Affirmative Therapy with Maureen McCarthy

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AFFIRMATIVE THERAPY… Listen in on Episode 2 featuring Maureen McCarthy, (Licensed Social Worker/LSW), and co-hosts Kira Yakubov, LMFT (Founder and Lead Therapist), and Daniela Galdi (Health & Wellness Professional and HYR Podcast Producer).

PART 1 – Getting to know Heal Your Roots Wellness therapist, Maureen McCarthy, LSW.‍

PART 2 – Basics 101: Perspectives on Bringing Awareness, Support for Communities, and How we all Interact with the World through Affirmative Therapy. ‍

PART 3 – Getting started with your therapy practice and seeking professional support for individuals and couples including areas of polyamory, non monogamous, consensual ethical/non monogamous, relationships, open relationships, swinging, and any type of relationship unique to a person.  ‍

Some episode highlights include…
What is affirmative therapy?
Exploring coping methods, expertise, language, and more for Human Sexuality and Gender Expansive People in the Community.
Laying down foundations of skills and The process therapists go through for deeper understandings.
Bringing Like-minded individuals into the practice.
Maureen began in the practice when she was at the crossroads of looking for change in her life.
Learning more about Maureen McCarthy – passion for helping LGBTQ+ communities, interests and more.
Maureen’s work also connects to her love for dogs, rescuing and fostering them.
Finding the support you need and opening up the conversations during life transitions.
Working through the process of self-identification and freedom in who you are.
Issues within the system and stigmatizations.

Spaces to explore to find hope and a sense of self and community (friends, chosen family, online groups).

Ways to invite kink into your life.


  • Expand for Podcast Transcript

    Maureen McCarthy  0:00

    You know, when I think of gender expansive, it’s so like there isn’t any one answer because it’s so unique. And it’s so personalized to each individual. And I think that’s what’s so great about, you know, the folks that are in my life and in like my work, they show up and I’m like, You are the expert, you, you know yourself. And I’m not here to tell you who you are.

    Daniela Galdi  0:31

    Alright, everybody, we are back for Episode Two of Heal Your Roots Podcast. And we have here a young, who is the lead therapist and founder of heal your group’s wellness. And we also have a part of the practice Maureen McCarthy licensed social workers, we’re so excited for you to join here and myself to chat with you about this, the whole premise of heal your podcast, especially for these first few episodes, is to really give the public a chance to get to know all of you all of the therapists with the practice and get to know your interests and your passions and hear a little bit more about you, you know, you on the personal side, which doesn’t always happen. So I hope that Kira has decided to really bring you on board and share your voices is each of you have such a specific topic and specialty that you focus on if anyone listen to episode one. And if you haven’t definitely do so because we talked with Kira and Aran who is the director of marketing and growth, for heal your roots wellness. But the fact that you’re able to share your services among different areas and practices and work with people that you love and resonate with is totally all a part of the value of being a part of feel your roots wellness too, is that they want to really support their therapists. And that’s something that we’re gonna get into, as well. So I love hearing about that. And Maureen, you also are so not only are you licensed social worker, therapist, you’re certified therapist of permitted therapy for transgender communities from Weidner University, please explain what that means to everybody.

    Maureen McCarthy  2:16

    Sure, um, it was a really great certificate that was partially kind of like online based are also involved a couple of days going to Weidner for like two days of extensive training with the Department of like human sexuality, which was amazing, because there is just really amazing humans and professors there with some great experience and expertise to share. Of course, COVID kind of intervened with that certificate at the time, but we were still able to connect online. So really, we just got a really in depth perspective of working with gender expansive folks. So kind of an umbrella term for trans, non binary people in the community and what affirmative therapy really looks like. So definitely a deep dive of things. And it was amazing experience. And it helps for my perspective. So I could be a more affirming therapist.

    Daniela Galdi  3:24

    there are so many terms in there. And that’s one of the things that I want to get into, there are so many terms that I feel we can touch on, because the language itself. I know it’s something that I can assume for all of us we really want people to be aware of. And I have friends in the trans and LGBTQ+ community, who also want everybody to, you know, become familiar with this. Now, Kira definitely jump in because of the fact that you through the practice, you’re able to bring in specialists in these types of focuses, right, and affirmative therapy, too. I can’t wait to hear more about that. But tell us like, why did you want to go for that?

    Kira Yakubov  4:09

    Sure. Great question. So when I was in graduate school for marriage and family therapy, I really wanted to work with couples. And we didn’t have a lot of classes on sexuality. And so after I graduated, I went to a postgraduate program, council for relationships in Philadelphia, for systemic sex therapy. And through that process, I was just really blown away with the knowledge that we covered. I think that every person should have this experience these classes taught to them, and it was really going into sex, sexuality, gender, and how our culture, our families, society, all these different aspects of our lives as people is dissected and integrated into how we view and experience sex and sexuality in our own gender. And so I thought it would be really important to incorporate that in the practice. And, you know, we can’t know all the things and I can only know and specialized certain parts of certain things, right. So I wanted to make sure that we brought on therapists that had specialized training and focuses on certain things so that we can help a wide range of people. And so when I met Maureen, during the interview, I just was really blown away with her expertise and knowledge, but really her passion behind wanting to work with the trans community and just folks in the LGBTQIA+ community. And I thought that she just had a lot of expertise to bring to the table. And so I thought that she’d be a really great fit for the practice.

