For me, travel is a time to slow down, to reflect, and usually to read a good book or two. In a recent holiday to the Croatian coast, I found myself with a few extra hours to spare as I sailed towards my destination via ferry boat. In my bag I had plenty to explore – books, magazines, downloaded podcasts. I decided I was in the mood for a light read and chose a magazine.
I dove into my Yoga Journal and came across an article entitled Quantum Leap – A Guide to Navigating True Transformation. Not exactly a light read, but it nonetheless caught my eye. I find that travel is often a starting point for transformation or sometimes an opportunity to recognize that we’ve already begun a transformation. Further, as we are often more open-minded and relaxed during travel it allows us to get curious about our process and sit with it, instead of moving away from the discomfort it may bring.
What I took most from the articles was that change will happen, no matter how much we try to resist (it can even be positive!), and during this time we need to be curious and aware about what’s going on while caring for ourselves throughout.
To read the full Yoga Journal article by Sally Kempton, see the original post here.
As my reading list is constantly being updated, I thought it would be better to find a way to share my favorite books, updated in real time.
To see what books I recommend, as well as to see what I’m currently reading, please see my GoodReads account.
Also, if you haven’t yet heard of the English book sale in Geneva, check it out here. Many of the books on my shelves come from these sales.
I love to read and often recommend books to the people I work with.
Reading can teach us things – opening our minds to new concepts or ideas – but it also offers us a space to connect with ourselves and others.
- Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love by Amir Levine
- Where to Draw the Line: How to Set Healthy Boundaries Every Day by Anne Katherine
- Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristen Neff
- Shame and guilt by Jane Middelton-Moz
On my list
- Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche by Robert Johnson
- Lovingkindness by Sharon Salzberg
- In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness by Peter Levine
- The Body Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Cruel Parenting by Alice Miller
- The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk
- Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon
- About 30+ other books waiting in my e-reader.
I’ve found some of these through my own interest and an Amazon search, some have been recommended by colleagues and some have even been recommended by clients.
Rotating these more ‘serious’ books with books for pleasure is important, so have a look at my personal favorites here:
- Salt by
- The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumi by Elif Shafak
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
- By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept: A Novel of Forgiveness by Paulo Coelho
I get this question a lot. What is a Counselor? And what’s the difference from a psychologist or psychiatrist?
In Switzerland, counseling is a field which is not yet well known. Counseling has existed in the USA and the U.K. since the 1950’s and is now a widely known and respected practice. However, there is still some confusion between psychiatry, psychology, and counseling.
A psychiatrist in a medical doctor who can diagnose and treat mental illness using a combination of therapy and medication. Often, a psychiatrist will see client issues within a medical framework.
A psychologist is someone with either a doctorate or a master’s degree who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental illness within a psychological framework.
Similar to this, a counselor has a master’s degree and is trained to help those with everyday life issues within a psycho-social framework. Counseling puts importance on the relationship between the client and the counselor, as well as identifying patterns of behavior, emotions, relationships, stress, anxiety, and other issues. The counselor listens to what the client identifies as being a problem and the two work together as a team. Normally, counselors do not work with severe mental illness – this would be better suited for a psychologist or a psychiatrist.
For more information on counseling in Switzerland, you can reference the Swiss Association of Counseling website (http://www.sgfb.ch/en/). The counseling program which I completed in Switzerland is recognized by this society.
Being in a couple can be complicated. Luckily, there are ways to improve your relationship. By developing awareness of and skills for healthy relationships, you can already start making things better.
Here are some free resources from the Gottman Institute which can be a good starting point:
- Top Seven Ways to Improve your Marriage
- How to prioritize your relationship after kids
- Cultivating happiness in your couple
- Card Decks App to foster connection
- And of course, conflict management blueprints.
Here is one more resource, from me (and Dr. Gary Chapman):
- Find your love language
These are of course just starting points. If you need support, please contact me to schedule a session.
Update! Gottman Method Couples Therapy (which I use with couples) is now supported by research to help same-sex as well as heterosexual couples. See more on their research here.
Having experienced my own international transitions as well as being a native English speaker makes me an ideal choice for many people seeking counseling in Geneva. Many people moving abroad underestimate the impact such a change can have, and often don’t know where to turn.
I use my understanding of the international experience to help my clients going through the transition of first moving to Geneva, but also those who have been here for a longer time.
