I am an outpatient therapist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker providing counseling services to adults, couples, children, and families. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and outpatient therapist in Wilmington, NC.
I obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Master of Social Work degree from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and postgraduate training in Gestalt Therapy from the Seaside Gestalt Institute. I have experience working with children, adults, families, and couples in a variety of settings, including acute inpatient hospitalization (civilian and military), community mental health agencies, and in-home services for families and at-risk youth. I have a special interest in working with parents, young adults, veterans, and clients who present with stress and anxiety disorders. To schedule an appointment, please email me at [email protected] I am also a provider with Talkspace, an internet-based therapy platform. You can reach my virtual therapy room at https://www.talkspace.com/room/hollianneibarra
Operating as usual
Love to see it👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼
The Hands Free Revolution
One of the best decisions I ever made was to stop hiding my humanness from my kids.
Struggling, especially in a difficult season of life, is not something to be ashamed of—it’s what makes us human. At times, we all need support. We all need to be reminded that life is not without challenges or disappointment. It’s better to come to terms with that fact than to ignore it, repress it, or deny it.
By displaying authenticity, humanness, and self-acceptance during stressful situations and difficult seasons of life, I hope to alleviate some of the future pressure my kids are bound to put on themselves. I hope they will see through my example that it’s brave to ask for help.
In a world that looks for the quick fix… that powers through the pain… that resists the need to talk about hard things like mental health, we often walk right past ourselves and our loved ones in times of struggle. When we do, we forfeit the chance to connect, heal, and strengthen through an honest, loving response.
Let’s not walk by.
The truth is often where the healing begins.
-Rachel Macy Stafford, from the book #LiveLoveNow
My friends, our children need to know that pain is a part of life—it is not something to hide or repress. And by voicing our struggles in appropriate ways, we can model forms of healing, coping, and resilience building. I am deeply grateful to know that my book, LIVE LOVE NOW, is helping guide and support kids and adults through this challenge time > https://amzn.to/3beSeOA
Parenting On Your Own Path with Dr. Emily W. King
One of the biggest sources of stress for us all is that our expectations are higher than the reality of life. My son’s art supplies spoke to me this morning as a representation of this stress. When we teach ourselves and our kids to expect variation in our day and how to pivot and problem solve when it happens, we can conquer stress. #stressmanagement #resilience #expectations #unexpected #growthmindset #parenting
In order to heal and change generational patterns we must first become our own loving parent.
This means we go back for our inner child and find out what she needs.
This starts with raising your somatic awareness.
Somatic awareness begins with mindfulness.
Be still when you’re feeling sad.
Sit with angry.
Be with joy.
Get to know annoyed.
Rest with hurt and disappointment.
What do you feel and where do you feel it in your body?
Put your hand there.
Engage your curiosity there.
Induce your compassion there.
Don’t spend time wishing it different.
Don’t will it gone or hope for it’s demise.
Be with it.
Remind it you aren’t going anywhere.
All the parts, not just the ones fit for society.
Guilt can be a learned behavior and can sometimes be unhelpful when you are attempting to stand in your power.
Shame and guilt are used to control the behaviors of others. If you aren't doing anything bad (illegal, intentionally harmful), continue to act.
When you are feeling guilty, acknowledge your feelings and proceed.
Trigger Warning: Self-Injury/Self-Harm
I missed the memo that yesterday was Self-Injury Awareness Day, a day to provide education and eliminate the stigma around self-harm/self-injury, so forgive me for being late. As many as 2 million people engage in self-harming behavior. Sometimes it's to deal with emotions, to feel something when you're feeling numb, to stop feeling if you're overwhelmed, as a means to control something in your life, not everyone does it for the same reason.
I self-harmed over the course of five years, with one year of that being very frequent. I was in my early 20s and I had no idea how to handle my emotions. They were SO strong. I was very explode-y. Self-harming was like an instant way to release that pressure of feeling so many emotions so powerfully and I felt addicted to that release.
I wasn't doing it for attention. I was doing it because I had no other coping skills. There are three things that primarily helped me quit.
🧡 I truly wanted to stop.
🧡 When I had the urge to SI I would tend to that area of my body instead. I would clean that area, rub ointment or lotion on my skin, slowly massaging it in. And then sometimes I'd bandage it even though there wasn't anything to bandage or I'd write a loving message on myself with a marker. It was such a soothing and loving act and it really helped me show love to my body at a time when I wanted to fall into self-destruction.