    Daniela Galdi  5:49

    That’s amazing. Because even just reading a bit more about, you know, before going into any podcasts, hearing what I know about healing of roots, as well as therapy, and then reading about Maureen, you know, all together, it sounds like you’re both really pushing to be able to help people to express their true self. And so, you know, even Maureen mentioned a bit about like, she’s into like hair and getting creative with makeup and things like that, as well as rescuing dogs, which we’ll also bring up later who says, Yes, I know, we’ll all like gush over the love of dogs, which is I know sounds a little off topic. But again, this is really to dive into like, what the therapist and what they love to do and who they are. So the fact that that is such an intentional part of bringing in therapists to the practice. And then it all aligned with the two of you is just like it’s such a great foundation for any anybody coming in to work together with you as a client. Now, how did you to connect, though, I love hearing like stories of like, first story like first date stories, even if it’s friendship or work related.

    Kira Yakubov  7:00

    Yeah, so I created a job posting on LinkedIn. And she applied and we have the interview. And I just, I thought she would be a wonderful fit. She just had a lot of great energy. And she’s very easy to talk to down to earth and warm. And so I just thought it would be a really great fit moving forward from there.

    Maureen McCarthy  7:21

    Yeah, there’s distant love coming from Harrisburg, PA, which is where I’m at where I’m from. So I was coming from like, nonprofit community mental health realm of like, seven years, I think, again, that was a local, like LGBT health care, kind of like wraparound services type of place. And so I really laid down the foundation of my skills there and just was able to continue, you know, to go to grad school while I was there, and then also do the certificate. And then when I was browsing LinkedIn, and found Kira, I was like, This sounds like a fit to me. And I was at, you know, kind of the crossroads of like, just looking for change, and just seeing what else was out there. And it just kind of all aligned for us, I think. And it seems like it was a really great decision to get on LinkedIn.

    Daniela Galdi  8:23

    Isn’t that great? When just like you’re at a crossroads, and you’re like, I need to change, and bam, you’re like, here’s the support that I need. Here is the here are my people, you know, so I feel like that also really aligns with with your specific work within sexuality and gender. Now, you mentioned about the nonprofit but I definitely want you to tell the listeners like where did this passion come from? Where did this support for that community and that love for it come from?

    Maureen McCarthy  8:54

    When I was in undergrad for social work, I had a gender issues course is what it was called. And it really just kind of like mimicking what you know, like Kira was saying about couples and like sexuality, it just really opened my eyes. And I was so drawn to it like it was just like a magnet and I just wanted to know more and all the things and then I wanted to be like the sexpert of the area and things like that. And I just never stop I just went with it and followed that passion that was there and still is deeply there.

    Daniela Galdi  9:39

    I kind of want to point you to sexpert now. Can we do that? is anyone else? don’t you love that? The sexpert of Heal Your Roots Wellness. So that’s amazing. It’s a it’s a beautiful seems like such a natural path that came for you which is so great. What you mentioned affirmative therapy, and I really just want to kind of discuss a little bit everybody before hopping on, and marine mentioned a really good note of like, their, this can go so deep thinking of so deep into talking about sexuality and gender, and gotta want to stick to like the basics, the 101, of just helping everybody to bring that awareness to the community, and so that they feel as open and expressive as they possibly can. It’s hard enough just to go to therapy, sometimes to confront anything that you’re feeling, right. But then to also have a stigma behind what you’re feeling or not feel as include, as included in, in the world and the public guy with these, these feelings that you’re having. I mean, I really, that’s really courageous for people to do. So let’s give everybody whether you’re listening, and, you know, friends or family who are experiencing sexuality and gender, like conflicts for themselves right now, or if you yourself are experiencing that, let’s give them an overview of everything. So like from both of you will have marine start first. But I want to hear like your perspective on the idea of that affirmative therapy. You mentioned that I can guess what it is. But I really want to know more about that.

    Affirmative Therapy

    Maureen McCarthy  11:28

    You know, a couple things come up for me when you say that, because we were kind of taught when I was doing that certificate for this affirmative therapy. Because it’s easy to put affirmative in your bio, right, like as a therapist, but like, what is the action behind it? What is the language behind it? And what is the understanding of yourself and where you come from. The influences that we really talked a lot about social location, which and what informs like our social location will be race, class, gender, religion, and it can be just like, all these things that we came face to face with in this program. So they’re like, check your priveledge. And like, let’s, let’s acknowledge this, what is it, because we do like they do inform our bias of how we interact with the world, we approach people and even as therapists, so it’s really important to come face to face with that, no matter how uncomfortable that can be. Because that’s really going to help you be a better practitioner to begin with, let alone I think, a better person as well. And then the other piece is just the importance of like the language used, like even with intake forms for clients. And starting off, or, you know, so when you link up like with a client, if it’s via telehealth, like utilizing like your name screen to have like your pronouns, asking someone else, their pronouns, and maybe dropping the word preferred, because this is someone’s pronouns and their name, not what they prefer, but what they use. So those are some key pieces that come up for me. But I also do want to like, add a note that I’m a cisgender practitioner that is working with gender expansive, folks. So I have a lived experience that is different with these privileges and biases. So what put that note in there as well, and that’s important for me to verbalize so that other people know that as well. So and I do the same with my clients as well.

