From Chicago Interview with Serena Wadhwa

Serena Wadhwa, Psy.D., LCPC, CADC, RYT holds a doctorate in clinical psychology.  Dr. Wadhwa is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor. She is also a Registered Yoga Teacher. She is the Director of TriQual Living Center ( Dr. Wadhwa works as an educator, coordinator, therapist, stress coach, consultant, creator, presenter, trainer, lecturer, radio talk show host, yoga instructor and author.

PR4P: Today we live in a stress-filled world, what are three things we can do to help manage the stress in our daily lives?

Serena: Well, there are many things we can “do” and sometimes the best thing we can “do” is just “be”. We live in an autopilot world and this prevents us from really living life to the fullest. I have often found when working with consumers that when they embrace the present moment, it is void of the past and future, thus, reducing some of the stress we may experience. We begin to enjoy the world through our basic senses and not through the mind.

Another strategy that may be helpful is actually a combination of things. I call these the basics because they tend to be the ones that become more inconsistent with stress. These are sleep, movement, and eating. Getting enough sleep, eating right, and some regular body movement help.

Finally, another strategy is keeping leisure and fun in one’s routine. These tend to be another thing to go when a person is under pressure or is facing excessive demands. Fun and leisure activities helps to get the mind off of what is stressful and allows some space for the body, mind, and spirit to relax and release.

PR4P: You’ve worked in a variety of roles in the substance abuse field, what advice would you offer to a family member who is trying to cope with a loved one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol?

Serena: This is a challenging question, as it will vary from situation to situation. The one thing I do recommend is to take care of yourself first so you can approach the situation effectively. This may mean going to a support group, attending Ala-non, Nar-non, etc., seeing a counselor, or going to a trusted elder or other person within the community. There are plenty of books and resources one can find as well to help cope with someone who is abusing substances.

PR4P: Some people have a calling or disposition to become a healing or helping person. What are the chief characteristics of people who have a calling to become a healing or helping person?

Serena: Most people I know of that are in the field have some level of compassion, empathy, non-judgment, unconditional positive regard, and believe in the dignity and rights of living beings. I’m sure the levels of these characteristics may vary person-to-person.

PR4P: For you to be successful in psychology, do you have to be entrepreneurial in your approach to building a business and a brand?

Serena: It depends on what you want to do with the degree. Building a business and brand is not something usually talked about in graduate school and training, so most individuals seek mentorship from others, read up on this aspect, or attend classes about building a business.

PR4P: What does the TriQual Living Center (Center for the Mind, Body & Spirit) offer people?

Serena: We offer Lunch and Learn seminars on stress wellness, substance use, and other topics. We also offer W.E. events (Educational events for evening times). We provide a six-week online coaching program to help individuals develop more awareness about stress and strategies to help prevent, manage, reduce or be present with the stress in their lives. We also offer yoga, meditation, and workshops. Individual, group and corporate options are available.

PR4P: You are also the author of several books. Tell us about them.

Serena: Stress in the Modern World: Understanding Science and Society is more of a reference book and consists of researched based topics relating to stress. It also includes personal accounts of individuals and how they have mastered (or continue to learn to) their stress.

The other stress book is Stress Intelligence: 365+ ways to smooth the stress flow and is a book that contains a stress tool for every day of the year. There are strategies readers can use to prevent, manage, reduce and be present with stress. It also explores my theory of stress and the six layers to the stress experience.

I also wrote an e-book on Substance use in the workplace and one on grief and loss in the workplace. I have a few more books coming out as well, on change, avoidance, and a fiction book.


PR4P: What led you become a psychologist? Is this something that you have always wanted to do?

Serena: I identify myself more as a counselor and yes, I knew from high school I was going to help others. I don’t remember how I figured this out, it was something that resonated with me.

PR4P: What is your philosophy underlying your practice as a Psychologist?

Serena: Well, I am Gestalt in my approach, so I look at the pieces that make up a whole experience. Validation, non-judgment, and acceptance are the foundation of my practice. I am also process oriented, so I look at how and what people are doing, thinking, moving, and not so much the “why” of it. In working in the field of substance use disorders, there can be a lot of “whys” and sometimes people want that certainty of what lead to using or relapsing. I think the challenge is really recognizing that most of us, if not all of us, struggle with our own demons and some of these tend to be a bit more visible than others.

PR4P: Is there any news that you would like to share? New projects? New books? New workshops? Public Appearances? Radio Shows?

Serena: I list workshops and events on my website. I also have a podcast about Holistic Paths to Wellness, which covers different aspects of the journey to wellness. I have a couple new books I am working on, including a fiction book, which I’m really excited about.

PR4P: Where do you see your field evolving in the next ten years?

Serena: Tele-counseling will be huge as we are already seeing the growth of this within the behavioral health and recovery fields. I think we will also be providing more integrated care to individuals, treating the whole of the person and not just one or two pieces.

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