In an interview with Yo-Yo Ma by David Marchese of the NY Times, Yo-Yo Ma spoke about the quality of interaction he aims to deliver to his audience: Presence.

Yo-Yo Ma: As a performer, my job is to make the listener the most important person in the room. The only way to avoid burnout is to care about where you are. Being present. Caring. You’re working with living material. That goes back to memory. The living material is only living if it is memorable. Not only that it’s memorable but that you pass it on. That is what I’m thinking about with every single interaction. Whether it’s a kid, someone on the street, in a concert hall or with you.... It’s the same thing: How to be present. Because if you’re not?

Marchese: Then why are we here?

Yo-Yo Ma: That’s it. You are acknowledging someone’s existence by being present. It may take a lot more energy, but boy, is it much more rewarding. It makes me happy. It makes people happy. It’s wonderful.

Yo-Yo Ma is a great musician, in part because he has the ability to be highly present and caring, along with valuing the people he is playing for.

These are the same qualities you want in a skillful therapist. Being present, compassionate, and connected are not something any of us can achieve every minute of every day, but we can work toward it.

One of the benefits of IFS (Internal Family Systems) is that practicing IFS makes it easier to be present, compassionate, and connected. When we learn about the needs of our parts, heal those parts that have been hurt, and release other parts that have been laboring under extreme conditions, we enable our highest Self to lead our system. When that happens, both therapist and client will naturally show these positive qualities that have actually been within us all along.

If you want greater access in your life to connectedness, loving compassion, calmness, confidence, patience, presence, perhaps it's time for you to give IFS a chance! Send me an email to learn how we could work together to meet your goals.


IFS (Internal Family Systems) is effective and powerful precisely because it is gentle and respectful.

Some clients are happy to use the process and not think about how it works. That's perfectly fine. Others want to understand the theory behind IFS and that's fine, too.

If you're someone who wants to know more about how we believe IFS works, this list of some of the key principles of the IFS model is for you!

  • IFS teaches us to appreciate the natural complexity inside all of us. IFS believes we each have a "multiplicity of mind" as opposed to a "unity of personality."
  • Especially as children, we learn multiple ways of behaving around our caretakers and other key people in order to protect us and keep us safe.
  • IFS calls these patterns "parts," "aspects," or "personalities."
  • Through IFS, we learn to recognize our many parts and appreciate how each of our parts is trying to help us.
  • These learned patterns or parts continue to appear throughout our life and, if they become extreme, can cause us difficulty when we are triggered.
  • Our first impulse is usually to wish we could get rid of these difficult parts, but that is not possible.
  • Instead, IFS teaches us how to treat these multiple aspects of ourselves with respect and compassion.
  • IFS helps us access something deeper than rational thought. Thinking has helped us survive childhood but is largely ineffective in helping us change deep-seated problems.
  • IFS gives us support in learning how to access our "best Self," an inner power that has always been with us, but has frequently been overshadowed by our protective parts.
  • The gentleness of the IFS approach gains the trust and cooperation of our protector parts, which allows us to connect with and heal the hurt parts that have been hidden away inside of us.
  • As we learn to approach our parts with compassion, our seemingly difficult parts can soften, recognize that they are no longer in a trauma situation, and become peacefully integrated into our internal system.
  • This deep healing frees us to function much more calmly, creatively, and confidently.

In this video, Tori Olds introduces key concepts of the IFS model

Tori has other YouTube videos on IFS, too.

You don't need to remember or understand all of this to begin using IFS to begin transforming your life! That's my job.

I have specialized in providing IFS therapy because working with IFS lights my fire. I'd be honored to help you turn your life around with IFS, too.

If you're curious about whether IFS could work for you, let's set up a brief conversation so we can talk about what your goals and needs are.


By training the brain with EEG (electroencephalograph) neurofeedback, we can improve mood, behavior, and performance of the brain. Many varieties of neurofeedback can also help difficult issues, such as trauma and obsessions.

I've studied neurofeedback with Mike Cohen, a gifted teacher. In this simple video he explains how EEG neurofeedback works and how EEG neurofeedback can help you or your family member.

Like the EKG or ECG (electrocardiogram), which is used to show the electrical activity of the heart, the EEG shows the subtle electrical activity of the brain.

EEG neurofeedback is non-invasive, which means that it is not adding anything to your brain. It does NOT introduce any electrical charge to the brain or scalp. It is safe.

The EEG neurofeedback system simply reads what is happening with very sensitive sensors. The system then process this data and shows the brain feedback, usually using sounds and visuals, such as a movie. As this visual and sound feedback changes, the brain is receiving information about its own performance.

The visual and sound feedback helps the brain learn about its own changing behavior from moment to moment. This learning is actually the brain changing itself. The person watching the visual and sound feedback doesn't have to do anything. This is a game for the brain! The brain figures it out below the level of consciousness.

Video: EEG Neurofeedback with Mike Cohen

I also use pirHEG (passive infrared hemoencephalography), a different style of neurofeedback. Much of what Mike says about EEG neurofeedback applies to other forms of neurofeedback, like pirHEG, even though the feedback methods are quite different.

I offer neurofeedback in my Glen Burnie office. In some cases, I can also make visits to your home or office.

Contact me to learn more about whether neurofeedback could help you.


Internal Family Systems (IFS) is a powerful tool for calming the anxious mental chatter and conflicted emotions we feel inside us. IFS provides a way for us to connect with the parts within us, learn from these parts, and move toward healing with much increased calmness, compassion, and authenticity.

As we heal with IFS, our inner world becomes understandable and less threatening. We also find it easier to navigate the external social world.

I provide IFS therapy, most often through on-line teletherapy. If you're wondering why you're anxious or depressed, or why you do things you'd rather not do, or just curious about how IFS might help you, contact me for more information.

In this short video, Dick Schwartz explains how IFS works.


My own roots are many, but the largest portion by far is Asturian, a people from northern Spain. Asturians have immigrated to this land for centuries, often driven by poverty and hunger. Perhaps the largest wave of immigration occurred in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when my grandparents arrived. Many of them came to work in the zinc smelting industry, in our coal mines, or in the cigar factories of Florida.

Asturian American immigrants living in West Virginia in the 1920s.

In their early years in the US, these Asturian immigrants experienced a great deal of racism and classism. In the West Virginia town where my Asturian grandparents settled, the KKK burned crosses to intimidate southern European immigrants, including Spaniards, Italians, and Hungarians. Local leaders, even the grade school principal, conspired to keep their immigrant neighbors disempowered.

This prejudice was due to skin color, anti-Catholic sentiment, and discomfort with people who work with their hands, eat different foods, and speak a different language.

Prejudice against Spaniards occurred throughout the United States. Poor Spaniards who were hired to work on Hawaiian sugar plantations in the early 1900s were transported from Spain in what have been described as "slave ships." Many of those immigrants left Hawaii complaining of extremely brutal working conditions. Between 1915 and 1919, hundreds--possibly thousands--of Spanish-speaking residents in Texas were indiscriminately killed by the Texas Rangers. This 1949 sign posted in Texas shows that the prejudice continued for many years.

Whites only sign 1949 Texas
A sign from Texas in 1949. We serve Whites only, no Spanish or Mexicans.

I don't want to suggest that Asturians faced the same ferocity of prejudice that Blacks have faced for hundreds of years. The extent of disrespect and utter violence that Black Americans have experienced is much greater.

And maybe your family didn't suffer under Jim Crow, but it may have suffered under "Juan Crow" or the many other forms of racism and classism in America.

Did your parents or grandparents teach you to speak their language? Did your family change the spelling of its last name? Have you wondered why so many children of immigrants turned their backs on their heritage in order to blend in? Very likely, it was to escape prejudice.

No one in the Land of the Free should suffer physical, mental, and economic abuse.

We are all one, all human. We deserve equal treatment socially, economically, and politically. We're so much stronger when we value the contributions, perspectives, and humanity of all.

Remembering that our own families have been targeted by racism and classism, may we reject any such hatred or fear that targets anyone. May we all breathe freely.



I would be surprised if you haven't noticed an increase in often difficult to explain emotions since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Have you noticed yourself and others:

  • acting as if nothing has changed
  • being more anxious or agitated
  • becoming angry more easily,
  • crying more often,
  • isolating from others,
  • driving faster,
  • behaving more generously, or
  • hoarding?

This shift toward more emotional behavior may be grief, a natural response to overwhelming events and great loss.

Grief generally includes a set of fluctuating stages, but they don't typically appear in a neat sequence. Grief can be messy.

There are several ways of framing the stages of grief. One seven stage model includes:

  • shock and denial;
  • pain and guilt;
  • anger and bargaining;
  • depression, reflection, and loneliness;
  • an upward turn with less intense uncomfortable symptoms;
  • reconstruction and working through solutions; and
  • acceptance and hope.

What is especially unusual is that we've seen this wave of grief overtake people all around the globe as the coronavirus has spread. This grief is affecting people of all ages in all nations. We're not alone.

I hope that you, too, will find this article by Scott Berinato in the Harvard Business Review helpful and even encouraging.