    Daniela Galdi  13:45

    I love that explanation. With that said what you mentioned about it now, you know, I’m saying announcing and I think that it should be announced. I know we’re not supposed to should, but I’m going to should it. So announcing that is is really a valuable tool, as you mentioned for practitioners to use. I remember reading Kira’s bio, and it mentions one of the first things is cis gender, and there’s a whole you know, it goes right into that identification. And it’s important so that people can understand and their preference or who they resonate with when they are looking for a therapist. So the fact that you’re already laying it all out for people. I think it’s just it’s very it’s just it’s very, not only courageous, but it’s also very valuable. So I’m curious if you could tell a little bit more too

    Kira Yakubov  14:41

    Yeah, in the Council for Relationships programs that I also talk we spent a lot of time evaluating and reflecting on how our own families, cultures, communities, race, religion, ethnicity, all that played into who we are and how we view our own sexuality and gender, but also how we interact with other people, and the biases and assumptions that we might be making. And so coming from an Eastern European background, and as an immigrant, my parents were, along with the culture was very traditional gender roles and very stereotypical gender roles. And when I was growing up, I had a lot of anger. And I would rebel because of how my parents treated us differently based on me being a female, and my brothers, being boys. And even with that, and wanting to make sure that I didn’t follow that, I still found myself having these very ingrained, stereotypical gender role beliefs in my own mind. And so it was important for me to first be aware of that, and come face to face with it, but also acknowledge how that can inform how I treat clients and how I view clients and talk to them. So I think it’s very important that we check our assumptions. And we treat people with a lot of respect and consideration, knowing that we don’t all come from the same background and the same experiences. And so I always want to be conscious of that. And I think that’s part of why I made sure to put that I’m cisgender in my bio, because, you know, my lived experience is going to be very different than someone else’s. And when you’re a therapy seeker, you want to make sure that the therapist you’re choosing, you resonate with, and you want to know that parts of who they are in the in their identity, kind of matches with yours, if that feels important for you, and just to make sure that you’re choosing someone that you feel comfortable with. So I do think it’s important for us to share that with future clients and current clients.

    Daniela Galdi  16:46

    That’s awesome. So before we get into because we are talking a lot about like initial first impressions, especially within, you know, if somebody is interested in seeking therapy or seeking a professional. So I want to dive into that. Before we get into that, though, I want to touch on one more term that you said that I feel, it’s just so important for people to understand this language that happens there.

    Gender Expansive or Gender Diverse

    Maureen McCarthy  17:12

    So when talking about like gender expansive, or gender diverse, there’s a lot of terms out there. And the youth create so many too, and it’s always developing. Well, I’ll never know all of the all of the terms, no matter how much we’re, the youth teaches a lot about identity and stuff. And it’s so wonderful and fantastic. But when I, you know, when I think of gender expansive, it’s so like, there isn’t any one answer because it’s so unique. And it is expansive. And it’s so personalized to each individual. And I think that’s what’s so great about, you know, the folks that are in my life and in like my work, they show up and I’m like you are the expert, regardless of the client, like you, you know, yourself, and I’m not here to tell you who you are. So they teach me a lot about their gender or what that looks like their identities, because it is just so unique. And I think folks hear me say that a lot in sessions. Like if I had a penny for every time I said that this house would be filled. But it and I say that repeatedly, because it’s true. And I want you know them to know that they they’re in control of this journey and what it looks like, like what they want it to look like. So there isn’t really like one particular definition to me. Because if you ask the person down the street, they might have such an a different reply. Right. And I think that’s what’s pretty great about identity and just showing up as your authentic self. Like, it’s your you and you’re the expert of .

    Daniela Galdi  19:01

    Now, I know that I tried to teach myself and learn on my own. You are both professionals. And I would I would assume that you have to keep up on what’s happening in every element of people’s lives. What’s going on out there in the world, but I would assume also that you both have done the work to teach yourselves as well. So if somebody is curious and listening to us right now, what can we teach them like? I know I have researched like the difference between gender and sexuality. I have researched pronouns I have researched and then tried to share with people who have not researched and I’d oftentimes gotten in fights with them, arguments with them about how it’s just comes down to exactly what you said Maureen like it comes down to the person knowing who they are and just wanting to be able to freely express that without being, you know, without being judged without losing equal rights, human rights. And so what do you feel is a good approach? Both of you? What do you both suggest as a good approach when people are having these conversations with others who might be curious, might not have done the work yet? Or maybe, you know, we don’t know, maybe never will. But we hope one day will, what do you suggest in terms of like having those conversations with people?

