May 25, 2021 – NAMI Statement
Arlington, VA — The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) today released the following statement from CEO Daniel H. Gillison Jr.:
“For many of us, today elicits complicated emotions.
“We are encouraged by the tens of thousands across the country who expressed solidarity with the Black community in the wake of George Floyd’s death and those who continue to do so. We are relieved by steps taken toward accountability through the conviction of ex-police officer Derek Chauvin. We are even hopeful for more change as we see our nation continue conversations about racial disparities.
“But we are also still frustrated, knowing the systemic issues that enabled this tragedy remain. We are still grieving, knowing nothing can truly rectify the loss of another Black life, which could have easily been our own, a family member or a friend. More than anything, we feel the exhaustion from the racial trauma that continues to negatively impact our physical and mental health.
“Here at NAMI, we recognize that there are no quick and easy solutions to the systemic racism that has permeated every aspect of our society for far too long. Today, only one in three Black adults who need mental health care receive it. But we are committed to keep striving toward more equitable and just practices within our own organization and within the mental health community.
“That’s why over the last year we have created and bolstered our Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion work, increased the amount of Black mental health resources on our website, hosted a series of Help Not Handcuffs webinars, and championed legislation that will allow individuals in mental health crises an alternative to a 911 law enforcement response for support. And that’s why we have intentionally integrated anti-racist initiatives into our five-year strategic plan.
“We cannot ignore the intersection of race, identity and mental health. And we are determined to do our part in dismantling barriers to accessing culturally competent resources for every individual in our country.”
If you need help processing some of the difficult emotions brought up today, please know that NAMI is here for you. You are not alone. Visit to access resources or talk with a trained volunteer through phone, online chat, or text.
If you need help in the Washington area, reach out to Eastside Center for Family today.
Coming to terms with substance abuse is hard.  Having the courage and strength to ask for help is an empowering step to take on behalf of yourself. We offer a life-affirming alternative from the typical treatment approach with an individualized approach specific to what you and maybe even what your family needs.  You will leave our assessment process feeling seen, understood, and with a recommendation that meets your needs even if you do not know what all of your needs are when you start the process of looking for help to stop drinking or using drugs.

At Eastside Center for Family, our small-sized Intensive Outpatient Program is influenced by an evidence-based approach called Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention. Buddhist psychology is also part of our approach as we explore with you the problem in life that we all face of how to deal with personal suffering.

Why mindfulness works

Being mindful is learning how to fully attend to what’s happening in the moment, paying attention to what you’re doing and the thoughts floating by in your mind.  Becoming aware of where you hold emotion in your body is part of the process to begin healing what you are numbing. It is common right now during the pandemic to resort to behaviors such as overeating, frivolous spending, binge-watching movies, and yes overdoing it with alcohol, cannabis, or other drugs all as a means of coping with the overwhelming feeling of isolation and unknown about the future.

It’s normal for our minds to run wild with the constant chatter of thoughts but those thoughts can become painful as they begin to feel overtake you and cause you to become anxious with dread, fear, and wanting to avoid people.  The pain in your body, the anxiety in your mind can create impulses to self-medicate and numb, which adds to the problem of feeling overwhelmed.  Once overwhelmed it can be hard to get things done and be fully present in relationships with your loved ones, friends, and colleagues.  This is particularly true if you find you are waking up hungover with a muddled mind and pain in your body due to inflammation from alcohol and foods eaten when high and not getting a good night’s sleep.

Mindfulness allows you to tap into what makes you feel grounded while beginning to accept your thoughts and feelings. The problem of abusing alcohol, cannabis, or drugs is only part of the problem, there is something deeper — something more meaningful that you can no longer ignore that has to be found and worked through.  As you begin to learn how to calm down the body and mind, some space for healing is opened in your mind and body and you can reach the underlying issues that fuel substance abuse problems. If you are currently struggling with substance abuse or addiction, the chances that you believe you’re worthy of self-love, self-respect, and positivity from others is low. Becoming more mindful helps you practice listening to yourself, your true needs, and to practice the self-love you deserve.

Mindfulness techniques

Learning how to give yourself space is the first step towards self-love and this is important because the more you love yourself the more you can love those who are important to you, like your children and your partner.  Please know that there are options that will help you progress to a place of more peace, self-love, and competence to deal with the anxiety and depression you are trying to get away from. It may feel like others have given up on you and even that you have given up on yourself. The team at Eastside Center for Family is committed to helping you find a path that you can walk and feel comfortable with and will work with you to understand and practice the unique skills of mindfulness.

