By Tanya Ruckstuhl-Valenti LICSW, MSW

I’m pleased to announce that my practice is busting at the seams and so I have hired my dear friend Susie Wind to work with clients who need Saturday appointments.   Susie and I worked together thirteen years ago (!!!) in community mental health and I was tickled pink when one of my clients recently announced to me that when she had received therapy services at Community Psychiatric Clinic she had worked with one therapist who was “Excellent” and that was…Susie Wind!

So to announce and introduce her I thought I’d do a little bitty interview:

Susie, you are an artist as well as a mental health professional.  Can you talk about the ways creativity and mental health complement each other?

For me, being able to push paint around on a canvas with a brush is soothing and exciting at the same time.  I need a regular schedule of painting time to feel my best.  On those days when I simply don’t have the time to putter in my studio, or when I don’t feel particularly inspired I can get the positive benefits of creativity by enjoying someone else’s creation.  We’ve all had the experience of reading a beautiful poem that can soothe the soul—even for just a few moments.  Listening to a favorite song is a good way to feel energized and watching a good movie can ease the feelings of loneliness for a short time.  Every time we experience someone else’s art, or allow ourselves some creative expression, we give voice to our inner experiences, and that alone can strengthen our mental health and we take one more step toward becoming our best selves.

Are there any mental health conditions that you have a particular experience with?

I have the most experience working with depression and anxiety.  No matter the circumstances or diagnoses, I feel positively elated when I get to witness a person’s realization of themselves as a unique and valuable human being.

Do you have any seasonal tips for surviving the coming months of darkness and rain?

Yes I do!  Briefly, here are 2 basic strategies.  First making sure that each day includes a spot of protein for breakfast, some time outside, and some moderate exercise.  Taking the dog for a walk, for example.  Second, changing our surroundings with each season.  By that, I mean simply putting up a new shower curtain, or a new candle; rotating artwork, putting seasonal placemats at the table, or somehow reflecting the seasons in our daily routine and surroundings. 

Many of people seeking mental health services struggle with self care.  How do you recommend that busy people with children and jobs incorporate self care into their routines?

There are so many ways to care for ourselves: one of the simplest can be done in 3 minutes.  Even the busiest among us can take three minutes to sit quietly, breathe slowly and concentrate our awareness on the information coming in through our 5 senses.  This basic activity, when done once, twice, or several times a day can actually help to streamline our thoughts, and focus our awareness on our bodies.  This extra awareness can strengthen our ability to self-regulate emotion, and can allow us to be more present for the demands of our children and work. 

If you would like to schedule an appointment to meet with and interview Susie for your own mental health support, you can reach her at 206 465-5045.  I am proud to have such an excellent therapist joining my practice!

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