Women In Wellness: Caitlin Weese Of Intuitive Healing and Wellness On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

Women In Wellness: Caitlin Weese Of Intuitive Healing and Wellness On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

You won’t be the right therapist (or insert whatever here) for everyone, and that’s okay. When I first came into the field, I worried about being liked by all my clients. This caused me to show up inauthentically and try to be the therapist and person that I’m not. Even worse, despite all my shapeshifting, I still wasn’t the right fit for everyone! Learning that I don’t have to be was a gigantic relief. By showing up authentically, I show my clients it is safe for them to do the same and attract the clients who are a good fit.

Today, more than ever, wellness is at the forefront of societal discussions. From mental health to physical well-being, women are making significant strides in bringing about change, introducing innovative solutions, and setting new standards. Despite facing unique challenges, they break barriers, inspire communities, and are reshaping the very definition of health and wellness. In this series called women in wellness we are talking to women doctors, nurses, nutritionists, therapists, fitness trainers, researchers, health experts, coaches, and other wellness professionals to share their stories and insights. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Caitlin holds.

Caitlin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Maryland and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, with a primary concentration in Clinical Social Work and specialization in Behavioral Health. Go Terps! Caitlin is also a 200 Hour Registered Yoga Teacher, an Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) practitioner, and a Certified Trauma Therapy Professional. Caitlin founded her practice in 2022, focusing solely on trauma and its impacts. Caitlin offers individual therapy, EMDR intensives, group therapy, consultation for other therapists, and trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness. Caitlin holds space for millennial women to let go of perfectionism, stop people-pleasing, and heal from the past, offering tailored treatment plans to meet your needs and specialized care.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

Absolutely! I was initially drawn to my current work after volunteering as a “victim advocate” and working with survivors of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and stalking. From there, I went on to get a Master’s degree in social work and complete additional training and hours to become a clinical social worker. After graduating, I worked at a treatment center and then a group practice before starting my practice in 2022. Alongside this process, I fell in love with yoga as a way to manage my stress, saw its utility in mental health, and became a registered yoga teacher specializing in trauma-informed yoga. Today, I run a practice focusing solely on trauma treatment, integrating yoga, mindfulness, and many other approaches. I have a bit of an obsession with continuing education courses and am always taking something! I have two cats, two dogs (who sometimes make cameos in my sessions), and many houseplants!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

That’s tough! In 2019, I graduated from school eager to jump into “the work” and hit the ground running. I ended up taking a job at an agency where I saw anywhere from 31- 40 people per week with all sorts of struggles. I was barely making ends meet and coming home at the end of every day running on fumes. I began to feel burnt out, anxious, and trapped. This is not what I had in mind when I took on all those student loans! I began to think maybe I had made a mistake in my career. I reached a breaking point where I realized that my current position jeopardized my health and well-being. I had to make a change and did it a short time later. Looking back, I see that as a huge lesson. Oftentimes, we can look to others to respect our needs and limitations. However, I learned that it’s my job to advocate for myself and that no one will set boundaries for me. That has been truly life-changing.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about a mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

This is a great question! One of the biggest mistakes I made in starting my career was linking my success and career to my identity and self-worth. This is always one of the most significant warnings I give new clinicians. We often feel pressured to “get results for the client,” and this kind of thinking has always been a one-way trip to the circus! It showed up in feeling like my worth was contingent on my outcomes and making work my whole identity. I think, as women, we can be taught to take responsibility for others’ feelings, and there was a lot of unlearning I had to do around that. I realized that in doing that, I’m robbing the other person of the ability to take ownership in their healing process and making their healing about me. I also learned that there is more to life than work! While I LOVE what I do and am beyond passionate about it, it’s only one part of my life, and having time to invest in all the other parts of my life helps me to show up at work more effectively.

Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

It’s estimated that fifty to seventy percent of people will experience trauma at some point in their lifetime. In recent years, COVID and other world events have exposed even more people to traumatic experiences. These folks live with the effects of these experiences for the rest of their lives. This can lead to everything from chronic health issues and pain to violence, legal struggles, and relationship problems moving forward. These impacts create a ripple effect, impacting their children, friends, and the larger population. It is my hope in helping people identify and treat the symptoms of trauma earlier, we can help break the chains of intergenerational trauma, lower healthcare costs, and decrease the number of people who become violent offenders or perpetrate abuse.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?

1. Learn About Your Nervous System: This is my number one for a reason! Our nervous system plays a massive role in many things, and understanding what it’s communicating and why can help us reclaim our power. We often forget that we are highly evolved animals and that our brains have evolved to help us survive. Therefore, our nervous system’s main job is to keep us “safe,” not “happy.” If we can see our day-to-day anxieties and anger through that lens, we can become curious about what they’re communicating and how we can best support ourselves. Beyond this, we can let go of the judgment that often comes with these feelings, seeing them as messengers instead of albatrosses.

2. Start Meditating: I can’t tell you how many clients I recommend this to and how many groan at the sound! Meditation has a ton of benefits, from growing our hippocampus and lowering our stress levels to helping improve our attention span. Taking even two minutes in the morning or midday to focus on your breathing can help to shift the trajectory of your whole day. Expert hint: you’re not doing it “wrong,” thoughts will come up, this is normal. Just try and set them aside and come back to focusing on your breathing. Think of it like going to the gym for your brain; the more you practice, the easier it will get.

3 . Stop Apologizing for Everything: Apologizing when genuine harm has been caused is a sign of empathy and a way to repair relationships. Apologizing for your existence, however, can erode our self-esteem and communicate a lack of self-respect to others. Women especially are socialized to over-apologize, and it can become a hard habit to break. Tomorrow, when you wake up, set an intention to notice how many times you say “I’m sorry” throughout your day and keep count. The number may surprise you! Get curious about when and why you apologize and identify patterns in your behavior. The next time you feel the urge to apologize, pause and get curious, is the apology warranted?