These include:

  • Meditation: Learning how to ground the body and use breathing techniques that calm both the body and the mind.
  • Grounding Techniques: Using different exercises to remind ourselves where we are, both physically and mentally.
  • Buddhist Teachings: Buddhist psychology and philosophy offer many methods that we use to help clients overcome addiction
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT allows us to look at the thought patterns we possess and relearn the unhealthy habits and reactions we possess. This combines talk therapy, mindfulness techniques, and more.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: Based on CBT, DBT has been adapted for clients who feel their emotions in a very intense way, and allows for more group work.

Is an alternative rehab program right for me?

Our IOP program is built for those who are not getting results from traditional methods of treatment. There are many benefits to an intensive outpatient program, but it’s also important to remember that it’s not right for everyone. If you need help making the best decision for you, call us today.  Intensive outpatient programs are part of a range of different treatment options. Compared to other treatment options they have the following benefits:

  • Intensive Outpatient Programs are less expensive than residential treatment centers for alcohol or drug addiction, making them a more affordable option for people who need more than just therapy.
  • In IOP, you can continue living at home and maintain a presence within your work, school, or community. For many, it is helpful to be surrounded by a supportive network or family and friends while undergoing intensive treatment.
  • Continuing to live in the ‘real world’ may also help you make the fundamental changes in your lifestyle and relationships that may be harder to achieve in the more artificial environment of rehab.
  • IOP treatment is sometimes appropriate to make the transition from inpatient treatment back to your life at home where the real work of change is put to the test with family members who may not know what you have learned and who have not yet begun their own healing process.

Get sober today

Call us for help to deal with your or your family member’s substance abuse, Eastside Center for Family will provide evidence-based techniques to put you on the path to recovery. For more information, fill out a contact form or give us a call. Start your journey today.

The last year has been uncertain for all of us. The global pandemic has brought financial worries, a decrease in mental health, and many more day-to-day stresses. One aspect of the coronavirus that has been especially difficult to cope with is when someone that we love contracts the illness. With varying degrees of severity, we are put in a position where someone we care for has to be isolated while they may be fighting for their lives. The emotions that arise during this time, understandably, are painful and heavy.

In any case of a loved one being unwell, we harbor feelings of guilt, shame, and anxiety. These feelings are exacerbated with a COVID-19 diagnosis, as we immediately lose or limit physical contact with the person we love. If the situation is severe, this person may be in the hospital or even the ICU, while you have to wait at home. Allow yourself to have these feelings, and don’t try to hide from them.

Be kind to yourself – 6 steps for self-care when a loved one has coronavirus

Difficult feelings tend to come in waves. When you experience challenging emotions, it is important to take the appropriate steps to care for yourself. Practicing self-care makes you more prepared to care for your loved one.

Here are six practical actions you can take:

  1. Discuss your situation with others who are experiencing it as well
  2. Journal (record your feelings – the value of journaling comes through when we stick with it)
  3. Set a schedule for getting updates and staying in touch (when you know when the next update is scheduled, you can put your mind more at ease until then)
  4. Ask caretakers to help you arrange video calls with your loved one
  5. Practice mindfulness (meditation, yoga)
  6. Reach out to a qualified therapist who can help you manage your emotions

Remind yourself that although your loved one needs you right now, you need to set time aside for yourself too. You may feel that the last thing you want to do right now is to focus inward, but self-care can benefit your loved one as well. Knowing you’re taking care of yourself, and allowing yourself that time, can bring some comfort to your family member.

Stopping coronavirus uncertainty from spiraling out of control

Anxiety can take over when someone we love gets ill. When we are unsure of the outcome, it’s easy for our minds to race ahead to fill in the gaps. The coronavirus creates feelings of uncertainty on steroids since so much is unknown. Worries about the outcome, and the very real chance of bad results, can lead to a downward spiral of anxiety and trepidation.

Anxiety blocks the parasympathetic nervous system in your body, which turns on your body’s relaxation response. When you have an anxiety disorder, the stress response activates too frequently, too intensely, or for too long a period. This prolonged stress response inhibits your body’s natural relaxation response.

