Monthly Archives: April 2024

A woman practicing Somatic Experiencing exercises on a rocky beach, sitting with her knees drawn to her chest and her arms wrapped around them.

Top 8 Somatic Experiencing Exercises

Let’s chat about something quite extraordinary—somatic experiencing exercises. It’s a form of therapy that can seem almost mysterious in its simplicity and profound in its effects. So, what is Somatic Experiencing, and why is it such a powerful tool in the world of mental health and emotional regulation?

What Is Somatic Experiencing?

Developed by Dr. Peter Levine, Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a body-oriented approach to healing trauma and other stress disorders. It’s based on the observation that wild prey animals, though regularly threatened, are rarely traumatized.

Unlike humans, animals in the wild use innate mechanisms to regulate and discharge the high levels of energy arousal associated with survival behaviors. SE helps people tap into these natural rhythms to release traumatic shock, which is key to transforming PTSD and the wounds of emotional and early developmental attachment trauma.

Why and How Do Somatic Experiencing Exercises Help?

Somatic Experiencing helps by:

  • Restoring Self-Regulation: Helps to reset the nervous system, promoting a return to a state of balance.
  • Releasing Stored Energy: Facilitates the release of energy and tension stored in the body during a traumatic event.
  • Reinforcing Resilience: Builds resilience to stress by enhancing the body’s capacity to handle and recover from stress.
  • Fostering Awareness: Increases body awareness, which can help identify and prevent the physical onset of stress and trauma.

What Does It Help?

  • Trauma Recovery: Particularly effective in healing the symptoms of PTSD and other trauma-related health problems.
  • Stress and Anxiety: Useful for managing and alleviating symptoms of anxiety and chronic stress.
  • Physical Symptoms: Addresses physical symptoms associated with trauma such as chronic pain, digestive issues, and insomnia.
  • Emotional Regulation: Assists in better emotional regulation and the development of healthier coping mechanisms.

The Top 8 Somatic Experiencing Exercises

Now, let’s explore some of the best Somatic Experiencing exercises that can help create a sense of calm and stability in your body. These are simple yet powerful techniques to start incorporating into your daily routine (and below we give you some steps to try on your own):

  1. Grounding: Feel the floor beneath your feet or your back against a chair. Notice the support of the ground. This connection can help bring you back to the present moment.
  2. Resourcing: Identify resources—people, places, or memories that evoke feelings of peace and safety. Imagining these can calm your nervous system.
  3. Orientation: Slowly look around your environment, noticing colors, shapes, and objects. This helps reassure your nervous system that the environment is safe.
  4. Pendulation: Notice sensations in your body that feel comfortable, then slowly shift your attention to areas of discomfort. Pendulate back and forth to gradually reduce intensity of distress.
  5. Tracking: Pay attention to bodily sensations and changes. For example, you might notice warmth in your hands or a tingling in your toes. This awareness helps you stay connected to the present.
  6. Titration: Very gently expose yourself to distressing sensations or emotions in small doses—only as much as you can handle without becoming overwhelmed.
  7. Completion of Motor Actions: Often, traumatic responses are physical reactions frozen in time. Through SE, you might be guided to slowly complete a previously interrupted defensive motor response, like pushing away or running.
  8. Somatic Narration: As you move through exercises, narrate what’s happening in your body. Speaking it aloud can help integrate the experience.

Somatic Experience Exercise: Step-by-Step

Ready to Try It?


Find a quiet, comfortable space where you can sit or stand without interruption. If you’re sitting, choose a chair where your feet can rest flat on the floor, and your back can lean slightly against the back of the chair.

  1. Begin by Taking a Deep Breath:

    • Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your belly to expand as you fill your lungs with air.
    • Exhale slowly through your mouth, letting out all the air and any tension you might be holding.
    • Repeat this breathing three times, each time noticing the air moving in and out of your body.
  2. Feel Your Feet:

    • Place your feet flat on the floor. Feel the soles of your feet touching the ground. Notice the pressure of the floor beneath you. Is it cold or warm? Hard or soft?
    • Imagine roots growing from the soles of your feet deep into the earth, anchoring you securely to this spot.
  3. Notice Your Body’s Contact Points:

    • Feel the weight of your body in the chair. Notice where your body touches the chair—the back of your thighs, your back, perhaps your arms.
    • Pay attention to these points of contact. How does the support of the chair feel against your body?
  4. Observe Your Surroundings:

