Free Therapy and Where to Find it 

Can you get free therapy? The answer is yes - sort of. There are many places to get low cost psychotherapy but there are also many ways to get support around self-growth - for free. First I need to share how I am defining “therapy” versus “psychotherapy.” Psychotherapy is when you meet one-on-one with a licensed therapist (PhD, MSW, LMFT, LPC, etc) who helps you recognize your thought patterns, diagnoses mental illness and provides treatment in the form of talk therapy - perhaps utilizing some body therapy as well. 

“Therapy,” as I am defining it, takes place any time you gain perspective about your thoughts, actions or reactions. Therapy is also happening when you assess your goals, reflect on your past or work to define your path forward. This kind of therapy happens through talking, reading, writing, dancing or meditation. Therapy is making the decision to move toward healing. It is seeking help; being open to solutions and knowing that relief is on its way. 

So where can you find support as you actively work to gain perspective? I have listed a few of my favorite suggestions where I have found inspiration, healing and space for quiet reflection for myself and for my clients. 

Yoga classes. Whether at a recreation center or at a fancy yoga studio, yoga classes can be a wonderful place for introspection, reflection and learning about how to set an intention. While these classes are not free I am including this in my list because most people at a yoga class are there for a workout and the therapy is an unexpected bonus. In many classes the teachers will tell you to set an intention for yourself (an emotional, professional, interpersonal or physical goal) and then they will teach you how to focus your mind in order to corral your wild thoughts through the use of your breath and movement. You might be surprised by the insights that unfold from within when you spend an hour just breathing. During this hour your mind is sharply focused on poses but it is also softly focused on the intention you set.

AA, Al-Anon, Alateen and ACOA. These are a wonderful resources. Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Alateen and Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA) provide free groups (donations gently suggested) to support and educate people suffering with addiction as well as their family, spouses, children and loved ones. Most of their groups are “open” meaning that you can go and listen without fear of being called on to talk or tell your story. The Al-Anon groups focus on boundary setting in relationships. This idea is terribly, terribly important and many of us are in need of tutorials, examples and support as we work to set our own boundaries. And addiction takes many forms which means that more of us qualify as being in a relationship with an “addict” than we might want to admit. I encourage many clients to check out the information available on Al-Anon’s website as well as to attend a group in order to learn to set healthy boundaries.  

Facebook Pages. Facebook is a powerful tool to bring communities together. If you search for support groups for depression, marital issues, anxiety or neck pain you will find many wonderful resources. You might also find some bogus sites that are trying to sell you pants - but with some research you will find some fantastic communities. Many of these Facebook pages are private - meaning that you will need to apply to become a member. Once connected however, this is a great way of finding support and resources as well as connecting with people globally who are wrestling with similar issues.

Website Newsletters. Many websites offer daily or weekly newsletters about their product or message. As you research and look for inspiration you might find that authors are happy to push information to your inbox. Many will try to sell you products or services but many couch their sales pitch in really useful, inspirational and reflection-inducing articles.  A few of my favorite include Daily OM and Screamfree (if you have worked with me you will have already heard about these). 

Daily OM offers inspirations, lessons and homework exercises on personal growth. Some lessons can be a bit woo-woo in nature (communicating with ancestors to change the flow of energy in your life) and might not fit in with everyone’s world vision. However, many of their offerings are filled with practical idea that can deeply impact your view of the world, your vision of your potential and even offer small changes that you can make to your posture that will help with back pain.

Screamfree Parenting and Screamfree Marriage are two products on the Screamfree website. Hal Runkle has written many books about how to pause before you react to your kids or your spouse. The idea is that when you pause before taking action you have the ability to choose what you say and do instead of reacting in a state of auto-pilot. This auto-pilot is usually whatever bad habits were taught to you but your parents. So many of us feel that our auto-pilot is set and cannot be changed - we feel out of control or powerless when we are flooded with anger or anxiety. Screamfree’s message is one of hope - that we can change our auto-pilot if we can find a way to pause. I also really like that this website sends out brief daily emails filled with reminders of how to use their tools. I think we all change slowly and we need something each day to remind us of who we are trying to become and of the better self that we are trying to be in the world and in our relationships.  

