Finding a Therapist For You!

by Brian Moynihan Thursday, April 24, 2014

Choosing a therapist can be daunting. There is no one-size-fits-all answer.  You are likely already searching the web for ideas and recommendations.  Many therapists have websites, business pages, and other online resources where you can learn basic information about their experience, skills, and approach to therapy.  You may also have sought recommendations from family and friends, your family doctor, clergy, or others whose opinion you trust, and perhaps you have developed a list of therapists to consider.  How then do you take the next step to determine which therapist is your best choice?

Many factors may influence your decision and experience in therapy including the therapist's theoretical orientation/approach; education and training; experience, or lack of, with your particular issues; as well as factors such as therapist age and gender; and practicalities such as location and insurances accepted.  Ultimately most important is whether:

  • the therapist and their approach is the right fit for you and the issues you hope to address;
  • your ability to establish a collaborative, trusting relationship with a particular therapist, and
  • whether you and your therapist share an understanding of how change happens in your life and the role therapy will play in that process. 

How then do you evaluate this goodness of fit with a therapist?  You may already have a sense of this from your initial information gathering – does this therapist sound like someone I'd be comfortable opening up to?  Do their ideas seem to fit my own experiences and beliefs? 

Your next step, to contact a prospective therapist, is the most daunting and anxiety provoking for many of us, yet this is just another step in the information gathering process.  Tell the therapist in a voice mail or email, or in person if you reach them the first time, that you are looking for a therapist and how you found them, either by a personal referral or on HelpPRO or another therapist finder, and that you would like to speak to them or possibly have a brief meeting to learn more about their approach and whether there might be a fit. 

You may wish to “interview” several therapists by phone or via a free in office consultation or “meet and greet”.  Some therapists offer and welcome free consultations while others do not, but you should always feel free to ask. Even if the therapist you call does not offer a free consultation, you can likely get a sense of the therapists's personality and communication style in their response.  If the therapist has a receptionist who handles their calls or schedules appointments, see if you can arrange a time to speak with the therapist directly.

Stay tuned for part 2 next week for more about the interview process.

Brian Moynihan, LCPC, is a therapist working with teens and adults in Bangor, Maine.  For more information and resources, go to http://BrianMoynihanLCPC.weebly.com.

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Learning to Embrace Your Anxiety

by Gillian Bush Psy.D. Sunday, April 6, 2014

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

All too often, we react to our own anxiety as if it were a parasite - something dangerous, something unwanted and definitely something that we want to avoid. However, evolutionarily speaking, anxiety is a healthy, adaptive and important emotion. Anxiety developed out of our species’ need to anticipate dangers in the environment to ensure our survival. If we keep in mind why anxiety exists and alter how we look at our own experience of anxiety, we can transform it from a dangerous and avoided emotion to one that we can embrace and accept in our lives.

Many people interpret their anxiety as if it were a red traffic light. When you notice strong feelings of anxiety, you slam on the breaks and immediately stop traveling in the direction you were traveling in. Sometimes, you even throw your car into reverse and retreat in the opposite direction. However, anxiety is truly the body’s built-in yellow traffic light. The emotional feeling of anxiety and the physical reactions that accompany it are your body’s way of saying “proceed with caution” or “look both ways before continuing.” Yellow stop lights exist to warn of potential dangers and to encourage attention, not to signal imminent threat or to tell you to go in a different direction.

Try to view your anxiety as this yellow light - your body’s way of telling you to pay a little more attention than usual. We tend to feel anxious in situations that matter - when we are on an interview, meeting people, calling a new therapist or in an unfamiliar situation. Our anxiety can also serve as a reminder to ourselves that we care about what is about to happen and, when embraced, can help us be more productive or goal-oriented. It is our avoidance of anxiety and our tendency to shift course when we feel anxiety that leads to long-term problems. Change the way you look at your anxiety, and the way you look at the rest of your life may just change.

