Mental Health

4 Benefits of Working Through the Pain of Your Past – Ep. 125

So what’s the deal with the importance of working through a past full of trauma, pain, and events we’d probably rather just forget about? Is there a point to working through all of those memories and revisiting situations that we’ve buried in the bottom of our minds for years, perhaps decades?

The short answer, but not the most comfortable answer, is… absolutely.

This podcast focuses on inspiring you to break free from the chains of your past and move forward to experience the world of healing, possibilities, and opportunity that comes with working through past trauma. We wanted to spend some time with you today explaining why this is so important. There are many who feel like they don’t want to let the past go and others that believe they just can’t do it even if they did want too. Sometimes we find comfort in holding onto the past because its familiar or we believe that by holding and constantly reminding ourselves of the past pain, we can protect ourselves from future pain so we keep all those memories alive. We come up with countless reasons to justify we doing this is so important; things like “the past is a part of me”, “this is just who I am” and “I don’t know who I’d be if I let that go.”

We understand these statements and emotions because both of us, Matt and Joanne, have lived in that mindset for a long time. But, we also understand the amazing benefits of moving beyond that type of mindset — which is why we do this podcast – in hopes that people will find the encouragement and motivation to move beyond their past so they can reap the benefits of doing so.

It can be challenging to know the benefits of something if you have not experienced them yourself. So, today, we wanted to share with you some of those benefits that you can experience when you dedicate yourself to your own journey of healing. Remember, everyone heals in their own way and it doesn’t matter how long it takes you, all that matters is that consider the possibility of how much more fulfilling and enjoyable life can be when you make your healing a priority.

In addition to 4 primary benefits of healing, we also cover some of the reasons why it’s so difficult to even attempt to begin healing past trauma in the first place; including reasons why we focus on the past, why it’s hard to let go, and why we tend to focus on the negatives aspects of our life.

I hope you’ll check out this episode and please consider subscribing on your favorite podcasting app and sharing it with one person who might benefit.

We also appreciate feedback too, so reach out anytime and tell us how we’re doing!


Matthew Pappas, CLC, MPNLP & Joanne Cipressi, CHt, CNLP


Mental Health Megacast – 3 Guys Talking about Advocacy and Recovery. – Ep. 110

Welcome back to the Mental Health Megacast, a semi-regular round table discussion with 3 mental health advocates, podcasters, and survivors of circumstances we’d rather forget, who are trying to find our way through life and make a difference.

Officially, this is Season 2, Ep. 4 – but our numbering system isn’t an exact science since this is actually episode 110 of my podcast, while it’s also something different for Wes and Mike’s shows. Anyways…we’re just stoked for each opportunity to come together for an hour and chat about what’s been going on in our lives; the struggles, the challenges, the wins and progress, and everything in between.

Anyways, just in case you aren’t familiar with the Megacasts, you can check out past episodes here, and also my cohorts platforms as well….

To that end, the Megacast is creation of the collaborative brain powers (more or less) of Wes from and Mike from, and myself.  I encourage you to check out and follow them online and through your favorite podcasting platform. Each of these has a tremendous message to share and an inspiring and unique way in how they go about it.

In this episode, Mikes Open Journal - Mental Health Megacastafter the usual cheers because we all got signed on at the same time (yes that’s a thing we do and celebrate it because the struggle is real with us 3 and time) we begin the focus of this Megacast episode:


  • How things have changed for each of us over the last year, and how our lives have changed in terms of sharing our story and our advocacy work from the time we started, till now.
  • Witnessing the evolution in each of our lives as we have changed over the last couple of years since we began this podcast collaboration.
  • How the awareness of mental health has changed over the years, the availability of resources and help in the US and UK, and the ongoing struggle to speak up and ask for help.
  • Struggles with anxiety and depression, and realizing that finding tools to help combat the those feelings is not a “one size fits all” approach; not everything works for every person, and if a particular skill does not work for you, it doesn’t mean anything other than we just find a skill or skills that do work for us. We also share some of the skills that we all use in working through anxiety.
  • Living life in the moment, and using mindfulness and perspective to help in recovery.
  • and much more!

We hope you enjoy this latest episode, and yes if you do have suggestions for future shows, we are still taking them. 😉 One of the best things about these episodes is that that they are completely unedited, unscripted, just us hanging out and having a chat, and you are invited.