Daily or Weekly Journals or Planners. Panda Planner are one example of a daily journal or planner. It has sentences fragments that you complete each day to guide you to set your intentions and remind your of your daily focus. All of these will put you in a healing frame of mind. The goal is to fill it out first thing in the morning - before you start your day. It is amazing what setting expectations can do when used cumulatively. You don’t need to purchase a planner for this - you absolutely can use a blank notebook or your computer. However, I find that it is easier if the questions and sentence fragments are already set up for you. It a gentle push in the positive growth direction. 

Low Cost Psychotherapy. I realize this listing is not about free therapy but I wanted to include a blurb for “psychotherapy” as well. A wonderful place to find quality low-cost psychotherapy is to go through universities or post-graduate institutes that are training psychotherapists. Many of the therapists on staff are graduates and not current students and many are experienced therapists who working on obtaining advanced degrees or certifications in specific theories or techniques. These therapists are also highly supervised which results in quality care.

Here is Boulder we have the Naropa University which is a wonderful place to for healing. When I was practicing in Washington, DC I referred many people the Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis (ICP&P). ICP&P has a wonderful referral network for low cost therapy. It may take a little searching but fantastic low cost therapy is available. 

There are many avenues to healing and there is no “one size fits all” for personal growth. You might need to try many different avenues of healing before you find relief. Don’t let your financial resources stop you from moving forward in your life or from seeking help. There are so many ways to experience healing, relief and growth and the right one is just a click away. Have faith, do your research and please reach out if you have any questions.

Ashley Seeger, LCSW is a psychotherapist in Boulder, Colorado and and has over 17 years of experience helping people shift their perceptions to allow more love, joy and success into their lives. She can be found at and


Feeling Depressed After a Move - Here are 3 Tips that can Help

“I moved to Boulder to find peace, love and nordic skiing. I am excited to have my kids grow up in a place where physical fitness and the outdoors are exalted. I finally found a place where everyone is filled with zen, community and passion - so why am I having such a hard time settling in? Why aren’t I filled with calm assurance that this is where I belong? Why am I depressed?”

I hear this over and over with my clients who have just moved to Boulder. They researched and saved; planned and sacrificed; and really wanted to move to Colorado. Many moved from busy, traffic-filled cities: DC, New York, Boston. And most were excited to leave the crowds and fast paces behind them. So it is confusing when they don’t feel an immediate sense of calm and belonging here. They wonder with me: where are the throngs of friends for me to bond with? why am I suddenly doubting this move? why am I feeling depressed when I chose this?

It is very normal to feel out of place, anxious and even depressed after a move. Not only are you absorbing the loss of your old routine, house, job and friends but you are also rebuilding a life - or lives if you have a family. It takes time to find a routine and feel settled. It takes a lot of time to find friends. 

In my work with individuals going through major life transitions I have found 3 tips that can help immediately.

  1. Acknowledge that it will take 3 years to feel settled. Yes, that is three years not three weeks or three months. You can’t speed this up and you can’t force familiarity with people, places, neighborhoods or holidays. You need to find a way to lower your expectations of yourself and to find a way to tolerate feeling sad.
  2. Allow yourself to feel bad right now. It is normal to feel out-of-sorts after a move. Everyone feels anxious, sad, lost, numb or even angry after a big move. You do need to find outlets for these feelings: talking with friends, journaling, singing, crying, or talking with a therapist.
  3. Find one thing to be grateful for and focus on that for 30 seconds every day. After we go through a big transition we tend to focus on all that we have lost and all the things that are different. This is completely normal as everything that surrounds you is new and different. But there is a magical thing that happens when we turn our focus to something - we tend to see more and more of that thing. So, being surrounded by all new things, pretty soon all we see is how out of place we are and how unfamiliar everything is - and we feel terrible. If you can focus on feeling grateful for one small thing then you might find that you see more things to feel good about. You might even find that your mood shifts very slightly. This only takes 30 seconds and at first it will create only a small shift - but it is a shift. This gratuity can be for hot coffee, a pretty sky in the morning or pain free legs or teeth (we sometimes forget to be grateful for this things that don’t hurt!). 

