Conference Presentation by Fawn McCool, LCSW

We are pleased to announce Urban Counseling Collective clinician Fawn McCool, LCSW, will be presenting at this year’s Martha Browning Bryant Memorial Lecture organized by the Oregon chapter of the American College of Nurse Midwives. Conference details below:


Interpersonal Neurobiology of Birth and NICU Trauma

Fawn McCool, MSW, LCSW


After completing my certification in Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB) from Portland State University, I set out to apply the concepts to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), a setting I know both personally and professionally. As the mother to a premature baby and Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I have a deep understanding of the impact birth trauma and early maternal separation can have on families.

Interpersonal Neurobiology allows birth professionals insight into the impact trauma has on a patient’s brain and nervous system through scientific and clinical studies.  As specialists, we understand the detrimental impact Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Perinatal Mood or Anxiety Disorders have on relationships, particularly between caretaker and baby. IPNB not only gives us deeper understanding of the science behind the chemical and neurological changes taking place, but also neuroplasticity and the ability for the mind and body to heal.

This presentation will provide participants with an introduction to concepts such as:

  • Dr. Stephen Porges’s Polyvagal Theory

  • Dr. Dan Siegel's "Brain in the Palm of your Hand" and "Healthy Mind Platter"

  • Dr. Louis Cozolino’s work on the neuroscience of relationships

  • Dr. Jaak Panksepp's Affective Neuroscience 

Attendees will be able to recognize and label relevant parts of the brain and nervous system, and be able to demonstrate and describe this knowledge to patients when relevant. Participants will take away activities and ideas to implement in the setting in which they work to promote neuroplasticity and healing.

Link to conference website:

6 Ways to Inspire Others

By Dr. Paul Guinther, PhD

As a clinician and in my personal life, I’m always looking for new ways to be motivated by love rather than fear. As such, I thought it might be fruitful to learn more about inspiration. I started off with looking up the etymology of inspiration, then hit upon some quotes on inspiration, which I thought was a fun twist on inspirational quotes! A few themes emerged regarding ways to inspire others, so I thought I’d collect them together here to share with you. By reading this you are showing your dedication to helping others – thank you!

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Urban Counseling Collective Clinician Fawn McCool to Present at Birth Trauma Conference


Please join us in congratulating Fawn McCool, LCSW on her upcoming conference presentation this weekend, entitled “From Surviving to Thriving: Healing the Embodied Brain in NICU Families”

Fawn’s presentation will take place at Trauma and Birth: Multidisciplinary Approaches to Prevention and Healing, March 28-30, 2019 at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront (

Description: Fawn McCool, LCSW will explore the relevance Interpersonal Neurobiology has on perinatal social work; including the social brain and nervous system’s adaptation to stress and trauma, and the neuroplasticity that occurs through relationships, storytelling.

We asked Fawn to tell us more about her work and what inspired her to pursue this topic. Here’s what she had to say: “ I received my certification from PSU in Interpersonal Neurobiology in 2016. I believe so strongly that the work of IPNB researchers like Jaak Panksepp, Dan Siegel, Louis Cozolino, and Stephen Porges is vitally important to treating families who have experienced Neonatal Intensive Care Unit stays and birth trauma. I created this presentation and also a class I teach at PCC Climb Center, to give social workers, nurses, and doulas the language and tools to work with families to understand what is happening in their brains and nervous systems and then offer the hope of neuroplasticity utilizing the healing powers of relationships, touch, storytelling, and meditation. “

If you would like to schedule an appointment with Fawn McCool or any of our mental health clinicians, give us a call at 503-610-2044

Welcome to Dr. Paul Guinther!


This month we welcome psychologist Paul Guinther, Ph.D. to our clinical team here at PMHC! When not directly providing clinical services, Paul enjoys spending some of his recreational time as a freelance researcher. The Association for Behavior Analysis International recently invited him to share more about his research in this blog.

Welcome Paul!

Paul is accepting new clients and works at our 4625 SW Washington Ave office. Click here to schedule an appointment with Paul.

Meaningful Resolutions: Creating Positive Change in the New Year

By Jane Nath, MSN, CNM, WHNP-BC

Even if you haven’t physically written down any New Year’s resolutions, it’s likely that with December coming to a close, you’ve been thinking about changes you might want to make in the year to come. New Year’s is a great time for self-reflection and growth, and for some people, it can create the opportunity they need to start a heathy habit. However, all too often, New Year’s resolutions can perpetuate a cycle of procrastination, perceived failure, and shame. Today we will discuss how to create more effective and thoughtful resolutions for lasting, positive change. 

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. If this applies to you, another January might mean the start of a big diet, a gym membership, and taking a new round of “before” pictures in front of the mirror. You might feel energized and excited for a few days or weeks, then quickly tire of the restricted foods you’ve been eating or miss a day’s workout, and the whole plan falls apart. You feel ashamed of yourself and in response, turn to food or time relaxing on the couch for comfort. This cycle may also sound familiar to those who have struggled with other big changes, such as trying to reduce spending or cutting out all processed foods. These kinds of resolutions are very challenging and based on shame, and therefore, they have little chance of inspiring longterm results. 

