Episode 88 Animal Assisted Therapy & Learning To Love Your Authentic Self: Interview with Annalisa Smithson

Nov 9, 2022

What is animal-assisted therapy? How can you learn to love your authentic self through animals?

MEET Annalisa Smithson

Annalisa is the founder and director of Unleashed Counseling. She is a board-certified counselor licensed in the state of Pennsylvania, specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy and animal-assisted therapy. She has presented research at national mental health conferences, including the American Psychological Association, the Association for Women in Psychology, and the Pennsylvania Counseling Association.

Annalisa is the author of two books, Emotional Support Animals (2021) and Unconditional, and has published research in several peer-reviewed journals including Psychology in the Schools and the Journal of the PCA. Prior to becoming a counselor, she worked as a fundraising professional for Lehigh University. She holds a Master of Education in Counseling & Human Services and a Master of Arts in the Anthropology of Development and Social Transformation.

Find out more about Annalisa at Animal-Assisted Therapy and connect with her on Facebook

Unconditional: Learning to Love Your Authentic Self by Annalisa Smithson



  • What makes it hard for people to be authentic? 3:05
  • Integrating animal-assisted therapy into your practice 7:25
  • What are the benefits of animal-assisted therapy? 14:43
  • How can therapists show up more authentically in their sessions? 19:27

What Makes It Hard For People To Be Authentic?

  • Assessing the messages that we receive growing up
  • How does authenticity affect therapists just starting out?
  • Learning to trust not only your knowledge but your intuition as well
  • Overcoming perfectionism

Integrating Animal-Assisted Therapy Into Your Practice

  • What kind of animals are best for animal-assisted therapy
  • How to bring mindfulness into therapy with animals
  • Learning to love ourselves unconditionally through animals
  • Different ways to integrate animal-assisted therapy into your practice

What Are The Benefits Of Animal-Assisted Therapy?

  • Learning to trust your animal to assist in guiding sessions
  • Using animals to inspire new conversations with clients
  • Utilizing animal-assisted rapport building?
  • Adapting a supportive character technique with your therapy support animal

How Can Therapists Show Up More Authentically In Their Sessions?

  • The importance of having your own support system as a therapist
  • Why self-care is so important for therapists
  • Connecting with others in your field
  • The importance of creating a mission statement about who you are

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Resources Mentioned And Useful Links:

Find out more about Annalisa at Animal-Assisted Therapy and connect with her on Facebook

Unconditional: Learning to Love Your Authentic Self by Annalisa Smithson


Chris McDonald: Welcome to the Holistic Counseling Podcast, where you discover diverse wellness modalities, advice on growing your integrative practice, and grow confidence in being your unique self.

I'm your host, Chris McDonald. I'm so glad you're here for the journey.

Welcome to today's episode of the Holistic Counseling Podcast. I'm your host, Chris McDonald. I don't know about you, but I love to read. For me, it's just so calming and that's part of my self care, and I was fortunate to receive a copy of today's guest, Anna Elisa Smith's book. Unconditional learning to love your authentic self, and I was so happy I did.

It was so easy to read, So creative and chock full of fun journaling prompts and helpful gems that can help everybody. Anna Elisa is founder and director of Unleashed Counseling. She's a board certified counselor licensed in the state of Pennsylvania, specializing in kind cognitive behavioral therapy and animal assisted therapy.

She has presented research at mental health conferences around the country. She's here to discuss her book and how it can help you. So welcome to the podcast, Ann Lisa,

Annalisa Smithson: Thank you so much. I'm really glad to be here.

Chris McDonald: Can you tell my listeners more about yourself and your work? Sure.

Annalisa Smithson: So I work with a trained therapy dog named Ben g I wish there was a video on our podcast so I can show you his cute face.

Chris McDonald: send a picture so we can put it in the show notes.

Annalisa Smithson: Yeah. Um, so Benji and I, uh, we primarily work with adults. Most people think that we're, because we do animal assisted therapy that we, that's what I we're working with. Yeah, yeah. No, we work primarily with adults. Adults definitely need to play and let loose.