    Maureen McCarthy  20:38

    That’s a great question. Because there is a difference between when someone is open and wants to learn. And when they are, they’re closed off, and they really only want to share what their perspective is with what they think is right, I think it’s kind of good to recognize that, because there’s going to be a lot of emotional capacity, like spent on trying to educate someone, which truly happens to, you know, like gender expansive folks, a lot. And people, you know, within the LGBTQ community to begin with, that’s incredibly draining. So sometimes it’s helpful for those that you know, want to learn more in their life to explore like a local LGBT center, they have a lot of resources, there’s groups, so there’s, there’s ways they could get information. But also, maybe it’s something that, like a kid could go with their parents, and be able to go to a group and kind of connect and learn that way. And then you know, you have like your national organizations that have informations like PFLAG. Translifeline,, like, there’s things where you know, that way, maybe it’s a parent or partner like, or just a loved one that can kind of go on and take the leadership and the role of you need to educate yourself, because you can’t always, you know, rely on this person to give you every piece of information. And that’s just incredibly draining. And we need to be mindful of, you know, when we are kind of just relying on one person or even like, tokenizing them, too. And that’s not okay. So taking the responsibility to do the work. And, and start.

    Daniela Galdi  22:45

    Absolutely, I’m glad you mentioned those resources, too. That became something that I was nervous about ever making, you know, a friend, feel tokenized. But being curious, because I wanted to do right by them, and understand. So I’m glad you mentioned about those resources, because we really do have everything at our fingertips. So those are very credible resources that we can all just go Google real quick. So that we’re not just making people feel, you know, as as as if they are singled out and have to basically explain who they are constantly, every second of their lives, which I’m assuming they feel. So Kira, do you have anything to add to that, like when having these conversations?

    Learning more about gender and identity through therapy

    Kira Yakubov  23:31

    Yeah, I think Maureen provided a lot of great resources for people to check out to learn more on their own. And I definitely agree, I mean, there’s different kinds of conversations to be had. And being able to differentiate where someone’s coming from. And their intention behind wanting to have these conversations with certain folks is going to be really important. And so if it is, they are looking to only share their perspective or debate or to prove a point that is going to be draining. And that’s not always going to be a productive conversation, especially if it’s their theories or perspectives versus your internalized identity and experience, it’s going to be difficult to continue that conversation. However, if these are conversations with people in your life, and you care about then I think it’s important to recognize if you’re the person wanting to learn more, is it do you just want to learn more in general about gender and identity? Because if that is the case, then you know, tapping into those resources going online and finding that information on your own like Maureen shared. If you want to learn more about this specific person in your life, then I think coming from a place of curiosity and respect and making sure that you’re not over asking or stepping boundaries, right, making sure that you ask them, you know, I want to be supportive of I want to be in your life and respectful of you know who you are and what you’re going through. And I don’t necessarily understand all of it is it okay if you share some of your experiences with me or you share what it’s like for you or what this means for you, and making sure that you’re using effective listening skills. And if they don’t want to share respecting those boundaries, too. So it’s like any other conversation relationship, and that being respectful using effective communication, and not overstepping people’s boundaries about very personal things that they may be going through or experiencing.

    Daniela Galdi  25:35

    I love that and that’s a huge part of the communication of it. You’re working with people constantly, whether they’re coming in for their sexuality or gender, you know, anything like that, what they’re feeling, transitions, self esteem, communication, I feel like it’s at the core of all that. So with that said, I want to actually ask your when somebody’s starting, what are some of the common themes that you see as to why they want to start, like, if somebody calls for when somebody’s ready to take that step, get the professional help? What are normal reasons why. And I asked this, because if anyone’s listening, and it resonates for them, that they might think to themselves, if they were hesitant to seek any professional help, okay, yeah, you know what, that sounds a lot like what I’m going through. So maybe it’s time for me to take that next step for myself.

    Kira Yakubov  26:34

    Yeah, so we tried to make the consultation process as streamlined as possible, because it can be scary and difficult to reach out to a therapist. And so in some of those initial calls that I have with folks, you know, they may be coming in with anxiety or depression or insecurities. And they’re looking for someone who has background or specialty, in also gender expansive knowledge, or LGBTQIA+ community. And so sometimes it’s just understanding their identity, along with the other mental health issues or struggles they may be having. But also, sometimes it can be, you know, they’re trying to process this, whether it’s for the first time or throughout their life, and they might be, you know, letting other people in about this information about themselves with their loved ones, or their friends, family, coworkers, whoever it is. So having help and support with having those conversations and being able to show up more authentically as themselves in, in their community. But sometimes it will come through as couples counseling, where one partner might have transitioned during their long term relationship. And so that’s a big change for for both partners, or whoever, or however many partners are in the relationship. And so being able to process that and understand what that means for each of them. But also for the relationship is going to be important to have a therapist who can hold space for everybody and help guide them through that process. So it’s really a wide range of things. Sometimes people are struggling with, you know, some discrimination that they might be having, or how they’ve been treated, or just their own internalized feelings and experiences about it. So it really is a wide range, I think, if you feel like you need support. And so sometimes it’s not, you know, just sexuality or gender concerns, or just anxiety or depression or mental health issues, but really the overlap of those things and how they integrate together. And they’re looking for someone to help them kind of piece through all of these things.

    Daniela Galdi  28:50

    That’s amazing. And Maureen, do you have anything to speak to that that you’ve come across with your work? What what is usually like an initial impetus for people to want to get started or what they might be going through within their own identity or as Kira mentioned, within other relationships and friendships.

