Dianne Bachman, LCSW



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Posted on March 31, 2017 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (1)

I found myself with a some free time last Wednesday, so I pulled out a stack of images and begain flipping thorugh them.  This is the SoulCollageIR) card that evolved and I have tentatively titled it "Freedom". 

Lately, the world has seemed so filled with conflict and uncertainty and confusion!  I suppose this card grew out of my need for a gorunding rod of sorts. The themes seem to point to balance with the land and sea, male and female images.  

Here is my initial dialog with this newest SoulCollage friend:

I am one who......

....Has been present on this earth longer that the myth of what came first

....Brings you the soothing, fluid rhtyms of the deep blue ocean, the granite matrix of the tallest mountains, flexible yet sturdy

...Nurtures, contemplates, invites you to imagine what if.....What if you loosen your grip?  Where will those untethered wings take you?

...Invites you, compels you to go within, to honor that which is constant in the face of change

So....in the midst of what seemed to be a very busy and somewhat chaotic day, my SoulCollage(R)  practice allowed me to dip into the well of my inner healing waters.  There are many ways to tap into this wise and nurturing place we call flow, the inner healer, soul....Ancient, ever present, always willing to sit beside us and witness, calm and renew. 

May you find peace and renewal in your world today.


Finding the Inner Healer....Again

Posted on March 14, 2017 at 9:45 AM Comments comments (0)

I am always in awe of the insights my SoulCollage cards bring forth as I journal with them.  This one is from the Committee Suit and is named "The Inner Healer".  Below is my dialog with this dear friend:

I am one who….

……Has grown somewhat soft over the years, giving way to my complacent self

……Knows what things I need to do to keep my body healthy and strong, but often accuse time of robbing me from these vital bits of my daily regimen

…..Can become overwhelmed with all the advice about what is good for the body, what is bad, and all the things I need to avoid or embrace

…..needs to be gentle with herself and come back around to sticking with a plan that includes eating the veggies, getting rest, drinking enough water, and exercising the body and mind

I am struck by how easy it is for us to forget those things that help us feel better and thrive. A brief period of illness, a vacation, a challenging life event, and *poof*, those habits commit themselves to a kind of temporary amnesia. That is, until we wake up one morning and realize we are in a rut again. Often times we just need to take stock of what is missing so that we can fill ourselves up with the nurturing balm of our own good self-care.

So…..if you are finding yourself in a rut today, take a moment to turn off the TV, the phone, and unplug. Find a place either indoors or outdoors, where you feel comfortable to sit for at least 15 minutes. Grab something to write with and begin to think back to times in your life when you felt better, more physically or mentally fit, healthier, etc. What were you doing differently? Think about how you might nourish your body and your soul. Introduce more music, more art, more laughter, more meditative time, more nature, nourishing food……whatever it is, just give yourself permission to ponder this and reflect. You may discover that the Healer within is just waiting to be consulted, to be heard, to be honored......



Card of the Day: The Journey

Posted on March 24, 2016 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)

This morning as I was writing in my journal, I decided to work with my SoulCollage(R) deck to gain some insight into the weeks ahead.  Sometimes I will choose a random card for the day and sometimes I will draw one with the intention of seeking guidance.  Today was one of those days that I wanted to pull in a bit of insight in considering the process of change. I will be moving into my new office on April 1, and though it is an exciting time, it is also a time of upheaval.   Change is not always easy, especially since we can never truly forecast what kinds of people and circumstances  a choice might bring into our lives. 

I smiled when I turned this card over--I call it "The Journey".  The labyrinth with all of its twists and convolutions is laid out before a pair of hands.  The hands hold three eggs and off to either side of the hands is a moth in flight, headed toward the labyrinth. The eggs remind me that there is potential at the beginning of any journey.  The potential must be nurtured, cradled until it is ready to reveal itself.  The moths fly ahead, hinting at the presence of mystery and the bringing of light and life into the darkness. 

I love to walk the labyrinth and someday I hope to construct one in my backyard.  The walking brings a time of meditation and openness for me.  Whether it is the cloth labyrinth at my church or the red rock labyrinth at the Ghost Ranch in Abiqui, New Mexico, I have come away with a greater perspective of the old saying, "It is not the destination that is so important, it is the journey that counts the most."  

