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Community Trauma:

Community Trauma:

How the Historical Trauma in your Community affects your Mental Health.

History teaches us about our origins. It gives us the opportunity to understand that we come from somewhere. Our communities of origin gives us a road map to understand who we are. In connection to this, it may also reveal information to better understand our mental health. Indeed, we learn dysfunctional behaviors at home, and then we pass them from one generation to another. Most of these behaviors stem from traumatic experiences that happened to our ancestors in response to events that took place in our communities of origin. Indeed, there is a form of transgenerational trauma called Historical Trauma. This refers to the cumulative emotional wound that an individual or a community as a whole endures in response to a traumatic event. Indeed, there are communities that endured events such as natural disasters, war, slavery, terrorism, persecution, discrimination, or genocide. In response to this type of events, a whole generation can develop a trauma. Later, that affected generations becomes responsible to raise the following generation. Hence, many of us might be affected by Historical Trauma even if we did not experience the event ourselves. For this reason, it can be very helpful for us to understand our origins, and the traumas that our whole community experiences to better understand our mental health. There is a more complex layer to this related to intersectionality of identities. This refers to the study of overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination. Indeed, a person who is simultaneously a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a member of an ethnic minority might have a significant accumulation of historical trauma to address. Intersectionality of identities can encompass race, culture, gender, social class, sexual orientation, religion, physical disability, mental disability, mental illness, and migratory status, just to mention some of them.

Today, it is important to reflect about community trauma because of the social cost that represents. Indeed, abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction stem from trauma. This type of untreated trauma lead to outcomes such as inability build healthy relationships, poor stress management, substance abuse, poverty and homelessness. Poor support at home, leads to lower ability to be resilient.

A year ago, the city of Orlando suffered of a traumatic event that can have effects that can last for generations. Indeed, the tragedy at Pulse affected several communities, and several individuals with intersectional identities. Furthermore, many of the survivors and affected from the tragedy come from communities that already accumulated historical trauma prior to the event. An event of this nature, not only traumatized the LGBTQ+ community, the Latin community, or the LatinX community. It re-traumatized them. As we raise future generations, we are at risk of passing the Historical Trauma to them. Therefore, it is vital to heal as a community. Those who address and treat this trauma, will not only help themselves, but they will protect the future of those who follow.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) regards community trauma and violence as a preventable issue. In this respect, they provide a series of recommendations:

-An emergency-room based violence interruption and retaliatory prevention program.

-A city mural arts programs to bring residents together to simultaneously transform physical space and mindsets and attitudes regarding connecting people across race, age, and neighborhood.

-Law enforcement training on crisis intervention and trauma; districts creating trauma-informed schools and identifying the impact of uneven discipline practices across diverse populations;

-An entire county public health department training their workforce in trauma-informed care;

-Neighborhood and faith-based leadership providing better supports for people re-entering the community from incarceration.

-The use of media and public events to highlight the power of peer support.

As we reached the one year mark of Pulse, Orlando has been seeking to heal as a community, and that is reflected in the events that took place recently in the History Center, outside of Pulse, in Lake Eola, and other locations. However, treating community trauma starts with the individual. We can help our community through our actions, and voluntarisms. Nonetheless, we have to make sure that we are taking care of ourselves first. Please, assess your level of functioning and symptoms before helping. We can only be effective helpers if we take care of our wellness first.






Are You a Candidate for Hair Removal?

I’m so excited to be writing my first blog entry about my profession. For those of you who know me, you know this is something I’m truly passionate about. I love helping people feel better about themselves! For those who don’t, let me tell you a little about myself and why I am passionate about what I do. I am a single mom of 4 amazing sons. One is married and lives in Winter Springs and the other 3 live with me. I haven’t always had a lot of confidence. I have rosacea and have always been extremely self-conscious about my skin. To top it off, I have extremely sensitive skin. We live in such an appearance-driven society, that anything different or out of the ordinary can make you feel like you just don’t belong. I knew I wanted to get into the medical field and choosing a profession where I’m helping people feel better about themselves just seemed like a natural fit for me.

