CBM Blog

Therapeutic Writing Workshop

New Year’s Day often finds us making commitments to being different, better people than we were the day and year before.  This December try a different approach to change– take some time to slow down and reflect on who you have been and what you have accomplished in 2015 and mindfully approach your goal setting for 2016.


In this three week therapeutic writing workshop, therapist and writer Erica Stone will guide you through different visualizations and writing exercises to help you take stock of the highs and lows of the last year and inspire you to create a mission statement to help navigate a new year of self-actualization.  You will learn how to practice letting go of judgments and connect with the needs of your authentic self, rather than focusing on changing who you are.

This workshop is for everyone, including “bad spellers” and people who “suck at writing,” because the experience of getting ideas out of your head and on to paper is a powerful technique for learning about yourself and creating meaningful change.



Ashtanga 1-3 with Megan! Starting Thursday Oct 8


Class will start at 7:15 am every Thursday! First class is this Thursday October 8! 

Ashtanga is a dynamic form of yoga that uses the vinyasa system to link breath with movement while following a set series of postures. This practice can be viewed as a type of moving meditation that guides the practitioner to cultivate awareness, equanimity, and non-attatchement. The ashtanga method aims to build internal heat that cleanses the body, while working toward greater strength, flexibility and focus. The class includes sun salutations, standing and seated postures, breath work and relaxation. Although challenging, this yoga is accessible to anyone with the desire and willingness to learn the series, and modifications for beginners are always available!

Sign up here!


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About Megan…

I have always been curious about the power of the mind and mental health. I spent my college years studying psychology, but when my usual methods of coping with the ups and downs of life began to fail, I turned to yoga in hopes of finding balance. After experimenting with a myriad of different styles, I found Ashtanga. I was immediately drawn to the beauty of the silent, meditative, and physically challenging type of yoga, and quickly cultivated a dedicated daily practice. In 2014 I received my 200-hour certification from Moksha Yoga Center in Chicago. The following year I eagerly journeyed to Mysore, India, to study for one month with Sharath Jois at the Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute. I currently help teach the Mysore program at Moksha Yoga Center under the guidance of my dear teacher Alexia Bauer. I love sharing the practice that has helped broaden my awareness and change my life into one of greater stability, lightness, and fulfillment. As a teacher, I provide nurturing yet strong adjustments that help guide the students to carefully deepen their practice. I aim to help students form and maintain a daily yoga practice that gives the necessary space to explore the many physical, mental, and spiritual benefits that the practice has to offer.




Reiki with Erica

Reiki is a holistic stress management and relaxation technique that originated in Japan.  It is a type of bodywork where the practitioner uses gentle touch to calm your mind, body, and spirit.  The ‘ki’ in Reiki is similar to ‘chi’ in Chinese, which mean “life force energy” and Reiki is essentially a balancing of the energies.

serenity rocks

Reiki is both relaxing and energizing.  A session allows you to quiet your body and mind in order to receive the respectful, healing touch of the Reiki practitioner, allowing your stress responses to decrease.  This enables your body systems to restore itself, physically and mentally, helping you connect with your more grounded, centered, resilient, and creative self.

As massage and acupuncture are popular self-care modalities in the West, Reiki is becoming increasingly popular and is practiced at many hospitals including Johns Hopkins.  While it is not a substitute for medical or mental health care, Reiki is frequently used as a complimentary treatment for issues including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Grief
  • Insomnia
  • Insecurity
  • Creative blocks
  • Performance anxiety
  • Burnout
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Chronic pain
  • Joint pain/arthritis
  • Discomfort from cancer
  • Side effects of cancer treatment
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Pre/Post Surgical anxiety and discomfort

Services offered:

30 minute session- $40

60 minute session- $80

Student discounts available.

Erica Stone is Reiki II practitioner and licensed social worker.  She approaches well-being from a holistic mind-body perspective, acknowledging that what affects the body influences the mind and what affects the mind influences the body.  Her Reiki sessions are attuned to making you feel safe, comfortable, and empowered by your self-care.


You can schedule an appointment today by calling 847-284-0529 or through e-mail at



Wow, what a night. After long months of planning, and with few expectations, Failure:Lab Chicago was a magnificent evening.

What is it??

As we prepped, planned, and recruited people and companies to join us in hosting, participating and attending this storytelling event, there was a common question….

“Failure? I don’t get it?”

Failure:Lab is a storytelling event started by three fine gentlemen in Grand Rapids Michigan. Six storytellers tell their personal experience with failure, yet instead of telling the lesson they learned, the audience is provided time to write down the lesson they took from the story. Entertainers perform between each story to recharge the audience and prep them for the following storyteller. This format encourages connection and inspiration through real (yet subjective and personal) tales of failure. Success and failure go hand in hand, but admitting the defeat [in failure] opens the door to success.