I always seem to be gifted with a sense of peace when I hang out with my old, dear friends, the SoulCollage neters!  I know it will all be fine--or not!  The move is a leg of my journey yet to be revealed and all is well.  There lies an opportunity to learn and to add to wisdom, no matter what!  So, bring on the boxes and packing tape!  I'm ready to negotiate the terrain around next bend and into my future!

Card of the Day: Trained Extrovert

Posted on March 1, 2016 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Today is Tuesday and typically I take Tuesdays and Wednesdays for myself.  It is my rejuvination time, my time away from phones and emails and the demands of a busy psychotherapy practice.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE MY WORK.  But for me, as an introvert, I must be careful about balance in my life.  I absolutely need a measure of solitude to keep myself on an even keel.  As I grow older, I am more keenly aware of this.

So, the card I drew this morning is a Committee card.  I call her my "Trained Extrovert".  Here she is hunkered down on the couch, nose to the pillows because the extrovert in her, once again, has overstepped the bounds of what is tolerable.  Even the extrovert, dressed in her short sleeve, boardwalk garb is out of her element here in the snowy forest.  One says, "Oh, coffee at 10?  I'd love to!" and the other says, "Oh, please.....clear the room because I am shutting down. I need some quiet space!"

I find this dynamic at play within myself  when I have ignored my instincts and over extend my schedule.  There is part of me that wishes I could go dancing after a long day at the office, or chat for hours, or tolerate the shopping mall for more than 30 minutes.  But then there is the introvert who so needs space and time to smoothe the feathers, shake off the dust and generally refuel.  I am glad to have both in my life, but the key for me is calibrating my activities so there is a balance, a lovely dance of energy that ebbs and flows but respects and nurtures the source of my social self. 

I am celebrating balance today--good morning, Trained Extrovert!  We are off to an excellent start.

Chronos: Card of the Day

Posted on April 15, 2015 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Sometimes I am really blown away by my SoulCollage(R) readings and this morning was one of those times.  All morning I was feeling rather wistful, thumbing through the mental list of all the things I would enjoy doing today, thinking to myself, "there doesn't seem to be enough time...."  So, I sat at my table in the studio, cleared my mind, and asked my deck to give me guidance and inspiration for the day.  This is the card I drew!  My deck now consists of 61 cards, so

When I created this card back in January, I titled it "Chronos" and it belongs to the Council suit.  To me, it speaks to all the cubby holes in my mind and soul, filled with interesting things to explore and the overarching concept of time that flows and flows. Time slips away, stacks up, creeps up...... There is always that dillemma between things we must do, the time,  and things we need to do for ourselves. 

So, today I will honor Chronos, carry her with me and soak up her wisdom and message through the process of my day.

SoulCollage(R) is an Inspiration!

Posted on February 22, 2015 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (0)

At the end of January I had the amazing privilege to complete SoulCollage® Facilitator training with Catherine Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina. The experience was truly fabulous. I came away with some new friends, and an enthusiasm for SoulCollage® that has grown exponentially. I also was struck with a renewed inspiration to honor creativity in myself and others. Catherine is one of those inspirational people and probably the most creative person I have ever met. Her studio is filled with books and images and things she has made. To me it was a magical place.

The beauty of SoulCollage® is that it does not require any formal art training nor does one have to have a desire to become an artist. To me, the art, the beauty, can be a by-product, but the true essence of SoulCollage® is the adventure into Self. I don’t know who said this (but it is not my original quote): “To express is to impress”. To allow the Soul to express what it needs to share is to impress within our conscious minds those aspects of our inner and outer worlds that can be either our supporters or our challengers.

So, most mornings I begin with coffee and a reading with my cards. I have found the readings to be uncanny, helpful and nurturing. As a therapist I have grown to understand the vital importance of self- care and SoulCollage® is one of the most powerful processes I have discovered over the span of my career. It is my own wisdom speaking the language of symbols that I have chosen and put together to create each unique card! I am feeling so much gratitude toward Seena Frost, the creator of SoulCollagae®. Here is the link to the website if you would like to learn more about the process: http://www.soulcollage.com/


What does your soul call out for today?

Posted on August 1, 2014 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)

What does your soul call out for?

