Women’s Group Therapy

I am pleased to share that I am now offering a co-led women’s group with my colleague, Elizabeth Field, LMFT. This is a therapeutic group aimed at helping women change their attitudes and behaviors around discovering themselves and who they want to be. Goals for this group include getting in touch with and expressing your feelings, becoming more assertive and autonomous. You will gain an understanding of yourself as a woman in today’s world and uncover how you got to where you are today (and encouraged to do something different if you wish). We believe that there is value in giving and receiving of support to and from each other. We hope the group will provide the opportunity for women to learn more about themselves, their culture, beliefs, sense of worth and grow to appreciate themselves more deeply. If this sounds like something that you would be interested in, please contact me and we can discuss joining the group.

This group meets twice monthly for 90 minutes and will ebb and flow with participants attending. We believe in the importance of confidentiality and commitment therefore we hold this group with care and choose members who will benefit from the group.

AAMFT Approved Supervision

I have completed the extensive training through AAMFT to be able to provide supervision to interns, provisional MFT’s and also licensed therapists wanting to continue to grow. I hold individual and group supervision appointments in person, online and phone calls. I recognize the value of ongoing supervision and therefore my fees reflect the longevity it often requires. Contact me to schedule a time to talk and see if we would be a good fit to work together on growing your skills, practice and self.

michelle a coomes ma, lmft supervisor
Michelle A Coomes MA, LMFT, AAMFT Supervisor

National Desert News: Pumpkin spice with a side of anxiety? How autumn affects mental health.

Hello all! Recently I was given the opportunity to weigh in on a current mental health topic- Seasonal Affective Disorder. Below is the article & a link for you to read the original over at National Desert News. It was exciting to chat with Kelsey Dallas, author, about this subject and I hope you enjoy the article!

Pumpkin spice with a side of anxiety? How autumn affects mental health.

The changing of seasons and shortening of daylight hours can be difficult. Michelle A Coomes
The changing of seasons and shortening of daylight hours can be difficult. Michelle A Coomes

 Therese Borchard welcomes autumn with a sense of dread.

“I think it’s partly the changing of the seasons, but fall is also filled with so much scheduling and newness,” said Borchard, founder of Project Beyond Blue, an online community for people affected anxiety and depression.

Borchard is not the only American stressed out by this season. While some people welcome pumpkin spice lattes, football games and changing leaves with open arms, others dread the annual anxiety-level increase that comes with busier schedules and shorter days.

“Keeping up with everything gives me a lot of anxiety,” she said, listing obligations like parent-teacher conferences and needing to adjust to earlier sunsets.

However, people who feel their moods drop along with temperatures don’t have to settle for unhappy hibernation, mental health experts said. Strategies like trying fall-themed recipes, taking a family trip to an apple orchard or scheduling a warm weekend getaway can help everyone anticipate and enjoy changing seasons.

“There’s a lot to be said for preparing yourself,” said Michelle Coomes, a family therapist in Davidson, North Carolina. “Don’t let (seasonal depression) sneak up on you.”

Challenging changes

The autumn blues happen for a variety of reasons, including the stress of a new school year, worries about the coming winter and general resistance to change, Coomes said.

“Fall is a time when people start getting busier,” she said. “They’re not meeting up with friends as often, and the loneliness starts to build up.”

These emotional shifts heighten the distress some people experience as a result of environmental changes, like decreased access to sunlight and new allergens in the air, said Dr. Steve Schlozman, the associate director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital.

In its most serious form, this distress is referred to as seasonal affective disorder, which is a variety of depression. Around half a million Americans suffer from SAD, and an additional 10 to 20 percent of the population may face “a more mild form of winter blues,” the Cleveland Clinic reports.

Seasonal depression is caused, at least in part, by disrupted brain patterns, a situation that results from decreased sunlight, Schlozman noted. Some people’s brains respond in negative ways to changes in ambient light, leading them to experience fatigue and sadness, among other emotional issues.

Although SAD is associated with winter, the symptoms often begin in fall, as days gradually shorten in the lead-up to the winter solstice Dec. 22, Coomes said, noting that anybody who worries about their emotional health in fall and winter should be proactive about identifying coping mechanisms that will work for them.

“If people can recognize their mood changes earlier, they will be easier to manage throughout,” she said.

Embracing autumn

Struggling with autumn anxiety since childhood, Borchard has learned to enter the season with a game plan.

She makes a point to schedule trips with her two children to apple orchards and fall festivals, as well as to fill her pantry with seasonal treats like stews and caramel apples. In this way, Borchard shifts her focus from dreading winter to anticipating the aspects of autumn she looks forward to all year long.

“If you can appreciate the good parts of fall, you’ll have some fun with it,” she said.

Food blogger Darya Rose echoed Borchard, noting people should try to think of changing weather as an opportunity to mix-up their wellness routine.

As a result of shorter days and dropping temperatures, “it’s easy to get discouraged” about going for a run or even walking your dog, she said. “(But) I use fall weather as an excuse to workout inside while watching my favorite TV show. It almost feels like my workout has become a guilty pleasure.”

Rose also enjoys finding ways to include the season’s produce in her daily meals, and delicata squash has become one of her favorite foods.

The goal of embracing fall in these ways is to supplement the many anxiety-inducing parts of the season with exciting things, Schlozman said, noting that people should get their whole family in on the act because seasonal mood swings can affect children, too.

“Kids who are doing well socially (in the summer) but then stop hanging out with their friends because life gets busy … have a hard time,” he said.