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…and who is ChicagoCBM…? Why did CBM host it??

ChicagoCBM is a Psychotherapy private practice working with clientele from many different backgrounds, with many different goals. Most clients and potential clients (and all HUMANS really) are or have experienced failure in some aspect. Failure to lose weight…fear of failing at a new job, old job, same job…failing as a parent..failing at a sport…failing as an addict in the program…failing in a relationship…on a team…in academics…life in general…we have all shared in the experience of failing, and it has most likely changed us significantly.

Failure:Lab was our first major event – a great opportunity for us to get all different parts of our community together to witness and connect. We jumped on the opportunity to host because failure is so real to us and our clients. We loved how Failure:Lab put “it” out there, so raw and real. Success and failure are so subjective and our irrational belief system, from society, experiences, etc, has us keeping failure behind closed doors. The evening showcased failure as normal, and left it up to the audience to process the risk that has to come next.

ChicagoCBM could not have hosted Failure:Lab without the help of our many and varied sponsors, volunteers and storytellers! Thank you to everyone involved!

0 0 25 E. Washington Logo   cropped-LOGO-NOSTIGMAS-FINAL-480x1143-2 GITG_20_color lakshore_logo   wjlogo-1.png- large (gave $$1000)


Other sponsors included:


Rooted Self Expression Center


Rhine Hall provided drinks!!

Charlatan provided food!!

Finley Knight, Platform 29, Andrew Kent Wittler, and Kate Streit all performed!


What comes next??

We are all working to process the powerful impact of Failure:Lab, individually and practice-wide. ChicagoCBM has exciting things coming up – a new and bigger space to offer more healthy ways of living to our clients and our community, partnerships with organizations working to fight the “failure” of mental illness, and efforts to help make access to wellness easier. Look for updates from us on the successes and the failures of these ventures. Because if we learned anything from Failure:Lab, its that embracing the fear of failing can help us become better in whatever we choose to do.



Yoga @ ChicagoCBM

Yoga… is coming soon!

relax, refresh, rejuvenate, renew

We want to introduce you to Serena and Carly, two teachers who will be offering Mindful Flow classes this fall. We will be updating our calendar soon!

Meet Serena:

 Serena Brommel wholeheartedly believes that a consistent, passionate, aligned yoga practice has the power to transform your life. She is honored to guide you in this process of self-exploration.

Serena came to yoga after chronic pain and anxiety left her feeling helpless and frustrated. With the help of a committed practice, she developed a more loving and understanding relationship with her body and mind, ultimately allowing healing, balancing, strengthening, and opening to occur over time.

She has studied yoga and several traditions of meditation for over a thousand hours with some of the most renowned teachers throughout the world. Her teaching is primarily informed by her studies with Gary Kraftsow, Daren Friesen, and Pema Chodron, all influential leaders and practitioners in  yoga and wellness (click links to learn more!). Serena considers herself a lifelong student of yoga and continues to train extensively to keep her classes intelligent, fresh, and inspired. She is in the process of completing rigorous advanced teacher training in Viniyoga with Gary Kraftsow, eventually planning to work toward certification as a yoga therapist.

You can learn more about Serena and get in touch at

Mindful Flow Yoga offered by Serena

Yoga is an ancient system of wellness that ultimately aims to connect you with your innate capacity for wisdom, strength, clarity, and joy. In Mindful Flow, you’ll learn simple yet powerful tools for self-care and compassion. First you’ll move fluidly and consciously, uniting your breath with your movement. These physical postures will help release tension and create circulation, as you learn to love and care for your body more fully. You’ll also work with your breath as a tool for deep relaxation. Finally, guided meditation and visualization will introduce the philosophy of yoga, which helps you to take the calm and balance you’ve created during your practice off the mat and into your life. All levels welcome.


Meet Carly 

Carly Visk began practicing yoga in 2009 while attending graduate school in New York City and it revealed to her a place of peace and wholeness within herself, in the midst of the vibrant chaos of city life. So profound were the positive changes in her way of being, that she focused her master’s thesis on the beneficial effects of meditative states of consciousness on physical and psychological health. In 2013, Carly decided to integrate yoga more fully into her life and share it with others by becoming a yoga teacher. The transformational journey of studying and teaching yoga has allowed her to be more present than ever before, and has left her feeling alive and inspired to share these powerful tools with others to help ignite positive change in the world, starting from within each individual person.

You can learn more about Carly and her practice at

Mindful Flow Yoga offered by Carly

Carly’s teaching style is a balance between energizing flow and relaxing stretch and is influenced by years of practicing with yoga teachers from around the world, studying psychology, and experiencing life.

Each class is taught with intention and intuition, taking into account the season, time of day, and goals of each student. Students are encouraged to cultivate awareness of the body and mind while gently moving towards greater strength, flexibility, mindfulness, and overall health. Students can expect to leave class relaxed, focused, and ready to re-enter the day with renewed energy, clarity, and creativity.