Common things I see include:
- Increased stress and lack of resources
- Lack of quality relationships & loneliness
- Insecurities and self-doubt
- Questions around identity and purpose
- Changing roles within a couple
- Onset of physical symptoms, such as stomachaches or muscle tension
Stress is something that everyone experiences, however at some point in our lives, we will all have difficulties managing it. This can be due to several factors, including facing stresses that we have never experienced before, such as international relocation, being in a stressful job or relationship, getting married, dealing with grief, and many more life experiences.
Stress can also come out in a variety of ways including feeling out of control of your emotions, crying or getting angry easily, creating difficult personal or working relationships, having trouble concentrating, having physical symptoms such as stomachaches or muscle tension, sleep difficulties, and the list goes on.
My job is to help you learn to effectively manage your stress. Together, we will work on techniques to help alleviate stress as well as look for patterns that could have led to the stress in the first place. My goal is to give you real techniques that can fit into your busy life.
We live in relationship with others. Whether it’s with friends or coworkers, romantic partners or family members, having connection is important.
However, at times we all have difficulties managing these relationships.
The most common relationships difficulties I see include:
- Difficulties finding and keeping friends or romantic partners
- Being in unsatisfying relationship(s)
- A need for improved communication and conflict management skills
- Not finding the support we need
Counseling can help you better manage current relationships as well as support you in finding durable, supportive ones.
A while ago, I posted about my Top 5 Recommended Books for Clients.
Since then, I have discovered new books which I have started recommending to both friends and clients alike. I’ve had all positive reactions to these recommendations, so I thought I’d share:
In an interesting report from the RTS last night which explored burnout in Switzerland, psychologists and victims of workplace burnout explored the burnout experience.
I see this in my practice very often. Many of my clients are either on the path to, in the middle of, or are recovering from burnout. Some have even recovered once before but are again facing the same challenge.
Burnout is becoming all too common. Usually linked to the workplace, burnout is “a chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment” (Psychology Today).
People experiencing burnout can have physical symptoms which are often be the first signs of distress. These can include tiredness, insomnia, loss of appetite, chest pains, stomach pain or nausea, headaches, dizziness, and many others. This can be your body signalling to you that something in wrong.
Further, emotions and behaviors can include forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, depression, anger, and other emotions which seems to “come out of nowhere”. Work also suffers with the inability to meet deadlines and finish tasks not only because of the feelings you’re experiencing, but also because of unrealistic expectations placed on you.
So what can you do if you’re experiencing burnout?
First, take care of your physical symptoms. Talk to your doctor about what you can do. Next, decide if you want to continue in your current job and in what capacity. Will setting boundaries at work help things, could you work part-time, or do you need to change jobs altogether?
Next, take care of your emotional health. Get help from a professional and get support from friends and family. You will often see your physical symptoms improve after dealing with your emotions.
Once you’re in a better place physically and mentally, try and figure out what contributed to the burnout. Oftentimes a lack of clear boundaries at work can cause issues. Are you often working more than your 40 hours a week and into the weekends? Answering emails and phone calls at all hours of the day and night? Have you been taking on more tasks than your colleagues and realizing only after that you don’t have enough time to finish them? Although setting boundaries can be scary and difficult, it is necessary and will provide you with a better working environment. To learn more about boundaries, check out this book or research them online. Through the help of a professional, you can also learn more about boundaries, what holds you back from setting them, and how to set meaningful boundaries in your personal and professional life.
Lastly, realize that burnout is not the sign of a weak person. Very often, people experiencing burnout are highly competent professionals who work hard and get results. They often strive for perfection and high standards at work, but at some point lose control over their work and personal lives without realizing it.
My advice would be to know the signs and get help early. Recovery is possible.
A few months ago, I did an interview with expatarrivals.com, a site aimed to help smooth the transition for new expats coming to Switzerland. They wanted to know what my transition here was like and how I coped with it.
I’ve hesitated sharing the interview here, as I usually don’t share much about my personal life on my website, but I think it could be helpful for expats in Geneva to know that struggling after the move is completely normal- even I did!
If you or someone you know is having difficulties adjusting to life in the Geneva area, feel free to contact me and check the workshops and groups section of my site for more information on a support group I’ll be starting to help expat women cope with their transitions.
Technology is quite amazing these days, with even phone apps addressing mental health needs. Whether you’re travelling or waiting around for public transportation, they’re accessible!
Here are 5 apps you might want to check out:
Mindshift – for managing anxiety and stress
Headspace – to learn how to apply mindfulness to everyday life
Habitica – a fun way to increase productivity and manage time
Mood tracker – get in touch with and track your emotions
Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock – for better sleep
As most of these apps make clear- these are not an alternative to therapy, but merely a tool to be used, possibly in conjunction with therapy. If you try these apps, let me know about your experience!