Moving is hard and rebuilding a life is hard. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need a therapist to talk with about your transition. I offer a free consultation and can be reached at 720-551-8084 or


Are you Bad at Self Love? Here’s How to Stop.  

“I am so stupid…I can’t believe I….”

“I am so lazy - I should have….”

“If only I was smarter I could have finished….”

Is this something that you hear in your head daily? Do you list all the things you should have done or should be better at doing? Maybe your spouse, sibling or friends tell you that “you are too hard on yourself” and “you need to lower your expectations for yourself?” If so, you might be in need of a tune up around self love. 

I have worked with many women who wonder what “self love” really is and what “lowering expectations” really means. How do we lower our expectations of ourselves when we are the ones making the machine that is our family run. Do we not feed the kids? Do we not make sure everyone has a mittens, underwear and socks? It can feel like we are barely getting by so what do we stop doing in order to lower our expectations? If we can’t figure this out it can feel like one more thing we are bad at - we are bad at self love. 

Many of the women that I see who are extremely hard on themselves are also bad at taking complements, a thank you’s or allowing someone to help them. If someone praises their shirt they might say “thing old thing - it’s not really nice.” If they are offered help their automatic response is “no,” even if they really need some help. Or they might deflect any gratitude or thank-you’s by thanking and praising the other person. These women end up feeling depleted as they care for everyone around them.

The impulse it to go straight toward the “why” of this situation. Why don’t you let others help you? Why can’t you let someone give to you? And while these are valid questions they don’t show us how to change our behavior and begin to feel good about ourselves. I propose that rather than trying to understand they whys we go straight to allowing praise, gratitude and help into your life. I think of this as a back-door, fast-pass to self love. 

This exercise begins with awareness. You are simply going to notice all of the times that you are rejecting the praise, gratitude and help offered to you daily. There is tremendous power in observation and attention; change begins to happen as soon as we take ourselves out of the role of actor and begin to observer what is happening in our lives.

Your assignment is, for one day, to take a post-it note and a pen and mark down how many times someone says thank-you to you, offers you help you or praises something about you, your work or your life. You might be shocked by how often this happens. 

If you are feeling like a challenge, then your next job will be to say yes or thank you to everything offered. You are allowed to ONLY say yes or thank you - you cannot explain why the praise is not earned or how you usually do everything for yourself but are only accepting help because you have to. Nope - you say thank you and then shut up. You might find that you become curious about how so much love could go unnoticed in your day.

The hard work with this exercise is to allow the love that surrounds us into our body or our soul. You want to visualize swallowing it into your gut where it might nurture your instead of having it slide right off unseen. Again, first step is to notice it and the second step is to allow it. 

I realize that this sounds very easy but for those of us who are bad a self love this is actually quite challenging. Please don’t hesitate to find help if you are struggling with allowing the flow love, praise and gratitude that surrounds you. Working with a therapist, coach or counselor is a wonderful place to begin this journey.

Please contact me if you would like to schedule a free consultation to talk about this excercise or if you need other simple exercises to begin to allow more self love, joy and ease into your life.



5 Things to do Right Now to Holiday-Proof Your Marriage (AKA How to Prevent Christmas from Breaking Your Marriage)

Many of us hold a fantasy of what the holiday season will bring and how it will make us feel.  We want for this to be a time when our whole family comes together - healing old wounds by each giving generously with their time, gifts and forgiveness. The dream is that our partner will surprise us with the perfect gift; you will give amazing presents that delight your kids, who will of course behave wonderfully; and your extended family will praise your abilities as a daughter, a son, a parent and a bread-winner. For some out there this is not a fantasy - they will have this holiday.

