After a near-fatal boating accident, she went from the best shape of her life to the worst and back. Vicki Steine is now helping others improve their well-being and overcome their struggles. Today, you can read about her journey, her work, and her use of HeartMath techniques in an exclusive interview she’s done for MysticMag.
Can you please share a few details about yourself and your professional background with our readers?
I have a Doctorate in Holistic Nutrition and I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. I worked in Substance Abuse for the first fifteen years of my career and then left the field for a while. When I returned to school to get my Doctorate, my intention was to switch careers. However, the more I learned, the more I realized that combining nutrition with psychotherapy was the only way to do the work, I could not separate the two. I have had a private practice using an integrative model for about thirteen years.
I am married for 39 years and I have two cats, two boys, one daughter-in-law, and one granddaughter. One son is an Anesthesiologist, the other is a Veterinary Doctor and my daughter-in-law is an Occupational Therapist. I am equally proud of them all!
What did winning the Beach Blast Triathlon in your age group in 2011 mean for you?
On July 16, 2010, I was in Chicago on business. I was born in Chicago and went early to visit family before the work week. My cousin and his girlfriend, who is now his wife, took me out on a boat ride on Lake Michigan to watch the sunset. After hanging around on the lake for a while enjoying the summer evening, we headed back to our marina in the dark. My cousin moved too close to shore and we ran over a rock that tore a hole in the bottom of the boat and flung us into a breakwater wall at 25 mph. I had just moved to the captain’s chair at the front of the boat and hit the dashboard. It took the paramedics over an hour to find us. I was in ICU for 6 days, 2 weeks in inpatient rehab, and 18 months of outpatient rehab. I had suffered a broken neck; all my ribs were broken and both lungs collapsed. The doctors could not explain how I survived.
In October of 2011, my husband and I were planning a week’s vacation at the beach. He entered me in the Beach Blast Triathlon without asking me! It was exciting to win, but more importantly, it proved that I was truly healed from all my physical injuries.
What services do you offer?
I am in private practice and meet with kids and adults beginning at age 10. I treat anxiety, depression, ADHD, trauma, substance abuse, Tourette’s, and OCD. I also work with couples and families. I use a wide variety of therapies including talk therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, mindfulness, Emotional Freedom Technique, and Brainspotting.
I am also a speaker for PESI and travel around the country teaching other practitioners how to use an integrated model in their practices. I also do speaking engagements for clinics per request and have a mentoring program for practitioners who want to work with me one on one.
What are the principles of HeartMath?
HeartMath teaches that there should be coherence between the breath and one’s heart rate. Breath work incorporates slowing the heart and having both the breathing and the heart working together. Typically, when we teach deep breathing, we don’t incorporate the heart. According to The HeartMath Institute, our heart interprets information before our brain. Therefore, incorporating our heart rate with our breathing helps to slow the system down and engage the parasympathetic nervous system more fully.
What HeartMath techniques do you use in your work?
I teach basic HeartMath breathing. I also have biofeedback equipment from HeartMath that allows me to connect my clients to the computer so they can see how they are doing. There are videos that we can watch, while they are connected, that give the client feedback as to how skilled they are at breathing. I love this program; it really helps clients to focus on their breath and see exactly what coherent breathing feels like in their body. I will also challenge the client to think of something stressful and something calm so they can observe on the screen what they are feeling in their body. It also teaches them how to self-regulate.
Can you tell us what are, in your opinion, some small things that anyone can do to improve their mental health and overall well-being?
The small things are not always the easy things! I think people can work on a healthy diet, meaning eating more fruit, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean meat, and cutting back on all ultra processed foods. They need to get the right amount of sleep every night, exercise daily, and get outside! The research is clear that if people would do these things every day, they would feel more in control of their physical health and they could improve their mental health.
What’s your favorite part of your profession?
I love working with people. I love working with my clients in a collaborative way where I present possible tools that they can implement in their daily lives. I enjoy helping them feel more in control of their behavior, happier in their relationships, and more powerful in their daily lives.
I also enjoy teaching. I am fortunate to work for a company that sends me all over the country, so I get to see parts of this beautiful country I’ve never seen and often visit family and friends. Additionally, by teaching other practitioners how to use an integrative model, I am touching all of their clients as well, so I am helping more people find health, peace, and wellness than just the clients I see in my office from week to week.