Megan Gipson 0:03
Thanks for listening to the family brain. Today I am here with Grace Mackey. And Grace is a trauma informed yoga therapist. She does lots of work with mindfulness meditation, yoga and talk therapy, and has a Master's in Counseling. One of the things that excited me is she talks about nervous system realignment, and this is something that's kind of new to me, that is very exciting, because I love hearing about things that have been around. And I'm just getting word of it. So thank you, Grace, for joining me today. Yeah, happy to be here. I love talking about this. So I'm all about it. Well, and I will say, let me point to your Instagram also, it's elevate therapy, is that correct? Elevate your therapy, elevate your therapy on Instagram, and you do such fun I have. What is it called fan girl of your Instagram? Because you do you do a nice job of like, providing information but making it fun. And that's not always easy to do. It's definitely an art form. I think so you have lots of good information on there. Thank you appreciate that. You're right. It's not that easy. It's it's taken some time, but I'm happy with it now. Yeah, you do a great job. So I'd love to just sort of hear about early days of grace, how did you sort of get to this work? What What got you interested in this?
Grace Mackey 1:23
I have been interested in being a therapist. So as a teenager, actually,
my first experience with therapy was at age 15, when I started individual, and that was in a girls group. And that girls group pretty much changed my life. I mean, it was incredible, just for me to have that space to be me to talk about what's going on, I had been through some trauma and had some depression, anxiety I was dealing with and just to connect with others that were struggling was amazing. And so I was in therapy throughout high school, and I went straight into college for psychology. And then after that, I went straight into counseling, just because I knew I had to I mean, it helped me so much, I knew I had to share this. And it was just what I was so interested in, in general. And since then it's been, it's been a wild ride of, you know, I got my traditional therapy degree in counseling. And then I've explored all different kinds of holistic and alternative modalities, anything from Reiki energy, healing, to yoga, teacher training, to yoga therapy, to nervous system coaching. So I love encompassing all of it, I don't believe there's a one right way to heal or to learn about yourself.
Unknown Speaker 2:38
I believe whatever works for you works for you. And there's many different modalities to do that. Well, and I love that you are sort of open to hearing all the different things from an early age, because that's one of the things as a therapist that I'm realizing is that some of the traditional educational systems don't don't give you information about these other ways that are equally as helpful, if not more helpful, but they're not in the books or in the curriculum or in the syllabus, you know, so you really have to do a lot of extra work to kind of dig around. And so was that something that was always on your radar screen? Or was there someone you met that kind of like tipped the scales of like, Oh, what's this all about? Or? I'm just curious how how you became aware? Mostly because I'm like, I just learning about this now. It's kind of crazy.
Unknown Speaker 3:25
Well, yeah, no, it wasn't. It definitely was a road I went down for a couple different reasons. But mainly because of my health, my physical health, actually, I've found through multiple different chronic illnesses or through chronic pain. And
Unknown Speaker 3:41
after seeing multiple different doctors recognizing that, really, it wasn't something structurally wrong with me, or the diagnoses that I was receiving, for instance, like fibromyalgia, things like that.
Unknown Speaker 3:54
They are syndromes, right? They're not actually something that can be cured or healed. And so
Unknown Speaker 4:03
long story short, I, I was going to this functional doctor, and he was saying, I think you need to go see the psychologist. I was like, What are you mean, psychologist? I'm having like physical chronic pain.
Unknown Speaker 4:16
And he's like, No, you need to go see her. It's like, alright, I'll do whatever, I don't care. And so she's a traditionally trained psychologist, but she's trained in a modality that works with what's called neuro plastic pain, which is where your nervous system gets super highly regulated dysregulated over a very long period of time. And when that happens, your body or your brain, your body gets stuck in this stress response. And it starts to feel certain it starts to
Unknown Speaker 4:46
feel pain in certain parts of your body so that you don't feel the emotional or mental pain that might be coming up whether it's from your past or whether what's going on in your life at that time. And so once I started doing that, it just opened up all these doors of like, oh,
Unknown Speaker 5:00
You know, there's just it's not just about how I'm thinking or how I'm behaving, or you know what's structurally going on in my body, my nervous system, my anxiety, my depression, my mental state has such an effect on my physical body, that they're so connected on a level I didn't understand. And so I've started exploring that actually went through similar neural plastic training, pain, cream, pain reprocessing training recently, so that I can work with to kind of like she did me. Alright. So it's kind of a long, long winded way of saying, but
Unknown Speaker 5:32
yeah, it's fascinating. It's hard for me is that there are so many things out there, I get a little overwhelmed. I'm like, How do I take all the classes, they'll provide for people and like, each little new nugget I get, I get so excited to talk about, you know, and, and sometimes people are like, ooh, and sometimes people are like, Huh, what are you talking about?