Gillian Bush, Psy.D. is a Florida Licensed Psychologist who specializes in the treatment of anxiety and eating disorders. Dr. Bush received her Masters degree from Teacher's College, Columbia University in New York, NY and received her Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She completed her pre-doctoral internship and post-doctoral residency at The Renfrew Center of Coconut Creek, a residential treatment facility for adult and adolescent women diagnosed with severe eating disorders. Currently, Dr. Bush is a private practitioner in Palm Beach Gardens and West Palm Beach, Florida. For more information about Gillian click on her HelpPRO listing and/or go to her website. 

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Are You Serious! I can be normal….? STRESS!

by Cheryl Johnson Wednesday, February 26, 2014

HelpPRO brings you the final in our Jan/Feb series of practical tips and suggestions from Cheryl Johnson, certified WRAP and NAMI instructor, to help people with mental health issues and all of us, cope with and rise above challenges. Cheryl suggests lifestyle choices we control.

Stress is one of the primary 'triggers' for people who deal with mental health issues.  If our lives were stress free we may not have the preponderance of mental health challenges we face.  Understanding and managing stress is key to managing mental health issues.

The Mayo Clinic has a great tool to help you understand and learn more about your stress triggers.   Normal, everyday stress may help motivate us to find a good job, support our families, eat healthy, and exercise.  However, everyday stress often builds up and turns into chronic stress which feeds mental health symptoms.  Make a list of the top 10 issues you face right now. 

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10. 

Circle the issues above that are external exasperations. Check those issues that are within your control.

Are any of your top 10 issues internal irritations?  Please list them below.

The good news is we have the ability to control our thoughts when we manage our mental health issues by caring for ourselves both physically and emotionally and taking medication (where appropriate). The bad news is our fears, attitudes and expectations have been our companions for a long time and it is not easy to change.

Here are some simple stress relievers to help you manage stress more effectively.

Yoga

Meditation

Music

Art

Sports/Exercise

Deep Breathing

Spending time with friends and loved ones

Hobbies

Learn more about stress relievers here and relax your way to positive mental and emotional health!

Cheryl Johnson is a certified NAMI and WRAP instructor and regularly teaches courses that provide families and individuals who face mental health challenges information to help them lead full and satisfying lives. To get more information on Cheryl’s work or programs you can be in touch with Cheryl at cherstinane@readwritetechnology.com.

Are You Serious! I can be normal? GO GREEN!

by Cheryl Johnson Wednesday, February 19, 2014

HelpPRO brings you this Jan/Feb series of practical tips and suggestions from Cheryl Johnson, certified WRAP and NAMI instructor, to help people with mental health issues and all of us for that matter, cope with and rise above challenges. Cheryl offers lifestyle choices we control that really make a difference.

Last week Cheryl suggested a smile to boost your mood.  This week …….. GO GREEN!

Studies show living close to green areas like parks and gardens is good for your mental health. Just having a green plant in your house or workplace can reduce stress.  Those with ADHD who get outside to exercise or work concentrate and focus better.

Going green may improve your mental health in ways that have long lasting effects on your life.  Simply surrounding yourself with green can reduce anxiety and stress, lessen depression and lead to more happiness overall.

Go green! Be happy! Feel Good! 

Cheryl Johnson is a certified NAMI and WRAP instructor and regularly teaches courses that provide families and individuals who face mental health challenges information to help them lead full and satisfying lives. To get more information on Cheryl’s work or programs you can be in touch with Cheryl at cherstinane@readwritetechnology.com.

 

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Mental Health | Mood | Mood Booster | Self-Awareness | Self-Care | Social Work | Stress | Therapy | Treatment Modalities

Are You Serious! I can be normal….? SMILE!

by Cheryl Johnson Thursday, February 13, 2014

HelpPRO brings you this Jan/Feb series of practical tips and suggestions from Cheryl Johnson, certified WRAP and NAMI instructor, to help people with mental health issues and all of us for that matter, cope with and rise above challenges. Cheryl offers lifestyle choices we control that really make a difference.

Last week Cheryl suggested a pet to boost your mood.  This week …….. a smile! Cool

Do you want to be happier - SMILE!  Smiling can truly change the way you feel. No need to  quote research or provide reasoning or justification. Just smile. Try it for yourself.

When you feel down - browse pictures you like, particularly ones that make you smile. Then smile. It may not last, but it may be the nudge you need to engage in a pleasant activity to improve your mood. 

