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Empowerment, Healing, And Alternative Perspectives On Mental Health With Dr. Adriana Popescu

Dr. Adriana Popescu is a licensed clinical psychologist, addiction and trauma specialist, author, speaker, and empowerment coach based in the San Francisco Bay Area. With over 25 years of experience in the field of energy psychology, holistic mental health and addiction treatment, she brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and unique perspectives to her clients and the world.


She is well-known for her empowering approach, which utilizes the insights, teachings, and tools from a dazzling array of powerful healing and transformative modalities to address the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. Throughout her distinguished career, she has been a highly sought-after facilitator of intensive classes, retreats, and sessions in which clients have received massive change in all areas of life from work to relationships, health, creativity, spirituality, and so much more.


As a noted expert, writer, and speaker on the subjects of addiction, trauma, and holistic psychological approaches, she is a popular guest on many programs as well as the host of her own podcast, Kaleidoscope of Possibilities – Alternative Perspectives on Mental Health. On her show she interviews other experts, leaders, and visionaries in the fields of mental health, consciousness, recovery, healing, and more.


She is the co-author of several workbooks on recovery, addiction, and mental health and has a new groundbreaking book on empowerment that is currently in press.

Dr. Adriana Popescu, Psychologist and Empowerment Coach


As someone who is incredibly accomplished in your field, can you please tell us what inspired you on your journey?


My parents first inspired me. They survived wars, dictatorship, refugee camps, and persecution, eventually fleeing to the United States from Romania. They were tireless in their desire to provide me with more opportunities and a greater future. From a young age I was taught that whatever it is that you desire, you can have it if you’re willing to work for it. My parents always empowered me to advocate for myself. I was continuously standing up for myself and my friends, supporting people in having more power and choice, and challenging the status quo.


I was always interested in issues of personal empowerment, and as my career has evolved, I have found that this is a running theme. I work a lot with people with addictions and trauma, which is something that you supposedly have no power over, and for many people this creates a kind of victim consciousness.


What I have come realize is that underneath all the struggles, there is a fundamental lack of belief in one’s self; this idea that someone is broken, wrong, defective, or somehow not enough.


So what my work is oriented toward is empowering people to know that they know, and to realize that they have choice in how they see themselves. It’s also about recognizing that people can heal from traumas and things that have happened, change their core false beliefs, and recognize that they are different and that’s ok. Being different is not wrong; it’s something to be celebrated. We can choose to be whoever we would like to be. A person’s life can grow and expand exponentially when they stop believing lies about themselves and step into their own innate greatness.


When earlier in life I had a debilitating illness (Lyme Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and other co-occurring issues), I experienced a healing crisis or what some call a “dark night of the soul,” and a profound spiritual awakening emerged from that. I had doctors telling me that these were incurable conditions, and that I would always be dealing with these issues, which inspired me to look for something outside of the standard treatment box. Through all of this, I empowered myself and my body to get to the root of what was creating the illness and to heal from it. I am proud to say that I am now illness-free and more at peace than I have ever been.


I know my story is inspiring to others, and all of the amazing people I speak with on my podcast also have an incredible stories of personal challenges and how they used them as inspiration to not only transform their own lives, but to be a beacon of light, hope, and possibility for others.


What tools and techniques do you use in working with clients?


When I start to work with someone, we first get clear on what their goals and targets are, and then we look at what is getting in the way of achieving them. What is not allowing the client to have that health, happiness, confidence, relationship, body, money, or success that they would like to have?


When a person talks to me about what is getting in the way, I start tuning into the beliefs systems that they have. I have a unique capacity for “lasering” in on what limiting beliefs they are functioning from. Once we get the awareness of the beliefs, then we can question, challenge, and reframe those distorted ways of thinking.


For more emotionally charged or traumatic thinking, I often bring in the tools of Access Consciousness® and energy psychology to get to the root of these limiting points of view and actually shift the energy around them. What I find to be so much more powerful, beyond traditional talk and cognitive behavioral therapy, is to examine the energy behind these beliefs, identify where it is coming from, and find how can we transform it so that it is no longer creating this blockage to people’s well-being.


What is your greatest career achievement?


Beyond getting my doctorate, which is a huge accomplishment in and of itself, the greatest achievement for me is the thousands upon thousands of lives that have changed as a result of working with me. And it’s not just the lives of the clients that I have treated directly through classes or individual, group, couples, or family therapy; the effect of this work is such that the countless other people with whom they interact also change.


It’s not so much about me personally, but rather what did I catalyze for them? Ultimately we are all responsible for our own selves, our own wellbeing, our own happiness or lack thereof. I really see my job as a being like a midwife, helping people birth into more of themselves. I am a catalyst for change.


