anxiety help

Grateful to Share EMDR

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EMDR Training in Denver
EMDR Training in Denver

This morning as I sit working on preparations to teach yet another EMDR Training in Denver next month, I am feeling gratitude for the opportunity to share this invaluable technique with other clinicians. What motivates me is my wish for those new EMDR clinicians to help many more people than I could ever help alone.

As clinicians, we recognize that the way one copes with trauma and challenges in life is largely the result of the foundation and resources they develop early in life. How we, as clinicians, help them to synthesize these experiences with adaptive resources is the solution. EMDR is built on the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model developed by Francine Shapiro, PhD. When EMDR is done with the proper protocol and case conceptualization, it can serve to resolve both current and early trauma, improve internal and external resources and ultimately provide the necessary synthesis to resolve the trauma.

Clinically, I see this fundamental understanding of trauma and development play out in every area of my Denver counseling practice. It applies with clients suffering from trauma due to domestic violence, sexual abuse, military combat, loss due to death or divorce, and major life changes and transitions. When I am working with someone involved in divorce, I generally find that the difference between one that is high-conflict and one that is not lies in the trauma history of one or both parties involved. When working with a client who is traumatized by a tragic event, natural disaster or health crisis, the same principles apply. A history of earlier unresolved trauma creates maladaptive memory networks, compromising one’s ability to cope with current crises.

EMDR’s value is tremendous. It is a comprehensive therapy and, for me, it is the lens through which treatment is conceptualized. It provides resolution of the presenting problem, but more importantly, it provides resolution of past traumas that have led to maladaptive behaviors, cognitions and feelings. By impacting change in past memory networks, the ability to manage present and future obstacles and challenges improves dramatically. As a clinician, it is invaluable. I continue to be amazed and privileged to witness the way it impacts my clients’ lives, their beliefs about themselves and the world around them, and their overall therapeutic experience. That all said, I am grateful and excited to embark on another training to share this life changing therapy with others.

Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC is a clinician practicing in the Denver Tech Center. She specializes in EMDR therapy, consultation and training. For more information on EMDR or her trainings, please visit her training website at For information on Tamra’s psychotherapy practice visit


Nutritional Considerations for Reduction of Anxiety

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vegetables (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is always best to eat WHOLE FOODS as opposed to processed foods, foods high in hydrogenated oils, or refined sugar.  However, when suffering from ANXIETY, it is even more important to monitor your nutrition because many anxiety disorders can be helped dramatically by improving nutrition and eliminating or greatly reducing the intake of certain foods.TRY ADDING:

  • More whole grains such as quinoa, long grain brown rice, rolled oats, bulgur
  • Leafy greens are great!  Try adding some spinach, kale or collard greens.
  • Experimenting with veggies can be fun.  How about trying root vegetables such as parsnips, sweet potatoes or rutabagas?
  • Add more protein such as tuna, fish, chicken, yogurt.
  • GOOD FATS/OILS are so important!  High in Omega-3 vitamins, certain nuts and oils are great for you.  These can be found in fish, olive oil, almonds, just to name a few.
  • Turkey (contains tryptophan which helps to reduce anxiety, stress and depression.)


  • Processed foods (potato chips, packaged food, cookies, snack bars, pre-packaged lunch meats, etc.)
  • White bread, or bread that says “wheat” on the package as opposed to 100% whole wheat
  • Sweets like pastries, cookies, cakes, candy
  • Caffeine
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Dairy, other than some plain Greek yogurt
  • MSG found in many products such as processed foods, Chinese food, packaged soups

When trying to incorporate better foods into your diet, it is not necessary to make it complicated!  Have fun experimenting with foods and keep it simple.  Here are some ideas to get you started:


Rolled oats cooked with raisins.  Once cooked, stir in banana slices, shredded (unsweetened) coconut and a tablespoon of real maple syrup.

Quinoa cooked with raisins or blueberries.  Add one tablespoon of maple syrup and stir well. Serve with almond milk drizzled over the top.

Plain Greek yogurt with almond slivers mixed in.

An apple, cored and cut in half.  Bake cut side up at 350 degrees for 25 minutes with a spoonful of ricotta in the center of each half.  After baking, sprinkle with almond slivers and cinnamon.

Quinoa flakes cooked on the stove top and served with a tablespoon of maple syrup and strawberry slices over the top.


Hummus on whole wheat crackers, bok choy, celery, red peppers or other veggies.

Freshly ground nut butter on apples or celery.

Sautéed kale with turmeric seasoning, sea salt and sesame seeds sprinkled over the top.

Steamed spaghetti squash drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with pepper and sea salt.  Could also sauté some tomatoes and garlic and serve over the squash.