When you are angry - smile. Then keep smiling. It is hard to be angry or frustrated with a smile on your face.   Fake it until you make it with a smile! 

When you feel tired and apathetic - smile. It may provide the gateway to pleasant dreams or induce a serene and tranquil state on days you may not have what it takes to get a lot done.

Smile ... It is contagious. Not only will smiling lift your spirits, it will lift the spirits of those around you.

Cheryl Johnson is a certified NAMI and WRAP instructor and regularly teaches courses that provide families and individuals who face mental health challenges information to help them lead full and satisfying lives. To get more information on Cheryl’s work or programs you can be in touch with Cheryl at cherstinane@readwritetechnology.com.

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Mental Health | Mood | Mood Booster | Pet Therapy | Self-Awareness | Self-Care | Social Work | Stress | Therapeutic Relationship | Therapy | Treatment Modalities

Are You Serious! I can be normal….? Pets Are a Mood Booster!

by Cheryl Johnson Wednesday, February 5, 2014

To help people with mental health issues and their families and all of us for that matter, cope with and rise above challenges, HelpPRO brings you this Jan/Feb series of practical tips and suggestions from Cheryl Johnson, certified WRAP (http://www.mentalhealthrecovery.com/wrap/) and NAMI (http://www.nami.org) instructor. Cheryl “connects the dots” between lifestyle choices we control and our ability to live a ‘normal’ life. Explore your options below and these next few weeks with the HelpPRO Blog and Cheryl.

Last week we talked about food affecting your mood. Remember Vitamin D? Plenty of sunshine can improve your mood.  Get outside, enjoy the sun and eat food rich in vitamin D in combination with K vitamins to improve your mood (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/12/16/vitamin-k2.aspx).

Vitamin D and a pet that likes to be outdoors is a sure recipe to boost your mood and lift your spirits.  We recommend owning a pet, however, only if you are stable and healthy enough. Pets require a lot of care.  Alternatively, you can walk or spend time with a friends’ pet. Are you ready for a pet?  http://www.americanhumane.org/animals/adoption-pet-care/are-you-ready.html      Keep in mind puppies and kittens are much more work than older dogs and cats.  There are many older pets in shelters that need homes.  These articles present considerations to help you decide to own a pet or not.  Owning a pet is a huge commitment. Your life as well as your pets’ is at stake. 

http://www.petfinder.com/pet-adoption/dog-adoption/puppies-vs-senior-dog-adoption/

http://savingcaesar.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/rebellious-rescue-or-pesky-puppy.html

http://www.cesarsway.com/tips/yournewdog/Before-You-Adopt

A fish tank is much lower maintenance option for a pet. Ever wonder why you see fish tanks in doctor’s offices?  Fish have a calming effect on mood, but even fish require food and attention.  http://www.mynycdoctor.com/aquarium-therapy-adhd/  http://aquariumdesignindia.com/residential-aquarium

One of the biggest benefits to my two puppies, Patty  and Selma is that one is a lap dog who likes to snugglewhile the other is active and a constant reminder to get up and out and enjoy the sunshine!  I work from home and sit in my office with Patty stretched out on my lap.  Selma on the other hand tugs on mysleeve or arm several times a day to remind me to get out and enjoy the sun.  I go out for 5-10 minutes,even in the bitter cold and rain to play ball with Selma who does not understand bad weather.Even when I am not in the mood to boost my mood – each animal is a mood booster -- either a calming spirit or motivation to get up and move and enjoy Mother Nature, whether I am in the mood or not!  Both provide that nudge I need to feel good. 

Cheryl Johnson is a certified NAMI and WRAP instructor and regularly teaches courses that provide families and individuals who face mental health challenges information to help them lead full and satisfying lives. To get more information on Cheryl’s work or programs you can be in touch with Cheryl at cherstinane@readwritetechnology.com.

