At PCH, we prefer to put names and faces to the philosophy guiding our approach whenever possible. To better accomplish that, we will begin sharing the firsthand perspectives of the people behind our treatment programs with monthly staff interviews.
Read more of our conversation with Group Therapist, Elana Berman, LCSW, SEP, CAS, and the thirteen questions about her guiding philosophy and principles.
1. What does “mental health” mean to you?
It means taking care of our emotions, brain and nervous system as part of whole person health. We must make time and space to care for these parts of ourselves. Just as we go to our primary care doctor and have preventative care exams, we must make time for mental health care as well. Through whatever means, independent reflection and processing time, with the support of health care providers, spiritual teachers or other means that support emotional and nervous system health and well-being.
2. What’s your favorite mental health or well being quote?
This one changes all the time. Right now: “Movement facilitates the body’s processing of emotions.” – Abi Blakeslee
3. What do you think is the most useful wellness resources?
Our own inner knowledge. We know everything already, we have the wisdom innately built into ourselves. Life, stressors, trauma, and distractions prevent us from accessing it. It’s a matter of supporting ourselves to develop the capacity to access it and be present with that knowledge. There are various therapeutic modalities that help empower us to connect to this knowledge.
4. What do you do to take care of your own mental health needs?
Spend time in nature, socialize with loving people, lean on my friends, eat fresh and nourishing foods, move my body daily, bring myself present when worried about the future or having regrets about the past, see my own therapist and much much more.
5. How would you describe PCH Treatment Center to a family or friend in need?
A wraparound center with highly vetted and trained professionals with an altruistic mission delivered in an evidence-based way.
6. What inspires you most at PCH?
The clear communication and team collaboration that foster independence and cohesiveness!
7. How have you coped with Covid in the last few years?
Yoga. Walking. Mindfulness with the senses. Observing the interconnectedness of all species and the amazing ripple effect we have on one another despite distance. We are all deeply intertwined and COVID has demonstrated that and continues to, in the most profound ways. Hopefully, we are learning and integrating this knowledge in order to treat everything and everyone more respectfully.
8. What’s your superpower?
Creative brainstorming 🧠! I am great at brainstorming outside the box solutions and helping others to develop ideas, generate inventive solutions and expand beyond the confines of limitations instilled in us by whomever or whatever conditioning we’ve received.
9. Top book recommendations and why?
Waking The Tiger by Peter Levine
The Wild Edge of Sorrow by Francis Weller.
10. How do you balance your job and PCH and time family/community time?
Just as I schedule sessions and groups and consult time, I schedule social, family and rejuvenating time. So, strategic scheduling is the name of my game.
11. What’s your favorite modality of treatment and why?
Elana’s eclectic style. I combine my trainings and life experience to conceptualize each set of symptoms and stressors. Ayurveda is foundational to my approach and I’d say the current prevalent underpinning that I rely heavily on is Somatic Experiencing. It is primarily non-verbal and effective in a deeply impactful way. This modality resonates strongly for me and almost all my patients.
12. What do you typically like to do when you’re not at PCH?
Spend time in nature. It teaches as much as any training if not more and helps me to re-regulate my nervous system and reconnect mind, body and spirit.
13. If you can invite anyone alive or no longer living to your dinner party, who would you invite and why?
Thich Nat Hahn – he would be grateful for what I served, bring contentedness to the evening, we’d likely sit on the floor and eat in silence, and he’d share pure wisdom through memorable quotes and parables after the meal.