Counseling News


There are some days I sit back and reflect.  Am I where I want to be?  Am I doing everything I can to live my best life possible?

Reflecting can take on a variety of different meanings.  When we look at ourselves in the mirror we are staring at a reflection of what we are.  Do we like what we see?  Are we looking at our flaws?  Who is it that is looking back at us?

Reflection can also mean thinking about our lives as a whole.  Are we doing everything we can to live the most meaningful life possible?  Each day, are we looking at our lives and looking at it with the element of gratitude?

Sometimes I sit back and think about the frailty of life.  It is sobering and scary to think about.  Yet, can looking at the frailty of life also lead us down a different path?

If I take my day today so far, there has been nothing unusual about it.  I am about to see clients and about to try my best to assist each person with their own journey.

Yet, I take my day before me and reflect upon it.  I am humbled when a client allows me the privilege of walking with them to be a different version of themselves.  That is not something I take lightly.  When I work with a client, I encourage them at times to reflect upon their own lives, the choices they are making, and decide if a different path should be taken.

That is a practice I want to engage in more regularly for myself.  Each day I am able to get up is a blessing.  If I take the time to reflect upon that, I can be a better version of my self.  That is the path I journey with my clients on for themselves.

Live your best life possible.

With gratitude,




This week my thoughts are on this word.  This one word takes on many meanings.  As with most things, I feel that the important piece is what does this word means to you?

I had the experience this past week of completing the seventh race for the 9 plus 1 series through the New York Road Runners.  Since the one volunteer opportunity was completed months ago, what this means is that after two more races which will be done in October, I will officially qualify to participate in the NYC marathon in 2020.

For me, having completed seven races out of the nine required thus far is a feeling of pride.  It has been believing in myself and my capabilities when I had to dig really deep.  This is something which not only does not come easily to me but in fact, is extremely difficult.  I call my runs the turtle trot for a reason.  I am slow, awkward, and consider what I do something between a walk, jog (shudder at the word!) or a run.  I have settled on the word trot as something to me which is meaningful. (It also brings some humor to what I am doing which I feel is very important!)

At this race I had many feelings stir in me.  As I stood at the start line looking down 5th Avenue in NYC, I once again had the mental fight within my head about what I am actually doing out here with all these accomplished runners.  Yet, I battled those thoughts and settled on being proud of my own ability, knowing that in the past I have had days I have been unable to trot and there will be days in the future I will be unable to trot.  However, today and the day I set down 5th Avenue was not that day.

What is it that you dear reader are proud of yourself for?  What are you doing in your life which is giving you a sense of pride and accomplishment?  What can be done for you to experience your own inner joy and combat those inner voices in your head which say “I can’t….”

I am here to say I believe you can.  And I am hoping you can believe it too.

Until next time.

– Alicia


Keep on Dancing

I recently had the privilege of attending my mother in law’s 80th birthday party.  This was a party which she chose to have for herself, and threw it herself.

One of the themes which seemed to arise was her love for dancing.  It was on a gift which we chose to get her and several people at the party spoke of her love for dancing.

My mother in law called me this morning.  She said to me, “If someday my legs can’t do it I hope my spirit is always able to dance.”


Doesn’t this make you stop in your tracks?

My mother in law has not had the easiest life.  I won’t go into details but believe me on this.   She could have thrown in the towel years ago.  However, at the age of 80 to throw a party for herself, to have people in her life who enrich her life so greatly…and then…..

“If someday my legs can’t do it I hope my spirit is always able to dance.”

I have written on here about my relationship with running.  I call my runs “trots” because I am by far, the worst runner in the world but somehow get myself from point A to point B.  Slowly.   However, isn’t it about the spirit and act of moving forward, to working towards a goal and crossing your own finish line, whatever it may be, the best part of it all?

I hope I am able to remember her words.  Keep that spirit.  And continue to think as she thinks at her ripe age of 80.

For you dear reader, I hope that your spirit is always able to dance.  Keep pushing forward.  It is worth it.



The Balancing Act

The past few weeks have been busy.  I am now settled into my new office and am really enjoying the space.  Feedback on furniture has been good which makes me pleased since so much thought and energy was directed into making my new setup an experience which people will feel good about being in.

One of the things in settling in and settling down which has sparked my thoughts is about how much energy to devote to things.  The analogy I often think of and describe to people is that of a good old fashioned balance scale.  If too much is on one side it dips too low, if too much is on the other side it will also be unbalanced.  I look at life as I look at a balance scale, how can I stay as even or close to the middle as possible?

