Monthly Archives: December 2016

Starting Point’s 39th Anniversary

In case you missed the fun, here is what you missed.




For more pictures Click here

Benefits of Giving the Gift of Time

By Anna Marie Hrivnak, M.Ed.

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During the holiday season we find ourselves trying to find the perfect gift.  Research proves giving the gift of ‘our time’ to another, however, can in fact be mutually beneficial.  The idea of ‘giving our time’ might seem impossible.  Feelings of time-constraint or “time famine” in our daily lives is quite prevalent. However, a recent paper published in Psychological Sciencereported that taking the time to help others can increase feelings of “time affluence” and can actually alleviate our perceived “time famine.” Taking the time to do something for someone else seems to expand the future for the person giving of their time.


Likewise, a study in the journal BMC Public Health documented that there were impressive beneficial effects of volunteering on a person’s physical, mental and overall health. In a study conducted at the University of Buffalo, it was found that people who give of their time to others were able to “buffer” many of the negative effects of everyday stress.  The study also looked into the existing research in regards to social isolation and stress with morbidity and concluded that these effects are, in fact, counteracted when we give time in helping others.


In a study published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology researchers looked into the effects that giving of our time had on our physiology and on our longevity.  The study’s findings showed that those who gave of their time had lower blood pressure and arterial pressure.  It also found that individuals who gave of their time reported a greater sense of self-esteem and self-efficacy.  These individuals were also less likely to be depressed.  These were all positive signs for a healthy heart and cardiovascular health.


Giving of our time to others does indeed benefit the giver and receiver.  The ‘giver of time’ will experience reduced stress, help combat depression, lower their blood pressure and have an overall longer life expectancy.  So, this holiday season consider giving one of the most precious of gifts–your time.


Divining the Body: Reclaim the Holiness of Your Physical Self

Excerpts from Divining the Body: Reclaim the Holiness of Your Physical Self by Jan Phillips, “Let’s Hear It For The Ears”

By Marie B Olwell, M.Ed., D. Min.


“The body is held together by sound–the presence of disease indicates that some sounds have gone out of tune.” – Deepak Chopra


“Song is the intelligence of the universe.”  – Yaqui Indian saying.


From the book:

  • “Painful emotions that get locked in our body as a result of trauma can be released in many cases by certain sounds that bring them back to their original resonance.”
  • “The NASA recordings of the sounds of the planets, which you can hear on line, demonstrate the awesomely beautiful ‘songs’ of our solar system.”
  • “It has been proven that cows serenaded with Mozart give more milk, that plants grow best in the early morning when birds are singing, that playing Baroque music to Asian immigrants enhances their ability to learn English.”
  • “When we ask someone to be our sounding board, we are asking to be heard, knowing that in that process we will come to a greater clarity about what we believe. When we feel heard, we feel healed. “
  • “Listening is a sacramental act. It is an outward sign of love that brings grace and light to the moment of sharing. Alfred Tomatis was a French physician who discovered that Gregorian chants have therapeutic potential and the capacity to charge the central nervous system and the cortex of the brain.”
  • “When we’re out of balance, what happens inside and around us is dissonance and discord. The beautiful melody we are meant to be becomes the scrape of fingernails on a chalkboard. Our bodies know what they need, and if we need to calm down, we don’t go for hip hop.”


Marie B. Olwell, M.Ed., D. Min.


Gabrielle Newman-Freemen, L.C.S.W.

Gabrielle Newman-Freemen, L.C.S.W.

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My name is Gabriele Newman-Freeman, and I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. I have been in the field for over 20 years and have worked in various capacities from case manager to supervisor.  During the past six years, I have been a psychotherapist/independent contractor for V. Margaret Newman Therapeutic Services, LLC, located here at The Starting Point. I work with individuals, couples and families and have a special interest in working with women and trauma. I also supervise clinicians at a local agency in Camden County and provide trauma-focused groups for women at a Women’s Shelter in West Philadelphia.


I identify as a bi-racial (African American/German) lesbian woman. My mother grew up in a small village in Germany and my father grew up in the rural south in the state of Alabama.  My parents met during WWII. My mother did not speak or understand English nor did my Father speak or understand German, but they fashioned their own style of communicating with each other during their 30 years of marriage. I have three siblings—two brothers and one sister. We spent many summers in Germany with my German relatives, and we spoke German at home.


                I consider my greatest accomplishment to be when I met my wife, Dr. Valerie Newman-Freeman. Valerie and I met and worked together as colleagues in 1998 and began our shared personal journey in 1999. We committed to one another to be legally recognized in a Domestic Partnership in the state of New Jersey in 2004, “upgraded” to a Civil Union in 2009, and legally married in July 2013. We are blessed with great friends and three pets, two dogs and a cat: Isadora, Alex, and Sir Isaac.


My guilty pleasure is that I love to read and watch cheesy horror movies and am an avid exercise enthusiast. It keeps me sane!

Theresa Johnson, L.C.S.W., L.C.A.D.C.

Theresa Johnson, L.C.S.W., L.C.A.D.C.

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I am Theresa Johnson and have been a social worker since 1992. It was difficult raising two children while earning my social work degree, but I did it!  I began my career counseling caregivers of the elderly and disabled as well as the elderly themselves.  My ultimate goal was to practice psychotherapy, however, so I changed directions and worked at a partial care facility that served the severely and persistently mentally ill.  While there I attained my license in drug and alcohol counseling.  After six years in that setting I knew it was time to begin my dream of becoming a psychotherapist.  My first position in that area was at a counseling center in 2007.

I thought that was my final move until I came to The Starting Point and opened up a private practice here.  I’ve been here for over four years now. Working at The Starting Point is a wonderful way to have a private practice. I have autonomy yet am also surrounded by caring and knowledgeable colleagues.  And, of course, I also appreciate the courteous and supportive receptionists!

I believe to be successful it is important that the therapist also to have spent time in therapy themselves. I have seen both male and female therapists and have been in couples counseling at different times in my life. I am proud to say that I have attended many of Vince’s lectures and in the past have also participated in his women’s group.

I work with individuals, couples and families.  Through my education and personal experiences I have developed skills to work with clients suffering from trauma, low self-esteem, family crises, anxiety and mood disorders, and addiction.  I am a client-centered therapist whose goal is to facilitate people to meet their highest level of expectancy. Sometimes people choose to discuss spiritual aspects of their lives, which I wholeheartedly support.

I am in-network for most health insurance plans, including Medicare, but also accept private payment.