Moments of clarity sometimes arrive quite unexpectedly. This was the case last week as I was on my morning walk. Darwin, my dog, and I try to do 3 miles a day, although, sometimes he chooses to flop over to play with a bug or chew some tender shoots of grass. About one mile into our stroll, I guess he found something really good, because he stopped in mid step, rolled over on his back and proceeded to revel in the moment. I looked around us, estimating how far we had come. I found myself standing between the elementary school my children attended and the swimming pool we once belonged to when the kids were younger. I stood still for a moment and watched the mothers dropping their children off for swim practice, moms fussing with sun screen and the jumble of towels and swimming paraphernalia. There were splashing sounds, laughter, and the voice of a coach attempting to put the chaos into some order. The smell of chlorine, fresh mowed grass, and warm black top, all called me back to another place in time.

I thought to myself, “I was thirty-something once, with young kids. We swam at this pool. I drove up to the school door a countless number of times.” I was washed with nostalgia, bittersweet. Now my children are grown and both launched (at least for now). Tears welled, a few trickled down my cheeks, then the processing began. Often times a phrase or word comes to mind when I begin to look a little deeper into my inner world. What came to me was, “What does your soul call out for?” I’m thinking I read this at one point in a book about Edgar Cayce. Anyway, I asked myself that question several times. Each time I asked, I viewed it from a slightly different perspective: my children as they were, my children as they are now, the energy and exuberance of my youth, the desire to be in the moment, peace, beauty, a grateful heart…..

What does your soul call out for today?



Jubal: A Wise Teacher

Posted on July 16, 2014 at 11:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Through my experiences as a psychotherapist I have begun to recognize that the opportunity for change can many times be traced back to brief, intense, meaningful sets of moments. Call them synchronicities, meaningful coincidence, or dumb luck: they all lead to opportunities to view the ruts and holes in our lives from a more constructive perspective. These experiences can be seen as doors, windows, peepholes or even cracks in the walls, but they all have the capacity to allow the light into our field of inner and outer vision. They are truly blessings whether or not we recognize them as such at the time they present themselves. It is akin to the idea that, tomorrow morning when you leave your front door you go to the left instead of going your usual right. Although the decision and the action occur in an instant the effects can take you to a completely different place.

Jubal came into my life on a chilly, crisp blue sky October morning in 2003. I had no warning, no idea that this little deer mouse could have the power to change the course of my life in such a quietly radical way. A whisper of brown fur new to this earth, Jubal became a wise teacher of patience, strength and love. During the five days that I cared for him I began to just “do”. There was, to my surprise, no trepidation, no fear, but rather a deep trust in the unfolding of this very precious and intense experience. This newfound patience and openness led the way to the inner freedom to reflect and then to more “doing” and reflecting, then ultimately to this book you are reading right now. The timing appears to be the crucial factor here, for if Jubal had showed up years earlier, months earlier, I would probably not have taken the opportunity to experience.

So how could a mouse change my life? He began by catching me by surprise. Fortunately for me, though, it wasn’t in the kitchen or in my bed at night. Instead, he came to me via a client (we will call her Jane) who carried a small box, a baby bottle, and a can of powdered infant formula into my office. Jubal had gotten separated from his mother after a skirmish with a cat and my client found him on her garage floor the morning of our appointment. Knowing he would die if she allowed him to remain on the cold concrete, she scooped him up and brought him along, hoping she would figure out the rest later. She knew that she could not care for him because she was also presently caring for a young parakeet that was new to her home.

Let me say that I have always been fond and felt compassion for all living things, whether they be two legged, four legged, winged, or of the leafy green variety. However, until the moment that I held Jubal in the hollow of my hand, I never realized how selective I had been regarding acceptance of all living things. He had a tail; a long tail. And he was a rodent. I must tell you that the combination of fear and repulsion swelled and gripped rather strongly at our first point of physical contact. The entire repetoire of judgments zipped through my memory and the idea that rodents are “bad”, dirty, and carry dreadful diseases was flashing like garish neon at the forefront of my brain. Forty four years of what I thought was my true self, the “enlightened and therapeutic” one, vanished in a blink. Jane recognized my panic and gently took the mouse back into her hand, smiling and soothing him with her calm voice.

