Alexandra Arbogast, LICSW, C-IAYT
My calling as a therapist and coach began with my own healing journey.
I like to say that I was both cursed and blessed to hit rock bottom at a young age. As a teenager in my last few years of high school, I started suffering from debilitating anxiety, panic attacks, bulimia, depression, and a nicotine addiction. I regularly skipped school and isolated myself in my room in front of the TV. I had zero self-esteem and my mind was plagued by fear and self-hatred. It was no way to live. I had always been a happy, social, and well-adjusted kid. How had I gotten to this point?
The answer to that is complex and not what I will focus on here. What I will focus on though is how I got better. My parents sent me to a clinical social worker. And what I learned there was more important than any class I ever took in school. I learned how to calm my mind through meditation, to breathe fully to relax my body, to self-soothe and be kind to myself. In essence, I learned that the mind can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. Through a combination of causes, mine had become my worst enemy. And I was finally learning how to make it a friend.
This realization and the unfolding transformation (while it took time) was so positive and profound that I hungered for more. Over the next few years, I continued to get therapy, established a regular meditation practice, adopted a whole foods plant-based diet, and started yoga. As I found greater peace of mind, regained my health, and developed confidence in myself, I had more to give back. I got involved in service work and advocating for the rights of oppressed people, animals, and the earth. I realized that self-care is not selfish. When we are at our best, we have more to give.
In my third year of college, I had an epiphany that clarified my vocation and career path. I was in Cuernavaca, Mexico doing service work. One evening, I was meditating on a rooftop balcony underneath an electric blue sky and it came to me like a lighting bolt from heaven. All of the sudden I understood that personal transformation and societal transformation are connected. It is through healing our own minds and hearts and through becoming healthy and happy that we are able to spread kindness and compassion in the world. Lasting social change begins within. I determined then to become a holistic therapist and to help people the way I was helped.
Since 2005, I have been blessed to provide healing, coaching, and therapy to thousands of individuals. Much of this has been through my full-time position at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where, in 2010, I co-founded the Mind-Body Medicine Program and have served as the program coordinator and senior therapist. In this role, I work primarily with veterans and their families who are dealing with the physical and psychological trauma of war. Helping humanity to heal and grow is the main purpose of my life and my greatest joy.
I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker/Psychotherapist in Washington D.C. and Maryland. My approach to therapy and life coaching is integrative, strengths-based, and mindfulness-based. I draw from both eastern and western psychology in my understanding of the mind and the process of healing and growth.
I offer mindful presence, compassionate support and intuitive, knowledgeable guidance. I am trained and experienced in several evidence-based healing modalities to help you optimize your health and wellbeing. The main ones are listed below:
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: A therapeutic modality that brings attention to thoughts and explores their connection to emotions and behavioral patterns. Involves techniques to challenge and transform limiting thought patterns. Learn more at: https://psychcentral.com/lib/in-depth-cognitive-behavioral-therapy/
Mindfulness: The practice of paying attention to some aspect of present-moment experience with an attitude of non-judgmental curiosity. Through this, one strengthens concentration power, gains insight into the nature of self and experience, and creates space for a wise, skillful, and more compassionate response to arise. Learn more at: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition
Mind-Body Medicine: Modalities that focus on the ways in which emotional, mental, social, spiritual, experiential, and behavioral factors can directly affect health. Includes a range of practices to strengthen the mind-body connection for optimal wellness. Learn more at: https://report.nih.gov/NIHfactsheets/ViewFactSheet.aspx?csid=102
Positive Psychology: An approach to psychology that emphasizes, cultivates and nurtures positive mind-body states such as joy, gratitude, compassion, and post-traumatic growth. Learn more at: http://ppc.sas.upenn.edu
Yoga Therapy: The adaptation of yoga practices such as postures, breathing techniques, meditation, and relaxation strategies to help with mental and physical health challenges. Learn more at: http://www.iayt.org
Self-Inquiry: The primary method in yoga through which self-realization, the realization of our true nature beyond mind and body, is achieved. Learn more at: https://yogainternational.com/article/view/the-art-of-self-inquiry
iRest Yoga Nidra: A research-based, transformative practice of deep relaxation and meditative self-inquiry that has been shown to effectively support the healing process through a broad-range of populations. Learn more at: https://www.irest.us
Somatic Experiencing: A body-oriented approach to the healing of trauma and other stress disorders. Learn more at: https://traumahealing.org