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Mental Health | Mood | Mood Booster | Pet Therapy | Self-Awareness | Self-Care | Social Work | Stress | Therapeutic Relationship | Therapy | Treatment Modalities

Are You Serious! I can be normal….? Choose Your Food. Choose Your Mood!

by Cheryl Johnson Thursday, January 30, 2014

To help people with mental health issues and their families and all of us for that matter, cope with and rise above challenges, HelpPRO brings you this Jan/Feb series of practical tips and suggestions from certified WRAP and NAMI instructor, Cheryl Johnson. Cheryl “connects the dots” between lifestyle choices we control and our ability to live a ‘normal’ life. Explore your options below and these next few weeks with the HelpPRO Blog and Cheryl.

It’s no secret food affects your mood.  Skip a meal and you feel sluggish and may get a headache.  But can food actually make you more positive and upbeat?  There is growing evidence certain foods can improve your mood.  Food is not a cure or a substitute for medication for diagnosed mood disorders, but it can serve as another tool to keep your perspective bright.  Here are some simple suggestions, but if you do research on your own, there is a wealth of information on foods to improve your mood.

Carbs – those evil carbs that make you gain weight and are not healthy.  Not necessarily.  Good carbs contribute to serotonin production, the calming, feel good brain chemical that can help alleviate depression.  (http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/how-food-affects-your-moods)

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – fish, flaxseed and walnuts are rich in Omega-3 and also help reduce stress, anxiety and depression.  Fish is a good mood food!  Personally I like walnuts, but moderation is important.  Walnuts can contribute to weight gain, another factor that may contribute to a sour mood. (http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/how-food-affects-your-moods)

Vitamin D – Plenty of sunshine can improve mood.  Get outside, enjoy the sun and eat food rich in vitamin D.  But keep in mind that without K vitamins – vitamin D has limited effect on mood.  (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/12/16/vitamin-k2.aspx)

Chocolate and Caffeine – The milk chocolate many of us love only has minimal impact on mood.  The best chocolate for mood is more than 50% cocoa and the higher the better.  Cocoa rich chocolate is an acquired taste so give it a chance and enjoy the added benefit of a calmer and more relaxed mood.  (http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/04/27/chocolate-and-mood-disorders/)  And what about caffeine?  Moderation is best.  Caffeine may affect sleep and lack of sleep can affect mood, but a cup or two of coffee will not hurt and may help perk you up and focus to get your work done contributing to a good mood…. 

Take time to learn more at the links provided (or any others) or talk to your doctor and nutritionist. 

Focus on good mood food! 

Cheryl Johnson is a certified NAMI and WRAP instructor and regularly teaches courses that provide families and individuals who face mental health challenges information to help them lead full and satisfying lives. To get more information on Cheryl’s work or programs you can be in touch with Cheryl at cherstinane@readwritetechnology.com.

 

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Mental Health | Self-Awareness | Self-Care | Social Work | Stress | Therapeutic Relationship | Therapy | Treatment Modalities | Mood

Are You Serious! I can be normal….? Cope with and rise above mental health challenges

by Cheryl Johnson Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I am not a therapist, but I am a certified WRAP and NAMI instructor and I teach people with mental health issues and their families how to not only cope with, but rise above the challenges that people with mental health issues face. 

My interest in mental health is from a strong family history of people who have either been diagnosed with mental health issues or those who clearly exhibit behaviors consistent with a diagnosis, but do not believe they have issues. 

Those who have sought out treatment (both medical and therapeutic) definitely cope with life on a much higher level than those who have not. You are probably all too familiar with the reasons people choose or refuse to get care. 

What I can testify to is that those who consistently monitor their behavior and track it to their lifestyle habits are acutely aware of how important our lifestyle choices are to living a ‘normal’ life. 

So how do you accomplish this?  Stay tuned…. Each week into February we will explore together tips and suggestions  to supplement the care you are currently receiving to make sure you manage your condition instead of it managing you!

Cheryl Johnson is a certified NAMI and WRAP instructor and regularly teaches courses that provide families and individuals who face mental health challenges information to help them lead full and satisfying lives. To get more information on Cheryl’s work or programs you can be in touch with Cheryl at cherstinane@readwritetechnology.com.