What I have are questions and tools that empower people to get in touch with their own knowing, and create those changes for themselves. My target with my work is to empower people around the world to know that they are not as f***ed up as they think they are, to know that judgment is the greatest source of human suffering, and to be willing to challenge the judgments that they hold about themselves and others. I would like to see more happy people on this planet, with more kindness and caring, and less fighting, judging, polarity, and hatred. Ultimately I would like to live in more harmonious, peaceful place.


What is required now to empower ourselves and the world?


There is an apathy and complacency in the world these days. We have to get people to recognize that their voices, their choices, and their willingness to change really matters, now more than ever. Scientific data (I highly recommend checking out IONS, The Institute of Noetic Sciences), especially from quantum physics, supports the idea that we are actually all connected and that when we make our own internal shifts, it impacts everyone around us and the whole planet.


We have to see that we are not separate, and if you change yourself, it will have a ripple effect in the world.


With more people doing this, we can actually create massive and much-needed change on this planet. It is absolutely possible, scientific and measurable, but we haven’t yet fully harnessed this capacity to really create the change.


Who has been an inspiration for you?


First and foremost, I would say my parents, who were such tenacious and persistent people. They didn’t have easy lives and they kept going even through all kinds of struggle. This really inspired me, especially during my battle with Lyme Disease, to not give up and to keep searching for solutions.


In terms of mentors, Dr. Dain Heer and Gary Douglas, who are the co-creators of Access Consciousness®, I find to be super empowering. They really facilitated me to be greater and to step into my potency and capacity for creating change on a larger scale.


In the energy psychology and holistic medicine world, I love the work of Dr. Larry Nims, Dr. Dawson Church, Dr. Scott Walker, and so many others who have come before me and contributed to my training, growth, and evolution as a therapist and as a human being.


I know that I am now stepping into a position of leadership in my career and in this field. My generation is very conscious about the earth and what is needed for future generations, looking at things from the perspective of the “kingdom of we” vs. the “kingdom of me” and creating greater for all, including supporting a sustainable living earth.


What are some steps and choices we can make each day to get closer to these targets?


First and foremost, it begins with yourself, and taking care of yourself. Although it may seem counterintuitive, it really is a contribution to everyone to take care of your body and your mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. You can start with giving yourself the gift of 20 minutes a day to move your body or 20 minutes a day to meditate, take a nap, or listen to music. It’s about finding something that you find pleasurable and fun for you that feeds your body, mind, and spirit.


Another step is to find and spend time with people who don’t judge you and accept you for who you are. This is really powerful; to have relationships in which there is nonjudgment, acceptance, kindness, and caring. Having a little furry one in your life, like my cat Wookie, can be pretty miraculous and magical as well. Pets can be a wonderful contribution to our lives.


It all starts with caring for you and then moves to acts of kindness in the world, acts of consciousness and acts of generosity. For example, what does it hurt to tip the waiter or waitress who works their tail off an extra couple of bucks? Little things like tipping, basic courtesy, and caring about others can make a big difference. Being calm and not cutting people off in traffic is another example of this.


When you are focused on doing good, you start to feel good. It creates a greater world for all. And let’s not wait until disaster strikes to step into being and doing more. What would it be like if we could be aware and conscious more of the time? What would it be like if we showed up in all of our greatness every day, for ourselves and for others?


What brings you the greatest joy?


The greatest joy for me is empowering people to know that they are not as messed up as they think they are. Everything here in this world, from our earliest days, is about telling us how we are wrong or not good enough. What if that’s not true? What if we don’t have to judge ourselves?


If you have read any of my articles or listened to my videos, podcast, recordings, or seminars you know that one thing I talk about frequently is that judgment, making ourselves and others wrong or bad, is the greatest form of human suffering. I see this with my clients all of the time. They have grown up this way, and it is all around us, all the time, so much so that we actually have come to see this as normal. The target of all of my work is to get people to see a different possibility. What if there is something easier, kinder, and way more fun?


How do your clients respond to this message?


When people first hear about this – that they are not wrong and they don’t have to judge themselves – they usually experience an immense sense of relief and peace. Working on eliminating the self-judgment, the wrongness and that sense that they are “messed up” usually frees a lot of creative energy.


The vast majority of people in the world put a lot of energy into judgment, either judging or avoiding being judged, or defending the judgments of others or themselves. It’s exhausting! So I work with people to get them out of this box of judgments in all areas of life and into a sense of freedom, peace, and ease.


What are some of the projects you are working on, and what information you are wanting to share with the world?