    • Without moving your head, let your eyes wander around the room. Notice objects, colors, shapes, and textures.
    • Acknowledge these details quietly in your mind, letting each observation ground you more deeply into the present.
  5. Return to Your Breath:

    • Bring your focus back to your breathing. Feel each inhale and exhale as a grounding force.
    • With each breath, imagine drawing strength from the earth through your feet and spreading calm throughout your body.
  6. Check in With Your Body:

    • Notice any changes in your body or emotions. Do you feel calmer, more present?
    • Acknowledge any sensations or feelings that have arisen without judgment.
  7. Close the Exercise:

    • Take one more deep, grounding breath. As you exhale, thank yourself for taking this time to connect with your present experience.
    • When you feel ready, gently wiggle your fingers and toes, and slowly open your eyes if they were closed.

Each Step a Gentle Forward

These exercises might feel small, but each step is a profound leap forward in healing. The beauty of Somatic Experiencing lies in its ability to make vast changes through minute, almost imperceptible movements and moments. Remember, the key is patience and gentle attention—your body knows what it needs, and with Somatic Experiencing, you’re just learning to listen again.

At Lido Wellness our team is experienced at brining SE into treatment when it proves useful or, along with the patient, we believe it could be effective. If you want to know more about how we use somatic experiencing exercises in our mental health program, call us today: 949-541-8466.

This entry was posted in Mental Health Therapy Models on by .
Close-up image of a woman coloring a mandala symbolizing the use of art therapy in neurodivergent mental health care.

Neurodivergent Mental Health Care: A New Look

Imagine walking into a room with multiple radios playing. However, every radio station is tuned to a different genre. Now instead of music, they’re broadcasting thoughts, feelings, and perceptions, and want you to engage.

In a similar fashion, a neurodivergent individual experiences a multitude of thoughts and sensory inputs simultaneously. It is a mind that processes the world uniquely, and, indeed, remarkably. This is why neurodivergent mental health care is such an important topic.

Neurodivergence isn’t a straightforward concept—or a static one. So, let’s unpack it.

What Exactly Is Neurodivergent Mental Health Care?

Firstly, to be neurodivergent means your brain functions in ways that diverge from the societal standards of ‘neurotypical.’ This term broadly encompasses conditions like autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, dyslexia, and others.

Interestingly, being neurodivergent isn’t a deficit—it’s a different way of interacting with the world. Now, considering that, let’s delve into how this relates to mental health.

Connecting the Dots: Neurodivergence and Mental Health Disorders

Neurodivergence and mental health disorders are not one and the same, but they often share the same dance floor. For instance, someone with ADHD may experience heightened anxiety or depression as a byproduct of their ADHD challenges.

Therefore, while neurodivergence is not a mental health disorder per se, the challenges posed by a neurodivergent mind can benefit from specifically designed neurodivergent mental health care.

Common Mental Health Disorders Among the Neurodivergent

Depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder are not just buzzwords. They are significant challenges that frequently appear alongside neurodivergent conditions. This isn’t coincidental but rather a reflection of the unique pressures and sensory landscapes experienced by those who are neurodivergent.

There is no single description for a person who is neurodivergent. Each person is unique in how they interact with how their brain functions. However, here are some typical ways various disorders intersect with neurodivergence.


  • Social Isolation: Neurodivergent individuals may face social challenges due to differences in communication and social interaction styles. This can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, which are significant risk factors for depression.
  • Perceived Failure: Repeated difficulties in school, work, or social environments can lead to a persistent sense of failure, lowering self-esteem and increasing the risk of depression.


  • Overstimulation: Many neurodivergent people have heightened sensory sensitivities. The everyday hustle and bustle that is merely distracting to neurotypical individuals can be profoundly unsettling, leading to anxiety.
  • Predictability Needs: The need for predictable routines is often shared amongst neurodivergent people. Unexpected changes—whether minor or major—can trigger intense anxiety.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD):

  • Control Through Rituals: For some neurodivergent individuals, engaging in repetitive behaviors or rituals can be a way to exert control over an otherwise unpredictable environment. This need for control and certainty can manifest as OCD.
  • Heightened Focus on Specific Interests: While a focused interest is often seen as a hallmark of neurodivergence, it can sometimes morph into compulsive behaviors, particularly if the individual uses these interests to manage stress or anxiety.

Customizing Mental Health Treatment for Neurodivergent Individuals

Standard mental health treatments are not one-size-fits-all, and this is especially true for those who are neurodivergent. For example, traditional therapy sessions that depend heavily on verbal communication may not be ideal for someone with autism.