Unknown Speaker 5:51
So it's just, it's, it's exciting to me, and I think I love learning. So it makes me realize, gosh, there's so much more for me to know.
Unknown Speaker 6:00
So I guess I'm just curious, like, when you have a new client, I was just looking at your website. And actually, I just sent your group, you have a group that you run online, I just sent it to one of my clients cuz I was like, this is perfect for you. Awesome, because I love that it's, it's like you were saying about the girls group. Sometimes it's that connection with other people, that is one sometimes come by. But if you have a good leader, you can kind of create that space that really provides something that you can't really get on one on one.
Unknown Speaker 6:34
But anyway, so your website is fantastic, and has so many so much good information. But so if somebody reached out to you, and kind of was like, What is this? I know, I'm not doing great? Like, what is this? What do you sort of? How do you sort of walk them down the path of like, understanding what you provide.
Unknown Speaker 6:54
So usually, what I say on a very basic level, we'll take anxiety, for example, anxiety is pretty common, and you can somewhat have can resonate with it, right. And so if you're experiencing anxiety, a lot of times you'll experience a lot of ruminating thoughts, thinking over and over about whatever the thing is, or maybe it's anything everyday anxiety, right? That you're always always thinking, and you can't get out of that spiral. Oftentimes, what comes with anxiety is some physical manifestations too, right? So you might have some tightness in your chest, you might even have some stomach issues or things like that.
Unknown Speaker 7:30
And so I usually talk about sometimes we can't just automatically change the thoughts in our mind with anxiety, right? I mean, if that were the case, then therapy probably wouldn't really be a thing, you could just change your thoughts.
Unknown Speaker 7:43
And oftentimes, we try and do that over and over, and it still isn't really working. And so if we pay attention to our body signals, our true nervous system, and then we work with that, it also helps to change the thought. So it's a body up approach, it's called bottom up approach, instead of top down, I use both I'm such a person a person of balance. And well, like I said, I don't believe one right way. And so I will do both. But that's kind of where my sweet spot is, is recognizing, okay, how can we pay attention to the body and work with the nervous system, so we can actually help calm the mind. And vice versa, sometimes we need you to do well, sometimes, you know, for instance, if someone's going through a panic attack, I'm not going to sit there and say, just breathe through it, it'll be fine. Right? That's not helpful either. Now, I'll teach them how to work with their breath. But sometimes you gotta have to just let it through, let it flow through. And then we'll come back. And so sometimes that means distraction, doing something else with that moment. So I use both.
Unknown Speaker 8:44
And really, it totally kind of just depends on what the person is coming in with. I am focusing a lot more these days on chronic pain, chronic illness, but I work with a full spectrum. I'm also an eating disorder therapist, I worked in ERC eating Recovery Center for a while, and I love working with eating disorders or any kind of disordered eating body image. So any connection that I can help you understand between your mind and your body really just helps you understand that it's a kind of like, psychoeducation I use a lot of psychoeducation really believe the more that we know, the more that we can help ourselves. Yeah, yeah, I love. I just I know I've said this a few times, but I just, I don't know why this is. So I remember in graduate school reading, the Body Keeps the Score. And I've read that a couple of times. And I feel like so that's the offering. Bessel Vander Kolk. I'll link it in the show notes. It's fantastic. And then what, you know what I mean? Like it's kind of like, okay, the body keys are and there is some talk in there about EMDR and, you know, some of the it's an older book, so it sort of has some, but it's basically I, I think mostly a description of like, how trauma gets stored in the body. And I think this then what like how
Unknown Speaker 10:00
I'll do we move forward from that, if we know that then what happens? So what are your biggest? Like, if you're just doing sort of 101, the entry into this work? What are some of the things that you mentioned? breathwork?