Right. And, and so, uh, people with addiction and anxiety primarily, and yeah, we we're. Benji is like the dream team for me. He is a natural with anxiety. Um, I also have a member of my staff who works with bunnies, which is kind of fun.

Chris McDonald: Interesting. I've never heard of that. Huh? Wow. I've only heard of horses and using dogs.

Annalisa Smithson: You'd be surprised. Rabbits. Cats. Rats. Even .

Chris McDonald: Oh my goodness. I wouldn't wanna go to a session with a rat. , . Unless it's exposure therapy, right? Oh,


Annalisa Smithson: Yeah. If you want phobia. No, there's, there's a, an animal partner for everybody.

Chris McDonald: sounds like it. Well, that's good. That kind of opened my eyes a little bit. Well, let's rewind for a minute.

So what was your inspiration for writing this

Annalisa Smithson: book? Well, Benji and I do all of these fun, playful. He's, he's a really energetic dog, so, so we get up and move in and have a lot of fun with our. And the more techniques we developed, the more work we did with clients in the therapy room, the more I thought, this is not stuff that only Benji and I are qualified to do.

Really anyone who has a bond with a an animal could practice some of these things at home. We all need more self care. We all need more self-love. So why not put some of these ideas down on paper and share it with the world?

Chris McDonald: And I wonder, cause I know you used the. Unconditional being authentic and how important authenticity is in the book.

Well, what makes it hard for people to be

Annalisa Smithson: authentic? I think there are so many answers to that question, . Um, yeah. In, in the book, I, I talk a little bit about the messages that we get when we're growing up. Yeah. How we're supposed to be a certain way, supposed to, to look or act or even think and feel a certain way.

So we get these messages that tell us that we have to fill a role and. Then we judge ourselves for not living up to those expectations, and it just gets harder and harder

Chris McDonald: as we get older. Yeah, for sure. An accumulative effect, I would think. What about for therapists? Do you think it's hard for therapists just starting out to truly be themselves and be authentic in who they

Annalisa Smithson: are?

I love working with interns and new therapists. Yes, you can see it and I can see this happening so often. We put so much pressure on ourselves to, you know, to be the the perfect therapist. And part of that is that we don't wanna make mistakes, right? We have a lot of rules and regulations that we rightly so have to abide by, but also we're just the kind of folks that we wanna help people, we wanna do a great job.

And sometimes that pulls us into the realm of perfection.

Chris McDonald: Yeah, it's true. And I often, I'm a supervisor, clinical supervisor too, and I usually, this is a common theme that I have to talk to them about is trusting yourself. Cuz a lot of times there's so much hesitancy, which is understandable. Like you said, we, we don't wanna make mistakes or, you know, have these high expectations, but usually they're right on.

They'll be like, What do you think of this? I'm like, Yeah, that sounds right. That sounds like a great way to handle that situation with a client. Yeah. I mean, have you noticed that too, with.

Annalisa Smithson: Absolutely. I mean, the education that we get in order to get to this point, right, to be able to practice like we, we know our stuff and we also usually come with some solid intuition.

And so if we could just trust ourselves and we do, we get there

Chris McDonald: eventually. Yeah. Yeah. No, you're right with intuition for sure. Cuz I think a lot of times we get that little quiet voice and just. Wait, should I do this? My voice is, No, I'm just gonna push that aside, . Right. It's unfortunately too easy to not acknowledge it or push it down and not trust it.


Annalisa Smithson: Right. One of the neat things about having Benji in the room with me is that I can oftentimes trust his gut as well, and he'll Oh, interesting. Oh, it's, it's so neat. Like he'll. Walk up and, and sit down on somebody's feet and I'll be thinking, Oh, I think that their, you know, symptoms of anxiety are, are worse today than they typically are.

But instead of saying that, I'll just ask, So what's Benji sensing in you? And he's always spot on. Like he always notices. He knows.

Chris McDonald: So neat. That's so funny. Yeah. You know my cat I was telling you about before we hit record that she's such a dog cat cuz, but she's so sensitive to emotion. If me and my husband fight for arguing or something, I mean she will just go up and weave between our legs and she's meowing like super loud.

Like she just can sense it, right?