Sweet potato cooked and served with a small amount of butter and sprinkled with cinnamon. Or try adding a dollop of plain Greek yogurt then sprinkling with almond slivers.

Easy chicken salad: diced cooked chicken breast, chopped walnuts, raisins, apples mixed into a large tablespoon of canola mayonnaise, and seasoned with turmeric or curry powder.  Serve in a whole wheat pita or a lettuce leaf.

To add more protein to any meal: add some tuna on the side or a hard-boiled egg or a couple slices of turkey. 

Vegetable soup with beans and brown rice עברית...


Saute any combination of vegetables and throw in some lean chicken or turkey. Serve over long grain brown rice.

Cook tilapia with mango salsa over the top of it. Serve over brown rice or quinoa.

Soup–Heat up some organic chicken broth and stir in some quinoa pasta and fresh spinach leaves.  Toss in some other vegetables if desired, such as carrots, diced tomatoes or green beans.

Quinoa pasta with your favorite organic pasta sauce over the top.

Chicken or turkey breasts dredged in a mixture of plain Greek yogurt, lemon juice, dill and garlic and then baked at 375 for 30-40 minutes.

Greek pitas: Fill a whole wheat pita with sautéed chicken breast strips, cucumber slices, onion slices and tomato slices.  In food processor, puree plain Greek yogurt, dill, 2 T. diced onion, lemon juice and garlic powder, sea salt.  Drizzle over stuffed pitas.

Crockpot: Place cut up chicken breast, a large bottle of organic tomato juice, onion, carrots, green beans, cabbage, bay leaves, sea salt and 1 c. of chicken broth into crock pot.  Simmer on low all day.


Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC

Exercise and Anxiety

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I have long been a proponent of exercise and the value it has in helping people to manage their anxiety.  Here is an interesting article from Science Daily that really states this case:

Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC

Anxiety Trap

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Anxiety is an issue that plagues many individuals, impacting every aspect of their lives.  If you are one of those individuals, you are not alone.  Feelings of being frozen with fear of any multitude of things, unable to enjoy time with friends or family, or continually stressed by the need to leave the comfort and safety of your home in order to go to work are common experiences faced by anxiety sufferers.  As a result,  relationships are strained and careers are threatened.  Imagine the woman who cannot enjoy a dinner with friends for fear she will have a panic attack in front of her friends, or the person who cannot escape from unfounded worries about their health.  For many of these sufferers, panic attacks become an issue as well.  This can involve a racing heart, nausea, and jitters, in addition to a feeling that one may faint.  It can be absolutely immobilizing as one tries to break the cycle of worry that follows their fears, concerns, and the effort simply to avoid having a panic attack.

The roots af anxiety are often genetic and can be triggered by trauma or stress.  The acute awareness of experiences in life that are beyond control is the precipice for the worry.  Learning how to let go and manage those fears is the key to relief.  The good news is that anxiety is treatable and sufferers can get better.  Talking with a qualified therapist who works with anxiety can make all the difference.  Determining the root of the anxiety (which is often based in a traumatic event or experience), and discussing the neurobiology of the anxiety is the place to begin. 

Meanwhile, a few tools for managing those anxiety triggers can provide some relief. Practice deep breathing when you feel the panic begin.  Good deep breaths from the diaphragm, not just the upper chest, provide increased circulation of oxygen to the brain.  Not only does this promote relaxation, but it helps you think more logically, making better use of your frontal lobe. Don’t fight the anxiety (or panic) attack.  Just notice it.  When you try to fight the attack you are creating more anxiety and panic.  You are fueling the problem rather than dissipating it.  So, instead, try noticing the way you feel.  Notice things usch as your heart racing, or your jitters.  Don’t judge them or worry about them, just notice them.  They will pass, just as they have in the past.  But when you aren’t fighting it, chances are it will pass more quickly. As yourself, “Am I in danger or am I just uncomfortable?”  Anxiety is the result of our brain telling us something is dangerous when in fact what we are experiencing or anticipating is simply uncomfortable.  When we respond to feelings of discomfort the same way we would respond to danger, it is unproductive at best.  At worst, it creates heightened adrenaline, followed by panic and the infamous “flight, fight, flee or freeze” response.  So, at the first sign of the anxiety, remember to ask yourself that important question.  More than likely the answer to your question will be that you are uncomfortable, not in danger.  What’s the best way to get comfortable when you need to? The answer: relax. The good news is there are ways to break the cycle of anxiety and get your life moving forward again.  With the proper tools and knowledge, it can be managed effectively so that you not only feel better, but have the confidence that it does not have to run your life.

Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC