Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rhythms of the Heart and Nature by Cindy Hively

Cindy Harpe Hively writes on living life with the daily struggle of chronic illness. She calls the Roanoke Valley in Virginia her home, surrounded by beautiful mountains that inspire and heal her everyday. Having worked twenty five years in the retail industry, she moved up quickly and loved her career, but had to quit work due to chronic illness. She is on a healing journey through Metta meditation, mindfulness practices and self compassion.

You can read her columns at

Monday, September 19, 2011

Living with Anxiety

Ryan Rivera describes himself as an ex-anxiety sufferer (well, almost). Noticing that it is difficult to find accurate and usable information about managing anxiety, he took on the task himself. He has created an online guide that is both accurate and accessible to the lay person. The guide covers the essential information about anxiety disorders and explains the options available to anxiety sufferers. Kudos to Ryan for bringing light to his idea

You can find this guide at:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tinnitus Discovery Could Lead to New Ways to Stop the Ringing

New findings, published online by the National Academy of Sciences, suggest several new approaches to treatment, including retraining the brain, and new avenues for developing drugs to suppress the ringing. The cause of tinnitus is damage to nerve cells in the innner ear. In response to this damage, the brain generates "phantom sounds." In this respect, tinnitus resembles phantom limb pain experienced by many amputees.
For more information:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Mind of the Fencer

Competing in the "zone" is the key to success in sport. For the fencer this means blending the mind-set of the chess master with that of the Zen warrior. As personal combat sport, fencing is an encounter with threat and risk. Success for the ancient warrior and the modern athlete alike relies on pinpoint focus, lightning-fast actions, emotional composure and finely honed instincts.

Olympic Medalist, Jason Rogers, and Sport Psychologist, Dr. John Heil, draw on practical sport psychology, the Zen Martial Arts tradition and modern game theory to provide a look inside fencing in the "zone".

Video at:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ex-players Sue NFL over Concussions

Seventy-five former players are suing the NFL, claiming the league intentionally withheld knowledge of the damaging effects of concussions for 90 years.

The plaintiffs claim that "the NFL knew as early as the 1920s of the harmful effects on a player's brain of concussions"

For the full story in ESPN NFL

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Coventry Commonwealth Games
Summer Biathlon 2011

“Run & Shoot” Competition

The Biathlon is best known as a winter sport event that combines skiing and shooting- but you will not need your boots and gloves for the event. This is its warm weather counterpart, and is part of the Coventry Commonwealth Games, which will be held Saturday, July 23rd in Roanoke, Virginia.

Competitors begin with a 1 mile run that brings them to the shooting range. They lay down, pick up the rifle, shoot five shots at metal knock down targets, jump up, walk to the end of the range, and continue the running. One mile later they are back at the range, and shoot five shots from the standing position. The race ends with a 1 mile dash to the finish. Interval starts are used, with 1, 2 or 3 runners starting together every minute. The rifles are .22 caliber. Rifles and ammunition will be provided.

The Coventry Commonwealth Games is the nationally recognized State Games of Virginia, a sports festival with over 50 events that began in 1990.

There will be a team competition in Biathlon with a Police Team Trophy that is being sponsored by Psychological Health Roanoke.

This is a unique opportunity for Departments to test their skills against one another and, for the officers to test themselves under pressure of competition.

For more information about the Games check out its web site

Sunday, June 5, 2011

VT Psychology Practicum

I have been so fortunate to receive the opportunity of working as an intern at Psychological Health Roanoke. I have really learned so much about the workings of a private psychological clinic, and received great hands on experience. Everyone has been so welcoming and helpful in my experiences throughout the past semester. The clinicians are all so talented at their specific fields and I was privileged enough to sit in on multiple sessions with some of them. This was the most informative experience I have had thus far in my college career, and I cannot express my gratitude for receiving the opportunity to really explore the field of clinical psychology with such kind and talented clinicians. This experience has really solidified my future aspirations to become a clinical psychologist and I have been so lucky to be able to learn so much about therapy and the insurance aspects of a private practice. I will bring the skills I have attained from this internship with me into my future towards becoming a licensed clinical psychologist.

Courtney Kellerman

Friday, June 3, 2011

Living with Chronic Pain: Art & Exercise

Sponsored By: Psychological Health Roanoke

Presented by: Billy Bob Beamer


Stephanie Simmons Gillenwater

Saturday, June 4, 2011; 10:00am-12:00pm; PHR Offices

The Role of Art
Billy Bob Beamer is an internationally known artist who creates his art through use of meditation. He also teaches classes in “drawing as quiet active meditation” to relieve pain and stress. Beamer, a sociology graduate of the College of William and Mary, is also a retiree from the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Social Services, and an award-winning trumpeter, with a 40-year week-end career playing jazz, R & B, blues, and other types of music.

The Role Of Exercise
Stephanie Simmons Gillenwater is a Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor at the YMCA in Salem, VA who is also diagnosed with fibro-myalgia. Stephanie will share her experience with exercise as a way to manage her chronic pain. Stephanie is hoping to eventually begin a group exercise program at the YMCA specifically for people with chronic pain.

Jeff Allman on “Finding Your Inner Race-Car Driver”

Being a life-long fan of stock car racing came about easily for me—my dad raced at regional short tracks for several years in the early 50s and although he quit before I was born, he continued to attend as a fan, and when I was about four years old, he took me to my first race. The sound, the sights, and even the smell all grabbed me and has continued to this day. I still attend races during the season and have seen a lot of NASCAR’s greats compete.

There are probably few people who are fans of auto racing who haven’t fantasized about trying it, and I’m no exception. I did race in an entry level race locally one time years ago, which was a thrill. However, my fantasy of driving a NASCAR Sprint Cup car remained. As stock car racing began developing a bigger audience through TV in the 80s and90s, entrepreneurs saw this as an opportunity to satisfy some fans’ yearnings. One such group, the Buck Baker Driving School, founded by a Retired former Sprint Cup driver, was founded and started running driving schools at various NASCAR race tracks throughout the southeast. After years of toying with whether or not to spring for the money to do this, I finally decided to scratch this item off my “bucket list”, and go for it.

I close Darlington (S.C.) Raceway as the site where I’d do the school. Darlington, known as
one of NASCARs toughest tracks, is also host to its oldest event, the Southern 500. Sentimentally, I picked it because my dad was a pit crewman for a local driver in the ’54 Southern 500.

Driving into the infield of the track was a thrill—I was on hollowed ground as far as stock car racing was concerned. My fellow students heard a lecture by one of the driving instructors regarding safety— they didn’t want their expensive race cars torn-up by Richard Petty wanna-bes –-and I didn’t want to be one who was tearing them up, so I listened carefully. We were then fitted for firesuits and helmets, and then all awaited nervously (yep, I was nervous) for our turn as a passenger in one of the school’s fleet of cars.

I thought (erroneously, as it turns out) that my few laps as a passenger would be laid-back, at least building up to higher speeds---WRONG! On the very first lap, I could feel centrifugal force pushing my down into and against my seat, and we weren’t going anywhere near as fast as the pros do it during competition.

Next, I got to drive, with my instructor assuming the passenger role. I was DEFINITELY nervous at this point, particularly since what I was going to be doing was going to be scrutinized. As I drove through Darlington’s tight backed turns, I could see the tell-tale tire marks left on the wall when drivers at the last race had got into incidents that left them coming into high speed contact with those walls. This was anattention-getter, and a reminder that there was a fine line here between having fun and very undesirable consequences.

After my laps with my instructor, he told me that I’d done well, with his advising me to take a different line going into turns 1 and 2, and to slow down going into turn 3. This was flattering in a way, as I didn’t want to be “pokey” in my driving endeavor.

Then it was “solo” time. By this point my nervousness had decreased a bit and instead I was filled more with excited anticipation. I then did a 10 lap session, then a 15 lap session. Though I was still mindful that I was not Dale Earnhardt, I was feeling a little more confident. There were other students on the track, some 3-4 at a time, and my ego did not want me to be passed by anyone. I was happy that I was able to pass several cars during my sessions, and was not passed by anyone (take that, Jeff Gordon!) and was signaled by the flagman a couple of times to slow down. Not that I was driving like a maniac; the school later said that they take a close line on how much latitude they allow its students to push the boundaries. Well, I’m glad I pushed ‘em some! Although our lap speeds were probably some 40 mph slower than the race speeds
of some 170 registered by NASCAR Cup drivers during competition, it gave me a greater appreciation for what those guys do for a living, for hundreds of laps at a time, along with a field full of other competitors wanting to beat them.

All too soon, it was over. I was given a couple of “atta-boys” by instructors and fellow students, and then it was time to turn in my driving suit and helmet. All of us even picked up a “diploma” showing we’d successfully completed the course. I felt more than a twinge of sadness as I turned in my equipment—there was a group of new students coming in for the afternoon session, looking as nervous as we did that morning, and I felt some mild jealousy that they were getting to drive, and I was headed for home.