Annalisa Smithson: Us trying to. She is, she really does Listen. Mom, dad, ,

Chris McDonald: stop it. Oh gosh. She's right there too. The other one just hides. She's like, Okay, you guys work it out. .

Annalisa Smithson: Oh yeah. They all have their own personalities, don't they? I remember, um, talking to someone who has like a. PhD in counseling, uh, counseling, supervision and education, something like that, and animal behaviorism.

So really, really good at what she does. And I was like, So how do you find the perfect therapy dog? And she's like, uh, most of the time you don't. I have nine dogs at home and only one of them is suitable to be a therapy

Chris McDonald: dog, . Oh, wow. Okay. So it's, it's not like any dog can do this or cab, I'm assuming, right?

Annalisa Smithson: Yeah. They definitely have their own personalities and.

Chris McDonald: So what, what kind of animals are best for this,

Annalisa Smithson: uh, the animal that you know best as a, a clinician and, and as an expert, Right? So in the beginning, I didn't realize. Quite how important it was for me to develop my expertise around canine behavior and communication.

But now that I've read lots of books and taken lots of classes and I've learned to really pick up on the little nuances with Benji, I've come to understand that our relationship is a lot of what makes it work for Benji and his client's

Chris McDonald: relationship. And I love in the book how you interweave all the concepts with Benji, like even mindfulness.

Talk about how you use that with Benji and how you can apply that to yourself. So I'm just wondering if that is part of that animal assisted therapy that you use and how does that work in sessions? Well, we

Annalisa Smithson: bring mindfulness into most of our sessions. I think that's one of the gifts Nice. That our animals can offer us.

And when I wrote this book, uh, my editor came to me and. Said, you know, do you have to have an animal in order to really get something out of this book? And I really gave it some thought. Oh, and find when I came back, I said, No. You know, I think as long as you have loved an animal in your life, have have had that bond at some point.

I think that you'll understand what I'm getting at here, which is that we can learn from our animals how to love our. Unconditionally how to practice mindfulness, how to be in the present moment, right? So those are the gifts they give

Chris McDonald: us. And how else do you use that animal assisted therapy?

Annalisa Smithson: Uh, I love to do walk and talk therapy.

Um, Nice. That's especially helpful for folks experiencing depression. Right. Get him outside, get him moving around. And something about talking and doing therapy, shoulder to shoulder instead of face to face can sometimes open things up that traditional talk therapy doesn't do. Um, and Benji, you know, loves to take us out and help us explore and ,

Chris McDonald: so, um, yeah, I bet.

So he's included in the process, . Oh,

Annalisa Smithson: absolutely, yes. So we've been, uh, working on a new. Technique, um, adapted from one that, uh, someone else taught me, but this, I, I love the way that Benji and I have adapted it. So we call it the gratitude game. Can I share it with you? Yeah, go ahead. So this is something that helps you to actually practice gratitude, right?

Instead of having the attitude of gratitude, we wanna actually practice it on a day to day. So the way that Benji helps me do that is I take a yoga mat or a rug and I roll it up as tight as I can and I hide treats inside it. Cute. So every time I place a treat inside the mat, I name something that I'm grateful for.

So I'm grateful to be on Chris's podcast today and I put the treated and I give it a little role and then, you know, I'm grateful for. You know the nice coffee I had with my partner today, and I roll it up so I keep going until I've rolled up the mat and I've hidden as many trees as I can. And then I set it down on the floor and Benji has to nudge it open with his nose, like figure out how to unroll the mat and get all those hidden treats out.

So the more things I'm grateful for, the more things Benji's gonna be grateful for. . So cute .

Chris McDonald: That's what I mean. You just have this creative way of looking at things with the animal stuff that I never would've put those together, I guess. Thank you. Yeah, I mean that's really, that's just fun, that kind of thing.

And I guess, is there any other mindfulness techniques that you use with Benji, with clients that could be helpful for listeners?

Annalisa Smithson: Yeah, my go to grounding technique, uh, is engaging your five senses. Um, so this is a classic technique. Most therapists are familiar. You look around the room, you name five things that you can see, right?

Take a deep breath, and now name four things that you can feel, and then you know that you. Hear, smell and taste. So I do that with Benji, but I'll invite him up onto the couch with the client if, if they want, if they gimme permission for that. Um, and then he snuggles up nice and close to them and I ask them to focus on him.

Right? So name five things you can see about Benji, uh, is brown fur his. Wagging tail, you know, whatever, . Um, and, and so we go through all of them or all, all the different senses and, and so we're practicing that mindfulness, but we're staying focused on him. And so that's strengthening the bond that they have with him.

Um, and it's also getting that oxytocin flowing that, you know, that the love hormone that you've. Feel whenever you're gazing at an animal that you're bonded with or a baby you, or a person that you're bonded with. Yeah. So it does a lot of things to help people feel relaxed and calm in the moment. And then when we get to number one, it's, you know, Oh, I, I don't encourage you to taste the dog, but if there's anything you can taste, so we bring a little bit of humor into it.

Yes. The dog. That's funny. . Yeah. Please don't lick the dog. But is there one thing you can taste in your ? And

Chris McDonald: I think I, I remember when you said too that you had your own therapy. Was, was there a pug story that I remember in the book too? Yes. Okay. So can you share that? I just, that just like melted

Annalisa Smithson: my heart?

Uh, yes I can. And, and there might be some, some tears. Um, trying to remember what chapter that was. Yeah, so I lived this story. I wrote this story and then I edited and reread it at my book launch, and I still cry every single time. Aww. So I went to an animal assisted therapist who had a big, beautiful farm.

She had horses and chickens and pigs and dogs, all sorts of animals. And what was cool about her property is that she would foster senior dogs and give them end of life care. Every time I would go, I would usually meet a new animal I went to for this session to to meet Marcy, and she had this new dog.

Named Rosie the pug, and Rosie had some cognitive problems and she, she had a hard time settling down and. Snuffling around and, and just really like overactive and obviously stressed. She was obviously stressed out, so I came in for my therapy session. I sat down and Marcy was like, Oh, hang on. I gotta get everything sorted out for Rosie here.

And Rosie came over to me and she curled up in my lap and fell asleep. And apparently it was the first time she was able to rest and actually settle down since she had arrived at the farm. And Marcy was like, Oh my gosh, that's amazing. I can't believe this is happening. And how does it feel for you? You know, we processed and got in touch with my emotions about the whole thing and then, After the session, I did some more journaling and I realized that one of the gifts that Rosie had given me was that I had been feeling like imposter syndrome, right?

Sure. I was just feeling like insecure about who I am as a parent and also who I am as a therapist, and Rosie sort of reminded me that I. Have this natural ability to be a healer, to be a peaceful person, for others to be around. And it kind of gave me a little boost of my confidence, made me feel more secure and confident.

So a few weeks later I went back to, uh, Marcy's Farm for my next therapy session, and I came in all excited and I was ready to tell Marcy about my insight and. She told me that unfortunately Rosie had passed away in the time since I had been there last. Yep. See, here's the tears. Aww, . Yes. And so then we had to, to process that, you know, grief and loss and that's another gift that animals give us, right?

They like help us to remember to just appreciate the moments when we have them, because unfortunately our pet's lives are shorter than. So it was bittersweets, but it actually was a really powerful moment for me, and I have carried that with me ever since. That was years ago. Oh, it was?

Chris McDonald: Okay. Yeah. That sound like that really was a defining moment for you.

Yeah, it was special.

Annalisa Smithson: It really was. Rosie

Chris McDonald: the plug. So what are the benefits of animal assisted therapy?

Annalisa Smithson: Uh, well, I think one of the biggest benefits is that it is more fun than traditional talk therapy. ,

Chris McDonald: most therapy can be boring, ,

Annalisa Smithson: and hard, right? Most people don't think of therapy is fun. They're like, Oh, I gotta know therapy today.

I'm gonna. Talk about my trauma, and we still do the hard things in animal assisted therapy, but Benji seems to know when is the right moment to take a little break. Right. He grabs a box of toys and dumps it out at my client's feet. And you know, it starts goofing around, clowning around. I always say it gives us these, like these moments of equilibrium.

I don't know. He like brings us back to baseline. Mm-hmm. in the middle of talking about these hard things. He also. It can inspire really important conversations. For example, you know, someone who has concerns around relationships, you know of interpersonal conflict, maybe an insecure attachment concern. If Benji walks away and doesn't interact with them and that triggers something for them, that gives us an opportunity in real time to talk about what it's like when people that we're in a relationship with don't respond to us in the way that we need in that moment.

And so then how do we self-regulate?

Chris McDonald: Yeah, that's true. I would think it breaks down barriers too that for some people to get more engaged in therapy and cuz it is like when an animal is there, I know for me it's just like, ah, almost for release, right?

Annalisa Smithson: Yeah, yeah. Animal assisted rapport building. It happens a lot faster than does it.

Okay. Traditional rapport building. Yeah, usually within, within a few minutes we nice , we're just talk, We're casually talking. I'm telling. Story that leads seamlessly into my clients telling me their story. Yeah. He really helps the whole thing happen a lot faster and and more smoothly.

Chris McDonald: So one of my favorite parts of your book is that chapter on self doubt, and you talk about tackling self doubt using the supportive care.

With Dumble Door. I know that was your example. Yes. Can you share? Cause I love Harry Potter, so I was like, Yes. This is awesome. ,

Annalisa Smithson: can you Hello Potter head. I

Chris McDonald: know. Can you share for my listeners what this is and how it could help them when they are in self-doubt?

Annalisa Smithson: Yes. Uh, so I love this technique. So the, the person that developed this technique, he was speaking to a client.

Um, didn't have a great relationship with their parents. I, I can't remember the details of it, but, um, they were talking about how they needed someone to confide in and someone to provide feedback and, and the kind of like, Loving support that a father would provide. They were also a potter head.

Interestingly enough, the therapist who taught taught me about this was not, and had never read Harry Potter. So he was like, Who is this Dumbledore? And I was like, What? ? Oh my God. But yeah, so, so the, the client identified dumb Dumbledore as someone who could be like a surrogate father. And in those moments when they were feeling self-doubt and really needed, you know, some kind loving words.

They would conjure up Dumble door and do that sort of technique where you're like, what is it called? Like the empty chair technique? Yes. Where you're imagining the person sitting in front of you and then you can fill in the words, What would Dumble Door say in this moment? How would he. Help guide you through this really challenging moment in your life.

And I just thought that was the neatest idea. And it, of course, I was especially happy cause it was a Harry Potter character, but it could be any character, right? It could be Oprah, right. It could be a real person.

Chris McDonald: True, yeah. And thinking of their authentic. Wisdom right in that moment. But it is, to me, it's almost like if, if somebody's really connected with something like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings or whatever, you know, it's really entering their world, isn't it?

And bringing that into therapy. And I think that that really could be so powerful as a healing strategy.

Annalisa Smithson: Yeah. And we adapt this with our animals too. Is there are moments when I'll say, you know, what would Benji say? How would he advise you in this moment? Or your cat that you're so bonded with? You know, how would she respond if she heard you beating up on yourself like this?

If she had a voice, what would she tell you? That's

Chris McDonald: perfect. Especially people don't really think that way, you know, like, what would my animal say? ? I know. I don't think that

Annalisa Smithson: I for sure get some funny looks when I say these kinda things.

Chris McDonald: Me, . So this is definitely. Of the box thinking for therapy, . It really

Annalisa Smithson: is.

But I mean, I am a little creative, a little quirky . People realize


Chris McDonald: you're perfect for this podcast, . Thank you. Oh yes. We all are out of the box here that like our holistic strategies and out of the box thinking. For sure. So how can therapists that are listening show up more authentically in their sessions, cuz maybe there's some hesitation for them to do

Annalisa Smithson: that.

Well, I would say that the best therapists go to therapy. Right. So having our own person that we process with before we ever get to, you know, to our own offices, just practicing what we preach, right? So, you know, we talk to people about how to practice self care in each of your life domains and when to.

Make time for personal as opposed to work life, right? How to strike that balance. And then I see a lot of therapists do, as I say, not as I do . Am I talking about myself right now? Perhaps. Uh, but no, I, we've all been there. Yeah. We, we really do need to practice what we've preached and, and give ourselves grace, right?