    Advice for people who need mental health help

    Maureen McCarthy  29:09

    I have a couple of different experiences because I do like I came from the background of I did a lot of referrals in the past so meaning someone who might be seeking hormone replacement therapy needs to meet with a mental health professional for an evaluation and which is very stigmatizing. So talking about the system’s like boxes and hoops people need to jump through and you know, have these very vulnerable and intimate conversations about like their body and how they feel and what is coming up for them. But you know, I sit down with them typically for just like one session and kind of go through just different questions and explore, you know, what’s been going on. So people show up for like the referral end of things. So either hormone replacement therapy or surgery. So we’ve done a lot of that, which is very like, Okay, we know like what we’re here for and what we need to do. And pretty straight, straightforward to for the most part. And then some folks just there’s something about having a space like Kira to be able to explore because things feel really confusing, really overwhelming. Or there’s only so much space up there for these thoughts. And it’s so much helpful to verbalize them, but especially with someone who is experienced, competent. And, you know, I always say that, in those sessions, like, I’m not here to tell you who you are, like, you already know that we’re just, let’s just explore what’s coming up. So really, it’s a space for exploring how gender and sexuality are, these things are impacting their life, their relationships, and you know, me just kind of being a support along the way. There’s just something that I think it’s therapeutic for someone being able to just show up as their authentic self, I think we all should be able to do that in life, but I don’t think we all get that.

    Daniela Galdi  31:22

    Okay, so we talked about getting started. And if anyone’s listening some things that couldn’t possibly resonate with them. As well as just feeling that self confidence and building that to work through any mental illness that might be also associated with your emotional side of feeling that lack of confidence, or wanting to build your self esteem to just step out into your own power and into your own identity of who you are, let alone then having to communicate it to others, which is something that can be helped, and worked through and processed, and supported through therapy therapists, having the professional help there. What else goes from there, like, I just want to hear like inspiring stories about like, Tell me some breakthroughs that you both have experience is going to make a cry because I just want to hear the because I know the power that you both can offer to somebody who is seeking help with you, and the support that you can give them so now I just any inspiring stories that we can share, to know that there to know that there’s hope, right to know that there’s hope out there that for anyone listening, going through trying to process these things, feeling like they have to hide who they are knowing that on the other side of it, great things will happen.

    Maureen McCarthy  32:53

    So what comes up for me when you say that, and I was reflecting on this, if you’re saying this is trying, you know, pulling for things, but maybe in and I noticed maybe a theme when certain folks were like coming up for me or instances in the past. And what came up is like when someone finds their sense of community, a lot of folks, you know, within the LGBTQ community, choose their family where maybe, you know, their family had abandoned them, or they didn’t have a sense of family to begin with. So when there’s something about when someone finds like that comfy cozy feeling of home in a group of people that you know, they choose, and I mean, for some folks that’s online, or you know, in person. But I think once they feel, find others that are experiencing similar things, have been through things and came out on top or came out with that sense of hope, you know, that you’re talking about. It’s like, okay, I’m not alone. And you have this group of people behind you that really makes you feel like you can take on these things. Because he’s seen the other people made it through. And I think there there’s something extremely important about a sense of community, and how that can empower someone and help with their own self image and confidence.

    Daniela Galdi  34:30

    I absolutely agree. It reminds me of even back to when I was going into high school. And we for me, I always felt a sense of feeling a bit different than what the norm was or person would be right. And I remember my mom’s saying to me, you know, you’ll gravitate towards your people, that people and vice versa, you’ll be drawn to them and they’ll be drawn to you and you don’t really have to worry about putting in that putting in that I mean anything but yourself because it everybody will come together. And ultimately, that really did happen. And so I tried to think about that. And when you mentioned about community, I always try to encourage that mindset to people that you just show up as yourself and the people are drawn to you something, something, the energy of, you know, an interest that was shared, or something will come up, and then you’re able to really go deeper and connect and feel that foundation or support with people that, like you mentioned, sometimes doesn’t always come from our family. And in this case, I would have to research more, but I, in my experience, feel people often, that’s the hardest part is to talk to their family about their sexuality and at any transition.

    Finding your tribe and your people

    Kira Yakubov  35:51

    Yea, I mean, I can’t necessarily share any specific stories to protect, you know, my clients confidentiality. But I agree with Maureen in terms of when clients find their community and their people. And I think a big part of that is overcoming shame. Because I think in sexuality and gender identity, there’s a lot of shame that can be there, or that might be placed on us from society, or our families, these, you know, ingrained messages about who we’re supposed to be. And I think the most powerful sessions or transformations for me is watching clients, process that shame and overcome it and feel confident, to be who they are, and empower to be their authentic self. And sometimes that means, you know, releasing some relationships from our lives, whether that’s all together or reducing the amount of time we spend with them, or the impact and importance they have on us. So that we can create more space for people who are aligned with who we are. And what we’re looking for in life. And being able to find our people in that way, I think is huge. And when you feel confident in yourself, you you’re more likely to go out there and be yourself so that you can find your tribe. So I think watching clients overcome shame around that and being able to embrace who they are, is really the most rewarding parts of the therapy process for me as a therapist,