🧡 I learned about DBT and focused on emotion regulation and ways to do that that were healthy. My explode-y out-of-control emotions were not "just the way I am" but a lack of tools/resources that I could learn.
If it's something that you struggle with, keep at it. You're re-wiring your entire brain to react differently to stress/emotional overload/ and that's not an overnight process.
*Everyone is different and this is based on my own personal experience.
*Please reach out for help if you're in danger of harming yourself. You can text 741741 to speak to a crisis counselor.
“I hate running.”
“I’m not athletic.”
“I don’t like working out.”
Were some of the things I’d told myself my entire life. And now? I’ve completed two half marathons and countless 5ks in the past two years. I *look forward* to running and strength training 5-7 times a week. It helps me feel strong. It reminds me that I can do hard things, even when I’m not innately “good” at them. Running gives me alone time when that’s hard to come by. Strength training connects me to others and helps me build and maintain friendships.
When we tell ourselves lies that limit our engagement or discount our abilities, we rob ourselves of opportunities for growth. We rob ourselves of opportunities to connect with others or to fully embody our authentic selves.
I’m curious; what lies have you been telling yourself? Which labels are you ready to shred?
My daughter recently cared for a neighbor’s dog while the family was away for the week. The only time my daughter needed my help was during the 10 to 11pm shift since she gets up at the crack of dawn for swim practice.
Although I agreed to help, I was a little nervous about it. I am not a dog person; I am a cat person—to the nth degree.
Turns out, Francis the Dog was really excited to see me each night—and that really encouraged me.
In addition, Francis the Dog had a lot of tricks and ways of communicating that blew my cat-loving mind.
He showed me which toy in the basket was his favorite; he showed me the best hiding place where he’d wait for me to find him; he taught me that he likes a dog treat immediately after going outside to use the bathroom. He shared his strong disapproval of phone use—which I quickly obeyed. His little dog self pretty such showed me the ropes.
And each night when I said, “I gotta go now… it’s past my bedtime,” he’d give me this look.
That look really pained me, so I’d stay a little longer.
One morning, I told my daughter about our special departure conversations.
“Mom, Francis doesn’t understand what you’re saying,” said my highly practical, emotionally reserved child.
“Yes… yes, I think he does,” I said with the authority of a… yep, you guessed it… an Official Dog Person.
Now this whole situation has really got me thinking about what other lies I’ve told myself.
“I’m not a public speaker.”
“I can’t do confrontation.”
Yes, I can.
“I’m a homebody.”
Oh, what I wouldn’t do to travel ANYWHERE right now!
“I’ll never stop being a people pleaser.”
I am working on it.
“I’m directionally challenged.”
Well, ok, maybe that one IS true.
The point is, it’s so easy to go through life believing we are not a _______ person (fill in the blank).
But that is only shortchanging ourselves and limiting our life experiences.
I’m coming to realize that it’s not too late to redefine who we are…
To shed the labels, boxes, and titles that hinder us.
So, where do we start?
We start by saying YES to things that make us nervous — things that no one expects us to do — things our heart is calling us to do.
Sure, we will probably encounter naysayers—voices that say things like:
But why would you want to do that?
You aren't capable of that.
That’s not really you, is it?
And to those people (real or in our heads) we will say, “How do you know who I am? I am still figuring it out myself.”
My younger daughter recently told me someone disapprovingly said, “You’ve changed.”
My response was this… “Or perhaps you are simply discovering who you ARE and just hadn’t had the opportunity or confidence to show it until now.”
It’s is never too soon -- or too late -- to shed the lies, labels, and boxes that don’t fit, so we are free to step into new, fulfilling roles.
And when I am in doubt, I will go have a conversation with Francis the Dog.
That dog really gets me.
© Rachel Macy Stafford 2021
RESOURCE: Rachel’s latest bestselling book #LiveLoveNow comes from her background as a certified special education teacher and also from her own drive to live a present, authentic, & fulfilling life as she raises to two teenagers. By living love now, our homes can be safe havens, even when the world feels disconnected, divided, and uncertain > https://amzn.to/3jad4jW
The Undone Mama
Lo que callábamos las madres, ya no lo callamos más 💪🏽
INSTAGRAM y TIKTOK @mamaminimalista
MIS LIBROS Y TERAPIAS 👉🏾👉🏾 http://linktr.ee/mamaminimalista
Happy as a Mother
Your trigger is a sign of an unmet need.