Unknown Speaker 10:16
How do you get people to? Okay, let me ask that question first. So breath work, are there any other things that you really try to teach people to take home with them?
Unknown Speaker 10:26
On a very foundational level, just the basics of is the first thing that I'm very clear on. And sometimes it can be frustrating, because it can feel a little slow, or, like it's not a quick fix in a way. But the first thing is becoming aware how your body responds to whatever is going on. Right, and even just starting to use some of that language. Like
Unknown Speaker 10:53
if you're talking to your partner,
Unknown Speaker 10:56
someone that you're close to, and you're feeling stressed, or sad, or something, just even using the language of like, my heart kind of hurts right now, like, my body just feels heavy, right, I'm exhausted and my body is exhausted or, or like, my body is really antsy, like I cannot sit still, the starting to use that language starting to become aware of what does your body feel like on an everyday basis, and especially in those times that you're having a really hard time.
Unknown Speaker 11:24
That's the first. And also at the same time, I will use and teach just very basic breath works. Like for instance, if you are in a dysregulated state where you're feeling a little more anxious, you're going to want to extend your exhales, the longer your exhale is, the more you're calming your nervous system.
Unknown Speaker 11:45
On the flip side, if you're more in like a dissociated, depressed, stuck down place, are actually going to want you to move a little bit more with your body and bring a little bit more energy to your breath. Right, and just understanding where you are. And the differences between a
Unknown Speaker 12:06
anxious stressed out nervous system or stuck, depressed, just associated.
Unknown Speaker 12:13
Just feeling done type of place in your system. Yeah. Well, I am loving learning from you. And I know you have a class for therapists, right. And that's really cool, that you're taking what you've learned, because I know a lot of therapists listen to this. So
Unknown Speaker 12:30
I love that you're taking what you've learned and kind of sharing it to make it more accessible. You know, I mean, it's, it's exciting. But I think it's tricky to figure like, for me, at least, to think about how do I then integrate this into working with people
Unknown Speaker 12:47
that I love, like concrete, things like that, like, I was just talking to this woman who was getting a haircut. And she was saying, I was saying, I don't know, if I want to go to Target. And she was like, oh, you should go and got all upset, you know, people, people love Target. And I was like, I don't know if I can handle it right today. You know, like, it just sounds like but like, in my body, I got the feeling of like, I don't know if I can handle target, Christmas, I mean, and on the right day, right? It feels good in my body, like, Ooh, I'll see target and they'll have decorations.
Unknown Speaker 13:18
And it was a fun little exchange that we had, because then she was saying how she sometimes gets overstimulated by certain things. And I feel like it kind of can open conversation to like, people feel different things in their bodies at different times. And it just kind of it opened up some neat conversation about a lot of things.
Unknown Speaker 13:38
But it's taken me I think, a long time to realize, because we are so disconnected from our bodies.
Unknown Speaker 13:44
Like who Why do I feel so stressed out right now? Oh, maybe because you went in and it was like Christmas music and this and then you realize you have to buy gifts and you know, like it just slowing down to sort of notice like that I don't have the space for that today. Like that, that in terms of my energy. Like, that's not going to work today. And on another day when I'm kind of feeling that and maybe need to get like a little energized. Or maybe target is the right right answer.
Unknown Speaker 14:14
That's my target analogy. It's a great analogy. There's so much power in acknowledging what's right for you in a certain moment or a certain day. There's so much power in that because then when you do align yourself, like when you do notice that, oh, you might have the energy for target today or like, Yeah, that might feel okay, or, you know what, I just need to go how I'm feeling but, you know, that might help you kind of get some energy in you and get some different stimulation. And I will say the same time I do recognize, sometimes we don't always have the privilege to choose. And so part of the work that I'm trying to teach is also recognizing, okay, if we really don't have that choice, and you got to do the thing, whatever it is, how can you take care of yourself?