    Daniela Galdi  37:22

    I love that also the theme of community and finding that that tribe, and that support system and your people and whatever we want to coin and as right. I I think back to the idea that Maureen mentioned about the youth and, and younger generations, I feel very safe with the younger generation that is coming up. By the way, just to put that out there. Like I just feel very confident that they will be directing us in a very expressive, open minded, loving, kind hearted, humane way, so I’ll put that out there. But you mentioned earlier Maureen about the youth and how they helped to educate us. And so I feel as though we’re gonna have even more welcoming communities, as we become as, as a society we all become, that becomes normalized. The idea of, of not just being female male, not just having partners, monogamous partners, right. That’s where I really want to talk about polyamory. And stepping away, I know you both do a lot with relationships, but stepping away from the norm, husband, wife situation, you know, having internal conflicts with each other arguments, emotional situations going on, and then take it a step further to the fact that relationships look different. They’re not always monogamous, and what is polyamory? What is that whole world and noting that there also is a community for people who choose to live in that direction.

    Maureen McCarthy  39:11

    Yea. So polyamory one of like the variations of non monogamy so when we think of non monogamy is kind of like an umbrella term, again, kind of like how I was saying with gender diversity or gender expansive, so polyamory as when there’s more than two people involved in like a relationship. And that looks very different to whoever’s in the relationship, right? They’re in charge of kind of what that looks like and what they want it to look like. So polyamory being one of the terms kind of under non monogamy, but also think of open relationships, swinging. There’s a lot of other terms out there as well. But those are probably some of the most common we hear along with consentual or ethical, non monogamy. So all different variations of the term non monogamy, if that answers your question,

    Daniela Galdi  40:15

    it completely does it completely does and I, you know, I’m glad that there are terms for all these things, because again, I help, I think that that helps people to find their people, right knowing that they can identify towards that. And that takes us back to the whole idea of being open to how you identify yourself, and how you want to give love and how you want to feel loved ultimately. So with that said, I think that that what you gave us was a great explanation of how many options there are. And there is no one way for everybody, figuring out how you want to live life to the fullest, right? Where does self care methods come in to play to make sure that your clients that you are seeing about working through transitions within sexuality, gender, what type of self care? What does that look like for them?

    How self-care can encompass a lot of thing

    Kira Yakubov  41:13

    Yeah, so self care can encompass a lot of things, right, it’s not just bubble baths, or, you know, doing something that feels good. It is making sure you’re taking care of your whole being, which includes a lot of different aspects of our life, right. So it’s kind of like a circle. It’s we have our mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, sexual, financial, right, like all of these things that we are constantly trying to juggle, which is you know why adulting is hard. And I think that working through our senses to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves is going to be important. So there may be some days or weeks where you’re primarily focusing on your mental health, or there’s going to be times where you’re trying to focus on, you know, your financial and emotional health. And so when we’re talking about self care, it’s going to be catered to each person a lot, how, you know, Maureen was saying that it’s unique to the individual. So I think it encompasses a lot of things. It’s not just one size fits all. And so sometimes, we’re not always taught the proper anatomy of our bodies growing up. And so even just taking time to look at yourself in the mirror, whether it’s naked or in different positions, and then being able to touch yourself in ways that feel safe and pleasurable, is going to be important. And so that can also be you know, taking a hot shower, and being really mindful of how the water is pouring on you. If you’re with a partner, you know, being able to share that moment with them. And really being aware of how the sensations feel when you’re touching each other, or what you’re drawn to more. And so I think it’s going to be really intentional about being present in your body and you know, the meaning you have behind it and what comes up for you. And so it’s going to be unique, like everything else in cater to yourself. But just making sure that you are giving yourself that space and time to explore and process. And so that also can mean going for walks or journaling or doing other things that you are reflecting on. And so that’s why it depends on which aspect of your whole being Are you focusing on when you’re thinking about self care, specifically for looking at self care for you know, exploring and processing your sexuality or gender identity, I would say the mind body connection is going to be super important. And also, knowing your body

    Going to a toy shop with a partner

    Maureen McCarthy  43:59

    I love the idea of just going to a toy shop, whether you’re you go by yourself, you go with a friend for support, you go with a partner or someone that you maybe want to use like these toys or these things, whatever, whatever goodies you get there with because that is something that like you can see what you gravitate towards as an individual. And then if you’re there with a partner, like they can kind of like be politically watching you and seeing what you’re gravitating towards, or maybe what catches their eye. And I think that’s a fun, flirty, curious experience to have. Whether you’re solo partner, there’s a crew of you, whatever that looks like. Because you do get to see just these different things and touch them and like get your senses engaged in that way. And then you know, decide if There’s a certain avenue that you’re really drawn towards, and you want to explore more. And whether you purchase things there or not, or you go home and maybe tap into some porn that’s geared towards whatever it is you’re drawn towards. That’s kind of like another option to to, you know, explore what’s what’s really catching your eye and what you find to be enticing.

    Kira Yakubov  45:27

    Yes, speaking of senses, there’s actually another great app for you know, for audible. It’s, I’m pretty sure it’s called Dipsy. And so it’s erotica read out loud that you can listen to by yourself with a partner. And there’s like different genres as well. So that’s also another great way to tap into your senses to be aroused that I thought would be like a really cool tip for people out there.