We Moved!

ChicagoCBM is happy to announce our move to a bigger space to provide our clients with more resources for healing in the same building, just two floors down. We are now located in Suite 1025 @ 25 E. Washington in the loop. In our new space we have more individual offices so all eleven of our therapists can accommodate their clients schedules (and their own!).

The new space also includes a yoga studio, kitchen and community space for our community partners, NoStigmas. The plans are brewing for this space. In the near future (this fall) we will be offering yoga classes, workshops, nutrition courses, and more groups!

How to stay tuned…

To stay up to date and in the loop please check in with our social media feeds:




We are also on YELP! 

Our calendar:

and/or get in touch with us:, 312-569-0285

Chicago view from CBM HQ

Chicago view from CBM HQ

Catching up with Dustin

Dustin has recently returned from his cycling endeavors at the North Star Grand Prix, a five-day professional-level race consisting of six stages. Stage racing differs from 1-day formats due to the heavy emphasis on recovery between stages, high volume and professional-level competition. The North Star Grand Prix proved a lesson in conservative racing and a less urgent mindset for Dustin, when compared to a more typical short-circuit race. Along with a longer format of racing comes a new optimal-zone-of-arousal, a much lower one. A more relaxed mindset helped Dustin sway the scales towards less reactive and aggressive decisions that would have caused too much fatigue for a race that lasted 5 days.

  Dustin at North Star
the photo: Dustin at the start of stage 3 chatting with Carmon Small, A National champion in women’s cycling allowed to race with the men (due to the women’s race being canceled this year)

Happy LGBTQ+ Pride Month from Chicago Center for Behavioral Medicine!

written by: Cynthia Holmes

As June is national LGBTQ Pride Month, Chicago CBM would like to honor the bravery of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer folks of every shade of the rainbow for being your authentic self. We recognize that it isn’t always the easy to walk through the world when your looks can constantly out you, when people don’t understand or aren’t supportive, when you feel invisible or alone. We welcome that Pride Month can be a time to celebrate our diversity, our victories and our love!! At Chicago CBM we are happy to offer comprehensive therapeutic services to help support LGBTQ+ folks and their families, to embrace the whole person to live our best lives.


In a similar vein, we are thrilled to have our Chicago CBM therapist, Cynthia Holmes LCSW, serve as a co-chair on the planning committee for the LGBTQ Clinical Training Consortium. Please check out the next upcoming event and help spread the word:


The Chicago LGBTQ Behavioral Health Training Consortium presents

Let’s Talk About Sex:

Exploring Sex in LGBTQ Communities Through

Addiction, Compulsion and Sex Positive Lenses

Friday July 17, 2015

10:30 AM Check-In and Networking

11:00 AM to 1:00 PM Panel presentation and Q&A – Panelists TBA

1:00 PM to 2:00 PM Lunch and discussion

Two free CEUs available for Counselors, Psychologists, and Social Workers

At Center on Halsted

3656 N Halsted, Chicago, IL

Sponsored by

Center on Halsted, Chicago Lakeshore Hospital and Howard Brown Health Center

Space is Limited

Please RSVP by July 14, 2015

by following this link:

For questions or further info contact Ing Swenson,

Associate Director of Behavioral Health

Center on Halsted, 773.472.6469 EXT 267

The Dangers of “The Summer Body”

written by: Victoria Kessinger

At this time of year, we are being exposed to the concept of “The Summer Body”.  Whether it is a commercial advertising the latest diet trend, a fitness instructor attempting to inspire motivation, or a friend worrying about fitting into their favorite bikini, the concept is everywhere.  

 As a psychotherapist who specializes in weight management and eating disorders, the “The Summer Body”  has also become prevalent in my work over the past month or so.  Many of my clients have expressed anxiety related to the transition into summer wardrobes, or participating in summertime activities such as swimming.  This anxiety stems from worries about how their bodies will be perceived by others.

Every time I hear or see something related to  “The Summer Body”, I cringe because I know it is contributing to the body image difficulties many people face.  After being cramped inside all winter, summer activities out in the sun are meant to induce positive feelings, joy, and social engagement. However, with the “ideal summer body” envy these activities become anxiety inducing. Clients start to compare themselves to an idea of what “fit” looks like, the thought of over- exercising and the idea of cutting portion sizes or eating all together becomes prevalent among other negative thought patterns and behaviors.

The following are the top 5 reasons why it is important to get rid of this concept once and for all.

  1. It suggests there is a body type for summer.  In fact, any body type can enjoy the season. The summer body standard is socially constructed and there is nothing intrinsically attractive about this norm.  Other societies view overweight bodies as a sign of prosperity. Our own country glamorized curvaceous women in the 1940s and 1950s.  Therefore, the slim and toned ideal body that is the current beauty standard is a trend. Understanding that this concept is a trend can allow us to recognize that our bodies are not the problem, our society may be.  This can help to take the responsibility off of YOU and free you up from feeling guilty so you can put energy into enjoying the season!