To go and be human and have balance. Sometimes we take off the therapist hat and just go be a be a cat person. Go play .

Chris McDonald: Yes. Or if you're, I always say, coming out of the holistic closet, if you're struggling with being authentic with that, you gotta connect with other people who have, Right. Oh, for sure.

Really, So that you can eliminate that isolation too. And No, it's okay to be you. Yeah, absolutely. On your chapter on, um, give voice to your authentic self, you talk about creating something like a statement that says your gifts, your passions, your legacy. That help you understand what makes you tick. So how do you think this could help other people listening if they create this kind of statement?


Annalisa Smithson: think that a lot of us are surprised what we come up with when we start digging in to create our mission statement or give voice to our

Chris McDonald: authentic Yeah, I was gonna, I wasn't sure. Did you call it a statement or. Was it a value statement? Yeah,

Annalisa Smithson: or I think I might have used a list. I love lists. Yes, Yes, for sure.

If that becomes very clear as you're reading through the book, I love a good list. But yeah, so being able to, to identify what is authentic to me. That helps me in the moments when I'm especially challenged, right? When I am feeling, yeah, just emotionally worn out. When my social battery is low, I can go back to that entry in my journal and say, Okay, what is it that I actually need right now?

What have I been. Neglecting. I am a person who loves nature. That was the last time. Mm-hmm. , I took my shoes off and went outside and just walked in the grass or did a couple of sun salutations in the backyard. Right. When I have that list or that mission statement to, to work off of, then I can keep myself accountable.


Chris McDonald: okay. So keeping yourself accountable, that makes a lot of sense. I took your ideas and, and created my own. If you want me to share. I would love to hear yours. Okay, so here it is. I found yours too. On 1 37 you said, I am a therapist. I am an author, Imperfectly balanced as a mother and a part of that one in the middle.

Ah, there it is.

Annalisa Smithson: Hey, you're good. So highlight that. Would you like me to read it? So, go ahead. I know I felt weird reading yours, . So I am a therapist and an. Imperfectly balanced. As a mother and a partner, I use my gift of compassion and my love of animals to help people embrace the healing power of nature.

Chris McDonald: Beautiful. So you said, so this helps you as an accountability thing, so you can always come back to this, I guess. And yeah. These

Annalisa Smithson: are the things that matter to me, right? Like how am I doing things that matter at work, my hobbies, my family, and my love of nature and animals. That's at the core of

Chris McDonald: my being.

At the core of your being. So that's good. And it's good reminder, right? Especially when too much is going through our heads and we're maybe stressing out about things. What really matters, I guess is a good question to ask. And going back to this. All right, so I'll read mine. I would love to hear yours, . I just made mine today so I didn't spend too much time on it, but I am a therapist, podcaster, author.

Considerate partner Yogi and Cat Lover . I used my gift as a healer and my passion for wellness to help empower people to live their best life and achieve what they thought wasn't possible. The end ,

Annalisa Smithson: that was, that was beautiful. And hey, we could be sisters .

Chris McDonald: I know. And I'm trying not to copiers. I was like, Man, she made that.

Sounds so good. . No, I love

Annalisa Smithson: yours. That was wonderful. No self doubt, right? We gotta get that

Chris McDonald: self critic. It's always a self doubt when we put it out in the universe. I know we talked about when you publish a book, it's, it's like just releasing your firstborn child in the world. Cause you spent so much time and it's just like so vulnerable and it's kind of like an ick feeling in a way.

It's like, oh, people are actually gonna look at this and like, Right.

Annalisa Smithson: Yeah. People are gonna read. And I, I told my friend a couple of my friends. Right. Read it and if you love it, go ahead and, and post a comment, you know, on Amazon or whatever. Yeah. If you don't love it, maybe just comments about the cover, comment

Chris McDonald: about the, And I think that's the worst too, is waiting for feedback too.

Yeah. Oh, oh my gosh.

Annalisa Smithson: So, yeah, my best friend Danielle, she's like, you, you have to actually follow. The advice that you gave in your book, right? You can't let yourself credit. I'm like,

Chris McDonald: I know, I know. isn't that as pressured out . Oh my gosh. So what's a holistic strategy that you like to use in your practice?