    Daniela Galdi  45:55

    Okay, so now with that said, what do most people feel I mean, the word shame comes up to me what people might feel, who haven’t always been encouraged to do this, or for folks who maybe have, again, that shame built around, like being sexual, or seeing yourself as a sexual being or taking part in sexual encounters, right? Where, what benefit of exploring these things? Can we all find?

    Feeling deserving and entitled to pleasure

    Maureen McCarthy  46:37

    I immediately think of like empowerment, that comes to mind first, because I think there is something empowering when you feel like ready to take charge of your pleasure and like your sex, then you identify what that looks like to you like that desire, the pleasure and the things that you like, because kind of how Kira was saying with, there’s so many different things that inform the way we look at things like so like growing up, or families or culture or religion and things like that, that when we learn that it’s okay to like, step out of that box. There’s a whole other world out there. And I think when that’s discovered by folks, it is very empowering. And that’s hot to begin with in my opinion.

    Daniela Galdi  47:39

    That’s great. I love that. I love that. All right, I’ll take that. That’s hot and empowering. Kira, do you have anything you want to add to that?

    Kira Yakubov  47:50

    So I see a lot of things from a cultural lens because of my specific background and how I was raised. And so what comes to mind for me is feeling deserving and entitled to pleasure. And so that can be modeled or not modeled while you’re growing up, even outside of sex and sexuality is, you know, did you see your parents or your family members, feeling like they were allowed to have pleasure or joy or be happy? Or was there a lot of shame and guilt around having that freedom. And so I think that’s a big part that we internalize too is, we might experience pleasure, but the relationship or the narrative we have around if we’re deserving of it, or if it is acceptable, right? So overcoming that shame is going to be a huge piece in just allowing yourself to enjoy it, and be present in the moment. And you know, we’re human beings, our body is built for that, like we have nerve endings, specifically just for pleasure, right? So I think that it’s really important that we allow ourselves to experience pleasure and desire and joy in our bodies. And I think that’s one of the most beautiful parts about being a human being. So overcoming some shame and just allowing ourselves to feel entitled and deserving of pleasure because you are entitled and deserving of pleasure in your body.

    Daniela Galdi  49:20

    That totally resonates with me. When you bring it also to the deserving piece, for sure where it’s like thinking back ingrained to work, work, work, work work, and then not always necessarily reaping the reward for that but pulling that back even more to be pleasure and deserving and feeling goodness can just happen. It’s a part of life and like you said, it’s a it’s a part of life, just in general and it’s like since most beautiful part of life being able to do that. One of the things to which I know is a little bit of a detour of where I’m going with this conversation, but even within heal your roots practice, I know in the first episode, we talked about how for the therapist that is big, like, being able to have that work life balance, where you’re enjoying yourself, only supports people to be able to identify and express themselves more and feel that pleasure. So ultimately, I circled back around to say that being part of Heal Your Roots practice, and anyone coming in is going to be orgasmic. So that’s what I was doing with that. But no, but I make light of it. But the things that you’re both saying, and adding the perspective and insight, feeling of sexuality, and pleasure, and going with the senses, and exploring that world, and then exploring the world of pleasure in many different ways in your life, adding that in, I just think is just so key to bringing mass joy to more people. So thank you both for that. And also, now I get to ask you both to put you on the spot again, with what do you feel you need to be your best self. And now, I’m going to be really tough on you. And I want to hear Maureen, you can start being your best self. I just want like narrowed down to one. One thing.

    Kira Yakubov  51:25

    Really put us on the spot.

    Daniela Galdi  51:26

    That’s what I’m here for

    Maureen McCarthy  51:31

    I’m laughing because I will be honest, the first thing that came to mind was space.

    Kira Yakubov  51:38

    Oh my God, me too. That’s creepy.

    The importance of space and boundaries

    Maureen McCarthy  51:41

    Yeah, space, well, I’ll be extra and throw in also feeling connected to myself, like I need the space to do that. And that it’s very important to stay connected. Because I have experienced self abandonment in the past and various experiences. I’ve abandoned myself for other people. And so that is really crucial piece to my overall like well being, and to just thriving, not just kind of going through the motions and living with intention.

    Daniela Galdi  52:16

    I was just going to be what might that look like? And you mentioned living with intention. But if there’s something else too, like, does that look like you scheduling out? Like I know, for myself, I schedule out, you know, I don’t reach for my phone to talk to anyone until like eight or 9am in the morning, right? So I make sure I give myself that actual time and space. For you.

    Maureen McCarthy  52:42

    Yea, space looks like for me. Taking the time, like I do like to be alone, a lot. And but I’m also very social. So there’s, but people know, after I’m engaged, I’m hanging out, especially with what you know, we do for a living, I need to like, just be me be my weird self in my space. And let like I think that, for me, it looks like giving myself permission to feel whatever it is I’m feeling and sitting with that. But I think another piece too, I like to try to stay connected to like nature in the environment as well. And a little bit I have to acknowledge, definitely boundary setting. So that is actually a huge piece that even for me as a therapist is very hard to do. So maintaining boundaries, because if I don’t maintain my boundaries, I am abandoning myself. And that is how I see that for me.

