Deep   Fun   Therapy
Play to grow Play to heal Play to win back your own heart "Where has all the fun gone?" Does that sound like a superficial question? Or could it be THE CRITICAL QUESTION...your starting point. Shouldn't I be working on improving myself, working harder, getting over it? Hmmm... should you? What if it were not really about working harder? What if it were really more about giving yourself permission to discover what really matters to you, what you really need, what connects you to your creative power to make real choices? Would that seem paradoxical? Maybe it's time to release the Grasshopper from the Shadow of the Ant. Maybe it's time for Deep Fun.

Joan Bechtel, M.A. Transpersonal Counseling

I am a San Francisco Bay Area-based holistic counselor. As an integrative expressive arts therapist I engage in attachment, collaborative, person-centered, narrative, Jungian, EFT, experiential, Gestalt, imaginal, dream work, visualization and somatic approaches. I help individuals, couples, and families explore and expand their internal and external creative resources for responsive rather than reactive choice-making based in sensitivity to their own authentic truths. I use my background as an artist, published writer, award-winning filmmaker and comedian along with my extensive work in understanding human development from multiple perspectives to enhance my receptivity to my clients' needs. I specialize in helping my clients discover renewal, meaning and empowerment in many areas such as PTSD recovery, social anxiety reduction, depression, career changes, loss and grief, family changes--new babies, empty nest, divorce, economic stresses, blended families, adult children at home, aging, and evolving identity. I also work individually and in groups with those healing from trauma on issues such as setting boundaries, releasing shame, reconnecting with lost wants and needs, finding creative solutions to rage, understanding the neuroscience of PTSD, exploring spiritual resources, enhancing self esteem, and intimacy challenges. LISTEN TO JOAN ON HER RADIO SHOW INTERVIEW SANE TALK WITH HOST Joyce Jackson from July 3, 2014 talking about using play, art and dreams in healing. Check out the podcast archived on Joyce Jackson's website or iHeartRadio at or follow this link:n at

Contact: email

for free consultation, private sessions, phone sessions, workshops. D E E P F U N W O R K S H O P S A N D G R O U P S HOLIDAY BLUES WORKSHOPS These afternoon expressive arts workshops provide a safe and creative way to explore what our holiday blues may be trying to tell us. Offered at Touchstone Counseling in Pleasant Hill the weekends before: Winter Holiday, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day CREATING SANCTUARY A weekly PTSD Recovery Group using art and play to heal every Sunday at 10:30 at Touchstone Counseling in Pleasant Hill


USING FAIRY TALES TO RECLAIM YOUR HEART’S DESIRE July 20 1-4 PM and August 10 1-4PM at Touchstone Counseling in Pleasant Hill

Are you sick of wearing the crown of “Most Self Reliant?” Have you been so good at hiding your needs that now they are hiding from you?

Are you wondering where your “Me” went?


Join our fun fairy-tale based expressive arts workshop.  

Step out of the enchanted forest of conditioned self-denial.

And find the path back to your own lost treasures. DEEP FUN DREAM GROUP at Mystic Dream in Walnut Creek Saturdays 3-5 August -Sept 2014 a weekly expressive arts focused dreamer-centered group. Join us to explore all your dreams are trying to tell you!

Creativity is like breathing for the soul.

Creative self expression is as vital to our physical and mental health as is reason or physical exercise.

It is that necessary.

 It affects every aspect of our being. Why are so many of us feeling trapped, stuck, worthless, shut down, caught in defeating patterns, jobs, relationships? The first place to look for the answer may seem the least likely. Society tells us creativity is an extra, something only for the "artist," celebrity or the outcast, that selfishness is a sin, that fun is the opposite of work, that play is a four-letter word.
But it is this belief system that is killing so many of us.

Is play scary? You bet. So many shouldn'ts in the way.
But I can integrate paly into therpay in a   S T E A L T H Y  way.  
Why, you won't even notice you're playing till a huge grin crosses your face!

We live in a culture that deifies deprivation and demonizes selfishness.
In our world we are taught that pain and suffering are rewarded. Play is
seen as a waste of time .Even sinful. Fun is only an extra, a reward that must be earned,
or just plain an immature desire. But is it?
Fun has become a dirty word to many of us. We feel guilty if we experience too much of it. We confine our engagement with it to thrills, escapism or quick highs. We accept cheap substitutes for the real thing. Hey, after all--what is the real thing? Fun? When was the last time we experienced the joy of being present and fully engaged in an exhilerating experience of our abundant potential?
Fun: childish, silly, irrelevant, selfish. We insist we are not entitled to it. Or at least not much of it. We accuse ourselves and others of being self-indulgent if they have too much of it. But is it wrong, shameful or immature to want your vitality back? Your essence, your raison d’etre, your joy, your passion, your sense of purpose and empowerment, your creativity--your fun-- back? IS it wrong? Or is it the most important --and the most challenging--question we can ask ourselves?


