My personal story
After having three heart surgeries at a relatively young age, I had an epiphany.
I had just undergone my third 17-hour heart surgery and, with 35 ablations burned into my heart, it was clear something needed to change. I didn't have a medical problem. I needed to fix how I was living.
Suffering from the post-traumatic stress of witnessing the events of 9/11 firsthand, I was overworked, struggling with unhealthy boundaries, and in an unhappy relationship.
Facing the possibility of a life of heart problems, I suddenly realized that life isn't just about surviving or even thriving, but about living joyfully. And more importantly, no matter what kind of challenges, trauma, or adversity I experienced, I could choose to experience joy every day.
This realization led me to research ways to heal my own heart, the beginning of a journey that combined my desire to live joyfully with my life-long interest in evidence-based healing. I learned that ignoring my heart had led to prolonged emotional strain that eventually disrupted my heart's encoding.
With the help of a combination of neuro-cardiology and holistic therapeutic practices, I learned to re-wire the communication between my heart and brain. I discovered that when we allow our heart to guide us, it speaks very clearly and directs us toward a more authentic, joyful, and intentional life.
From my own experience and helping hundreds of others on their healing journey, I have developed a professional practice to teach you how to transform your life with your heart.
My practice is based on four core beliefs:
We have all experienced trauma in our lives.
We must embrace life transitions and create space to allow ourselves to grow.
When we practice joy every day, we can live happier lives, no matter what has happened in our past.
We can heal our minds with our hearts.
Trauma happens to each of us
Trauma can occur from experiencing both catastrophic events and events that are considered more benign, like failing a test or a heartbreak. Our nervous system does not know the difference. The effects of trauma on the body feels exactly the same regardless of what occurred. Trauma is something that happened to us- it’s not us.
Transformation is important
Transformation is a vital stage of growth, and we have to become uncomfortable with the liminal space, the in-between of it, knowing there will always be the other side if we embrace it. For transformation to occur, we must fall forward rather than bounce back, desiring the certainty of becoming our old selves.
Our energy can be directed
We are responsible for our own emotions. We can choose how we want to feel in life every day. Science shows that 32-40% of our happiness is genetics, but the rest is up to us. When we practice choosing joy every day, we can live a happier life no matter what has happened in our past.
Healing starts with our heart
When we live our life from our hearts, everything makes sense. With as many as 60k thoughts a day, it can feel impossible to change them, like grabbing air. Yet, we can always feel our heartbeat, which can ground us in the present. When the heart and body are calm, it helps to regulate our emotions and start us on our healing journey.
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Susan Zinn (LPCC, LMHC, NCC) is The Heart Therapist. A licensed psychotherapist, behavioral researcher, certified trauma and eating disorder specialist, and the founder of Westside Counseling Center, Susan helps people heal from trauma and transform their lives through a practice centered on accessing the intelligence of their hearts.
She is a national speaker, bestselling author, media spokesperson, and the recipient of President Obama's Volunteer Service Award. Susan has been published in Forbes Magazine, Huffington Post, The New York Post, Science Times, Women's Health, Shape Magazine, L.A. Parent Magazine, Bustle, Everyday Health, The Today Show, and appeared on iHeartRadio, BBC talkRadio, and other media outlets.
As a Board Certified National Clinical Counselor and licensed psychotherapist in California and New York, Susan is passionate about working with teenagers and adults who want more out of life. She received her Master of Arts in Mental Health and Wellness Counseling from New York University. Her graduate research was at the forefront of groundbreaking science in wellness, exploring what drives us towards post-traumatic growth. She completed her post-graduate training at the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy Trauma Studies Center, in addition to a two-year training program in integrative trauma studies. As a mental health advocate, Susan volunteered as an emergency room sexual assault advocate at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City, trained in women's health at Planned Parenthood, and supported economically disadvantaged individuals developing crucial life skills at Venice Family Clinic in Los Angeles. Susan has always been a champion of teens in foster-care and currently volunteers with the Casa Therapy Program.
In addition to her clinical practice, Susan has extensive experience serving as a behavioral researcher and consultant for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, Viacom, the Government of South Africa, Nike, MTV, HBO, Coca-Cola, and other Fortune 500 companies. She regularly speaks to various academic, healthcare, government, and business audiences on an array of mental health topics. Susan's most important job is being a mom to her two teenagers, Charley and Jackson, and her three dogs.
For more information about Susan, you can find her on Instagram @SusanZinnTherapy or www.susanzinntherapy.com.