ask Dr Rachel! Would you like to ask Dr. Rachel something? Need help, an insight or deeper understanding of a situation you might be struggling with? Email us your questions with the subject header “Ask Dr. Rachel” and you could find your question, with Dr. Rachels answer in our next print edition. Email now firstname.lastname@example.org