The need to be seen, heard, acknowledged, supported, respected, and so much more.
In the past, I’ve shared about triggers surrounding our child's behaviour and many moms have responded with "I can control how I react with my child, but I lose it on my partner."
They are adults.
We feel they should know better.
We feel they show KNOW our needs.
Here's the thing, you may not even know what you need in that moment.
If you don't stop to reflect on what is triggering you and how your partner can help, then how the heck are they supposed to magically know?
I wish it was like the movies where I was sad and my husband automatically knew what was wrong and showed up with flowers or drew me a bath and sent me to relax.
But it's not like the movies.
We are responsible for identifying our needs and communicating them to our partner. This is often best done after we've had some time to calm down and reflect because the way an argument begins predicts how it will end 98% of the time.
@pyschedmommy and are hosting a two part relationship series to help you with the adjustment that your relationship goes through when you become parents. To you both productive communi ation skills to help you feel heard and supported!
Part 1: When Parenting Feels Unfair
(Saturday, March 13 at 11am EST)
- Learn how to work through resentment
- How to divide parental responsibilities
- The difference between productive and unproductive communication
- So much more
Part 2: Intimacy After Children
(Saturday, March 27 at 11am EST)
- Learn about the different types of intimacy
- How to explore barriers to intimacy
- Actionable tips to connect with your partner
- So much more
Tickets are $47USD each or can be bundled for $79 USD. Head to happyasamother.co/webinars to learn more.
Do we accept our child the way they are, right here and now?
I want us to be honest.
Because too often, we communicate a lack of acceptance. We’re constantly trying to get our kids to become something different than who they are in this very moment, whether that is in their physical, intellectual, emotional, or developmental abilities.
But it feels like conditional love when we keep giving them the message that they are TOO MUCH or NOT ENOUGH in who they are right here, right now. 😢
Let’s be intentional about striving to love our kids for who they are, not for who we want them to be.
#untigering #unschooling #PeacefulParenting #GentleParenting #RespectfulParenting #ConsciousParenting #DecolonizingParenting #AsianParenting #AsianAmerican #AsianMentalHealth #DecolonizeEducation
HT Fred Rogers Center
The Hands Free Revolution
When my teenager met me at the door, I immediately knew something was amiss. Worry and angst covered her face.
“I made myself a snack—crackers with some Laughing Cow cheese. And after I took a bite, I checked the expiration date… October 2020!” she explained, injecting far more drama into the situation than warranted.
But ever since she was a little girl, she’s had an irrational fear of germs and getting sick.
“I did some research…,” my daughter began, as I set down my bags, suspecting she could now write a detailed thesis on the impact of expired cheese on the human digestive system.
“See?” Natalie said, showing me the culprit, a tiny wheel of individually wrapped cheese wedges. “The package wasn’t even open. It looked brand new. Do you think I’ll get sick? It was only a little, tiny bite. Can you smell it?” she said, firing questions at me as she held out the guilty cheese.
I smelled it, and it smelled fine. And then I did something I was not expecting myself to do—
I took a bite.
“Tastes fine to me,” I said matter-of-factly. “I’d probably eat the whole thing if you weren’t here to judge me.”
My daughter’s whole face suddenly brightened. She began laughing, and then she wrapped her arms around me and squeezed tight.
“Thank you for eating the expired cheese,” she said, her voice full of relief. “I’m not worried anymore.”
For thirty seconds, I just held on, hoping to seal this moment in my memory bank.
I’m not sure what it was – the validation… the humor… the ridiculousness… or the taste of that cheese – but I felt more at peace than I had in a long while.
I mean, parenting in a pandemic has me constantly questioning. Am I doing the right thing? Should I be more or less involved? Was that the right response? Should I be helping my kids more? Less? Is this the right choice? What IS the right choice?
And in the midst of all this uncertainty, I do this completely bizarre gesture because I KNOW in my heart of hearts it’s the ONLY THING that will ease my daughter’s worry.
So often I feel like I DO NOT KNOW… but in that moment, I realized I know what matters most:
I know what makes my loved ones breathe easier.
