FEP54 Flower Essences for Mental Health with Maureen Clancy
Trauma therapist Maureen Clancy joins us on the podcast to chat about supporting mental health with flower essences.
Discover Maureen’s favorite essences for anxious states vs. depressed states, and how she incorporates them in her practice in conjunction with other therapeutic modalities such as EMDR.
We also talk about how to know when flower essences aren’t enough on their own and further mental health services are indicated.
Join us for this illuminating look into flower essences from a psychotherapist’s perspective.
Flower Essences discussed during the show:
- Rescue Remedy aka Five Flower Formula
- Borage – Green Hope Farms
- Red Clover – Green Hope Farms
- Redwood – Green Hope Farms
- Maple – Green Hope Farms
- Maureen’s website: https://www.maureen-clancy.com/about-flower-essences
- Maureen’s TikTok: https://email@example.com
- Maureen’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/themaureenclancy/
- Green Hope Farm
- Delta Gardens
Rochana Felde: [00:00:40] Welcome back to The Flower Essence Podcast and welcome new listeners. Kathleen and I, Rochana, are here today with a guest, Maureen Clancy, and we were really excited to find out about her and get her on the podcast because she is a therapist who also practices flower essence therapy, and we’ve been wanting to delve more into other types of practices that incorporate flower essences. And so we thought Maureen would be the perfect one to start this conversation with. Maureen Clancy is a licensed therapist in New York and New Jersey, a group therapy practice owner, and a trauma expert. For the past 21 years, she’s been helping women who’ve experienced childhood trauma grow through big life changes. She’s the creator of the Gate Passages Framework, a structured bottom-up approach to healing trauma. She’s certified in EMDR and trained in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Internal Family Systems, and Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy, which she combines with Reiki, tarot and flower essences. She’s also a certified clinical supervisor for social workers seeking advanced licensure and runs supervision groups for therapists looking to gain skills in healing trauma. As well, she’s a certified yoga teacher, a 20-plus year meditator, a self-taught artist, and a potter who lives in coastal New Jersey with her husband and their menagerie of pets. She loves to garden, run and play pickleball. Welcome to the podcast, Maureen.
Maureen Clancy: [00:02:23] Oh, thank you. I’m so excited to be with you.
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:02:27] We’re really glad to have you here. Would you help us get started by sharing a little bit of your story with flower essences? I’d love to know how they became a part of your life.
Maureen Clancy: [00:02:41] I love talking about that. And really, it happened accidentally, which is kind of a fun way to find out about things. But I was going through a really difficult period in my life and I had to stop working. I was a newspaper reporter and I was having a lot of physical pain in my body that made it so I really could not work any longer and experienced a lot of depression around that and a lot of anxiety. And it was a really difficult thing to manage. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that badly before. I was so excited to be a journalist. And really this was the end of that dream. And I was having a lot of physical pain through a repetitive strain injury.
And so it was recommended by a bunch of different people who I’d been seeing for assistance with that, that I try an antidepressant and I thought, I’m not so sure about that. Let me see what else I can do. And probably months went by and I was in a local health food store and I overheard someone talking to the owner of the health food store. And the person was saying, Oh, we’ve just been through a terrible shock in my family. We really are struggling to try to get past this, if we can. And the owner of the health food store said, oh, I think you should try some flower essences. And I was kind of like hiding out in an aisle. And it really perked up my ears. I thought, well, I’m going to check this out. Whatever she’s going to say, I want to know. And she directed the customer to Bach’s Rescue Remedy. And she said, “Here’s this little yellow box. You can take it throughout the day and the flower essences in it will really help you start to feel calmer about the crisis that’s going on in your family and more capable.” And I thought, “Oh, I have got to have this. Whatever it is, let me get my hands on it.” And so I bought a bottle and I remember driving to the Sound. I was living near Long Island Sound at the moment in New York. And I opened the bottle. I saw this little bottle and I thought, how could this possibly help me? And so I took out the dropper and made sure there was plenty in it. And I put some on my tongue. And right away, I noticed this ripple effect in my body. And I suddenly felt a lot calmer than I had felt before. And I was really surprised about that. So I just kept using it. And pretty soon the bottle was gone.