One strategy I have been trying to adhere to is keeping an eye on my own energy levels.  What are the things which are making me dip too low?  What is bringing an unevenness or lack of balance to my life?  Then, what can I do to attempt to make things more balanced?

I think that this requires a good deal of introspection and constant monitoring.  I am attempting to continue to work on this so I can be the best person I can possibly be.  Monitoring myself and my eb and flow of things will continue to be part of what keeps me in the best shape possible.

What are some tactics you use to balance yourself?  I would love to hear things which are helpful to you in a continued effort to learn and grow.

Until next time.



Moving On Another Time

Today’s blog is about decisions.

Sometimes it feels as if decisions can be tough.  For me at least.  But somehow I knew after just a short time that the place I had chosen for my office was not the best space.  It did not feel like the dream which I had envisioned for my clients.  It did not seem like it would be the best place for me to be long term.  Even further, it did not seem like my clients could be the best versions of themselves there.

Somehow I needed to make a decision.  A change.  A move.  Again.  And off I went searching again for a place where I truly envisioned myself being the best therapist I can possibly strive to be.  I searched for a place where my clients can truly relax, feel good about where they are when they are with me, and let themselves go.

Then, I found it!  As soon as I saw it I knew it was a great place for me and my clients.  Therefore, I made a decision.  I acted upon my decision and went for it. And soon I will be moving in.

I truly know this will be a good decision for myself and for my clients.  Yet, as we know, change can be hard.  Scary.  Overwhelming.  However, I am choosing to also re-frame for myself when I look at this situation and think things such as:

This will be great!

I can’t wait to be in this space!

I think my clients will love it here!

And on and on my thoughts go.

So, dear reader, how do you re-frame for yourself when you feel overwhelmed?  When a decision needs to be made and you may be faced with “What do I do?”  My suggestion is to sit back, take it all in, make the decision which you feel will be best for yourself and those effected by it, and then re-frame if needed.  And lastly, smile that things can only look up.

Until next time.



Another Half is History

Exactly one week ago today I completed my third half marathon.  I had many different feelings going into the race, one of which was fear which I talked about in my last blog.  The day before, my family and I traveled to Philadelphia for the race.  We did some sightseeing and also had dinner with some teammates from our running team who were also there.  Then we settled in for the night.

The morning of the race was overcast and cool.  I had my usual pre-race nerves.  I tried to keep them in check because this was my husbands first half marathon and I did not want to do anything to detract from his experience.  As I stood at the starting line with my husband and my son my husband turned to me and said, “Just focus on yourself.”

It turns out I did just that.  It was the first long race that I did not put music on.  I simply went along and thought about various things.  Here were some of my thoughts:

OMG, WHY am I doing this?!

Where is the next mile?!

Is that sun I see!?

False alarm, rain!

Then, I also had other thoughts:

I am SO lucky to be doing this.

There were times in my life I could not do this.

There will be a day I can no longer do this.  Today is not that day.

And I simply went on…  and on… and on…

From about mile 3 on I walked.  It felt long, but I embraced the experience.  Towards the end when it was raining and pelting sideways there was this man who wound up next to me.  In terms I should not write here (insert a few choice words!) I asked this man where the finish was.  Him and I then stayed together as he talked me through the end of the race.  After finishing he turned to me and high fived and said “See you next time!”

In reality I will probably never see this man again.  Yet, I will never forget him.  He was there for me when I needed somebody to talk me through when I was fairly exhausted.  And seeing somebody greet him at the finish line not caring that he was at the back of the pack with me and greeting him loudly with “I’m so proud of you!”  made me realize something.  It truly is not about speed.  It is about finishing, accomplishment and being my best self.

Until next time dear reader.


Alicia Joel-LCSW


Facing Fear

One of the things which I thought about over the past week was the subject of facing fear.  I believe that everyone manages their fears differently.

This is a week for myself which runners call the taper week.  My next half marathon is on Sunday.  The irony is that after having gone through two half marathons before this, one may think that there would be no fear going into my third.  However, good old self doubt has been rearing its ugly head again.  The past few weeks my legs have not been “cooperating” and I have had some pains.  This is not a good thing to experience before taking on this distance!  I also know that I have a general fear of races.  There is something about having others around me at a time when I feel vulnerable already which raises my fear.  I have been through a good number of races at this point but nevertheless, the fear still persists.  Can I do it again?  Can my body withstand the mileage?  Will I be judged for being so slow?  I could go on and on.