Instead, therapies that leverage strengths and accommodate individual sensory preferences can be more effective. This might include the use of visual aids, activity-based therapies, or structured routines that provide a predictable therapy environment.

Neurodivergent Mental Health care: What Works Best?

Behavioral therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), can be adapted to be more concrete and structured, thus playing to the strengths of those with neurodivergent traits. Additionally, incorporating interests and passions into the therapy can significantly enhance engagement and outcomes.

Moreover, supportive therapies like occupational or speech therapy are often crucial adjuncts, helping individuals manage the nuances of their neurodivergent traits effectively.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP): Why Consider Them?

IOPs can be a game-changer in neurodivergent mental health care. These programs offer structured therapy sessions several times a week, providing continuity of care that is crucial for building new coping strategies and habits.

They also offer a supportive environment where individuals can connect with others facing similar challenges, which can be incredibly validating and empowering.

Why Neurodivergent Mental Health Care Matters

Understanding and supporting neurodivergence in mental health care isn’t just about providing a service—it’s about changing narratives and enhancing lives. It’s about recognizing that when a neurodivergent individual seeks help, they aren’t just looking for coping mechanisms. They’re looking for a way to thrive in a world that processes differently. They are looking for tested strategies that will help things click. And that’s a goal worth pursuing, isn’t it?

Getting Neurodivergent Mental Health Care in Orange County

If you or someone you know is neurodivergent and navigating the complexities of mental health challenges, consider Lido Wellness Center in Newport Beach, CA. Our Intensive Outpatient Program is designed specifically to support neurodivergent individuals through tailored therapies that address both their unique needs and mental health conditions. Connect with us today to learn how our specialized care can help you or your loved one live a more fulfilling life.

This entry was posted in Neurodivergent Mental Health on by .
a man looking upward in contemplation, superimposed onto a serene mountain landscape. symbolizing hope and clarity in discussions about who diagnoses mental illness.

Who Diagnoses Mental Illness?

When we talk about who diagnoses mental illness, we often think of the process as something far removed from our daily experiences. However, it’s closer to home than many of us realize. Mental illnesses are real, common, and treatable conditions that can affect anyone, regardless of age, culture, or socioeconomic status. And diagnoses can happen quickly, privately, and accurately.

Moreover, understanding the relationship between mental illness and mental health disorders, as well as knowing who can diagnose and how to get help, is crucial for individuals and families alike.

Understanding Mental Illness and Mental Health Disorders

Firstly, let’s understand what we mean by mental illness. Essentially, it refers to conditions that affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, or behavior.

These can include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders, and addictive behaviors. Often, the terms “mental illness” and “mental health disorders” are used interchangeably, highlighting a spectrum of conditions that can vary in severity and duration.

Who Can Diagnose Mental Illness Conditions?

When it comes to diagnosing mental health disorders, the process is typically carried out by qualified healthcare professionals such as psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and sometimes general practitioners if they have adequate mental health training. Here’s a closer look at what the diagnosis process involves and what it looks like:

Who Gives the Diagnosis?

  1. Psychiatrists: Medical doctors specialized in mental health, capable of prescribing medication and offering psychotherapy.
  2. Clinical Psychologists: Professionals with doctoral degrees in psychology, specializing in diagnosing mental health disorders and providing non-medical therapy.
  3. Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners: Registered nurses with advanced training in psychiatric nursing, able to diagnose and prescribe medications.
  4. General Practitioners: Sometimes the first point of contact, they can provide initial assessments and referrals to mental health specialists.

What Does the Diagnosis Process Look Like?

The diagnosis process usually involves several steps:

  • Initial Assessment: A detailed discussion about the patient’s symptoms, medical history, and possibly a physical examination to rule out other conditions.
  • Psychological Evaluation: May include standardized diagnostic tests and psychological questionnaires.
  • Observation of Behavior: Mental health professionals might observe behaviors and emotional states over several sessions.
  • Use of Diagnostic Criteria: Professionals use tools like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) or the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) to match symptoms with specific criteria.

Is There a Certificate or Record?

  • Diagnostic Record: There isn’t typically a “certificate” given to patients like a diploma or award. Instead, the diagnosis is a part of the patient’s medical record. This record includes all evaluations, treatment plans, and notes from sessions, which are confidential and protected under patient privacy laws.
  • Confidentiality and Access: Only authorized personnel and the patient can access these records. Patients have the right to request copies of their medical records at any time.