So there I was, the therapist being helped by her client. All sorts of considerations began bubbling up from the deep, dark place those fears sometimes lurk. Why was I afraid? How was my terror experienced by my client? Should I overcome the fear by taking on the task of caring for this little creature? And, what are the clinical implications of accepting this responsibility from a client? What if the mouse dies? What if I don’t know what to do? And the internal pondering paraded on and on.

Then I began focusing on my breath and found that I was able to be present in the moment and grounded again. The more Jane and I sat with the mouse, the more I felt compelled to offer to care for him. The thoughts would come and go, like “Why are you doing this?” or “Are you slipping back into a rescuer mode and taking on something you really shouldn’t or don’t want to just because this is an old psychological pattern?” But from the place where the fears arose grew a “knowing”, a sense of calm. I could feel my body responding by relaxing and I felt down to my bones that caring for this mouse was something I was meant to do. It felt “right”.

The quote from Helen Keller, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing,” became my mantra for that first day. I kept the mouse warm until noon when I was joining a friend for lunch. There truly are no accidents. This particular friend is a very knowledgeable and gifted animal communicator and Reiki practitioner. She took me down to the pharmacy a few blocks away and we were able to purchase a syringe small enough for this tiny fellow. She went over the fine points of caring for small animals, like keep him warm, feed him frequently – even throughout the night, and keep him away from your cat. She handled the mouse with such gentle confidence that I decided to give it another try. This time I was able to see his total vulnerability and that he was as much a threat to me as a puff of cotton. When she left my office, I felt a sense of focus and grace. At that point I made the commitment to be with the experience as it unfolded, no matter what the outcome was to be.

Research has always been my best ally. If something comes up that I am unsure of, my process is to gather as much information as I can and then see what seems to stick with me. I decided that the baby formula might not give him the nutrients he required, so my daughter, Sarah, and I trekked off to the pet shop to get formula for baby kittens. On our way home Sarah asked what we should call the mouse. We were passing a street sign that said “Jubal Street”. We both saw it at the same time and agreed that Jubal sounded happy and optimistic and also seemed to fit the joy he brought to Sarah. Of course in my fervor to know more, I researched the name “Jubal”. It appears that in the Bible, Jubal was mentioned in the Old Testament as the first musician. The name seemed to fit even more, as I felt a growing sense of harmony in the task of stewarding this young mouse into the world.


The Power of Gratitude

Posted on June 24, 2014 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (0)


The Magnitude of Gratitude When We Change Our Minds

My husband and I recently had the very good fortune to attend a conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The materials covered in the conference were helpful and interesting, but we learned far more from reentering an environment we seem to have become immune to. Did you know that there is very little aggressive driving in other parts of the country? You can actually stop at a yellow light without the driver behind you honking or making impolite gestures (and if you have ever attempted to negotiate Saturday traffic in Fredericksburg’s Central Park you most likely know what I am talking about)! Yes, I am afraid it is true; we are more uptight here in the Washington D.C. area.

Some days it is indeed a challenge to look at the world through softer eyes. There are bills to pay, laundry to be done, meals to be cooked, jobs to be attended to, and on and on. Surely it seems as if sometimes every silver lining has a huge, gray cloud surrounding it. Our humanity does bring its unique challenges with it, and this kind of “deficit” thinking can be the result of burn-out or living too close to the edge in stress. Most of us experience this lackluster attitude at some point in our lives. So what do we do? Well, we can deny that such insidious negativity exists within our lives, but that ultimately causes them to boomerang back at us with double the force. Some life situations cannot be easily changed. Some (even though we want them to be over and done with) are actually part of our learning and our life path.

So, denying or repressing doesn’t work. But living with gratitude and a thankful mind and heart does. Learning to list blessings even in the face of bleak day-to-day can help us cultivate what is right with our lives. The more attention we give to what resonates with goodness shifts our focus from the darkness to the light. If we are too over focused on the unpleasant then our ability to enjoy and appreciate the more gentle and kind aspects of life is muddied. Remember: If you can change your mind, you can change your life. Much of the time, it is all a matter of perception and how we allow our attention to be guided.

