Atlanta Outpatient Programs for Adults & Adolescents Struggling with Mental Health & Substance Use

Alyza Berman: Here is How to Develop Mindfulness and Serenity During Stressful or Uncertain Times

Those that suffer from anxiety often fear they’re being judged or shamed by others. Being untruthful can exasperate those feelings and cause someone to feel even worse about themselves. Instead of trying to protect someone’s feelings all the time, it’s best to be honest with them and have an open conversation to ensure their long term success in dealing with anxiety issues.

Alyza Berman was recently interviewed by Beau Henderson as a part of his series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times,” which was published in Authority Magazine. View the original article here. 

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I was born and raised in Atlanta, GA, and once receiving my Bachelor of Art in Sociology from Indiana University as well as my Masters of Social Work from The University of Pennsylvania, I decided it was time to move back home and help support my community. After working since 2002 as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice and a Clinical Director of several treatment centers, it was time for me to create my own clinic which reflected my personal vision to help support those suffering from mental health and/or substance abuse issues.

In 2017, I established The Berman Center which has grown into a CARF-accredited and nationally recognized mental health, wellness, and substance abuse treatment center in Atlanta. The Berman Center provides a welcoming, home-like environment to help clients feel part of a community as they travel their journey to recovery. It’s crucial that our clients feel accepted and loved as they undergo their therapeutic process and find meaning, purpose, and hope for their lives.

This is accomplished through a variety of therapeutic modalities we use at the center to treat mental illnesses, addiction, eating disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. I’m personally also a Rapid Resolution Therapy trauma specialist, as well as an individual, group, couples, and family therapist.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

There is never a boring day in my life. I truly have a passion for what I do, and I never feel like I’m working. Every day is more “interesting” than the day before, but my most impactful day was when I lost my first client to an overdose. I was working with a 20-year-old beautiful, artistic woman. She was living at a treatment center that would not allow her to practice her Judaism and join her family for the Sabbath. Her family understood until it was Passover. She asked the treatment center permission to leave and prepare for the holiday with her parents. Her request was declined. Her parents took her out of the treatment center and brought her home. Shortly after, she found heroin on the dark web and overdosed. Her death was extremely impactful in that I began working with her mother and opened up a treatment center based on the Jewish values of connection, community, and wholeness. Our logo of the blue dove was taken from a piece of artwork she completed and the opening of the center was dedicated in her memory.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

The most important lesson I’ve learned from running my own treatment center is to trust your staff and support system. Over the past four years, I’ve worked tirelessly to build a strong, dedicated, educated, and capable staff to help me provide the best mental health and substance abuse resources in the metro-Atlanta area. It can be hard to loosen the reigns, especially when it’s your business, but once I learned to delegate responsibility and allow my staff the opportunity to do what they do best, the center culture flourished and became one of community, trust, and positivity. That’s important because this behavior then translates into how we treat and deal with patients.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Interestingly enough, I’m not a big reader. I really get all of my research from working with my clients and my therapists who work for me. I feel that listening to people and trying to understand them in a real-life, day to day setting provides the most significant impact on me.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?

Mindfulness is a hard state of mind to accomplish, especially in today’s world where our attention and time are pulled in dozens of directions from work to children to personal commitments and general activities. Being mindful is an awareness of the present moment and tuning into your body and mind’s needs. Very rarely do we get the opportunity to engage in this behavior on a daily basis. But, if we’re lucky enough to reach this meditative state, mindfulness allows us to be more willing or inclined to do what’s best for ourselves and others around us.

This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?

Three main benefits of becoming mindful include:

  • Release of physical tension

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness and serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.

  1. Acknowledge that we’re all going through these tough times. We’re going to have a wide array of feelings that each feeling is OK and valid. We’re in this together; it’s the strength of the community. I see many clients who have a heightened sense of fear, anxiety, confusion, anger, and sadness. My best advice is that I tell them that they’re not alone. There are times when many have felt alone in their feelings. Today, we have one huge societal support group where everyone can relate to everyone around them.

From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

  1. Let someone know you’re thinking of them. This can be as simple as a text or email that says, “Just thinking of you. Hope you’re doing well!” Sometimes all someone needs is a tiny reminder someone is there for them.

What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?

Utilize the resources you have around you that are easy to access. For instance, search through the Spotify or Apple Music libraries and find some podcasts that focus on mindfulness and self-care. Also, try to implement something small into your day to help you achieve a state of serenity or mindfulness. Sometimes when I cannot sleep, I’ll listen to a white noise machine or a book on tape to help calm my nerves and ease my mind to help me sleep better.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

There is a book called “Man In Search of Meaning,” which teaches us about the power of our minds and how we can choose how we react to things. One of my favorite quotes from the book is, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom” — Viktor E. Frankl

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

To end the stigma associated with mental health and substance abuse. People don’t understand these afflictions are diseases people deal with every single day. If we showed greater compassion, care, and understanding as a community, we’d see a total shift in our culture to better handle these topics and ultimately save more lives.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

Visit The Berman Center’s website for additional information on our Intensive Outpatient Programs and additional resources. Also, follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts:

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

Alyza Berman has extensive experience as a mental health expert, therapist, and clinical director. Since 2002, she has worked as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice and as a Clinical Director of several treatment centers. Alyza started The Berman Center three years ago to provide a welcoming, home-like environment to help clients feel part of a community as they travel their journey to recovery. She uses a variety of therapeutic modalities with her clients to treat mental illnesses, addiction, eating disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Berman is also a Rapid Resolution Therapy trauma specialist, as well as an individual, group, couples, and family therapist.