Who Diagnoses Mental Illness: Does It Haunt You, or Is It Helpful?

  • Stigma vs. Support: There can be a stigma associated with mental health diagnoses, but this is changing as awareness and understanding of mental health issues grow. Receiving a diagnosis is generally seen as a positive step because it’s the first step toward getting appropriate treatment and managing symptoms effectively.
  • Legal and Social Implications: In terms of legality and social implications, a diagnosis is meant to be a tool for treatment and understanding, not a label that defines someone or their potential.

Laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protect individuals with mental health disorders from discrimination in various aspects of life, including employment and education.

A diagnosis of a mental health disorder is primarily a beneficial tool designed to help. It creates a better understanding of a person’s condition and to tailor treatment that can enhance the quality of life.

It is a critical step in the journey toward recovery and managing mental health effectively.

The Spectrum of Mental Health Disorders

Mental health disorders are generally categorized into a few groups: mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and eating disorders. When discussing who diagnoses mental illness, understanding how each category serves as an umbrella for various conditions that manifest differently is important. Though unique, many of these share some common symptoms that disrupt a person’s ability to function.

Mood Disorders

Mood disorders primarily affect a person’s emotional state, which can distort their view of the world.

  • Major Depressive Disorder: Persistent sadness and a lack of interest in previously joyful activities.
  • Bipolar Disorder: Involves episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs.
  • Dysthymia (Persistent Depressive Disorder): A chronic form of depression where symptoms last for at least two years.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder: Milder form of bipolar disorder with less severe mood swings.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Depression associated with changes in seasons, typically worsening in winter.

Anxiety Disorders

These disorders involve excessive fear or anxiety that affects daily functioning.

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): Chronic anxiety, worry, and tension, even without a specific stressor.
  • Panic Disorder: Characterized by recurrent, unexpected panic attacks and fear of future attacks.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia): Extreme fear of social or performance situations.
  • Specific Phobias: Intense fear of a specific object or situation, like heights or flying.
  • Agoraphobia: Fear of places or situations where escape might be difficult, leading to avoidance of these areas.

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are marked by enduring, inflexible patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving.

  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): Instability in personal relationships, self-image, and emotions.
  • Narcissistic Personality Disorder: A deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder: A disregard for and violation of the rights of others, often criminal behavior.
  • Avoidant Personality Disorder: Extreme social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and sensitivity to rejection.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder (not OCD): Preoccupation with orderliness, perfection, and control.

Psychotic Disorders

These disorders involve distorted awareness and thinking.

  • Schizophrenia: Characterized by delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking.
  • Schizoaffective Disorder: Features both symptoms of schizophrenia and mood disorder symptoms.
  • Brief Psychotic Disorder: Sudden, short periods of psychotic behavior, often in response to a very stressful event.
  • Delusional Disorder: The presence of strong, yet false beliefs that are resistant to reason.
  • Shared Psychotic Disorder (Folie à Deux): Delusions transmitted from one individual to another.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders involve obsessive concerns with weight and disruptive eating patterns that negatively impact health.

  • Anorexia Nervosa: An obsessive fear of gaining weight and a refusal to maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Bulimia Nervosa: Frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food followed by behavior to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting.
  • Binge Eating Disorder: Regularly eating excessive amounts of food but without behaviors to prevent weight gain, leading to emotional and physical distress.
  • Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID): Lack of interest in eating or food avoidance based on the sensory characteristics of food or a past negative experience.
  • Pica: Persistent eating of non-nutritive substances, such as dirt or paint.

Who Diagnoses Mental Illness in Treatment

A thorough diagnosis can be a gateway to targeted treatment options. However, obtaining a specific diagnosis is not always necessary to begin treatment for mental health concerns. Many mental health facilities provide support and preliminary care even before a full diagnosis is established, helping to alleviate symptoms and address distress.

Integration of Diagnosis in Therapy

Moreover, mental health facilities often play a crucial role in both diagnosing and treating mental disorders. During counseling sessions, if symptoms suggest a specific mental health disorder, a facility may refer a client to a specialist for a formal assessment. This integrated approach ensures that individuals receive comprehensive care that addresses all aspects of their well-being.

The Benefits of Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) for Mental Illness Diagnosis

For people diagnosed with a mental health disorder, considering an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) can be particularly beneficial. IOPs offer structured therapy while you to live at home and continue with daily activities. There are also live-in options.

They provide a higher level of care than typical outpatient programs, including group and individual therapy sessions that focus on developing coping strategies and sustaining recovery.

