Conversations with Clinicians: Julia Ward

Offerings, recommendations, inspirations

Neighborhood: Hayes Valley
Orientation: Mindfulness-based depth therapy. “Depth,” for me, means we’re going deep inside our emotional lives to locate that part of us that knows more than we think we know. Specialties: Anxiety, difficult life transitions, people struggling with the political climate.Other Modalities that inform your work: Buddhist psychology, Emotionally Focused Therapy, EMDR, Self-Compassion Practices, Internal Family Systems.What it’s like to work with me: I think folks tend to experience me as down-to-earth, welcoming, real, and sometimes humorous.
I work well with: I love working with women across the lifespan: young women coming into their adult selves; women experiencing changes in their bodies and moods in mid-life; aging women reflecting on a life lived so far and looking to the life ahead of them. I also love working with couples in second marriages/partnerships, blended families, and separated couples with co-parenting struggles. This is something that speaks to me both personally and professionally. Inspired by this work because: It’s the most demanding and fulfilling work I’ve ever done. There’s something really powerful about accompanying and witnessing as clients discover parts of themselves that have been hidden away or unknown.  Stays inspired by: I’m inspired by how hard being a human can be. Taking 50 minutes each week to sit down and explore this bumpy ride feels really important. Connecting in my own personal therapy with my inner life and what it’s like to be in the other seat in the therapy room also inspires me. Fundamentally, I’m inspired daily by my clients—how they show up, work hard, and care.

Manages overwhelm by:
Breathing, because the breath is always available. If you inhale in through the nose for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7, and exhale through the mouth for a count of 8, you activate the parasympathetic (down-regulating) system. Do this four or five times in stressful moments, or before something stressful, like giving a talk or having a difficult conversation. It’s like a quick body hack and creates a sense of calm. I pretty much use this daily with myself, and clients too. It never fails.
Best place to cry in the bay area: Crying anywhere with a pet. They just get us.
Best place to find a laugh: BATS (Bay Area Theatre Sports) for improv shows and classes at Fort Mason.
Self-care on a budget: A hot bath or shower. Reading something transporting.
Self-care investment: A nice, long meal out with friends.
Non-therapy book recc: Alison Bechdel ‘s graphic novels Fun Home & Are You My Mother. (A bit of a cheat, because she draws and writes about therapy too.) and Jhumpa Lahiri’s short story collections Unaccustomed Earth and Interpreter of Maladies. Reading her stories is like drinking a cool glass of water.
Self-help book recc: MBSR Every Day by Elisha Goldstein and Bob Stahl offers daily mindfulness practices. Also, any book by Pema Chodron
Quote: “You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf” –Most commonly attributed to John Kabat Zinn.

Offerings In the works:

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Associate Marriage and Family Therapist #101575
Supervised by Marjorie A. Chaset, LMFT #44243