The lasers of today sure have come a long way. You no longer have to have pale skin and dark hair to have a successful laser treatment. Lasers are attracted to melanin, which is contained in all brown and black hair. We can treat all skin colors and ethnicities successfully and safely. For those who have red, blonde, grey or white hair, laser won’t work because those colors don’t contain melanin. There is another option, however. Electrolysis has been around for a long, long time and is what we use to remove hair that the laser cannot. It is needle guided hair removal and is another safe and very effective method of getting rid of unwanted hair.

I always tell my clients to avoid sun exposure one week before and one week after laser treatments because it can cause adverse side effects. There are certain medications which should be avoided when taken in conjunction with laser, so always check with your practitioner before beginning treatments. We will review and go over your medical history before beginning to make sure we discuss any medications which could pose a potential problem.

Whether you’re tired of dealing with unwanted hair or have skin complications from shaving or waxing, you DO have options to help you. I would love to talk to you and help you begin your journey to being hair free!

As A Girl Who Has Always Struggled

As a girl who has always struggled with her own self-esteem issues, this topic is one that is near and dear to my heart. We all have something (or many things) that we are insecure about. Some are easier to deal with or hide than others. One question I get asked often is, “What made you choose to pursue this career?” It’s simple, I love, love, love helping others feel their very best. We can look at someone and see this beautiful person, but if they don’t feel it, then it means nothing of what we think about them. We live in a world where we are judged harshly by what we look like on the outside. Too often, people don’t get a fair shot because assumptions are made by the outward appearance. So what are we to do? Well, there are certain things we cannot control, like height, the size of our hands and feet, etc… But there are plenty of things we can fix. I have so many clients who come to me because they are so self-conscious about the unwanted hair on their faces or bodies. I always tell them, “NO. You are not stuck with that hair and YES I can help you.”

I once had a client who had just moved here from Russia. She had a lot of facial and body hair and was far from happy about it. She brought her husband so he could translate for her. After the initial consultation, she left hopeful that I could help her tackle a lifelong problem that she had been struggling with. When she came in for her second treatment, no translation was needed. The smile on her face told me everything. She walked a little lighter, stood a little taller and had a confidence that she didn’t previously have. It was so heartwarming to see her transformation. When she was finished with her treatments, you would have thought she was a totally different person than the one who first started with me.

I see it every day, but it never ceases to amaze me how much removing hair can affect a person’s self-esteem. Those who don’t struggle with this issue cannot begin to understand the magnitude of what it does to you, and how good you feel about yourself when you have hair removal treatments.

Whether you’re a woman in menopause, a transgender woman, a teenager who is tired of being teased because they’re “too hairy,”or anyone else who doesn’t want to shave anymore…I can help you get to a place where you like what you see in the mirror. Call me to schedule a consultation.


Laser Hair Removal or Electrolysis…which one is right for you?

I have so many clients who come to me saying, “Well I’m not fair skinned with dark hair, so I guess laser just won’t work for me.” Wrong! While the lasers of yesteryear may have been designed to only treat fair skin, the ones of today have come a long, long way. We can successfully (and safely) treat all skin types from 1 (the whitest white) to 6 (the darkest). The only prerequisite to doing laser is that your hair color be brown or black. The laser is attracted to the melanin in the hair, which is contained in brown and black hair. That does not mean if you do not have dark hair, you are stuck sporting that unwanted hair you so desperately want to get rid of. This is where electrolysis comes into the picture. Although it is a longer process because it is a different method of hair removal, electrolysis is extremely effective in destroying it. What about the people who have both light and dark hair? They’re the ones who utilize both methods. We usually start with laser because it destroys 45-60 hairs each time it’s fired, so it’s a very quick process. We then either do laser and electrolysis in tandem, or we finish laser and then begin electrolysis.

Laser destroys the course hairs first and since the finer and thinner hairs are harder to eliminate, electrolysis is sometimes needed to finish clearing an area. They’re both very effective methods of hair removal and work very well together to eliminate unwanted hair.