What if we challenged the myth that fun is wrong, bad or shameful. What if we explored the possibility that fun--creatively responding to our experience--is essential and fundamental to healing and growth? That fun is actually a sense that most of us don’t use: a sense that tells us whether we are truly alive or not. Whether we are in danger of moving through life as ghosts or robots repeating painful old patterns, shutting down and closing off from our true potential for enlivened engagement with ourselves and the world. Fun is an experience that tells us we are taking our needs seriously. It is a gauge that registers how much we are embracing our entitlement to our unique authentic experience.


Hurt, pain, grief, fear, worry, anxiety, relational problems, addiction, depression--all these may present themselves as The Problem. And they are problems. But beneath these problems is often a deeper and more critical and more easily remedied problem. That is our loss of contact with our creativity, our ability to creatively respond to what life brings. Most of us suffer from creativity deprivation. This happens through conditioning, and it happens through trauma. Our brains are not operating at full capacity.

Conditioning that tells us only a few talented special people can create. A lie. We grow up drawing within the lines, being scolded for our creative risks, being rewarded only for conformity. A crime. We shut that part down to protect ourselves. A pity. Sadly when we shut down creativity, we shut down much much more of who we are. A tragedy.


With trauma the brain gets stuck in emergency mode much of the time. We become prisoners to an on /off switch. Are we safe or are we in danger? Important information. But the question is how are we responding to the danger? well, we are not responding. We are reacting.  In trauma mode we react in limited repetitive patterns that may no longer serve us at all. To heal trauma is a delicate process. But part of that process is accessing more options for responding and this can change the brain’s reliance on the amygdala ( the threat center). The brain can in effect find new pathways to responding rather than the stuck trauma setting of fight/flight/or freeze.

To re-engage with our creativity means increasing choice. Choice because we have options. Options because we can open to a multitude of possibilities. Possibilities because creativity liberates us to see beyond limitations imposed by our histories. Creativity engages all of our capacities in a holistic interactive way: logic, reason, intuition, emotion, power, wonder, curiosity, hope, anger. Yes, anger. Anger is where many of us keep our repressed creativity, because repressing creativity is almost synonymous with repressing our basic nature, our essential selves, our authentic needs, our most fundamental and individual soul nature.


The Easop’s fable of The Grasshopper and The Ant is a vivid myth that many of us live by. The Ant worked hard sacrificing self interest to put away food for the winter. Wise self-denying ant. Good Ant. The Grasshopper sang and played his fiddle all summer. Stupid Grasshopper. Bad Grasshopper. when Fall came the grasshopper asked for a handout from the ant . He was refused and scolded. “If you sang all summer, you can dance all winter!”  This has been part of our myth of scarcity that is used to frighten us away from connecting to our  “selfish” desires to engage with who we really are and our own creative living.  None of us want to be that grasshopper punished for his enjoying life. All of us want to numb ourselves into obedience to Ant Law: Submit, conform, obey! If it feels awful and stressful, it must be work and work is right and good and will earn rewards. Extrinsic rewards of course. We are taught that intrinsic rewards are meaningless and selfish.

So naturally, we regard fun as a dirty word. Play is even more of an insult, To say someone is playing is to accuse her of negligence, disrespect, immaturity selfishness, disregard for others, lack of dedication, etc, etc. Play is truly a four letter word.  Yet play is exactly what we need to engage to open ourselves to possibility, to our creative potential, to contact our sense of choice. Fun and play --if we admit to these at all we must act embarrassed, apologize or defend them as a reward for our hard work. That’s why fun is a word that deserves redemption. That’s why play needs to be honored as a lost art.


Dr. Stuart Brown of the Institute fro Play has done research into the many negative impacts of play deprivation, even citing a study of violent criminals suggesting they share a history of creative play deprivation. It is well recognized that play is essential for brain development, social skills and emotional health. But still schools, workplaces, and most cultural organizations continue to demonize play. Play and creativity deserve redemption. Our sense of entitlement to be who we are deserves redemption.
That is where Deep Fun comes in: to help us find a safe place to reconnect, rediscover, re-engage with our lost creativity. To challenge the old mythology that demonized “selfishness” and conditioned the fun out of our existence. To embrace our entitlement to redefine “selfishness” and connect to a deeper. more compassionate authenticity. To explore our repressed passions, our forgotten yearnings, our simple organic need for noticing what matters to us, paying attention to what energizes us, connecting to our possibilities, inviting joy and satisfaction back into our lives. Will we still feel pain, grieve, fear, yearn? Of course. But we will find ourselves open to choosing from an abundance of creative possibilities for healing, empowering, connection-building and life affirming responses.

Creative Expression is not about performance or perfection. It is not about talent or taste. It is not even about product. Creative Expression lies dormant in so many of us who have been told we are not "artists." Yet the truth is we are all artists. We are all creators. We are born to creatively respond to life.  Deep Fun is one way to access hidden resources, creative solutions, deeper meaning, greater awareness, deeper acceptance, and to discover what sustains our joy in living.

Deep Fun is about choice. How can you choose if you cannot see the options? Deep Fun is about making it easy and fun to look inward at the riches you have not yet claimed.