Be sure and follow Wes on Twitter @WesA1966 and Mike @Mike_Douglas_ & Open_Journal_  …oh and don’t forget to follow and subscribe to all of our shows on your favorite podcasting app!

-Matt Pappas, CLC, MPNLP









All conversation and information exchanged during participation the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on, and is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing on these podcasts or posted on the above mentioned websites are supplements for or supersedes the relationship and direction of your medical or mental health providers.

Balancing Vulnerability with Mental Health and LGBTQ+ Advocacy, with Lee Thomas – Ep. 103

It’s no secret that one of the keys to life, is balance. Lean too much towards work, and we can lose focus on our personal life and risk burn out. Lean too far towards the personal side, and we can end up losing sight of the career dreams and things we want to accomplish. When you toss Mental Health into the equation, it adds a whole new dimension to this struggle.

Not only do you have to juggle your personal and professional life, what ever that looks like for you individually, now you have any number of mental health challenges that bring about their own daily influx of struggles. Talk about the need for balance, right!

lee-thomas - podcast - beyond your pastAs a mental health and LGBTQ+ advocate, and current MSW student, Lee Thomas shares her thoughts on this topic and several others during this episode of the podcast.

I first met Lee when I came across her weekly Facebook Live show, Crazy Talk, after the HealtheVoices 2018 Conference. Lee regularly interviews advocates, clinicians, professional, survivors and others all around the topic of mental health and advocacy. I was honored to be on Crazy Talk earlier this year (you can find that episode by clicking here) and now I’m pleased to have Lee join me on Beyond Your Past.

Lee was born and raised in a small town in northern Alberta. From a young age they were heavily involved in athletics, student government, and other extracurriculars. However, during their teen years they began battling a mental illness. Feeling scared and alone, Lee struggled silently for many years. Their illness worsened throughout their high school years and continued into university, until Lee finally sought help and began the difficult process of recovery.

After Lee began the recovery process, they realized that there were still many people struggling with mental health issues in silence. To reduce the stigma around mental health issues on their campus, Lee founded the #MyDefinition poster campaign in 2014. Since then, Lee has been working as a motivational speaker and mental health trainer, speaking to groups of all ages and sizes about their own mental health experiences, the important of reducing stigma, and LGBTQ+ issues.

While continuing her graduate education in the field of social work, she continues to serve as a speaker, trainer, and writer in the mental health field; her work has been featured on The Mighty, TEDx, CBC News, and more.

During our chat on the podcast, we cover some of the struggles and triumphs in her life so far as well as her future work as social worker serving the LGBTQ+ community and others who know what it means to struggle with a mental illness such as depression, eating disorders, bipolar, and more:

  • Her struggle with depression, eating disorders, and self-harm in her teen-age years.
    • The realization that she had been suffering in silence for so long, and then learning what a mental illness means for her.
    • The limited information available about mental health when she was younger, and what she re-learned later.
  • Starting the #MyDefinition poster campaign and how that lead to acquiring speaking engagements and sharing her story at conferences and workshops.
  • The 3 keys of validation she needed to get started in her career:  Passion, Knowledge, and Something She was Good at.
  • What vulnerability looks like for each of us
  • Staying busy and the risk of doing so to avoid confronting and working through tough memories and emotions.
    • How staying busy reinforces the mindset of “uncopewithable” situations, and how this can set back healing.

Lee shares her thoughts on these topics and more during our chat, so I hope you’ll check out the podcast to hear more of her story, and don’t forget to subscribe and share it with someone who might benefit from Lee’s message. You never know the difference it might make.

Be sure and follow Lee on , and her website

Matthew Pappas, CLC, MPNLP

free one hour coaching sessions - beyond your past








All conversation and information exchanged during participation on the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on, and is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing on these podcasts or posted on the above mentioned websites are supplements for or supersedes the relationship and direction of your medical or mental health providers.


Stigma Free Zone, A Community Initiative for Breaking Down Barriers of Mental Health – Ep. 101

Whether you are an advocate, mental health professional, a family member or friend of someone who struggles with a mental health challenge, or you yourself live with your own struggles, we can all agree that raising awareness and doing our part to help erase the stigma of mental health is needed now more than ever.

We can all do our own part, using our talents, gifts, and hard work to help make a difference in our local communities. After all, this is where we live, work, and socialize; it’s where we spend so much of our time each day. So why not do what we can to make our little corner of the world a place where people can feel empowered to ask for help when they need it, and to not feel ashamed or alone.

