From 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, the Idyllwild Community Mental Hygiene Workshop Series continues at Town Hall with Cara Wilkerson, a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT). Her workshop is titled “Depression and Anxiety in Childhood, Adolescence and Adulthood: Effects on Relationships with Self, Others and Community.”
The series is a project of the Idyllwild Forest Health Project and its offshoot, Mountain Communities Mutual Aid. The series continues on Saturdays through Oct. 22. Organizer Robyn Winks, LMFT, will bring a different local mental health professional to help participants “gain healthy, updated coping skills and practices to thrive during challenging times.” The emphasis is on community building as an aspect of mental hygiene, rather than on diagnosing or treating mental illness.
Wilkerson specializes in treating complex trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. She has 16 years of practice in California, Florida and Texas. She graduated Suma Cum Laude from California State University, San Marcos with a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology, and from California Baptist University with a Masters of Arts in Counseling Psychology. She also is certified in a number of alternative therapy modalities including Equine Therapy.
Wilkerson said, “The workshop will be discussion based and we will have some exercises, different grounding or relaxation exercises.” She explained that depression and anxiety are more nuanced than the layperson may think, and aims to break some of the stereotypes around these two common disorders and the people who suffer from them.
She describes depression as a dysregulation within mood. “The symptoms may include social withdraw or isolating, harboring negative beliefs about self, lethargy, helplessness, hopelessness — there are so many different ways people at different ages cope, manage and get treatment.”
TC: “Most people might not think of that complexity.”
CW: “Sometimes depression affects how we see ourselves, sometimes how we see the world. People will distrust the world or isolate, withdraw from it. It is important to individualize it in view and treatment.”
Wilkerson explained that anxiety also is more complex than commonly thought.
CW: “I am also going to cover different forms of anxiety. Within anxiety there is generalized anxiety, panic, social anxiety, trauma, phobias.”
TC: “All those are contained in anxiety?”
CW: “They are all affecting our nervous system in a way that is dysregulating to our nervous systems. I am also going to touch on separation anxiety; I’ve noticed a lot of that since COVID. I will deal with how that affects adults and children differently; with kids it often occurs with their caregiver; with adults it can be separation from family, children, animals etc.”
Cara also shared that she was born and raised in Idyllwild. “My family goes back generations here. I went to Idyllwild School.”
TC: “Who was the first member of your family to move here?”
CW: “Great-grandpa Errol Hunt, married to Juanita. They had four kids: Bud, Stan, Carol and Diane. Carol Hunt is my grandma.”
TC: “How does that experience shape you and your work?”
CW: “The Idyllwild community is very special; it is different from most places. We have a lot of resources here within the community.”
TC: “How so?”
CW: “Love as a behavior; not romantic love, but kindness and respect, compassion, open-mindedness, being non-judgmental.”
TC: “These things are helpful for healing?”
CW: “Yes, for healing depression and anxiety.”
Dr. Tima Ivanova, LMFT, will facilitate a concurrent program for ages 6 to 18. Ivanova is certified in Play Therapy with children and teens. She will help young people engage in ways “that will increase their self-knowledge and self-acceptance, as well as help build trust and healthy boundaries with other peers and participants.” Parents and guardians wishing to bring youngsters should contact her by email at [email protected]
Cost is $15 per person per workshop or pay on a sliding scale. Donations to cover someone else’s cost are appreciated. To reserve a place, register in advance at www.idyllwise.org/mental-hygiene For general information, call (951) 468-0110 or email [email protected]