But for many of us, we will instead, have a holiday that is mediocre or just OK – or perhaps it will be stressful or filled with conflict. Old arguments will arise; there will be too many political discussions; we will have to travel during a time of mass shootings and bombings; and there is a new freedom we feel to disclose past sexual harassment or molestation. Added to this is a bit too much sugar and alcohol and less sleep than we need. All of these things result in us feeling stressed and therefore, not acting as a loving and patient spouse. We lean-in to old family patterns of anger, sarcasm, spending too much, drinking too much or maybe withdrawing. In couples this usually results in arguments so bad that they urgently schedule an appointment with a couples counselor in January.

I know this because my schedule has been consistently bursting every January - filled with couples who feel as if the holiday season broke their marriage. After seeing this pattern year after year, I now actively work with my couples on devising a holiday plan. I have come up with a list of 5 things that you need to negotiate with your spouse before the Holiday Season is in full swing. This will help lower your stress levels and as a result will have you feeling closer and more connected by the time 2018 rolls around.



You need to set a budget for your holiday spending - even if money is not a worry in your family. Maybe this is a total budget for all the gifts or a per-person limit, but either way you need to be talking about money with your spouse. Feeling a lack security or safety is a big trigger for stress and there is nothing that can set off panic like seeing your bank account suddenly at zero or finding a credit card bill that is 3 times what you expected. This needs to be done early so that you both know how much you have to spend – on each other and on gifts and events.


Create a family plan

Talk with your spouse about your expectations of how much time will be spent with family. You need to negotiate attendance at important family outings and activities. Is there the expectation that everyone attends every event or are there some that you can skip? If your expectations differ, you will need a way to negotiate around this. This is why talking through these expectation before holiday stress descends is so important. You need time and space to think through your reactions and feelings so that you can come to an agreement that you both feel OK about. Once you have privately decided on your plan you can jointly share it with family members. They may have reactions to your decision for one or both of you to skip certain events and it is important that your unified voice is heard.


Create an escape plan

Time together with family and friends is wonderful. But December can sometimes feel like a marathon of wonderful events that slowly exhausts the participants. Between wanting to be a good host and not wanting to disappoint family we sometimes forget to take time for ourselves. I usually get some push back when I encourage my clients to plan time away from their families but I think that having a bit of time to recharge is important.

You need to set your plans and expectations before the family is all together in order to avoid hurt feelings. Now, that said, not all of our families want to hear “I am planning an hour on my own on Tuesday afternoon because you all are just too much.” Instead, I encourage you to fib a bit and let your family know (soon) that you have an online class, a work phone call or just a last-minute piece of paperwork due at work that will take you away for 30 minutes or maybe 2 hours.

Set the times and dates of these “get-aways” before everyone arrives. You can always cancel but it is important to have these “pressure release valves” in place before you feel stressed. You can use this time to grab a coffee, watch Netflix, call a friend, or simply do nothing. Think through how many of these you might need. Discuss with your partner if there is a need to sneak away together. I think that the time you spend together is better for everyone if you are feeling centered and calm.


Plan for gentle self-care

Holiday schedules are crazy and when we are stressed we sometimes let our self-care routines slip. It is important to think through what makes you feel grounded and calm when your house is full, your schedule is packed or you are traveling. Once you identify these things, begin to imagine where you can gently put these in your holiday schedule. I use the word “gentle self-care” because the goal is not to be perfect, ridged or extreme with taking care of yourself. Your goal is to find a few ways to be kind to yourself and perhaps even to your spouse over a very busy time of year.

A few examples I give my clients might be taking 5 or 10 minutes to stretch, journal or just breathe deeply before engaging with your family each day. I have one client who put a coffee maker in her bathroom so she and her husband could have a cup of coffee by themselves every morning. I have another client who told her family that she was watching her neighbor’s cat while they were away but actually negotiated with her neighbor to use their guest room to nap each afternoon. You need to make sure that your self-care is not something that causes additional stress; it needs to bring you energy.

When you are taking care of yourself you also might find that your patience with your spouse goes up exponentially. Along with your calm energy and patience comes generosity and perhaps even some curiosity about your partner’s stress levels and reactions. I believe that great marriages are filled with generosity and curiosity – and your ability to have these over a busy holiday season will go way up if you are actively taking care of yourself.  