I can’t tell you how many times people have come to me and said “Oh laser doesn’t work for me. I’ve already tried it and had little/no results.” I always tell them that not all lasers are created equal. I have worked with plenty of lasers that I was not satisfied myself with the results. I can honestly say that our laser has given me the best results out of all the lasers I have used. This is one of the reasons I often offer a spot test during consultations. I love being able to show people that they can get the results they desire. As someone who used to have to shave just about every day, I cannot tell you how nice it is to not have to waste time each morning dealing with that. When I recently had a house guest, she said “do you have a razor I can borrow?” and I actually had to search for one. That’s not a bad problem to have!

I would love to discuss your options with you and how I can help you on your journey to becoming hair free. Call me for a consultation and we can discuss which method is right for you to get you on your way to being hair free!

One of the Main Questions I Get Asked During Consultations

One of the main questions I get asked during consultations is, “Is hair removal permanent?” That’s not a cut and dry answer and there are many factors involved. Women have 3 times in our lives in which we grow hair; puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Remember when our moms told us, “Don’t shave because you’ll make the hair grow”? Well, that’s a fallacy because hair was going to grow regardless of whether we shaved or not. Shaving does not affect what happens at the root of the hair. It just makes it more blunt; therefore, feel more stubbly.

Our hormones were out of whack because so many changes were happening in our bodies, and hair growth was just one of the most obvious ones. With pregnancy, many women grow hair on their face and abdomen that they didn’t previously have. And the dreaded word of menopause not only brings on hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings, but also hair on the face that was never a problem. The last thing any woman wants on her face is hair.

Before beginning hair removal treatments, I always advise my clients to speak to their physicians to make sure their hormones are in check. We can begin treatments at any time, but if your hormones are out of whack, then it’s like shoveling the sidewalk in the middle of a snowstorm. In other words, the root cause of the hair growth needs to be addressed in order to get the best possible result. I’ve done treatments on clients with PCOS and thyroid imbalances and although they’ve gotten good results, optimal results cannot be achieved if what’s causing the unwanted growth is not taken care of first. With transgender women who begin HRT, the success rates of their treatments increase tenfold. The testosterone that is causing the unwanted hair is blocked, and therefore they are able to achieve the desired results of being hair free.

Once hormonal imbalances are corrected, then either electrolysis or laser, or both, have the best possible chance of achieving the optimal results. About 2 years ago, I had a client who came to me with PCOS and had grown a beard as a result. Once she got her hormones in check, she began her laser treatments. After about 6 months, she had very little hair left. What was left was light colored, fine and thin so we used electrolysis to complete the clearing of the area. Now, she is hair free and feels better than ever. She was not only balanced on the inside, but her appearance now reflects that as well. There’s nothing better than seeing people looking and feeling their best!

How to Grieve Correctly

Trauma and loss collided for many in the community as this episode of mass violence unleashing a wave of public emotions ranging from common emotions like anger and sadness; to feelings of numbness, which are often associated with shock and trauma. In the weeks that have followed the Pulse massacre, we have been continually reminded of the fragility of life and as a community, have entered into a collective process of grief.

Collective grief or mass grief is distinct because it stems from a shared circumstance, yet, the experience is completely unique and individualized for each person. As we learned of the 49 innocent lives taken from our community, the process of public mourning began. It quickly began taking the form of 24-hour TV coverage, blood donation lines that wrapped around blocks, the candlelight vigils, the public memorial services, the placement of rainbow flags throughout the community, monetary donations and hashtags spread through social media; all which fostered social connection among people who vitally needed it and helped move the community towards healing.

During collective grief process we experience the emotional and physical symptoms of grief without necessarily having shared a close personal relationship with the deceased. Regardless of our level of connection to the deceased, we are commanded by our hearts and the physical manifestations of grief to remain present and experience the pain associated with the loss in our community.  This process is further complicated because our natural human instinct to empathize and reach for connection also makes us hyperaware of our own mortality and the mortality of our loved ones. This hyperawareness, coupled with the violence surrounding the events of the pulse massacre and the news of other recent acts of violence has evoked a secondary traumatic response for many.