This is exactly what Cynthia Chazen is doing, with “The Stigma Free Zone”, in her local community of Bergen County, New Jersey.

The Stigma Free Zone, started by founder, Mary Ann Uzzi, in Paramus New Jersey, has a mission of inspiring public interest and open dialogues about stigma, raising awareness of the local mental health resources available, and breaking down barriers of mental health in local communities.

Cynthia and I first met at the HealtheVoices Conference in 2018; she is an enthusiastic advocate who believes everyone can educate about mental health. She is the editor of the Stigma Free Zone News of New Jersey, and has a huge following on Twitter where she shares both local and global news about mental illness.  You can subscribe to her newsletter by checking out her Facebook Page, SFZNewsofNJ.

During our chat on this episode of the Beyond Your Past Podcast, we talk more about The Stigma Free Zone initiative, including:

  • How the Stigma Free Zone movement started in New Jersey, and is spreading across the country.
  • How you can get involved and create your own chapter in your local community. Get the toolkit here.
  • You don’t need to be a mental health professional or have a degree, to make a difference.
  • How mental health education is the area for grassroots organizing.
  • Giving people permission to talk about their own mental health struggles.
  • Some of Cynthia’s story of the challenges she faced in her life that inspired her to take action for others.

Be sure and follow Cynthia Chazen on Twitter and check out the Facebook Pages for the Stigma Free Zone for more information on how you can get involved where you live.

If you’d like to be a guest on a future episode of the podcast, you can contact me anytime. Don’t forget to share this episode with someone who might need it; together we can all continue to make a difference.

-Matthew Pappas, CLC, MPNLP

free one hour coaching sessions - beyond your past







All conversation and information exchanged during participation on the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on, and is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing on these podcasts or posted on the above mentioned websites are supplements for or supersedes the relationship and direction of your medical or mental health providers.


Podcast – Ep. 100 – Looking Back and Moving Forward

Something I learned a long time ago, from both a therapist, and later from a coach, and to be honest more than a few others, is to celebrate the wins, no matter how small they may seem. It’s something I encourage clients to do, talk about on the podcast often, and reference in blog posts. It’s a regular reminder on the daily recovery support calls, it’s something that I have written down right on a post it note on the wall, right behind this monitor.

So when I talked to a friend about a week ago, and was sharing just in passing that I was coming up on episode 100 of the Beyond Your Past Podcast, she said to me, so how are you going to celebrate that?

Uummmm, what? I replied?

“How are you going to celebrate this win, acknowledge this milestone…it’s a big deal”, she said.

I thought about it for a minute and said, well it’s funny but this episode kind of snuck up on me, landing at 100; and so I hadn’t really thought of doing something special initially. Of course it was then that I got a taste of my own medicine; a reminder that if I’m going to encourage someone to do something good for their journey, I should remember to do it more often too.

So…here we are at episode 100 of the podcast and I figured it might be a good idea to take a brief break from the normal routine and just talk with you for a while about what’s been happening over the last year including some events over the last 12 months that have changed my life in ways I would have never even thought could happen.

As I tossed around some ideas on what to do, I had a brainstorm of making a compilation of highlights from a select number of episodes over the last year. However the more I thought about it, trying to decide which episodes to choose and which sections to use, it became a daunting task that I would never have been able to finish in time for my regular schedule. Plus, each and every guest, and their episodes are equally important and have their own special message, so trying to decide who would make the cut just didn’t seem like something I would be ok with doing.

So I figured, hey, I haven’t done one of those, “talk to you guys” episodes in quite a while, and now just might be a good time to do one again.

I’m happy to do just that on this milestone show, number 100…and I’m thankful that you’ve decided (or at least are considering) giving it a listen. And heck, maybe even share it with someone who might find it interesting as well. *I know, living on the wild side, right!*

During this episode, we’ll chat about:

  • What is Surviving My Past, how and why did I create it and how does the podcast fit in. For that matter, how did Beyond Your Past form anyway.
  • A look back at earlier episode topics and how the podcast has evolved from earlier show designs and topics, to current episodes.
  • The last 12 months of events, both positive and challenging that found me facing:
    • Death of my dad
    • The marriage of my daughter
    • Birthdays and Holidays
    • A rare illness that sent me to the hospital and a subsequent ongoing recovery.
    • Continued education and finishing several new certification programs
    • Leaving corporate America after 17 years and striking out on my own, full-time.
    • New opportunities that have developed and a partnership with a friend and mentor, and now colleague.
    • and more.