Lower your expectations

There are so many expectations that we put on ourselves, our spouse and our family during the holidays – and with high expectations come many disappointments. When we are operating at minimal stress levels we can usually talk with our spouse about feeling disappointed and negotiate a repair. However, when we are already stressed (remember that the holidays in 2017 = family stress, politics gone nuts, fear of terrorism/acts of violence, “me too” feelings, travel as well as a busy schedule) we tend to overreact to disappointments. One solution is to lower your expectations.

Lowering your expectations does not mean that you have no expectations or standards. It means that you actively choose the areas of your holiday on which you want to spend your time and energy and then actively let go of the others without guilt. For some, this lowering of expectations means that they allow themselves to purchase ready-made foods or go out to eat. For others this might mean that they give themselves permission not to purchase gifts for family members or neighbors, or perhaps they decide not to send holiday cards.

When you allow your holiday to just be OK instead of perfect it also means that the holiday itself does not have to produce overwhelming feelings of love and joy. Can you give yourself permission to just feel good or OK during the parties and meals instead of fully connected, loved and valued? Many times, it is our own expectations of how we should be feeling that sabotages us.

In our marriage, our expectations of our partner also go up during this emotional time. We expect them to save us from our family drama, give exceptional gifts, look fabulous and sometimes even to be a punching bag for us when we are overwhelmed. While it might sound difficult, it is important to vocalize our expectations of our partner – to ask for what we want.

You can’t begin too early mapping out your holiday plans with your partner – some items may need extensive thought or negotiations. I encourage my clients to be as transparent as possible with each other around expectations and disappointments but I realize that there are times when finding the language is difficult. If you are having a tough time talking through planning please consider finding a counselor to help. Counseling provides a holding space to express emotions and begin to find the steps toward feeling connected through busy times. If you would like to talk with me about your holidays plans I can be reached at




A Quick Path to Mindfulness.

What does Mindfulness really mean? You see people talking, posting and blogging about mindful eating, mindful walking, mindful texting and even mindful sex. But what does this mean? What is Mindfulness? How you do become more mindful? And do you really need to?

Mindfulness simply means focusing on one thing at a time – and only on that one thing. This is difficult to do with your phone beeping, text arriving, Facebook pinging at you and the TV blaring inflammatory news. We are all used to multitasking in a storm of activity and thoughts - and many of us have lost the ability to quiet our minds. Being mindful is the act of quieting the mind. I use the word “act” purposefully. Being mindful is an action and it takes practice.

Adding a little bit of Mindfulness to your day is like having a personal time machine – it slows down time. Is that possible? Well, kind of. When you focus on something small (like breathing) you might find that just one minute of intense focus can feel a lot longer.

A simple exercise is to take 10 breaths and while breathing in say to yourself “I am breathing in” and then “I am breathing out” while you are breathing out. I realize that this sounds very simple and it is, but as you breath in and out you might find that your mind wanders away from your simple sentence. It takes refocusing and action to stay on task.

This is because Mindfulness is a muscle. If you don’t exercise it, it atrophies, and then you are left feeling at the mercy of any passing thought like a small boat in a stormy ocean. Being mindful means that you are actively choosing what to think about and in many ways, you are therefore, choosing what to feel.

I have had many clients who want to learn about mindfulness but feel flooded or lost when they try meditation. I recently had a client find a wonderful tool that when used a few times week (or daily!) provided her with a gentle path to Mindfulness.

It is a planner by Panda Planner and it takes only 2 minutes in the morning and evening. It will, however, require you to actively think about what you want your affirmation to be; what you choose as your daily habits; as well as figuring out your focus for each day. I realize that these words might all sound like the same thing but they are different and are each important. This Daily Pro Panda Planner can be found on their website at or at the link below.

Using a planner is not for everyone just as meditation, yoga or therapy is not for everyone. But I do believe that finding a way to become a bit more mindful about your life is a good thing. I believe we all need a few breaths each day where we get to feel centered, good enough and calm.

If you are having difficulty find a place of calm in your life and would like to learn more about Mindfulness - I can be reached at, or please call me at 720-551-8084. I look forward to our work together.
- Ashley Seeger, LCSW