    Kira Yakubov  53:57

    You know, I laugh because I really thought about space immediately as well. For me, it’s almost like solitude, because I can’t have a lot of noise around me or a lot of like things going on, especially if I’m drained or I’m just I need a break or to decompress. I can get overstimulated really easily. So I would say being alone with like, almost silence, like I can lay in a room in silence and just relax and breathe, or be outside and just feel the sunshine for a while and that really refuels me and being able to have my dog there is great, but really just being alone, and not having to talk or hear any sounds or anything like crazy going on around me is really huge for me to just like be my best self after that. And the boundaries piece is so key because when we’re trying to do that if people are calling us or trying to pop in to talk to us like that’s definitely going and disrupt that. And I think a big part of boundaries is it’s for us, but it’s also for the other people that we’re setting them with. Because it’s, it’s saying, like, Hey, I love you. And I don’t want to present like this towards you if I’m not being my best. So in order for both of us to be happy in this relationship, and for you to get the best version of me, I need to have this like, I need to have this boundary, I need to have this alone time. Especially for therapists, right? Because that’s, we take on a lot for other people. So we have to prioritize ourselves too

    Fostering and Rescuing Dogs

    Daniela Galdi  55:36

    now both of you though, with the dogs. We bring this up. are the dogs allowed in your space?

    Kira Yakubov  55:42

    Yes, always

    Daniela Galdi  55:45

    And Maureen, tell us to because you said you’d like to get a little like, I want you to like, get weird for a second. I guess it’s not so weird. But tell us more about like how your love for we’ve talked about your passion and your specialty and talking with people about gender expansive types of situations. But now talk about you know, for you, you find a lot of joy with rescuing dogs.

    Maureen McCarthy  56:11

    Yes, I’m a new foster mom newer. I’ve always connected with like bully breeds and just rescues and you know, the dogs that are often overlooked, I connected with them at a fairly young age. And, like, I think maybe that’s something that just resonated with me because and after I lost my soul dog in March, I was like, I gotta do something I got to foster right away, because you are right, the dog is included in my when I take my space, the dog is in the space. The dog needs to be in the space. That’s crucial for me. And so then I shortly after started fostering with just like local humane society. I’m actually in between dogs after having one for three months. But I just put a new application in for a senior pity named Gemma. So to be continued, we’ll see. But I’m just fostering because I’m honoring my my emotions, and I’m still grieving my beloved Bob. I’m not quite ready to adopt. But I’ve always wanted to foster senior dogs. I love senior dogs, and it matches my energy, you know, I can be a bit of a couch potato. So I get a lot of pleasure and enjoyment from life. Like from dogs, you could ask any anyone that knows me, and they’ll be like echoing the same sentiments.

    Daniela Galdi  57:56

    Oh, that’s amazing. Sorry about Bob, and at the same time I want to congratulate you for, you know, being inspired to then help the other dogs. And I don’t know if either of you realized it, but it parallels the work that you do, in terms of you mentioned, like anyone, any any pup out there who’s feeling overlooked, right? So it’s really, it’s really nice that that purpose seems to have a common thread throughout your life. So that’s amazing. And we you know, we have mentioned Hazel, who is Kira’s dog , many, many times, and I know how much joy she brings you. So just having that emotional support too from an animal is definitely something that I feel is, is really beneficial for people to consider to have that. And they’re perfect for when you do need a little bit of support, but still want your space. Because technically, they’re not invading your space. They make exactly they make the space they make it. So this has been wonderful. I wanted to circle back for anyone listening, there’s going to be episodes every other Wednesday. And Maureen will definitely be back with us as well, because we’ve really just scratched the surface on things. And plus, we want to get to know a little bit more about her weirdness that she mentioned. And we want all of you listening to make sure that you really do understand the passion, as well as the intention that is really behind the work that Heal Your Roots Wellness does and the therapists that are a part of it, and that they are there for those who really need support. In whatever way it might be might not be sexuality and gender or transitioning but really any type of struggle or hardship that you might find yourself going through. Or if you just want to find someone to talk to because you know we all have things that we need to get out. as they like to say little things, we, you know, we gotta get that shit out. So for the listeners based on our theme for today about affirmative therapy, about transgender communities about, you know, creating spaces that make you feel safe, help to reduce any type of shame around this. Any last thoughts for LGBTQ+ community ways to help things like that give it all to us.

    Kira Yakubov  1:00:31

    So I know we talked about finding your community. And I think it’s also important to remember that forming friendships and connections takes time. And sometimes we might not feel comfortable in that process, I mean, probably won’t feel comfortable in the process, because sometimes it can be really hard to make friends. And so I just want to remind everybody that, you know, give yourself the grace and patience to work through that discomfort and that it will, it will take some time to find those people and find those spaces where you do feel comfortable and accepted. And to not give up because sometimes it’s going to take several attempts or different clubs or different you know, communities before you find the people that you feel your best with.

    Maureen McCarthy  1:01:19

    Yeah, and echoing that maybe a little bit you know, there’s if you haven’t found them yet, there’s people out there whether it be friends, co workers, or you know, even a supportive like therapists that are out there that will you know, help you and support you. And you’ll know you found those people when you know, it’ll it’ll make your heart sing and you’ll feel like you can show up as you so if you haven’t found them yet they are they are out there and hold on to that hope.

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