Here are some suggestion to try:

You may find it helpful to begin a gratitude journal. This is a place where you can record and explore all those things you find yourself grateful for. You may want to record those small blessings you encounter during the day, like sunsets, the smell of rain, the comfort and warmth of a blanket, a hot shower, an old pair of broken in jeans, the taste of your lunch, the aroma of fresh coffee in the morning. You may also want to explore the bigger things in life, like family or friends and neighbors, yourself, your employer, the gift of sight, the gift of hearing. What things are you grateful for today? How easy or difficult is this exercise for you? What small things come to mind as blessings that you previously hadn’t given much thought to?

Before you go to sleep tonight, choose one thing you are grateful for. Spend some time holding it in your thoughts before you drift off to sleep. Notice how recognizing this blessing makes your heart feel. Does your body feel different when you focus on gratitude? Do this for several consecutive nights. Does this make a difference in your perception during waking hours?





Surfing the Flow: Creativity and Healing

Posted on May 10, 2014 at 10:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Children are naturals at losing themselves in play.  As grownups,however, that depth of focus can be more difficult to achieve because we have been oriented so intensely toward our manmade concept of hours, minutes, and seconds.  We have bills to pay, deadlines to meet, traffic jams to sit in, and our schedules are so tight they squeak with time famine.  But, to be “in theflow” is to be in a right brain place where spontaneity, creativity, and openness abound.  It is also to be in a state of total engagement with whatever it is we are choosing to focus on at the moment.  Being able to access that state of flow not only assists us in managing life stress, it helps us learn to become receptive to new possibilities.  The flow is that magic portal to a new world,one in which we can merge with a natural state that is very expansive,innovative, and powerfully healing.

I like to ask people what role creativity takes on in their lives.  More times than not the answer is, “Oh, I’m not really the creative type.”  Unfortunately, this vital aspect of our innerselves is far too often ignored or drummed out of us through years of being told (and telling ourselves) that we are incapable or inept .  The words play, creativity, and spontaneity lose their sparkle in the realm of our adult reality.  I have come to the conclusion through my  work as a psychotherapist (as well as traversing my own inner terrain, many times rocky) that actively working with a creative practice not only helps us to be more expressive and less stressed, it allows us to communicate with the deepest parts of who we are.  Honoring and listening to our creative voice can meaningfully facilitate the resolution ofold emotional wounds and invite a healing process to commence.  The vessel of our own creative energies to besure can pour us into a more fluid, flexible state that flows into the cracks where words just won’t fit.

Think about these questions:  Have you ever been so focused on a task or activity that you lose all track of time and place?  What do you really, really like to do?  Make a list of those activities that help you reach the flow state.  How often do you allow yourself to go there?  Do you think you need to make more space in your schedule to flow a bit more?  Did you ever stop to think that even simple daily tasks could help you begin to access creativity, like cooking a meal,choosing the color of your outfit for the day or how you go about brushing your teeth?  Be patient with yourself.  After all, this creativity stuff is much like muscle building; you can’t expect to be as beefy as Ah-nold in one visit.  Think of accessing creative flow like you would building up muscle tone; the more you work out, the better theresult. 

Here are some suggestions to help youget started.  Notice how you feel after you experiment.  My guess is that you will experience a sense of inner lightness, calm, or exuberance.

*Choose one way to have fun and play each day.  You might go down to the local store and pickup some pretty, colorful markers, pens, or paints and brushes and experimen twith doodling, drawing, daubing, splashing or swirling.  Let the colors mix and work big.  Make a masterpiece or intentionally make a mess.

*Play a drum, a recorder, or some other musical instrument.  Close your eyes and notice how the sounds and vibrations feel. Imagine colors, shapes, images that express your experience.

*Listen to your favorite CD or try a piece of music thatis new and exotic and spontaneously move to the sounds and rhythms.   

* If reading more about this topic seems a good way for you to begin I would highly recommend either Art is a Way of Knowingby Pat B. Allen, or Art as Medicine by Shaun McNiff.


Finally, I would like to leave you with a magic wish.  My magic wand broke years ago butI have learned the value of suspending disbelief and I hope you will too.  My magic wish is that if you haven’t already,you will reclaim the beauty and power of your inner creative life.  If you are already one who actively flows with spontaneity and creativity, then my wish is that you will join me in sustaining the movement!