Thank you again to each and every one of you who listens each week and shares the podcast episodes; together we are reaching survivors, practitioners, and advocates all over the world with the message of hope, validation, and inspiration.

Remember…celebrate those wins, every single one of them and don’t minimize the progress you’ve made so far and the path you are on that will continue to help you live your life, no longer defined by your past.

Here’s to the next 100 episodes…

Matthew Pappas, CLC, MPNLP

free one hour coaching sessions - beyond your past







All conversation and information exchanged during participation on the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on, and is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing on these podcasts or posted on the above mentioned websites are supplements for or supersedes the relationship and direction of your medical or mental health providers.






Podcast – Ep. 89 – Men’s Mental Health, #MeToo, and Overcoming Shame, with Andrea Schneider LCSW

For all of the progress that has been made in recent years in the area of men’s mental health, it’s still a subject that can yield a variety of responses based on not only who you talk too, but also the current social media and political climate as well.

I can remember back when I was I was in school, (and no the 1980’s weren’t all THAT long ago) the subject of mental health in general was not something you heard much about, and even less in the area of men’s mental health. We didn’t have bullying prevention rally’s in school, sex education was a 1 semester class in your senior year, and intro to psychology was class you took to study the reactions of other classmates when you asked them certain types of questions.

Nowadays, mental health is all over social media, commercials on TV and radio, there are podcasts devoted to all aspects of it *hint hint*, incredible advocacy groups who share knowledge and help inspire change,  and overall the exposure that this previously ignored and taboo topic is getting is encouraging.

So why is it then, that for all of the positive movement, there are still so many that feel ashamed to talk about it with a doctor or therapist, much less discuss it around the campfire or weekend cookout?

My point is, to reiterate that while we have come a long way, there is still so much work to be done. So much stigma and shame to expose in the area of men’s mental health.  I feel it’s important to mention that I am by no means minimizing the important of mental health in women, but for the purposes of this podcast with Andrea Schneider, we’ll focus more on the male challenges.

Andrea Schneider, MSW, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in San Dimas, CA. She received her MSW from University of Michigan (the top ranked social work program in the country) and her B.A. in Psychology from UCLA (#2 in the country). 

During her 20+ year career, Andrea has counseled thousands of individuals and families covering a broad range of issues and challenges, developing specialties in maternal wellness, narcissistic abuse recovery, special needs parenting, and  grief/loss.  Andrea is EMDR trained, a modality which helps clients dealing with a wide range of concerns in trauma recovery, including PTSD, complex-PTSD, relational trauma, depression, anxiety, grief and loss.

She also has experience in helping children and families deal with loss and trauma issues. Not only is she trained in EMDR, but during her Master’s program, Andrea interned at a hospice agency and trained under an art/play therapy program. She uses art intervention in her treatment with both children and adults, and has a Trauma-Informed Expressive Arts Therapy Credential from the Trauma-Informed Practices and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute. 

Andrea is also a fellow podcaster on the Mental Health News Radio Network, where you can find her show, The Savvy Shrink.

During our chat on the Beyond Your Past Podcast, we discuss some areas surrounding men’s mental health including:

  • The man card, and tough guy image that follows males regardless of background
  • Building the trauma language, emotional language, and confidence in opening up to others
  • How men are getting more confident in reaching out, yet still feel ashamed and self-conscious
  • How much political climate and social media affect our confidence in talking about mental health, and how much we share.
  • Bullying and mental health, and the changes from decades ago and now in 2018.
  • Men and the #MeToo movement, including the feelings of alienation that are present even with all of the exposure.

Andrea Schneider and I dive more into each of those topics and hopefully shed some light on not only men’s mental health, but the importance of reaching out for help regardless of gender. Everyone deserves to be heard, validated, and appreciated for who they are and what they’ve been through.

Please be sure and check out , and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.

If you haven’t done so, please consider subscribing to Beyond Your Past on your favorite podcasting app and sharing it on social media!

-Matthew Pappas, CLC, CPNLP








All conversation and information exchanged during participation on the Beyond Your Past Podcast, on, and is intended for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing on these podcasts or posted on the above mentioned websites are supplements for or supersedes the relationship and direction of your medical or mental health providers.