If you have methods that work for you to decrease stress, use them. If it’s too much for you to handle, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

Triggers – coronavirus in conversation

Hearing others constantly discuss the pandemic, as well as hearing Covid-19 on the news all the time, makes it hard to relax and get control of your anxiety. Here are three practical tips:

  • Limit your news intake.
  • Only listen to Covid-19 news from a reliable source (not from social media or tabloids).
  • Set boundaries about discussing the coronavirus with friends and family. Those who care about you will respect your limits.

Reach out now

If you need help managing your mental health at this difficult time, at Eastside Center for Family we’re here to help. You don’t have to go through this alone. The world can feel even lonelier during this pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you should be isolated during your pain. Contact us today.




A person very close to me was involved in a head-on collision as a young man. Riding a motorcycle late at night he was struck by a drunk driver who pulled out of his lane to pass a car. It was so sudden; the young man barely had time to react but managed to avoid a dead-on impact and was struck only by the fender and mirror of the car. His motorcycle was destroyed and he spent four months in hospital. After recuperating and while driving a car with friends they noted that when a car approached from the opposite lane he always unconsciously steered the car as far as he could go toward right shoulder of the lane. His friends responded with a lot of good-natured kidding that involved re-telling of the incident and a kind of re-experiencing the event. There was a lot of laughter and a deep sigh of relief from the young man. He was able to release the automatic bodily response and went on to drive normally. This is what Peter Levine, PhD psychologist author of “In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness” refers to as “somatic experiencing”.
Drifting a little to the right on the highway may not constitute a major psychological trauma response, but what about PTSD or a serious physical attack or mental abuse that leaves the sufferer incapacitated? How is a person helped to recover from such an emotional burden? That is the domain of the psychological work of Somatic Experiencing. The practitioner of Somatic Experiencing Therapy undergoes years of training and is required to bring a special depth of empathy to work with people suffering from trauma who may not even know or remember the precipitating events of their psychological and somatic stress condition. It is the job of the therapist to help the person work through the sometimes convoluted wilderness of this psychological condition to bring her to a safe confrontation with the event and resolve it in a natural and comfortable fashion. This may involve movement exercises, storytelling or revisiting the original trauma in a structured, safe setting. Men, women and children are all susceptible to traumatic events with varied capacities to understand and work through the process of healing. The culmination of therapy is the release of the physical and mental symptoms of trauma and the satisfactory resolution of the original event. As Doctor Levine discovered originally, animals normally respond almost automatically to stress with various physical movements and actions. Recovery does not require complex intellectual achievements but is rooted in body movement primarily, thus, “somatic”. With the combination of a deep understanding of the mind-body relationship and patient and kind guidance, Eastside Center for Family therapists employing Somatic Experiencing can help you to overcome the ill effects of trauma at any stage in life.

pause photo

Everybody does it.  All of us have times when we do something like drinking an extra glass of wine to take the edge off, eat a sleeve of Oreos while watching Netflix, work crazy hours for days in a row, obsess over a hobby.  Numbing out is so common place is it not always noticed as such, in fact many people celebrate overdoing it citing reasons they deserve to indulge.  I am not talking about addiction but a kind of low level and periodic overdoing it that serves as a bridge from here to there, a place of less stressed-ness.

Numbing generally means we are avoiding feeling overwhelmed, inadequate or lonely.  Numbing delays a real and long term solution.   Another problem with overindulging is that numbing the negative feelings means you are also numbing the good feelings.  The good feelings are the goodies we need to keep us going and are the reason for all the efforts we make.

Alone-ness is the feeling we have when we frenetically clean the house and keep ourselves insulated painfully angry that no one appreciates all the efforts we take to care.  To start to feel better and restore balance means facing what is eating us, not such an easy task to do.  What is more challenging is changing our thinking that starts a shift in behavior.

Start small.  Changing one daily routine can be all the difference we need to start the domino effect.  Change is something that is helped by the support of those around us.  When we change one thing at a time rather than a multitude of habits it becomes easier to sustain change.  Take time to feel, write about it, talk it out and plan for some time alone to be still and notice what is there during the pause.

Laura J. Halford, CDP, LMHC

skeleton at table
Of the Seven Deadly Sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor the last toothsome morsel of both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back—in so many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.
(Frederick Buechner, 1926 – )

Laura J. Halford

Available Counseling Options


IOP (intensive outpatient) Treatment

OP (outpatient) Continuing Care

Individual Counseling

Family Counseling

Referral and Inpatient Treatment Planning