In the weeks since Pulse, I have heard many people expressing their struggle with the idea that that they are not in the right place in their grief process, questioning; what grief is, how they should go about grieving and frequently asking themselves, “Am I grieving correctly?” Then one day, I was reading through my social media feeds and came across a quote from Patton Oswalt, which I believe perfectly described the confusion, longing and loss experienced early in the grief process:

“102 days at the mercy of grief and loss feels like 102 years and you have shit to show for it. You will not be physically healthier. You will not feel ‘wiser.’ You will not have ‘closure.’ You will not have ‘perspective’ or ‘resilience’ or ‘a new sense of self.’ You WILL have solid knowledge of fear, exhaustion and a new appreciation for the randomness and horror of the universe.”

I think it is important for us to accept that grief is a very individualized and personal experience, which happens gradually and should not be hurried. In the wake of Pulse, we must have grace and accept that in order to heal we must be present in our emotions and be patient and kind with ourselves and each other.

Hiv Support

I would like to say that I became involved in HIV care services and advocacy because I was a concerned community member, but that is not the whole truth. The real story is that like most uninformed people, I was terrified of HIV. I was paranoid about contracting the virus (from situations I now know was impossible to contract it from) and would go for HIV testing more than was necessary. When I began volunteering for the GLBT Community Center on Mills Avenue, I learned about their volunteer based HIV counselor program. I was in school for mental health counseling and decided then and there I was going to get educated and overcome this fear. That decision changed my personal and professional life and I am so grateful I took that step from ignorance to knowledge.

I know that there are many others, both HIV positive and HIV negative individuals who are carrying around a great deal of misconceptions about HIV. Our schools fail us by not educating youth about the reality of HIV. It has become a passion of mine to help shed light on the dark corners of this issue. I’d like to talk about two initiatives I am most excited about.

In the summer of 2015, I was the Director of Clinical Services for the GLBT Center and running the HIV/STI/Hep C testing programs. I was alarmed by the number of young gay men (under 30) being diagnosed with HIV at The Center each and every month. There was no break. Every few days we were telling a person in his teens and early twenties that he was HIV positive. Many of these young men were scared. They weren’t out to parents, they didn’t have jobs or health insurance. They worried that no one could love them and they would be alone for the rest of their lives. It was heartbreaking and something needed to be done. I sat down with the mental health counselors at The Center and shared with them my idea of a 6-week support and educational group for young gay/bi men under the age of 30 recently diagnosed with HIV. They were on board and at that moment A.W.A.R.E was born. The acronym, created by Nicole Elinoff, means Achieving Wellness and Reaching Excellence. It perfectly exemplifies what A.W.A.R.E is and has grown to become. Impulse Group Orlando took A.W.A.R.E. under its wing and has been providing much needed support, such as advertising, free transportation to members who need a ride, and an amazing dinner for the participants at the end of each group. Now based out of Two Spirit Health Services, A.W.A.R.E will begin its 5th group on September 12th. This program has changed people’s lives by giving them the hope and knowledge they so desperately need to move forward after a HIV diagnosis. The group is free and a lot of fun. If you or someone you know would like to enroll in the September group, please email me (Lindsay) at

A.W.A.R.E. was definitely a “ah-ha” moment and I had another one like it when I was presenting about HIV to a group of mental health counseling students at Stetson University. At the end of the presentation they asked me where they could go to find all of the information I had presented in one place. I couldn’t answer that question because such a place didn’t exist. There wasn’t a clearing house of information about HIV for mental health clinicians that was specific to our local area. As a result of this problem, I decided to create a website called Red Ribbon Counseling ( for my Capstone project that is a part of my master’s degree. The site features HIV facts, treatment guidelines, information about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and community referrals specifically directed towards mental health clinicians in East Central Florida. If every mental health professional assessed for HIV knowledge with their clients and shared information with them we would have a much better handle on the HIV epidemic. I hope this site empowers clinicians to become HIV advocates in their practices and daily lives.

What I have learned over the last couple of years is that you just never know when an experience is going to transform your life. For me, one of my greatest fears became one of my greatest passions. What about your fears? Take a look. You might be surprised what you find…….