And I bet you do too.
My friends, I ate the expired cheese – and by doing so, I made everything ok for a brief moment in a turbulent time.
And that is a sliver of hope I’ll keep forever, without fear of expiration.
© Rachel Macy Stafford 2021
This first day of March – a year into the pandemic – feels like a good time to celebrate the odd gestures of love you do or did to show up for your loved ones in distress. Please share in the comments. There is hope, & there is humor in our everyday stories of triumph. Thank you for showing up.
Check, check, and check. 😔
It’s not always a highly critical home that results in these feelings. The school environment that we grew up in was also designed to measure, evaluate, assess, and punish us for mistakes—so much so that we became afraid to make them. And if we grew up Asian in a white-dominant society, we were often othered, made to feel less-than, and expected to prove ourselves worthy of love and belonging.
With this perfect storm, it’s no wonder that so many of us struggle with overachieving, perfectionism, imposter syndrome, and self-doubt. It’s no surprise that we are critical with ourselves and our children. These are survival mechanisms and trauma responses.
But I have some encouragement.
I can feel myself changing...
I am learning to be gentle with myself.
I am starting to truly believe in my worth and my power.
And I am learning to see my children through that same lens of compassion and radical love.
Join me for the 4-week Untigering book club for a chance to discuss these untigering concepts live with me. 💗 https://untigering.com/upcoming-events/ or find link in bio.
#untigeringbook #untigering #unschooling #PeacefulParenting #GentleParenting #RespectfulParenting #ConsciousParenting #DecolonizingParenting #AsianParenting #AsianAmerican #AsianMentalHealth #DecolonizeEducation
Say something nice about yourself!
Every. Single. Step.
When I became a working parent, I unknowingly stumbled into a cycle I wasn’t aware of.
The motivation lie.
We tell it to ourselves and we sell it to our kids.
I would have several weeks where I was completely motivated, cheering myself on, up at 4:00am and ready to go.
At home I was meal planned, chore sorted, house cleaned, and able to compartmentalize all the parts.
At work I was well researched, planning ahead, and able to hold space for others.
For self care, I was working out, meditating, and working that personal recipe.
Until, about every few weeks..... when I wasn’t.
Then the cycle would begin.
What is wrong with me?
I am just so tired.
Ugh....why am I so lazy?
I have no motivation.
Like motivation was something that visited me and when it didn’t come knocking, the only thing I could do was beat myself up over it’s absence.
I hadn’t learned to help myself through these humps, I had learned to question and shame myself during these times. Then I would dig my heels in harder (because I was a rebel after all) and ensure a lack of motivation for much longer than intended.
I hadn’t learned to meet myself where I was and practice curiosity and compassion....I had learned to feel fear that I would screw up what I had built and it would all come crumbling down. This thought was paralyzing.
That waiting for the other shoe to drop feeling.
Somehow the shoe felt inevitable.
It was going to drop, because I clearly couldn’t maintain motivation long enough to prevent it from dropping.
I felt as though I had no control over my situation.....you’re either motivated or your not.
I had spun a story about motivation or rather, maybe society had spun this story for me.
Maybe motivation wasn’t the golden egg but discipline was.
Maybe motivation is built and it isn’t something out of my control.
Maybe it’s normal for our bodies to need rest and a pause, and we don’t have to be scared of it because we have the power to jump start our engines again.
Maybe it’s the one foot in front of the other that is so valuable, not the elusive motivated feeling.
Motivation is just a result of discipline and dopamine.
When I am disciplined for long enough, dopamine is released into my nervous system, which then sends a message of pleasure to my brain. This results in me feeling motivated to keep doing the things that led me here.
It’s in the discipline, not the motivation.
The secret is that motivation isn’t something we either are born with or just lacking in.
It’s not that certain people are more motivated than others.
The secret is that those other people don’t always feel motivated either.....they put one foot in front of the other repeating the habits they know will create the feeling. They continuously restart their engines, knowing that anytime they need to....they can.
Now that I know this, I have more compassion when I need a pause. I have less fear about getting restarted and above all, I don’t expect consistent motivation from my kids.
The power is in the doing......motivation is just a feeling.
That feeling is fleeting.
One foot in front of the other....you’ll build it again.
Now.....absorb it. Release the shame. Breathe deep. Pass it on to your kids.