Meet Our Therapists: Jor-El Caraballo

Jor-El Caraballo Talkspace therapist headshot

Name: Jor-El Caraballo, LMHC
Licensing Info: NY MH 005427
Where you live: New York City!
Hometown: Kings Mountain, North Carolina
Amount of time working at Talkspace: 1 year, 5 months
Time working as a therapist: Almost 6 years

Why are you working in therapy/mental health?

I was always curious about what made people tick. As a very sensitive child, I was perceptive in picking up on people’s emotions. I also had to learn how to deal with my own feelings that were/are, at times, intense.

Once I was really able to delve into psychology in late high school, I knew it was the only way for me to go. Counseling was all about me taking an active role in helping people thrive using that background and knowledge. To me, there’s nothing better than that. Continue reading Meet Our Therapists: Jor-El Caraballo

What About Psychological Fitness?

exercise brain lifting weights

We hear a lot about physical fitness. Every town has at least one gym. You see people jogging around, and television infomercials are filled with the latest workout program or gadget to help you get into shape. There is no question that physical fitness is important.

But what about psychological fitness? Continue reading What About Psychological Fitness?

How You Can Beat Anxiety with Mindful Breathing

mindful breathing anxiety cure

Many clients come into my virtual office wondering how they can finally beat their anxiety. Some experience full-on panic attacks while others report a dull, never-ending, pulsing sense of nervousness. As their therapist, I often tell them the solution to beating anxiety might be in one breath.

Mindful Breathing as a Relaxation Tool

Mindful or conscious breathing can be an easy way to promote relaxation and reduce fear and anxiety in the moment. Using mindful breathing as a tool can help you access the part of your nervous system that allows you to reduce stress and think more clearly, which will keep you safer and eliminate the overwhelmed feeling that often accompanies anxiety and panic.

The Biology Behind Anxiety Attacks

In terms of biology and physiology, our nervous system is made up of two subsystems: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.

The sympathetic nervous system is the part of your brain that gets activated when you are perceiving a threat. In ancient times this was when people were, in theory, being chased by saber tooth tigers and running away from wooly mammoths.

Your cognitive system shuts down and allows for three actions to happen: “fight, flight or freeze.” This means your mind is solely focused on survival. Rational thought leaves and you instinctively do one of those actions.

The parasympathetic nervous system is the system that soothes and relaxes you. When this system is activated, you can be creative, breathe more deeply and fully understand material you want or need to learn. This is when you’re at your peak. You can do your job effectively because your brain is working at its highest efficiency.

When you’re anxious, your brain is perceiving a threat. The key to stopping that anxiety in its tracks is to breathe.

For most of us, on a day-to-day basis we don’t experience many physical threats. What that means is your parasympathetic system should be dominating your body the majority of the time. Most of the time you should be relaxed, feeling good, and able to take on any challenge.

This means you should only be ready to “fight, flight, or flee” a small percentage of the time. When you are a highly anxious person, those percentages are way off balance. That means you’re always under stress. Your brain is constantly perceiving threats whether they are physical or emotional. That’s what makes you feel anxious!

Breathing Techniques For Your Peace of Mind

With one breath — what many call a “relaxation breath” — you can trick your brain back into relaxation mode. One way I often explain this to my clients is to think of it as a “four-seven-eight breath.” It’s actually simple.

  1. You inhale through your nose for four seconds
  2. You hold that breath for seven seconds
  3. Finally, you exhale for eight seconds

The exhale part of this breath can be difficult. There is an alternate version you may use to the same effect that shortens the second and third steps. It’s called the “four-five-six” breath. It is as follows:

  1. You inhale through your nose for four seconds
  2. You then hold that breath for five seconds
  3. Finally, you exhale for six seconds

You can use the “four-five-six” breath as a stand alone strategy and you can also use it as a way to work up to the more difficult “four-seven-eight” breath posted above. This alternative version is a great place to start, particularly if you aren’t familiar with deep breathing. First timers will find this version a lot easier to use. It’s as effective as the original version posted above. Both will take a bit of practice, but as you do it more and more you will find that breathing deeply will become easier.

That’s it! This relaxation breath can be repeated for as long as you like.

If this sounds like a helpful strategy for you to try, be sure to give yourself a quiet, comfortable space to try it in. Each day you can take a few minutes to practice this relaxation breath. If you do, you will be on your way to beating anxiety, one breath at a time.