Mindfulness. The word used to make me cringe! As a counselor in training, everywhere I went and every book I opened wanted to tell me that I needed to be more mindful. But what the heck did that mean? Hot yoga? No thanks! Hours of meditation? I’d be lucky if I could get through 5 minutes. It felt like a bunch of academic types who didn’t know what it was like working two jobs, going to school, or living pay check to pay check. This doesn’t apply to my life, I thought. And it won’t to most of my clients. So I actively ignored it.

Little did I know, however, that the real principles behind mindfulness were sinking in without my awareness as a result of my training at Stetson University. I was tolerating stress better. I was more in-tuned with my body. I was happier and healthier. So what was I doing differently?

Firstly, I was exercising. I had made a commitment in the spring of 2014 to begin a consistent exercise routine. I hadn’t had much success with gyms so I decided to try something different. I joined a boot camp where I could go for 30 minutes group sessions. I felt that 30 minutes was something I could fit into my hectic schedule and that my peers and coach would challenge me to maximize my work out. I was right. Not only was I able to stay committed to weekly exercise but for the first time I actually enjoyed working out. I didn’t lose a bunch of weight but after the very first workout I noticed something interesting – I was less stressed and my mind felt more clear. The more I continued to work out the less stressed I felt. Now, when I’m having a tough week, I know that I have that time to sweat off the stress. No, it doesn’t have to be hot yoga. Take a walk around the block. Stroll around the mall. Exercise triggers neurotransmitters, such as endorphins and serotonin, which are associated with feelings of happiness and well being. It’s not just your heart and lungs that are impacted by exercise, it’s your mind as well.

I learned to breathe. Yes, I’ve been breathing for 31 years, but now I am aware of how breathing with intention can lower physical arousal in my body. Air is a life source and when we focus on our breathing amazing things happen – our heart beat slows, tension begins to subside, and we feel calmer. It’s simple and you can literally do it anywhere: the office, your car, a doctor’s waiting room, in bed, on the couch. Sit comfortably with your feet on the ground. Place your hands on your lap or beside you. Close your eyes. Breathe in for 5 counts, hold the breathe for 5 counts, and slowly exhale for 5 counts. Some will say to breathe in, hold, and exhale for longer than 5 counts, but personally I’ve never had much success with that. Do what works for you. Make it a practice to breath intentionally when you are stressed, anxious, or feeling emotionally aroused. Once you get in the habit it will feel like having a therapist in your pocket.

I started cooking dinner and eating with my partner (without the TV on!) A few months ago, my partner and I began cooking a healthy meal three times a week and would sit down at the table to eat together. The TV is off and the phones are put away. This one-on-one time has enhanced our relationship and lowered our collective stress as a couple. We now have the opportunity to talk out our daily stresses and when we do the conversation soon gravitates to our hopes for the future. There are a few ways you can do this without the process of cooking become another stressor. If it works for your budget, meal delivery programs, such as Hello Fresh and Blue Apron, deliver everything you need right to your door. On the weekend, you can plan out a couple of meals and go grocery shopping so the items are in your fridge and ready to go. This works wonders for families as well. You’ll find yourself feeling more connected and less prone to arguments.

I cut out the black and white thinking. I was not either completely perfect or a total failure. Life was no longer absolutely wonderful or completely horrible. Living in the gray space freed me from the prison of absolutist thinking. In the gray space there is nothing but endless possibility. I could mess up and still be an amazing student and employee. I could be frustrated with my community and also in awe of how far we have come. Struggle became an opportunity for growth and disappointments transformed into new dreams. Black and white thinking is toxic and it makes us miserable. Increasing mindfulness enables us to see these unhelpful thinking styles, maybe for the first time. We can then decide if we are going to do something about them. The first step, of course, is awareness.
So much to my surprise, I can now say that I am on the mindfulness bandwagon. It all changed for me when I began to identify and adjust the black and white thinking. There is no right or wrong way to “do mindfulness.” If you are not a tea-drinking yoga guy or gal, that’s ok. Mindfulness isn’t about gym memberships or incense or expensive stuff. It’s about connecting to our own minds and bodies. It’s about realizing that what we are looking for to make our lives happier, healthier, and more peaceful has been inside of us all along.