  2. It maintains the current unhealthy cultural beauty standard, i.e. the ideal body is thin. Those who meet this standard are often rewarded socially, whether they are praised, promoted, adorned, or respected.  To be overweight is considered less than ideal and overweight individuals find themselves socially sanctioned.  Perhaps they are stereotyped to be lazy, or receive fewer opportunities in occupational and social settings.  “The Summer Body” suggests that beauty is a singular vision. Lacking in uniqueness and character. The drive to meet this standard can become overwhelming as individuals try to fit a mold that is uncomfortable and unfitting to their interests, living an uncomfortable unsatisfying life. The human body is beauty. Beauty is not a size or a look, it is accomplished through feeling good and enjoying a healthy life that has no aesthetic standard.

  3. It maintains the pattern of body-shaming.  The standards for a toned/slim summer body are incredibly hard to reach, setting us up to devalue ourselves when we don’t achieve them, or to shame others when their body does not meet the current standards.  Instead of embracing our body’s unique characteristics, we work exhaustively to accomplish an impossible or highly unrealistic aesthetic while completely rejecting ourselves. By rejecting our body we lose all sense of self, including our identity.

  4. It is unhealthy for our physical health because it gets us thinking about our weight in temporary terms because we think about losing weight for the summer months.  Often times “Summer Body” weight goals are not realistic long-term weight management goals.  Therefore, people must overly restrict or over exercise in order to achieve their summer body.  These practices are not sustainable for the long run, which causes people to resume their pre-summer body habits and regain weight…perpetuating the “yo-yo” cycle.

  5. This concept keeps us focused on our physical appearance.  Instead of thinking about the memories we will make, the people we will visit over the summer or the new experiences we will have, we worry about how our bodies look . This type of thought pattern causes us to lose sight of the most important and fulfilling aspects of life.

So I suggest we recognize this summer body concept is unhealthy and choose to focus on body positive messages, and embracing the strength, capability,  and unique characteristics of our present bodies. I challenge YOU to write down 1 thing you like about your body each day for a week, to start getting in the habit of focusing on these positive body traits you now have!


And, if you struggle with negative self-image, or managing your weight in healthier ways, check out ChicagoCBM’s weight management group for help. We are starting groups in the next couple of months!

What’s going on inside? Have you tried writing?

written by: Erica Stone

Want to improve your mood, manage stress, change habits, and get healthier?  Try writing!  But not just any writing.  The internet and cellphones have us typing more than ever, but when was the last time you sat down with a notebook and a pen to write about how you were feeling?


Writing has many of the same benefits as talk therapy.  If you’ve ever been upset and sat down to write in your journal, you’ve experienced that cathartic effect to getting your feeling out of your head.  The problem or hurt may not go away, but you get a chance to explore it and think about it in your writing in a different way than just ruminating on the thoughts in your head.  This can lead to a more compassionate view of yourself or help you to think creatively about a problem.  Being able to see your feelings captured on the page can illuminate the reality of your emotions–  good, bad, and ugly– this can serve as an inspiration to move in a direction that will help you take care of yourself, heal, and live your best life.    

James Pennebaker, a social psychologist of the University of Texas-Austin studies the therapeutic effects of writing and found that people who wrote for just 20 minutes about distressing events not only felt better emotionally, but demonstrated decreased physiological markers of stress including heart rate and blood pressure.

Interested?  Want to try a little therapeutic writing?

  • Freewrite for 20 minutes. Try writing about a stressful event from the past to help understand what happened and how you feel about it.  Write about your day to day, this can be an excellent way to practice mindfulness by recording the little things like the way the light sparkled in the tree outside your window, as well as the big stuff.

  • Keep a gratitude list. Feed the positive in your life by taking an inventory of the things that make your life wonderful and uniquely yours.  Start with one thing and really dig deep into why you’re grateful for it.

  • Write a letter to yourself.  Write a letter to yourself to give yourself the motivation, pep talk, congratulations, or forgiveness only you know how to give.  Say it your way.  Write it from yourself as a ten-year-old or a 100-year-old version of yourself and you’ll be surprised with the advice you might give yourself.  Really send it to yourself– treat yourself to the gift of getting a real letter in the mail!

  • Write a letter to someone else.  There are so many times when we can’t say the things we want to other people or aren’t ready to yet.  Write a letter telling them how you truly feel and let all the anger, hurt, love, etc. ring out.  This may not be a letter you want to send, but it will feel incredibly therapeutic to write.

images If you are interested in working with me for writing therapy or participating in a therapeutic writing group starting in July, please contact me through our website! (contact us or call!)