I have been inspired by my own journey, my struggles and suffering. From these profound experiences, I began seeking and I was continually looking for something greater, something that would make my life work. I knew that when I was dealing with chronic pain and illness that there had to be a different and better way of handling this. No one in any “traditional” realm of Western medicine and treatment could give me any hope or sense that I could really change this so I began looking for alternatives in the world of holistic healing. What I discovered is that there are powerful and profound ways to nurture, heal, and transform the body and mind.


When I began this seeking over 25 years ago, it was considered “woo-woo” or somewhat “fringe” even for San Francisco, and now it is so amazing see this information and awareness becoming mainstream. I was even asked to write a paper on my work at a rehabilitation center in Northern California and our use of energy psychology tools in the treatment of drug and alcohol addictions. More and more mainstream scientific data is now supporting the efficacy of these approaches that were once seen as alternative treatments.


One of the most exciting things about creating my podcast, Kaleidoscope of Possibilities: Alternative Perspectives on Mental Health, is that it really has been a huge contribution to me, the guests, and the audience. On the show, I get to speak with some of the most amazing luminaries, visionaries and absolutely brilliant people who have been on a similar journey and have the same goals of helping people heal and creating a greater world. It has been super fun for me to create this show and talk with these people I so admire and respect. They are truly amazing healers, futurists, and thought leaders.


This show is really designed to empower people to view mental illness though different lenses and perspectives – cross-cultural, holistic, and spiritual – and I find that this is something that is really exciting for me to share. It is on YouTube as well as all of the usual audio platforms.


I am also very excited to be getting my own wealth of knowledge and perspectives out to the world with my forthcoming book. It is all about everything we have been talking about here; how people come to believe lies about themselves, and what they can do to change them. It is a very practical book, with concrete, specific tools that you can go through in workbook-style exercises. You can actually use the book to identify the core false beliefs and judgments that you might be carrying and apply some really effective, pragmatic tools to change them.


Another project in the works (officially launching July 4th, 2022) is the inauguration of a trauma healing center, Firebird Healing, which is something that is so needed in the world right now. This creation was inspired by my work at the drug and alcohol rehab, where we begin addressing the issues of trauma but often don’t have the time, resources, and space to work through them in depth. Firebird will offer both longer-term therapy for a variety of trauma-related issues, as well as a wide assortment of online and eventually in-person trauma educational and healing workshops. In the future, Firebird will also offer healing retreats, in beautiful places in nature all around the world, where people can go and take a deep dive into the healing process using these amazingly powerful tools that have transformed the lives of so many others and myself.


And really, the main thing I am most excited about is getting my message out there: What if you are not as messed up as you think you are? What if you can change the way that you are seeing yourself and the world? What if you can transform yourself to become the leader of your own life?


What is different about you and your work?


I am not trying to fit people into boxes. The traditional western psychiatric paradigm has us looking for labels and diagnoses that try to fit multidimensional people into two-dimensional boxes, which is not necessarily helpful. I am about looking at people’s differences, including what may be labeled a mental health diagnosis and exploring what’s “right” about it; e.g., What is the strength in that? How can your difference actually be a gift and a capacity that you perhaps have not yet tapped into, and that you haven’t learned to use for you rather than against you?


For example, a lot of people who are empaths or highly sensitive people are told that they are too sensitive, and that there is something wrong with them. What if instead of being “too sensitive” you are just highly psychic and aware? What if you could actually use this awareness in a way that enhances your life?


For example, in my work it’s really helpful to have a deeper awareness of what people are thinking and feeling, but not to take it on and into my body, as I did earlier in my career, feeling their pain and suffering as if it is my own. By recognizing I’m just aware of their “stuff,” I’m able to be present and supportive without getting bogged down by their heaviness, which keeps me from getting compassion fatigue or burnout, something with which many therapists and healers struggle.


Who are the clients with whom you enjoy working?


I really enjoy the seekers of the world, the people who have been on a path and maybe don’t even recognize they are on a path; whose lives are a journey of discovery and self-exploration. I see a lot of people who have tried some of the more traditional approaches to mental health and healing and have not gotten the results they wanted. I work with many people who want to feel better about themselves, who desire a more fulfilling life. Finally, I love working with those who are interested in change, not only for themselves, but for the world.


I would like the readers to know that if there is something in your life that is not working for you, you have the ability to change it. Everything is energy; your thoughts, your feelings, your physical sensations are all some form of energy. Energy is always in motion. It is malleable, it is changeable, and when we utilize tools and techniques to manipulate and change it, we truly can create a life of infinite possibilities.


To find out more about Dr. Popescu and her many creations, please visit her website, tune in to her podcast, follow her on social media Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Tiktok.

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