Have you never thought of yourself as an artist? Are you intimidated by pipe cleaners?  That's OK. There is no pressure in Deep Fun. Do you sweat at the thought of raising your hand in class? Do you have nightmares about speaking in public? Deep Fun is not about performance or audience. It is an easy gentle way to take baby steps into your inner theatre, inner playground, inner canvas, inner dreamscape. Deep Fun is simply a gentle path to reclaiming your birthright as the creative artist, director, dancer, writer-- unfolding your own story. Deep Fun is an easy way to discover your own creative joy, your own resources and tools for discovering and responding to your life experiences. Deep Fun is about choice.

Self expression is like breathing for the soul.  It is that necessary. Necessary  to our health and well-being. Why are so many of us feeling trapped, shut down, caught in defeating patterns, jobs, relationships? The first place to look for the answer may seem the least likely. Society tells us creativity is an extra, something only for the celebrity or the outcast. But it is this belief system that is killing so many of us.

 Creative expression is not about talent, perfection, performance, or celebrity. It is about taking charge of our entitlement to our subjective experience. It is about allowing ourselves to be true to ourselves. It is about about the process of exploration and self-discovery. Deep Fun is about enlivening our capacities to respond creatively to our lives, our inner world, our conflicts, our hopes, our fears, our old patterns, our new brainstorms with wonder, acceptance and love.


Calling DIYers

Are you stuck or just  feel cut off? In your professional, creative or personal life? Deep Fun is a way to engage with art for self-discovery in a compassionate organic and nonjudgmental way. Deep Fun is a playful gentle way to expand your creative resources. Opening to nonjudgmental creative responding to your life means enlarging your vision, deepening experience and welcoming choices you never knew existed.


Make it a group thing

Your creative energy has been trying to get your attention for years, maybe decades. But most of us believe the myth that art is only for the few, the rest of us must repress and deny this vital aspect of our being. How about entertaining some doubt about this strory? Give yourself the gift of a gentle accepting nonjudgmental guide to help you access your inner creative resources to enrich your life experience and expand your choices.

Nothing's more important than choice. Creative expression through Deep Fun Therapy invites us into expanding our choices for creatively responding to life's opportunities and challenges.

Contact: for private sessions and workshop info.




Parents with PTSD
parenting Kids with PTSD
How can we heal?

So how do parents-- with PTSD themselves and a high threshhold for trust and an overwhelming need to control-- empower their children?

 The fundamental first step is to separate the parent's personal emotional state from parenting intention.Everything else is based on this capacity! This is the foundation. If you fear your children cannot love you without you controlling them or that you cannot feel loved without their complete obedience or adherence to your reality, perceptions, needs, and feelings you will not be able to separate emotional state from intention. But if we do not separate emotional state from intention we are in danger of asking or demanding that our children take care of us. That's backwards, isnt it? Parents need to take care of their children-- not the other way around. Children who are put in a position to please, appease, caretake, take responsibility for their parents will be disempowered. In order to caretake, appease, please, etc they must first deny who they are. Again.. sound familiar? This is what abusive relationships and codependency create; Loss of self. We want to immunize our children against this as best we can! So it is worth the effort to try to learn to separate emotional state from the intention to parent for empowerment!

Once this foundation is built: the capacity to act from intention rather than personal need or emotional state, the steps to empowering your kids can spring from this:

The first step is to believe your kids. Make it safe for them to have their own feelings, thoughts, worries, desires, to have their own internal experiences. They will not open up to you if they feel they must have only the feelings and thoughts you approve of. They will not open up if they fear your anger, hurt, disapproval  or disappointment. So try to separate out what is your own emotional state and allow yourself to act from intention rather than emotion. The point is to validate the child's subjective reality so that they do not have to stay divorced from their true selves. You do not need to agree or share their subjective realities, their inner experiences, but you do have the choice to provide solid healthy parenting that comes from an intention beyond one's own emotional state, one's own hurts, pride, fear, anger, a parenting approach that heals: listening,  validating, supporting, providing unconditional love to your child, or there is the choice of  providing less than healthy parenting by dismissing, overriding, negating, ignoring, belittling, denying your children's feelings, experiences and subjective reality. But there is a choice. We are all capable of working to strengthen this capacity.

The second step is to validate the impact of the event. Again this requires divorcing yourself from your own personal emotion and perception. It is not time to say, "That's silly, it was just a door closing." It is useful, healing and empowering to say, "That door was loud, it really frightened you!"

The third step is to be a supportive container for the child's expression of feeling, verbalization of thought, fears, desires, worries, options, resourcefulness. Listen, support, ask questions based on your child's own inquiry, rather than interrogate or persuade. This is what gives children a sense of their own efficacy, resourcefulness and empowerment.. that you trust and respect their abilities to perceive their own experience, that you know that their experience is uniquely their own--no one else can define it or judge it or control it and no one else really should-- that you trust them to make meaning of it, make decisions about it, learn from it, and take pride in integrating the experience in an empowering strengthening way.
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