To improve this year’s resolutions, spend some time thinking about yourself and the habits you want to create in positive terms. Maybe you love the feeling you get after an afternoon of physical activity, or the satisfaction of cooking a meal for your family from scratch. Then, think about how to manifest these positive outcomes: for example, can you resolve to start a subscription for a produce delivery service to expand your cooking horizons, or join a pickup league for a sport you’ve always wanted to try? Even better, try to make your resolutions realistic and measurable. Incremental changes are more likely to stick, and the feeling of satisfaction you get from accomplishing your goal will inspire further small changes, multiplying your success. Let’s say you resolve to swap your daily afternoon soda for a seltzer water with fruit. This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but achieving it will give you a boost of self esteem and positive energy, which might radiate into other areas of your life: maybe you will feel motivated to walk home from work that day, or to cook a balanced dinner. These changes will add up over time to create bigger results for your health and happiness.

Reframing your resolutions into positive, incremental, and sustainable changes is your best chance for making them last after January comes and goes. Nurture your sense of accomplishment this year rather than setting yourself up for a cycle of disappointment and shame. If you are ready to get help making changes in your life, big or small, contact us today to make an appointment.

Happy New Year’s!

If you want to read more about habits and motivation, check out the following books:

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg (

Atomic Habits, by James Clear (

6 Ways to Fight Off the Winter Blues

By Jane Nath, MSN, CNM, WHNP-BC

Here in the Pacific Northwest, dark and gloomy weather is the norm throughout the winter (and sometimes fall and spring, too!) If you notice your mood takes a dip during the colder months, here are some things you can do to help brighten your outlook and improve your energy levels.

1. Soak up natural light

With shorter daylight hours and cloudy skies, seeking out sunshine can sometimes feel impossible during the wintertime. During daylight hours, try to expose yourself to as much sunlight as possible: open the curtains, sit next to a window, and bundle yourself up for a quick lunchtime walk, when natural light is at its maximum.

2.  Get outside — even in the drizzle!

Rain in the forecast? Even if the weather isn’t ideal, going for a quick walk outside each day will invigorate you and boost your mood. Investing in proper gear (waterproof shoes and a durable rain jacket or umbrella) will give you the freedom to spend time outdoors in any conditions. Create a habit by finding a realistic way to incorporate it into your daily routine, and start small: even just a few minutes will help!

3. Make your home cozy and bright

Create a comforting ritual when you arrive home each dark winter evening. This could include changing into comfortable clothes and slippers, lighting candles, turning on upbeat music, or even taking a warm bath. These habits will signal your brain to relax at the end of a long day, and help create a more positive mindset.

4. Maximize your sleep time

Light shining from your phone, computer, or TV screens can interfere with your brain’s production of sleep hormones. Try setting boundaries for your screen time, especially in the evenings: you might consider a cutoff time at least one hour before bedtime when you put your phone away to charge for the night (in a separate room!). Keep your sleep and wake times regular, avoid caffeine after lunchtime, and make your bedroom comfortable and dark to help improve your sleep quality. If racing thoughts are keeping you awake, talk to a therapist to discuss stress reduction strategies.

5. Plan uplifting activities

After the holiday season has come and gone, the winter months can drag on in a dark and monotonous way. Break up your normal routines by trying something new and exciting: it could be anything from starting a new hobby to planning a vacation. Volunteering in your local community is a perfect way to lift your spirits through serving others, and it’s free!

6. Consider trying bright light therapy

Studies have shown that using a bright white phototherapy lamp daily is often effective for improving winter mood. The most common recommendation is to use a 10,000 lux lamp for 30 minutes each morning. Another option is to use a dawn simulation lamp to wake you up in the morning: this has also shown good results in clinical trials. It’s important to note, however, that these interventions should be attempted under supervision of a mental health provider: phototherapy can interact with certain medications and mental health disorders, so it’s best to have a professional to check in with regarding this treatment plan.

Some people have a more severe version of the winter blues called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you feel down, hopeless, or irritable much of the time, or if you no longer enjoy your favorite activities, make sure to talk to a therapist or mental health provider right away to get appropriate treatment. 

Whether it’s a case of the winter blues or something more serious, get in touch with us today to make a personalized plan to improve your mental health. You can call 503-610-2044 or contact us online to schedule an appointment. 

Wishing you a bright and healthy New Year!

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Avery D. Seasonal Affective Disorder: Treatment. In: Post T, ed. UpToDate. Waltham, Mass.: UpToDate; 2017. Accessed December 10, 2018. 

Melrose S. Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview of Assessment and Treatment Approaches. Depress Res Treat. 2015;2015:178564.