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marriage | Marriage and Family Therapy | Mental Health | relationships, friendships | Self-Awareness | Self-Care | Social Work | Stress | Therapeutic Relationship | Therapy | Treatment Modalities

Unfolding the "Magic" of Therapy

by Sherry Katz Tuesday, January 7, 2014

While often people acknowledge professional therapy creates gains in self-awareness, more confidence handling relationships, and improved ability to manage stress, how these results are achieved appears mysterious. 

What key factors in the conversation happen during a therapy session,  which inspire confidence and awareness in the patient, which were previously either weak or lacking?

 

From years of clinical practice, I summarize the way a therapist listens and responds to a patient, as “bi-lateral listening”. A therapist who helps you reach desired change, listens with both their mind and their heart. 

 

Hearing past the words, gives your therapist a read on your emotions.  If someone tells a story that includes major life shifts, and is matter of fact while doing so, a therapist may ask a question that lifts these shy emotions into the therapeutic dialogue. By giving more attention to emotions and identifying and elaborating on them during a therapy session, the patient learns how to know and explain their feelings.

 

The flip side usage of bi-lateral listening is if a patient during a session talks almost exclusively about their feelings and has little understanding of when feelings arise and how they are effecting both the patient and people in the patient’s life. In this case a therapist most likely would hear the emotions and speak to the cognitive processing of the patient. Your therapist may ask questions that help you collect information and theorize on how you are responding to the ways you express yourself.

 

As you and your therapist repeat this basic listening process during your therapy sessions, you’ll notice greater balance in your own approach and dialogues in your everyday repertoire with others. What starts developing and strengthening is your awareness of the vastness and complexity of your emotions and thoughts, and your ability to moderate when to express your emotions and when to express your thoughts. You may surprise yourself one day with how naturally you articulate feelings in situations you did not know you had any!

 

You may notice as well, yourself taking a new path in conversation rather than a debilitating emotional rerun. This will be your magical moment of recognizing the rewards of working with a professional talk therapist.

 

Sherry Katz, LCSW is clinically trained in systems relational therapy, and practices marriage and family therapy in her solo practice located in Ridgewood, NJ.  Comments and questions are welcome. 

www.newviewsfamilytherapy.com

 

Eating Disorders Triggered by the Holidays

by Janine Vlassakis Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Believe you can and you're halfway there.                                   

Theodore Roosevelt 

The “most wonderful time of the year” can be tough for those suffering from an eating disorder. The holidays can be overwhelming and stressful with so much focus placed on food in social environments.  As a result many, and especially those with eating disorders, become anxious, upset or engage in disordered eating behaviors to attempt to mitigate their anxiety.  Here are suggestions to get through the holidays:

·          Remind yourself or your clients of common self-soothing practices and avoid dangerous coping mechanisms. 

·           Identify or encourage yourself or your client to identify what is “happy” about the holidays.  That simple reminder can help focus on the positive aspects of the season.

·          Families can play an integral part in helping the holidays be joyful. Remind your family or your clients’ family what a trying time this may be.  While food is an inherent part of most events during the holidays, families can help diffuse the focus by planning activities such as a craft or family game to focus on as a distraction. 

·          Remind your family or your client’s family that discussing your appearance may do more harm than good.  Help close family understand that statements such as, “you look so much better!” can translate to “I look fat” in your or your client’s mind.  Ask family to make other family members aware as well, so time with family can be remembered as positive rather than triggering negative emotions. 

·          If you or your client is taking a break from treatment over the holidays, be sure to address any concerns about being away and social situations.  Be sure to strategize and discuss skills to continue recovery. 

·          Arrange a time to start back into therapy after the holiday to continue treatment in the New Year.

·          Be mindful and encourage clients to be mindful of the positives of this time of year.  Focus on time spent with people supportive in recovery, and to create new happy memories to reflect upon next year.

Janine Vlassakis, M.Ed. is the Mid-Atlantic Professional Relations Coordinator for the Cambridge Eating Disorder Center.  Her role at CEDC is to provide clinicians and other professionals with information about the levels of care which CEDC offers.  In addition, with her background in counseling and education, she speaks regarding various topics relating to the complexity and treatment of Eating Disorders.  

 

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relationships, friendships | Self-Care | Social Work | Treatment Modalities

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