Unknown Speaker 15:00
And that, how can you maybe take 10 minutes before you go into Target to just sit with you and breathe? And try to come down a little bit and your nervous system may not be perfect, right, but some way, shape or form come down and then okay, go in there, do what you need to do come back and take care of yourself. Right? No, I love that. That's a good, that's a good reminder. Because you're right. I mean, work, for example, like, I'm not, I'm not in the mental space to deal with the chaos of work today. No, that's not an option to just not show up. So
Unknown Speaker 15:35
you're talking about working with clients with chronic pain? Is that something that
Unknown Speaker 15:42
is new for you? Or is that new in the chronic pain space? Or is this something that's been going on?
Unknown Speaker 15:49
With people who who manage that?
Unknown Speaker 15:52
Unknown Speaker 15:55
Now new work to me, I've always been in that space. But it hasn't been something that I've been, I mean, truly, almost like, just that my imposter syndrome hadn't taken over. So now I'm feeling much more confident. And doing that I did just recently this year, go through pain reprocessing therapy training, I feel really good that I put that under my belt. I've known that I've wanted to do this. But it hasn't been, you know, full force, like Grace, chronic pain therapist, right. And now I'm really moving towards that.
Unknown Speaker 16:28
And so that might look like chronic pain usually means a certain amount of pain within your body that has not gone away after and it might even be after an injury, and might be after illness might be after something that you've had this pain, but it's never really fully gone away, or
Unknown Speaker 16:46
it just started popping up in your waiting row y. Right. And so you've been to doctors, you've been to therapists, physical therapists, chiropractors, whatever. And maybe it helps for a little bit, but you have to keep going back. And so the way that I work is recognizing that actually, your brain is just sending a lot of danger signals to your body. And what we need to do is tell them to be safe, and we don't need those signals anymore. And so there's a lot of research behind this type of therapy showing that once it works,
Unknown Speaker 17:19
about 75 to 80%, I believe, of people in their studies, either eliminated or severely decreased their pain.
Unknown Speaker 17:29
Unknown Speaker 17:31
I went off on a little tangent there. But no, it hasn't always been something that I've done. But it goes directly with the way that I work with my new body. And so it's definitely something I want to move into. Yeah, when I can.
Unknown Speaker 17:46
What's the word?
Unknown Speaker 17:48
I might not finding the word
Unknown Speaker 17:51
I can relate, I guess, is the word to what you're saying. Imposter Syndrome about learning some of these new wants to bring it to your clients, you want to share the information. But sometimes, like, well, I need to be an expert before I you know, show up with automation.
Unknown Speaker 18:08
But what I've noticed is it it really benefits my own stuff, you know, I'm doing as as long as I say it in a humble way, not like gather around, I have, you know, the perfect information. But I think that it helps like, share, I'm learning too. And I think it helps people realize, like, Oh, I'm not out of out of touch that I didn't know, either, you know, then you're a specialist and you're studying it, and you're still learning new things.
Unknown Speaker 18:36
But I just think that's interesting. I think there's not
Unknown Speaker 18:40
I think a lot of times therapists work, you know, in their own books. And so it's hard to remember sometimes that that.
Unknown Speaker 18:49
I don't know, there's not as much community with therapists sometimes. And so you don't know that. Other people are also struggling with some of these things. And so I think it's helpful to know Yeah, definitely. I mean, this is definitely one area I've
Unknown Speaker 19:04
Yeah, it's kind of an under the radar of Yeah, I will do that. And some people have come to me for that.
Unknown Speaker 19:10
But it's never been blasted out there. So I'm excited for it to be actually Yeah, well and you're in Austin I'm in Austin we should have like a little therapists play date sometime Yes. I had it down I fun therapists in my my texts. That's how we Yeah, I work community is my text messages from them. I'm so done. I'm
Unknown Speaker 19:32
feel like I've been in and out of community and therapists around here. So definitely open for more. Yeah. So what would you want people to know if they're thinking about this might be something that would be for them. What would you want them to know sort of just in terms of how you work or like, is there a consultation process? How would people get in touch with you notice you also do work online. So
Unknown Speaker 20:00
People aren't local, they can reach out as well.
Unknown Speaker 20:04
Yeah, yeah, I'm actually mostly virtual right now. And I'm licensed in Texas and Utah. Actually, it's kind of random, but I am.