However, I am of the mindset that life is a journey.  Journeys have their ups and downs and with that, comes all different types of emotions.  I am trying to remember that I have lived with fear before and that I can live with fear again.  I want to be able to tackle this and be able to kick fear to the curb.  With this mindset, I can only move forward and know that I can only do what I would ask another to do, try my best and give it what I have.

With facing and acknowledging my fear, I can keep on trying to be my best self and continue moving forward.

Alicia Joel-LCSW


Instilling Hope

One thing I have been thinking about and actively working on with people is instilling hope.  When I first say this, what does this even mean?!

I am a believer in the power of perception.  I believe that through therapy and introspection, a person can begin to see that there may be another side to a situation he or she may be experiencing.  I guess we can think of this as the classic, “glass half empty or half full.”

I recently explained my thought process to somebody who is going through a really rough patch.  When going through a rough patch it can be difficult, and sometimes feel impossible, to see the silver lining in the clouds.  It came to me that this process can be also thought of as finding the flashlight.  When looking for the silver lining and finding it difficult, if not impossible to see, I first like to assist a person with finding their flashlight.  Once the flashlight is found, we can then search for the silver lining with the glimmer of light.  This glimmer of light is called hope.

May your sky light up like the Fourth of July…

Until next time.



Moving Onwards and Upwards

Yesterday was exciting for me.  I met with the editor in chief at Montclair State’s newspaper, The Montclarion.  Her name is Haley and I also met the photographer named Olivia.  It was really a delightful experience discussing how I met my husband years ago at Montclair State and about our history at the school.  I also enjoyed discussing my hopes and my dreams for Your Best Self LLC.  I am currently looking for an office space to meet with clients and my insurance credentialing is coming closer to getting done.  This is teaching me patience which has never been a strength of mine!  However, in the meantime I continue to think about my goals for my therapy practice and how I truly want to reach and serve as many people as possible who may be struggling.  Life can be so challenging at times and I think that it can be difficult to find the “right fit” with a clinician, one who a person feels that they can connect with and truly be themselves with.  As I continue onwards with my search for a space which will help me connect and serve clients, please let me know what you think is important to a client.  Is it feeling secure within the office space?  Easy accessibility to the space such as convenience and distance from you?  What are the things which would make you feel good about coming in to see me?


Alicia Joel – LCSW


Why I Do What I Do

I have been so lucky to have been invited and allowed into peoples lives so that we could journey together. I have worked with individuals, couples and families and have been fortunate enough to watch people transform themselves. It is my hope that with Your Best Self LLC, I can continue to work with clients to become the best version of themselves.

Why did I decide to start Your Best Self LLC? Because I truly believe in a person’s capacity to grow and change. I believe that all people should be able to have access to mental health services regardless of their situation. We turn on the news every day and hear stories of budgets being cut and services not being funded. Where does this leave the people who need it the most? I want to offer mental health services which are reasonable in rate so that people can access them.

I am currently in the process of being paneled with some insurances so that people will be able to see me in network with a lower out of pocket cost to them. In the meantime until the paneling is done I can, with a client’s permission, take their insurance information and ask the insurance company to see the client as a single case agreement, again keeping the cost minimal to the client. I truly want to help clients be the best version of themselves. Whether it is an individual, couple or a family, we only have one life to live. Why not give it our best shot possible?

In continuing to get to know me, I am a runner. I say that almost with a chuckle since I am a very slow runner. I call my run the turtle trot. Yet it is my determination to do something which comes so hard to me which gets me through. I am currently training for my third half marathon which is in March, 2019. I am doing the 9+1 program through NY Road Runners so that I can have guaranteed entry into the NYC marathon in 2020. I can say I will be one of the last to finish. And yet, there is a pride within me knowing that I keep on trying at something which I am really pretty bad at! It is this determination that has gotten me through difficult times in life and which will continue to get me through other situations. The first of the 9+1 race was this past Sunday. It was a 4 mile race. I began to get tired doing Cat Hill in Central Park (that is quite the hill!) A complete stranger saw me towards the end of the race and began speaking with me and saying things to motivate me. “You can do it, let’s get to the next light….” She ran with me and stayed with me through the finish line. Without knowing me she became part of me imaging my best self. To me, that is pretty remarkable.


Alicia Joel – LCSW