So I kept using just the Rescue Remedy, but eventually, I started to get really curious about what is in this bottle, what is exactly happening here? And that led me to investigate the single flower essences that were in the Rescue Remedy. And I started taking one of them, I can’t remember which one, and that even calmed me down further. And it really gave me a sense of, okay, there’s going to be a life beyond what’s happening right now. And it was really quite a magical experience. I was sold on flower essences at that point. And so I tried different flower essences whenever I saw them in a health food store. I thought, let’s see what I’m drawn to. And each time I took one, it was the same kind of experience. It happened in my body, but it also was like an uplifting emotionally of something that I wasn’t even quite aware of. And at the time I wasn’t even a therapist. And so once I started practicing with clients, I thought, this needs to come in somehow because it had such a profound effect on me, I knew that I was going to find a way to bring flower essences into work with clients. And so after a few years when I got my advanced licensure, I thought, “Okay, now I’m going to do it. I’m going to gently bring this in.”
And there were clients who were really excited about trying something new and clients who didn’t want to. But I noticed that clients who were interested in trying flower essences, they started to feel better and more grounded and capable and like there was a life beyond what we were working on faster than the other clients. It was fascinating to notice that. And I thought, “Oh, we’re really onto something here. I’ve got to keep using this in my work with clients.” So then I started offering blends. And to this day, I offer individually made flower essence blends for clients if they want them. And it’s so much fun to do. It’s really deep in the work. And flower essences, it’s so difficult to describe what they’re like because they live outside of the realm of language. But really, the best thing I can say is that clients who use them have such a different experience in therapy than the clients who don’t. And that’s a really interesting thing to notice. Yeah. And all of my clients are very sensitive. And I knew from my own sensitivity in my response to the flower essences, that that was going to be something really harmonious to their systems and their sensitivities. And yeah, it’s been an exciting journey. I love using flower essences with my clients. It really helps. It really supports the work that we’re doing in therapy. Yeah. So that’s a long answer to my own journey with flower essences.
Rochana Felde: [00:09:01] I just love hearing this and I have so many questions. I want to dive in a little deeper to this work that you do with clients in flower essences. But first, which essences do you use? Do you use the Bach flowers? I believe you make your own. What are the common lines of essences that you use?
Maureen Clancy: [00:09:25] Oh, a great question. There are so many, and I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface. But I do often recommend the Bach Rescue Remedy for clients because it’s so easy to obtain these days, which I’m just giddy about. But I also make my own. I have a tiny little plot of land here in New Jersey, and I like growing flowers into flower essences. So I will grow as much as I can on my own here. But I also really love the essences from Green Hope Farms, and they’re based in New Hampshire. And one of the things I love most is that their flower essences are preserved in Red Shiso, which is a plant in the Mint family, and because it’s preserved in Red Shiso, there’s no need for alcohol as a preservative. And because my clients are so sensitive, they tend to also be sensitive to alcohol. And the response to the Green Hope Farm essences from clients has been really wonderful. So those are the ones that I’m using most often now. But there’s so many to dive into. Like I said, I’m just at the beginning of sampling different ones. Oh, I should also say that I’ve also used several of the flower essences from Delta Gardens. And I use them personally. I haven’t given them to clients yet because I feel like the relationship to the flower essences at Delta Gardens is just beginning and I really want to know more about that before I recommend it to clients.
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:11:11] I’m enjoying that aspect of the relationship, the personal relationship to the flowers, like you were saying, when you’ve grown them and you’ve made the essence yourself, there is a layer that comes through. I know that when I work with clients and I’m listening and I’m feeling into what they’re asking for, a lot of times the plants that I know personally, whether I’ve made their essence or whether I’ve met them in real life, those are the ones that tend to be like, “Me, me, me, I want to come in. I can help this person. I have something to offer here.” There is something much more embodied about it rather than just like I know it from a repertory. So do you recommend for your clients to try to have personal relationships with the plants that you’re offering as essences?
Maureen Clancy: [00:12:03] Always. Oh my gosh, and I think that’s the funnest thing about flower essences. And I’m so glad that you brought that up. It’s been so personal for me to have a relationship with the flowers that I’m using personally, so I’ll always recommend that to clients. And one of the things that I’ll say is, “Go for a walk around your neighborhood and see what flowers are drawing your awareness to them and see what you notice in your body when you’re with the flower.” And you could just crouch down and tune into the flower and see if it wants to talk to you about something and see what that’s like in your own body. Not everyone wants to do that, but with clients who do that, I’ll say, “Okay, so you can make a flower essence out of that. And it’s really easy. Here’s how. Here’s how I know how to do it.” But I know for myself, the flowers that have been most impactful for me are the ones that I always want to have growing here on my little plot of land. And that’s Borage. Borage is always with me. I feel like Borage and I have a deep thing going. It’s an amazing flower essence, and it’s something that it goes into every flower essence blend that I make for clients. At least the first one that I make, Borage is always in there because it’s so uplifting and it has such a gentle way of opening a pathway to self-love if that’s really been shut down for mental health reasons like anxiety and depression and sometimes trauma also.