Unknown Speaker 20:14
And so usually, that would look like an intro call, to just kind of go over like exactly what would be the right course of action, I do therapy. And I actually do some coaching as well. And I'm working on building a coaching program around chronic pain specifically.
Unknown Speaker 20:33
And the difference is, therapy is going to go is much more for working on some of the negative patterns that you've created. I don't want to say created right in my blaming the person, but that has come into your life that you've maybe noticed, or you haven't noticed, you're just feeling like crap, and you just need some help. Right, therapy's gonna go a lot into more of the past and processing where you've come where you are, and family dynamics, relationship dynamics, coaching is going to be a little bit more of okay, what's going on right now, maybe in, for instance, in terms of chronic illness or chronic pain,
Unknown Speaker 21:11
I'm going to actually give you some certain skills and tools to use outside of the therapy session, I'm sorry, I'll tell you the coaching session, I do that with both. But with coaching, it's much more formulated to Okay, we have about three months of time, that's usually around how I work with chronic pain, chronic illness. That's where I see the most benefit is around three months. And oftentimes it goes longer. But that's where I see a big change a big transition, of eliminating most of the pain.
Unknown Speaker 21:43
And so that coaching, actually I keep in touch more often in between sessions.
Unknown Speaker 21:50
Just because that level of pain does need some coaching in between, and there's some boundaries around it, but we talk in between sessions.
Unknown Speaker 22:00
So therapy, I usually see people once a week coaching, sometimes it's around three weeks on one week off.
Unknown Speaker 22:10
And then my groups like right now I'm leading, I think you were mentioning what I'm leaving at the own your mental health group. I'm leaving it right now meaning weekly, and it's for eight weeks. And that one is specifically geared more toward just just overall generalized nervous system work. I have a few people that are going through some tough times with their family some grief,
Unknown Speaker 22:30
process anxiety, Career Management like that, truly, it doesn't really matter what it is. It's just learning how to work with yourself in this moment right now,
Unknown Speaker 22:39
in terms of what's going on in your life, how do we listen to your brain, how to listen to your body, how to use your nervous system, and
Unknown Speaker 22:48
I help teach you some skills to help you do that.
Unknown Speaker 22:52
Awesome. I need that. I think I was thinking I was thinking we should do this group. Wouldn't that be awesome? Helping therapists understand them anyway?
Unknown Speaker 23:04
What are some of the your favorite resources to give to your clients? Like do you have books that you're just like, oh my gosh, you have to read this or you have to listen to this or is there anything that you sort of tend to recommend often?
Unknown Speaker 23:21
Unknown Speaker 23:23
in terms of the nervous system,
Unknown Speaker 23:27
Unknown Speaker 23:30
oh, my goodness. I'm really bad with names.
Unknown Speaker 23:34
Deb Danna ugly, that's her name. She does a lot of writing and work on the polyvagal theory and the nervous system.
Unknown Speaker 23:42
Anything by her, I recommend, I think she has a couple different ones, anything also for therapists, she or the polyvagal Institute has really quick and easy and pretty affordable trainings. They have a very entry like beginner nervous system training, I think it was, it was very affordable. I actually bought it early days of learning about the nervous system and the polyvagal theory. And then they branch out and have multiple different ones but it's very accessible. So I highly recommend that any therapist
Unknown Speaker 24:14
in terms of chronic pain, chronic illness, symptoms, things like that, I recommend a couple different things. One is called the mind body prescription by Dr. John Sarno.
Unknown Speaker 24:29
When I read that, just by reading the book, I know this might sound a little odd, but just by reading the book, and he even says says this in there. I had a decrease in my pain, because you're learning that it's not actually the physical structure in your body that's causing it. You have this aha moment of oh my gosh, like, this is what's happening. And then there's an app called curable. CU, R A, B, L, E
Unknown Speaker 24:58
Unknown Speaker 25:00
It is created actually from the tension, the Dr. John Santos theory and work. I was working with a psychologist. I was in grad school, and that was, I don't really know, eight years ago, something like that. And she was working from this theory. And then a few years later, I had some pain come back. And I started researching looking into Okay, who's doing that kind of work around here in Austin and I found the app, they created this app from that and they've done amazing work. It's, it's an incredible app. It helps you learn, sorry. Oh, no, go ahead. Oh, and that's specific to chronic pain. Yeah, any kind of
Unknown Speaker 25:39
joint muscular pain, migraines, any actually chronic illness symptoms that aren't going away chronic fatigue, things like that. Okay.