4. Stop Trying to Please Everyone: Someone once said, “A happy person never made everyone happy.” So often, we spend our days walking on eggshells to keep the people around us happy. We say “yes” when we mean “no” and do things we hate to win the approval of others (i.e., choking down sushi because you’re too afraid to tell your partner you hate it.) We may even seek out people we feel rejected by and attempt to win them over. In the hopes of preserving or creating relationships with people we may not even like, we jeopardize the relationship that matters most: our relationship with ourselves. The right people will be okay with the fact that you have to say “no” and don’t like sushi. The sooner you’re honest with yourself and others, the sooner you will find them.

5. Lean into relationships that energize you: How we feel after spending time with someone can tell us a lot about their impact on our mental health. If you leave get-togethers with friends or family feeling drained and resentful, that’s a sign to reevaluate the time you invest in the relationship. Alternatively, leaving feeling energized, effervescent, and seen can be seen as a sign to invest more in these relationships. You deserve to have relationships that elevate you rather than pull you down.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

This is tough! I would say to normalize therapy and make it accessible. While our society has come lightyears in its views on therapy, there is still a long way to go. Going to therapy can be seen as a sign of weakness and something you can only do if you’re “in crisis.” This huge myth results in an uphill battle for people entering sessions.

Beyond this, it leads to increased rates of violence, substance use, and chronic health issues, which all cost us more in the long run. Alongside that, our government needs to prioritize mental health in the same way it does physical health. While acknowledging the importance of mental health is excellent, it’s pointless if our infrastructure leads to burnt-out, underpaid therapists and clients who can’t afford treatment. We need concrete legislative changes that make insurance companies pay therapists living wages and financial assistance programs for those who can’t afford treatment.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. How people treat you isn’t about you: Let that settle in! This was a massive learning experience and something that has gotten easier over time for me. When I first heard this concept, I completely did not buy it and thought it was complete BS; I’m just being honest! But once I learned what it actually meant, the way I saw it changed. Our actions absolutely impact other people; however, how they choose to manage that impact is up to them. Think about a recent tough day you had; maybe you were running late and got frustrated with your spouse, telling them to “move it!” While it’s fair for you to be frustrated with the situation, how you choose to handle it is up to you and likely a reflection of your own stress and anxiety. So the next time someone flips you off for driving the speed limit, don’t take it personally; it has nothing to do with you.
  2. You won’t be the right therapist (or insert whatever here) for everyone, and that’s okay. When I first came into the field, I worried about being liked by all my clients. This caused me to show up inauthentically and try to be the therapist and person that I’m not. Even worse, despite all my shapeshifting, I still wasn’t the right fit for everyone! Learning that I don’t have to be was a gigantic relief. By showing up authentically, I show my clients it is safe for them to do the same and attract the clients who are a good fit.
  3. Self-care is difficult in a society that doesn’t prioritize mental health: It’s a common joke in the mental health world that jobs preach “self-care” while failing to make any structural changes to make that possible. This isn’t totally their fault; as a society, we don’t prioritize mental healthcare in the same ways we do physical healthcare (see soapbox speech above). This creates a situation where you’re being told to “take time off” and “see fewer clients” without being given the financial or occupational support to do so. Non-therapist readers, I hope I haven’t lost you yet! This applies to you too! Everyone in society faces conflicting messages to “treat yo self” and take care of your mental health while navigating a society that encourages us to “hustle,” equating our worth with our productivity. You are not bad or wrong for struggling with self-care. It makes sense, and don’t stay stuck there; take a look at what you can control and start making changes there.
  4. It’s not your job to “fix” anyone: Despite what the Coldplay song might say, I will not try to “fix you.” As cliche as it may sound, “fixing” someone means they’re “broken,” and I just don’t view it that way. I see us all as bonsai trees (go with me for a minute). If you’ve ever seen one, you know how their caretakers painstakingly nurture the trees getting them to grow in different directions. We’re the same way; trauma and difficult experiences force us to change and grow in ways we may not have expected, but we grow just the same. I see myself as an ally to help you decide where YOU want to “grow” from here. I don’t force you down the path but walk along with you on it.
  5. You don’t need to be “fully healed” to help others. A month or two before graduating with my master’s, I remember having the thought, “Okay, I have two more months to become perfect and fully healed before I’m a therapist.” HAHAhaha! I hope you’re laughing; I am. I’ve come to believe that the idea of being “fully healed” is a fallacy. None of us are perfect, and I don’t believe we ever stop healing or growing. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be of service to others and help in their growth. Now with that being said, it’s critical that you are doing your own healing work, and further along than whoever you’re helping, in order to be effective.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Definitely mental health; as a therapist, I’ve seen firsthand the impact neglecting your mental health can have and the incredible growth possible when you invest in taking care of your mental health. To me, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing the “lights come on” in a client’s eyes as they realize they indeed are worthy and loveable and take steps to create the life they dream about. Beyond the impacts on quality of life, we are learning more about mental health and its impact on physical health. Research has begun to show connections between anxiety and chronic stress and the development of chronic health conditions such as fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and high blood pressure. From that standpoint alone, taking care of your mental health, even if it is just to preserve your physical health, is highly important. Lastly, caring for our mental health sets an example for those around us, showing them that change and healing are possible.

Thank you for these fantastic insights! We wish you continued success and good health.

About the Interviewer: Wanda Malhotra is a wellness entrepreneur, lifestyle journalist, and the CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living. CMB empowers individuals with educational resources and vetted products to help them make informed choices. Passionate about social causes like environmental preservation and animal welfare, Wanda writes about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact and sustainability, simplifying wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at CrunchyMamaBox.com .

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