Annalisa Smithson: for myself personally, Yeah. For you. Oh, so at the beginning of this year, I took an MBSR course, Not a course I participated, Right? Yeah. As a, As a client. So that's mindfulness based, stress reduction, and it's changed everything for me. I used to meditate as often as I could, right? A few times a week, few at a time.

But they helped me actually develop this into a practice where I can sit down. 45 minutes or an hour, and I can actually just tune into my body, tune into my heart, and it has just made me feel so much more at peace with all of the ups and downs in life. Yeah, I, it was everything to me. So if you have the opportunity to, to try mbsr or even just to really dig into your own meditation practice, I am a true believer in meditation.

Chris McDonald: Yeah, no, and I'm impressed with the 45 minutes cuz for me I usually do like 10 to 15 at a time. But that's impressive that you,

Annalisa Smithson: But if that's what works for you, then that's great, right? Yeah. Yeah. And

Chris McDonald: I know it is trying to find what works. Cause we do have a mbs our course I had looked into years ago at Duke.

Um, it's in our area, but, but yeah, the whole committing to that 45 minutes, I was like, that's a little, I. Dedication. Yeah, it

Annalisa Smithson: felt right. It was like, yeah, you know, we, we met once a week on Zoom, so that made it Okay. A little bit easier, right? Than having to trek out in the middle of winter to go meditate and sit still with a group of people, which actually probably would've been neat too, But that's true.

Zoom made it easy. So more

Chris McDonald: convenient. Yeah, that makes sense. And so what's a takeaway you could share today that could help listeners, could be on anything? Yeah.

Annalisa Smithson: I guess since most of your listeners are, are healers, right? Spending a lot of time giving of themselves to others, I would just encourage everyone to, to take some time for yourself too, right?

It, it does not have to be a 45 minute meditation SE session. It can be five minutes where you walk your dog, right? Or just a couple minutes where you pause and pet your cat and. Let yourself be Right for a few minutes. Absolutely.

Chris McDonald: A couple times a day. And I think that is so essential that that reconnecting, right?

Cuz we are giving so much. And if you give, give, give, but never give to yourself, you're not gonna have anything else to, to be as effective with your clients or with your family to be present with them. Right? Yeah,

Annalisa Smithson: absolutely. Well, I'm realizing that I didn't really actually say that much about the book, so can I give my go?

Sure, go ahead. Go ahead. Explanation of the book. Perfect timing. So I, I wrote this book with the sort of me as like an audience with me in mind. So each chapter is maybe 10 or 15 minutes. So quick read and it's 21 days. Uh, so I know 21 days may not be enough to actually form a habit, but then again, it may be that.

The research is inconclusive about that, but if you could just give 10 or 15 minutes to read a chapter every day for 21 days and do the technique right, Take the dog for the walk, or do the grounding technique or write the journaling prompt. The theory is at the end of that 21 days, you'll have created a really solid foundation for building self-love into your everyday life.

Chris McDonald: Yeah, thanks for sharing that. It's good to know. And then you can make your own special statement, , that you the authentic statement too, to get yourself back to your values and learning yourself and, but this has been wonderful. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. And Lisa,

Annalisa Smithson: I appreciate you. Thank you so

Chris McDonald: much, Chris.

And what's the best way for listeners to find you and learn more about you? Anna elisa

Annalisa Smithson: smithson.com is my author's site, and from there it links to all of my social

Chris McDonald: media. Perfect. And that'll be all in the show notes on the website, so don't forget to join us for another episode next Wednesday. Did you love this one?

I need your help. Please give us a five star rating and review this podcast so we can reach more listeners. This is Chris McDonald, sending each one of you much light and love. Till next time, take care. Thanks for listening to the Holistic Counseling podcast. Ready to engage with other holistic counselors.

Head on over to my Facebook group, the Holistic Counseling and Self Care Group, where you'll be able to connect with other holistic counselors just like you. You'll also gain invaluable resources on holistic practices daily. And connect with others in a fun drama-free environment. Remember to tune in next Wednesday for another episode.

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Self-Care for the Counselor - a holistic guide for helping professionals by Christine McDonald , MS,NCC,LPCS