Unknown Speaker 25:50
It's amazing. So highly recommended.
Unknown Speaker 25:54
Unknown Speaker 25:58
I talked to everyone about it.
Unknown Speaker 26:00
So fun. All right. Well, I'm just curious, as we finish up here, what are some of the things that you do like you're a helper? You're helping people all along? What are some of like the key practices that you have in your own life that sort of help keep you
Unknown Speaker 26:18
feeling good and sort of able to help other people?
Unknown Speaker 26:22
That's a good question. I've been working on that lately. Because it ebbs and flows, for sure. Sure, many therapist get that.
Unknown Speaker 26:30
For me, actually, it's been looking around, kind of traditional, just more time boundaries around work around my schedule, I put my phone on Do Not Disturb when I go to sleep, and I do not turn it on until I'm done with my meditation with moving my body with eating breakfast in the morning, then I actually go and look at it. Once I started doing that, it was one of the best things I've ever done, I have the privilege that I can do that right now.
Unknown Speaker 26:55
I don't have to look at my phone, for any reason.
Unknown Speaker 26:59
So that's been huge. And then making sure that I regulate myself in the evenings, whether that's like closing my laptop, going for a walk, it's getting darker now. So I don't really do that as much, but moving my body in any way, shape, or form that literally might just be like laying on the ground. And doing a couple of stretches or just grounding laying on the ground. I'll do that a lot. Honestly, I will close my laptop after session. And I will just lay my body straight on the ground and just breathe.
Unknown Speaker 27:26
Just to get a little bit more energy back into myself. And then I'm trying to work on having more fun. I have to work to have fun. Like I have to like make it a point.
Unknown Speaker 27:36
I don't think that was always for me. But Me neither. Yeah. Well, yeah. Yeah. It's interesting, though. Well, what's fun is once you start to, for me now that I'm sort of trying to bring more, I feel like there's more responsibilities that happen. And so you have to really be intentional about fun. Like, can it just be served to you on a shirt coterie board? You know? No, no, yes, it is what I love is that because I'm trying to pay more attention to it when it does happen. I'm like, Oh, give me I'm so fun. Yeah, yeah. You really know, it's like a really good song that I really did something terrible that my child's playing in the car. You know, I went out of my way to find and play. And so it can be in smaller moments. But yeah, I think I think
Unknown Speaker 28:26
I think that can be a struggle. But solidarity. I also struggle. Yeah, finding fun. It's out there.
Unknown Speaker 28:33
Is there anything else that you were hoping to talk about that I didn't ask you about or anything that you want to add?
Unknown Speaker 28:41
That's good question.
Unknown Speaker 28:45
I mean, really, I could, there's so much more I could talk about, but I could take a long time.
Unknown Speaker 28:52
No, I mean, really, at the end of the day,
Unknown Speaker 28:56
what I hope is that
Unknown Speaker 29:00
people can start to recognize just to listen to themselves, instead of listening to everything else around them, listening to their bodies, listening to their minds, and recognizing how to help themselves and what they need. For that day, that moment, that your whatever.
Unknown Speaker 29:15
There's just so much power that when you can start to listen to you. So fantastic. Well, thank you so much. And thank you, everybody where they can find you online. Yes, so you can find me on Instagram or Tiktok actually, I both elevate your therapy. And you'll find everything on there. You'll find the link in bio and website groups, links to schedule a session and I have the yoga for mental health for therapists workshops happening this Friday. So that's pretty soon I don't know if this will be out yet but
Unknown Speaker 29:52
I might run it again as well. And if you can't make it you always get the recording. Yeah, I will definitely check that out because I
Unknown Speaker 30:00
I know I need more of this in my in my own personal life but also in my practice and they all kind of overlap so yeah thank you so much I appreciate MEGAN Yeah it was fun thanks
Transcribed by https://otter.ai