Schlozman suggested parents make a point to give their kids “unstructured free time,” in the fall, meaning time in which young people can do whatever their heart calls them to do, including taking a walk, reading for fun or hanging out with friends.

Not every family member will appreciate a trip to a pumpkin patch, but everyone will benefit from welcoming the fall and winter months with the intention to find bright spots in a challenging season of change, he said.

Read more at http://national.deseretnews.com/article/6324/Pumpkin-spice-with-a-side-of-anxiety-How-autumn-affects-mental-health.html#Fu72CrqGJ5kE8gIL.99

I am a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist practicing in the Lake Norman area of North Carolina. I enjoy working with people on improving their lives, relationships and feeling all around more mentally healthy.

Michelle A Coomes MA, LMFT             704-237-0814



How to Get Centered When You’re Feeling Off Balance

Is your busy, chaotic life sending you into a tail-spin on a daily basis? It can be so easy to let life stressors overwhelm us and make us feel like we can’t catch our breath. Here are a few things to try to get you re-centered in a snap when you’re feeling off balance.

How to Get Centered When You're Feeling Off Balance Michelle A  Coomes MA, LMFT Davidson, NC
Michelle A Coomes MA, LMFT Davidson, NC
  • Breathe- Simply put, focusing on your breathing will help remind you that even at your busiest you need to breathe to stay upright and finish your tasks. Close your eyes, count your breaths slowly for 1 minute and notice the difference that it makes in your body.
  • Stretch- Most people agree that yoga can be super relaxing & good for the body. When you’re trying to reach a looming deadline your neighborhood yoga place feels like it’s on another continent! Lie on the floor or stand up and stretch out your body, feeling the sensation of your muscles waking up. Try to do this a few times a day for a quick energizer to get your through your day.
  • Get outdoors- Hop outside to water the plants, walk around the block or even just take your laptop outdoors for a few minutes to feel the sun on your face & take in the goodness of nature.
  • Find your family- Sit on the couch next to your spouse, snuggle up with your little one or get a tight hug from a friend. Feeling the closeness of someone who cares about you can feel wonderful when you’re not feeling connected and can remind you as to what matters most in life.
  • Write/Doodle it Out- Sometimes the best way to make your mind stop spinning is to dump it out on paper & then organize it before picking it back up again. You can even use highlighters to focus on what needs to happen first, second and seeing a pop of color just might brighten your day a bit.

Finally, once you’ve gotten through this period of feeling off-balance take stalk of your life situation and help prepare yourself for how to avoid feeling off balance the next time life becomes busy. Schedule in regular self-care time (hang out with friends, mani/pedi, exercise, get out of town, have a schedule-free day) or set up an appointment to talk with a therapist. Getting mentally healthy can help prevent life feeling out of control. If you’d like to learn more about how therapy can help you be more balanced please call for a free phone consultation.

I am a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist practicing in the Lake Norman area of North Carolina. I enjoy working with people on improving their lives, relationships and feeling all around more mentally healthy.

Michelle A Coomes MA, LMFT             704-237-0814



How to Combat Marriage Fatigue & Keep it Sexy

Hello October! Fall has hit and we’re even beginning to feel a chill in the air. Festivals are popping up every weekend and fun times are just waiting to be had. Except you & your spouse are finding yourselves having the same arguments, same dinner plans & there’s nothing exciting going on inside your marriage.  Keeping a marriage interesting and engaging is hard work, sometimes making it feel exciting seems impossible. Many couples that I see in my practice are seeking out ways to reconnect and not let the stress of day to day build up and cause distance between them.

Below are a few of my favorite tips for those of you who are in a tired marriage that just isn’t much fun. I hope you & your spouse try them out & enjoy them!

Michelle Coomes MA, LMFT Couples Therapy
Michelle Coomes MA, LMFT
Couples Therapy

– Each spouse chooses one evening a week/month to be responsible for creating a sexual experience of their choice to lead. By giving each spouse a designated night they can plan and also build up anticipation for their spouse by sending flirty texts, leaving little notes giving hints or whispering into their ear of what is to come. This type of foreplay really draws the couple together by creating excitement towards being together.

– Be mindful of changing the subject when the topic becomes overdone into one about something the couple can look forward to doing together. No need to share your frustration for 15 minutes that the copier at your office wouldn’t print or how your friend’s garden looks better than yours. When you notice that you or your spouse is going on a rant over something out of your control, switch it up and tell them how excited you are to be close with them in bed or about the dinner plans out you have this weekend. Or throw a curve ball and share a fantasy that you want to play out with them!

– Get involved in an activity in your community. Taking couples yoga, joining an intramural sports team or joining a meet up club that hikes are all great ways to have social things to do together that you can look forward to. It’ll feel great exercising together and you’ll love watching your spouse in action.

-Stay in bed together on a Saturday morning (schedule sleepovers for your kids!) Taking time to linger in bed together in the morning light can be just dreamy- allow yourself to lay in each other’s arms with coffee or mimosas on hand. You might even decide that morning sex is the perfect way to start your weekend!

I hope you’ve enjoyed these quick little tips on how to combat marriage fatigue & keep it sexy! Improving your marriage doesn’t have to be drastic. Taking time to connect each day and recognizing the little moments when you can spark excitement can go a long way. If you would like to learn more about how to improve your marriage through therapy please feel free to reach out to me, I’d love to help.

I am a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist practicing in the Lake Norman area of North Carolina. I enjoy working with people on improving their lives, relationships and feeling all around more mentally healthy.

Michelle A Coomes MA, LMFT             704-237-0814