Meet Our Therapists: Alaina Brubaker

alaina brubaker, therapist

Name: Alaina Brubaker
Licensing Info: NY LMFT [Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist] Lives in: Rochester, NY
Hometown: Adams Center, NY
Time at Talkspace: Nine months
Time as a therapist: Five years

Why are you working in therapy/mental health?
I’m interested in people and figuring out why they act, feel and behave the way they do. From a very young age I was always trying to figure out themes and patterns in people. I could see how insight and awareness could be the key to change. As I got older I saw how desperately people needed support and how alone many people felt. I wanted to take the natural warmth and compassion I had for people and find a way to develop that. Becoming a therapist was the path I chose to do that. Continue reading Meet Our Therapists: Alaina Brubaker

The Anxiety Muslims Deal With in the Time of Trump

Islamophobic Trump supporter at rally
This is a photo of a supporter at a Trump Rally in New Hampshire.

Anxiety disorder is the second most common mental health issue Muslim Americans deal with, according to The Journal of the Islamic Medical Association of North America [JIMA]. Many Muslim Americans attribute a large portion of this anxiety to “finger pointing” and discrimination following 9/11.

Organizations such as JIMA have not yet determined whether Donald Trump’s Islamophobic rhetoric have caused a statistically significant difference in these anxiety issues. Nonetheless, stories and insights from the Muslim community demonstrate Trump’s rise to political power has added layers of anxiety and exacerbated struggles Muslims have coped with since 9/11.

Talkspace reached out to our community of therapists to examine how Trump’s movement has affected their Muslim clients’ mental health and communities. Continue reading The Anxiety Muslims Deal With in the Time of Trump

3 Trends in Therapy You Need to Watch For

Freud with tech glasses

Imagine a future where most therapists text their clients or video chat with them. Then picture these therapists working alongside doctors, yet focusing more on the strength of their relationships with clients rather than symptom reduction.

It’s not as far away as you might think, and it’s only scratching the surface of how therapy is changing. Therapy will always have the mission of helping people live a happier and healthier life, but the methods of working with and reaching clients are evolving rapidly.

To glean a glimpse of this future, keep reading to learn about the most prevalent current and emerging therapy trends Talkspace looked into. Continue reading 3 Trends in Therapy You Need to Watch For

Meet Our Therapists: Ken Fields

ken fields talkspace therapist bio

Name: Ken Fields
Licensing Info: LMHC in Hawaii
Where you live: Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii
Hometown: I have lived in Maui, Hawaii since 1996. I was born in Los Angeles. Moved to Oregon in 1969 to go to college and remained there until moving to Maui.
Time working at Talkspace: 10 months
Time working as a Therapist: I received my MA in Counseling Psychology in Portland, Oregon, in 1981. I have been practicing since that time (34 years). I started online counseling in about 2006.

Why are you working in therapy/mental health?
I started in education as a secondary teacher and gravitated towards mental health counseling as a result of helping kids feel better about themselves. I work in mental health to help people feel better about themselves, learn to cope with stressors, and challenge their erroneous beliefs, to provide support and encouragement. Continue reading Meet Our Therapists: Ken Fields

Meet Our Therapists: Christy Paul

Christy Paul Talkspace therapist

Name: Christy Paul

Licensing Info: LMHC MH8666

Home: St. Augustine, Florida

Originally From: Lakeland, FL

Time at Talkspace: Almost 3 years

Time Practicing as a Therapist: About 13 years


Why are you working in therapy/mental health?

“I love all of the people I come into contact with, and seeing the change and growth in them through the therapeutic process.” Continue reading Meet Our Therapists: Christy Paul

Reconciling Religion and Therapy: Why You Can Talk to God and a Therapist

hands sunset religion

When people practice their religion seriously and believe in the healing power of God or other divine forces, it can be hard to accept the idea of a therapist providing mental enlightenment in addition to what they receive from their faith-based communities. There might be stigma in their community regarding therapy and mental illness as well as people who explicitly tell them not to see a therapist.

If you are religious and interested in seeing a therapist, know faith and therapy are not mutually exclusive. There are millions of people who are involved in religious communities and see a therapist, finding happiness in both spaces and without feeling they are compromising any belief.

Understanding religious criticisms of therapy and how these people moved past the stigma could be your first step toward finding an extra source of happiness and an unexpected place to deepen your faith. Continue reading Reconciling Religion and Therapy: Why You Can Talk to God and a Therapist