Why Seek Help?

After understanding who diagnoses mental illness, Engaging with a mental health professional or a facility can provide relief, promote healing, and significantly enhance the quality of life.

Mental health disorders, when left untreated, can lead to worsening symptoms and additional health complications. Early intervention can prevent these issues and support a more fulfilling, productive life.

Get Help for a Mental Illness Diagnosis in Newport Beach

If you or someone you know is experiencing challenges with mental health, Lido Wellness Center in Newport Beach is here to help. Our team of experts uses a comprehensive approach to diagnose and treat mental health disorders, providing support every step of the way. Don’t wait to seek the help you deserve; contact Lido Wellness Center today and start your journey toward better mental health. Call today: 949-541-8466.

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A solitary man walks along a beach at sunset showing the solitude and contemplation related to overcoming betrayal trauma.

Understanding Betrayal Trauma

Today, we’ll explore the intricate world of betrayal trauma. This condition, perhaps less talked about than other forms of psychological and mental health, is profoundly impactful and deserves our attention.

Can Betrayal Cause Trauma?

Absolutely, betrayal can indeed lead to trauma. When someone we trust deeply, such as a partner, friend, or family member, violates our trust, it can shake the very foundation of our safety and security. It can feel like a personal attack to our sense of stability and self-worth. This is the essence of betrayal trauma.

This emotional shock does more than just upset us. Deep betrayal can trigger a trauma response that is as severe as the response to physical or life-threatening events. These responses can range from intense fear, hyper-vigilance, flashbacks, and even disassociation.

Essentially, your brain sees it as a threat to survival. It goes into action, mobilizing the body’s fight-or-flight response just as it would in reaction to a direct physical danger.

Deeper Cuts

Moreover, when the source of the trauma is someone close, the pain is compounded by a sense of deep personal loss. Trust, once fully believed in, now becomes a question mark in all interpersonal relations. This sadly means all your relationships suffer.

Accordingly, the shift can lead to long-term changes in personal relationships and self-esteem. So yes.  further betrayal trauma is a big deal that affects your mental health.

How Betrayal Trauma Manifests

Betrayal trauma shows up in several ways. Typically, people have intense emotional pain, confusion, and a profound sense of loss. Also, symptoms like anxiety, depression, or even physical symptoms such as insomnia and nausea are common.

Importantly, the psychological impact can lead to difficulties in trusting others in the future.

How Do You Know If You Have Trauma from Betrayal?

  • Persistent sadness or mood swings
  • Feelings of anger or irritability towards the betrayer
  • A tendency to isolate oneself from others
  • Recurring thoughts about the betrayal
  • Difficulty trusting new people

If these symptoms persist and interfere with daily functioning, it may point to betrayal trauma.

What Kinds of Things Might Cause It?
Several scenarios might lead to this trauma. Here’s a brief list:

  • Infidelity in a romantic relationship
  • A trusted friend sharing personal information without consent
  • Financial deceit among family members
  • Business partners engaging in fraudulent activities
  • A caregiver failing to meet the needs of their dependent

How Does Betrayal Trauma Affect Your Brain?

Betrayal trauma affects your brain by triggering the stress response system. This can lead to an increase in stress hormones like cortisol, which, over time, can impact various brain functions such as memory and emotional regulation.

Additionally, the brain might adapt to expect betrayal. In essence, your brain begins to be unable to enter or sustain relationships.

How to Heal from Betrayal Trauma

Healing is a delicate process that involves several steps. Firstly, acknowledging the pain and accepting that the betrayal occurred is crucial. Furthermore, engaging in therapy, connecting with others who have similar experiences, and gradually rebuilding trust are vital components of recovery.

What Are Some Good Therapies to Help?

Several therapeutic approaches can help. These include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which helps individuals reframe negative thoughts about the betrayal and develop healthier coping strategies.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), which has been effective in processing and integrating traumatic memories.
  • Group therapy, providing a supportive environment where individuals can share their experiences and learn from others.
  • Mindfulness and meditation practices, which can help calm the mind and reduce the physiological symptoms of stress.

Get Help for Betrayal Trauma in Newport Beach IOP

If you or someone you know is struggling with feelings of betrayal and its repercussions, Lido Wellness Center in Newport Beach, CA, offers specialized support and therapy designed to help.

Call us today to learn how our personalized mental health programs can assist in the journey toward recovery and emotional well-being. Call now: 949-541-8466.

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