Rochana Felde: [00:42:34] I’d love to hear more about your Gate Passages Framework you mentioned on your website, and it sounds like something that you’re bringing groups of people into.
Maureen Clancy: [00:42:46] So Gate Passage is my term for a time of enormous change, and we all go through many gate passages in our lives. And one of the most universal is puberty, we all go through that. But there are gate passages that feel very unique to us. And when you’ve had childhood trauma and you’re going through a change later in life, it’s very often the case that that’ll bring up something in the trauma that you never dealt with or that you just suddenly have a different perspective on. So there’s another layer of healing that can happen there. And so the framework really starts with the body, and it starts with listening to the story that the body is telling. And by that, I mean when I’m working with a client and they’re talking about something that was hurtful, often their bodies will start moving in a particular way. Either it will be a sense of contraction, like drawing in the shoulders and getting smaller, or a sense of looking over their shoulder, orienting to something that they may have seen or wanted to do during that experience.
And so one of the things that the Gate Passage Framework does is to help re-consolidate body memories that continue to emerge in the present like a persistent survival response and like you can’t relax so that your body can feel more at ease and so that your body can feel like more of a home that supports you in the life that you’re in. And so using that body-first approach is something that is really exciting for trauma survivors because there’s a particular wiring that can happen with the nervous system for trauma survivors. And talk therapy really doesn’t do anything to work with the body. There might be some mention of the body. There might be, I have a headache, but really looking at it from a different perspective, like, what does it mean if you suddenly have a headache and you’re talking about something really painful that happened to you? Well, it could be a part that is going, “I have to shut this down.” There’s a headache. You’re going to be unable to function pretty soon because we should stop talking about this, it’s too much. And so the Gate Passages Framework really starts with all of that and brings in things like flower essences and Reiki and sometimes tarot cards to get the nonclinical information for clients who are interested in that. And it’s a three-phase approach, which is a standard approach in trauma treatment. There’s Phase 1 that’s stabilization and safety, Phase 2, which is processing the deeper things that continue to show up in the present, and Phase 3 is what’s life like now? How do I want to make meaning of how I understand life now? And that’s something that I haven’t created myself. It goes back to Pierre Janet, who is a psychologist in the 1800s, and that really describes an approach to healing that is structured. And that’s what the Gate Passages Framework is based on. And it also brings in, like I said, that alternative healing that’s really missing from a lot of mental health treatment.
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:46:27] Well, thank you so much for sharing that, and that helps me to understand even more about how you integrate all of these healing modalities that you use into your work. Thank you so much for being with us. It’s been really lovely spending this time with you. How do our listeners find out more about you, reach out to you? Where should they look?
Maureen Clancy: [00:46:51] Oh, I invite your listeners to my online home. That’s maureen-clancy.com. And that’s mostly where people find me. I also recently got into TikTok, which is itself a whole other thing. But I’m active on there now and you can find me under my name, Maureen Clancy.
Rochana Felde: [00:47:17] Wonderful. It’s been so great to chat with you, and thank you for being on the podcast and for the great work you’re doing in crossing this bridge between therapy and flower essence therapy. I am so heartened to hear this. We’ve been kind of looking, who’s doing this. There’s got to be somebody doing this. And so when you came into our awareness, it was exciting to hear that. And now speaking to you, I’m really just happy and excited that you’re doing this work. So thank you for treading this ground and for talking to us and our listeners.
Maureen Clancy: [00:47:58] Oh, it’s a pleasure. It’s a pleasure to be with you and to talk about flower essences and mental health and how I incorporate the two. And my hope is that more mental health practitioners will start to incorporate flower essences in their work with clients. It’s been really, really helpful and I think that there are so many people who can benefit from it.
Kathleen Aspenns: [00:48:21] Thank you so much. Until next time. Bye-bye now.