People have asked me: was it fun? Undeniably, yes! Did I “get it out of my system”? No (“it’s” probably worse now!) Will I do it again? Heck, yes!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Understanding Codependency

Codependency refers to a range of feelings, behaviors and symptoms that typically have a focus on another person. Someone who is codependent focuses on everyone else, rather than themselves. Typically the focus is towards a loved one. A codependent person is a “people pleaser”, and is usually compliant and passive. This codependent person eventually begins to put the needs of others first so much that they forget their own needs. For information on this and a variety of topics:

Monday, April 4, 2011

Meshorer on the Addictive Personality

Dr. David Meshorer comments on the risk of addiction in Our Health Magazine... "There is no true addicitve personality."

Genetics appear to play some role, but no personality is immune to addiction. It is impossible to untangle the effects of personality on addiction from the effects of addiction on personality. Given the right combination of circumstances,all of us have addicitive tendencies.

For more information:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Japan & Radiation Safety

The Virginina Department of Health following the lead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) offers information in four specific areas: 1. Screening procedures for individuals returning from Japan 2. Travel guidance for humanitarian volunteers 3. Screening procedures for food products from Japan 4. Environmental monitoring/Potassium Iodide Please note: Monitoring by EPA reveals no evidence of concerning levels of radiation in the United States. Therefore there is no reason for individuals in the US to take potassium iodide. Its best to take guidance on matters of science from science based organizations. For more info:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Virtues of Journaling

Is the pen mightier than the sword? Maybe
However, researchers have found is that the pen (or computer keyboard) is mightier than our strong emotions.
People have been keeping journals for thousands of years, with journals dating to 10th century Japan. Historians have found journals, diaries and letters valuable in helping us learn what our ancestors were thinking and doing.
Research has now shown that journal writing can help keep you healthier and more mentally centered. For example, James Pennebaker at the University of Texas has found that writing as little as 15 minutes per day can strengthen one's immune system. University of Chicago researchers have shown that college students who wrote about their feelings before a test did 12 percent better than the non-journaling group.
Barbara Horton

Monday, March 21, 2011

John Heil on Sport & Healing

Spanish Language publication, El Mundo highlighted the efforts by sports organizations to reach out to the Japanese people in this terrible time of need. John Heil offers reasons why sport is so well suited to this type of support: Because of its relatively high visibility, its association with positive experiences, the broad appeal of sport across cultures and because of the way in which it can bring diverse groups together with a common goal.

The full article is available at:

Friday, March 18, 2011

Charlie Finn on March (not) Madness

A Lot Like Fathers and Sons

It’s down to the Final Four.
You know the coaches by now,
see how each educates and motivates,
observe relationships a lot like fathers and sons,
see how all (save one) model acceptance of defeat
for the rest of us to follow,
teach what the players will remember
when they leave the court for life.
Even were I not an ACC fan
I think I’d be tipping my hat
to the likes of Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski
for what they’re modeling for the rest of us
when we return to the tournament of life.

For more Poetry by Charlie Finn:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

OUR HEALTH Best Bedside Manner Awards

Congratulations to all health care providers who have been recognized in the annual OUR HEALTH Magazine, Bedside Manner Awards!! Over 33,000 votes were tabulated in determining this years award winners.

For the third consecutive year, Psychological Health’s J. Steve Strosnider, LPC is the winner for the Roanoke Valley in the area of Psychology.

Emily DeFrance,Ph.D. of the PHR Child Unit was recognized with a second place award. Receiving Honorable Mention are Psychological Health Roanoke Clinicians, Alison Allsbrook, LCSW, Lola Byrd Psy.D., John Heil ,DA. Sam Rogers, PhD, and Cathy Taylor, Psy.D .

OUR HEALTH Magazine-

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Law Officer Line of Duty Deaths - 2010


In calendar year 2010 there were 162 Law Enforcement Officers killed nationwide, up 27% from the 128 Officers killed in 2009. In the line of duty 155 male and 7 female officers died, the youngest officer at age 23, and the oldest at 72 years of age. The 72 year old retired from the U.S. Marshal's after 26 years, and was working court security when a gunman walked into a federal court, then shot and killed him with a shotgun.

For more information: The Officer Down Memorial Page -

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The New Year's Resolution Dilemma

The New Year’s holiday has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean that your resolutions have to do so as well. Millions of American make resolutions, but only about 75% are able to keep their resolutions past the first week. So how can you keep your motivation?

For more information go to:
Check out our website for a variety of practical information on psychological matters: