the healing journey counseling fl

healing, anxiety, loss, grief, depression, ptsd, self-care, suicide prevention, post partum depression


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Your Body on Anxiety

Our Daily Lives

Our lives matter and each day it becomes difficult to grasp our daily struggle. Our silence may be taken for-granted, but know that you are not alone.  Anxiety takes a toll on our body which seriously affects our health.  Let’s take some time to recognize what happens to our body when we are anxious.

When you first encounter anxiety:

  1. Throat- This becomes dry and the throat muscles tightens.
  2. Liver- There is a spike in your blood sugar levels that can be reabsorbed in the body.
  3. Skin reactions-  Our blood flow increases which causes some people to become more paler while others may be flush.
  4. Active Spleen- Your spleen discharges more red and white blood cells.
  5. Tense Muscles- Muscle immediately seize as a reflex action.

Long-term Anxiety

When you are dealing with anxiety for awhile it can affect the following:

  1. Heart- cardiovascular issues.
  2. Lungs- Weaker respiratory functions
  3. Brain- overworked nervous system and problems falling asleep.
  4. Immune system- Weakened immune system.
  5. Stomach and Digestive tract-  Digestion issues and changes in the metabolism.

Managing Anxiety

  1. Take some time for yourself- listen to music, journal, go for a walk, yoga, exercise, color, paint or learn an relaxation technique(My favorite go to is Meditation)
  2. Eat well-balanced meals- Do not skip  meals
  3. Limit alcohol and caffeine- Alcohol and caffeine can affect anxiety and triggers panic attacks. (Drink lots of water)
  4. Exercise daily- Exercising makes you feel good and overall it helps to release stress.
  5. Slowly count to 10
  6. Accept that you cant control everything.
  7. Volunteer and give back to your community.
  8. Get enough sleep- at least 8 hours per night.
  9. Be gentle with yourself
  10. Maintain a good attitude regardless of the situation.
  11. Learn what triggers your anxiety- work, family, school etc.
  12. Talk to someone

Links for mobile apps for anxiety: https://adaa.org/finding-help/mobile-apps

 

 

References:

American Psychological Association, The New York Times Health Guide. University of Maryland Medical Center, National Institute of Health, Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Retrieved on 9/21/17 from https://adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress

 

 

 

 

 


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Things Someone Should Have Told Me

Good read. Please share with other therapists

Go With That

I started seeing my first community mental health clients three years ago. On the day that I met my first clients at my internship, I was immediately aware that no part of my graduate education (or my life) prepared me to work with clients this unwell. My fellow interns were similarly shocked. My internship was an exercise in endurance. I survived, but the way I survived cost me something. Despite the fact that several prior generations of therapist have made this journey, I struggled to find resources to help me make sense of what I was seeing and experiencing. Is it this severe everywhere? When will I start to feel like I know what I’m doing? Wait, what am I doing? How can my clients get better? Is “better” even the right word? I feel like I am going crazy… is this normal? I resolved that if I ever found…

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Self care Tips for Counselors/Psychotherapist

The practice of psychotherapy can be very rewarding and psychotherapist spend several years making a positive impact on lives of  whom they work. However, this field can be very demanding and difficult at times due to the challenges that are presented.  It is very important that we attend to the our own mental health so that we can be effective professionals.

Feelings of Distress

As stated in the Merriam-Webster , the definition of distressed is ” unhappiness or pain: suffering that affects the mind or body.” We all experience distress, but when it goes unchecked overtime this leads to burnout.

While attending grad school it was very concerning to me that several of the professors clearly needed to attend to themselves.  I have become very sensitive to this topic every since completing my masters degree. It is very important to become self aware  of ourselves and monitor our reactions. At times our body is giving us a signal to take a step back and take care of ourselves. Some of us take actions while others simply just pour themselves in whatever task is at hand.

Therapist Burnout

As therapist we must be aware of the signs of burnout which often goes unnoticed or pushed aside. If we do not attend to our own mental health, how effective can we be while assisting clients.  It is important to take a step back and rejuvenate your mind and body.

Vicarious Traumatization

When we are assisting clients that are victims of trauma, counselors may be traumatized  by the information that is stated to them during the session. This leads to several symptoms of vicarious traumatization such as intrusive thoughts, avoidant responses, psychologic arousal,  somatic complaints, distressing emotions,and addictive or compulsive behaviors  that will affect one’s competence.

9 Tips for Self-care

  1. Listen to your body. At times we have so much to do and often forget about ourselves so identify what activities are best for you to do. For example, I take time out for myself which includes a quiet time reading.
  2. Put a reminder on the calendar. Even if it is 5 mins per day put aside some time to do some art activity, painting or journaling.
  3. Whenever you can do something for you in between session close your eyes and do some breathing exercise. In addition, you can listen to some music.
  4. Exercise if so important for you so take the time to do some light activity such as riding the bike for 30 min and increase it by 5 mins every week.
  5. If you don’t know how to say no then this will burn you out very quickly. Know your boundaries and weakness.
  6. Make an effort to ask yourself is you are working too much.
  7. Make sure to surround yourselves with people who will encourage you to take some time for you.
  8. Minimize your time and don’t surf the internet for several hours.
  9. It’s up to you to make the effort for your health, therefore, do not bargain with yourself. Just do it!

 

 

 

References:

Distressed.(n.d.). Retrieved July 29,2016 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distressed


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Defining a Community: Most Veterans Don’t “Snap” Because of PTSD

Great article written by a friend and colleague.

Branching Out

The headlines are all too familiar to military and veteran families. It’s gotten to the point where the moment you hear that the shooter is former military the connections start to be made immediately: “Shooter suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from his military service.” Boom. There it is.

Both the shooters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Dallas, Texas were military veterans. Both, according to news reports, potentially have PTSD. Our community is once again in the spotlight, furthering societal perceptions that our service members are all damaged, broken and ready to snap at any moment.

This is far from accurate.

I’m a clinical psychologist. My specialty is trauma and PTSD. I have worked in that space for over a decade now with both military and civilian populations. Given my experience, I can tell you that by and large, the majority of veterans who suffer from PTSD do not “snap.”…

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Breaking Down Barriers for Military Spouse Mental Health Providers

Breaking down barriers for military spouse mental health providers

Branching Out

Military life isn’t always easy on a spouse’s career. Heck, it’s rarely easy. No matter what you choose to do, you have to contend with the changes that this life brings to the table. We know what this military life brings, we adjust, we change, we move forward, even with those challenges. It certainly doesn’t make it any easier to maintain a career we love, but we find ways to make it work somehow.

For those of us who are in the mental health field, trying to find the right school, internship, supervision, getting licensed (or re-licensed) and finding a job can be a significant challenge. Add to this already difficult situation, a few PCS moves, deployments, and shifting licensing requirements from state to state and it becomes nearly impossible. When you realize we have spouses who are dealing with barriers to becoming mental health professionals, you have to…

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Healing the Inner Child

When you look back at your childhood, we may notice that we got hurt very easily. It may be hearing mom shouting all the time or our father giving us the stern look. As children, we find that it is not easy to express yourself, but we try and try. At times, we find that adults don’t listen, too busy and interrupt us every time. Its time for us to listen to our children and respond directly to them. It may also be time for us to listen to our own inner child, that have been neglected for sometime. We must come back and comfort, love and care for the child within us.

Listening to your Inner Child

We must go back and take care of the child in our past that has been wounded. Embrace him or her and be gentle with ourselves. It takes a lot of courage to face the hurt inside of us and it okay to give yourselves permission to heal that child right now. The tears may come and that is fine as well. Let it flow and embrace that child. There are so many people who are suffering because they have buried those emotions for decades. But, if we continue to practice being more aware of that wounded child, comfort him or her so that we can see more peace and mover forward.

Talking to you Inner Child

Yes, this may sound unrealistic; however, your inner child influence you in a mighty way. The inner child has become an adult who has come from a very difficult life. Thich Nhat Hanh suggested that “if we have the tendency to go back to the past and live the painful memories of the past, we have to be aware that we and our inner child are going back to the past to live that experience again, that fear, and that desire'” (Hanh, p.71). This will become a regular habit which hinder us to move forward.

Reference

Hanh, Thich N. (2010). Reconciliation~ healing the inner child. Parallax Press. Berkeley, California 94707.


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How to Protect and Center Yourself

“Whoever can see through all fear will always be safe. ~Tao the Chang “(Orloff, 2000, p.155)

Everyday we must make the decision to use our intuition in order to help ourselves. One way of accessing our intuition is to be centered which means “finding the still point inside, no matter what is happening” ( Orloff, 2000) p. 156). We must also protect ourselves from any negativity or threat such as dealing with an angry boss, annoying mother-in law, manipulative spouse etc. We have seen this played over and over again and we know exactly what is going to happen. How do you protect yourselves from people who drain your energy? Wouldn’t it feel good to arm yourself with tools to help you block this energy?

For many years, we experience so many emotional,physical, spiritual challenges that knocks us out. For some time, we realize that these emotions such as depression, anxiety, and envy take over our lives.  You didn’t  get any respect from your boundaries and yes it took some time for you to get back on your feet. Now let’s get some help for you to protect yourself now.

Step 1.

Notice Your Beliefs

Begin to ask yourselves what are my triggers? When life steals your joy, how do you deal with this? How could you protect yourself? We need to call on our inner self for guidance, by connecting with this part of yourself so that you can feel more confident. Resilience is the key to get through these feelings so that you can keep all negativity away.

The following are some common beliefs that deplete your energy:

  1. I’m not strong enough This is a lie that we tell ourselves every day and we need to believe in ourselves. When was the last time you actually looked in the mirror and said ” I love you?”
  2. Other people’s negative thought destroys me.- Yes, this is an area that we all need to be aware of when someone’s negative energy take over. We must know how to deflect this energy and ask it to leave. Avoid dwelling on what was said and do not pay any attention to negativity. The more you feed into negativity the more it destroys you. Focus on your strength within yourself and block it.
  3. I’m so sensitive Well, aren’t we all sensitive? If we realize that we have a thin skin, then make sure to run when it get to be too much. If we stick around, we will become overwhelmed and we need “to teach ourselves how to remain vulnerable and feel safe. And this doesn’t mean that we shut our sensitivity off but to develop it as a creative resource.” (Orloff,2000, p. 159).
  4. We often take on the pain of others If you are a very compassionate person, you are deeply affected by the pain of others. But we need to realize that we can’t help everyone. It’s natural to want to help a homeless person, a hurt child etc. We must be a supportive person that will not take on the pain of others. Yes, it hard to see others suffering, but we need to respect the fact that they need to go through this process. No matter how much we feel we can do for others, but just the act of doing too much hinder us. We can be caring, thoughtful and honest with our feelings. Lastly, don’t get carried away, preserve your energy so that you can have some balance in your life.

 

Step 2. Be in your Body

We need to be aware of our body and how it is affected when we are experiencing various emotions. Sometime we feel tension or pain in our back, a headache etc. We need to center our body at all times such as “exercise, hiking, dancing, yoga, pedicure, long bubble bath etc. Getting a massage, going for a walk,spending some time with your pets, gardening and listening to nature are great ways to help. Here are some suggestions by Dr Orloff:

Techniques for centering

Watch your diet- I know we hear this over and over again. But it’s true, we need to watch what we put into our mouths. For instance, today I wanted to get a subway tuna sandwich, but instead I made salad with grapes and strawberries.

Do mundane tasks- For instance, if you are shopping concentrate on the task at hand.

Practice anonymous service-  Helping a neighbor, hold the door for an elderly person, Let someone go ahead of you. Volunteer at an homeless shelter and serve food etc.

Spend time in nature- This is one of my favorite activities which include just going to the part, walking by the lake, listening to the birds while on the porch, go to the beach, listen to the waves etc. Water is a great source to soothe you and purify yourself.

Mediate- Yes, we all hear about this and yes it was not easy to mediate the first time, but with practice we need to sit still and focus on our breath. If you are cramp for time, I would suggest just sit back, close your eyes and inhale peace and exhale frustrations etc. Complete a body scan that include focusing on your feet and work yourself all the way up to the crown of your head.

 

Step 3. Sense your Body’s Subtle energy

When we were younger, we find ourselves enjoying going to the mall, parties, etc, but we may realize that we didn’t really want to do this. After sometime, we begin to feel overwhelm and exhausted around groups and we begin to ask what is wrong with me? If you are like me, I suspect that we soak up the energy of the people around us. I also began to realize that I can feel what someone else is feeling both physically and emotionally. Dr Orloff stated that ” the more people per square foot, the more our energy fields intersect–thus the tendency to become overloaded in high-density areas. This aspect of intuition is the most neglected and misunderstood.” (Orloff, 2000, p. 163).

Four ways to avoid absorbing other’s people energy

  1. Walk away This may seem rude at first, but with practice we need to walk away when we realize that this situation is taking away our energy.
  2. Shield yourself Yes, it is important to protect yourself such as if someone is upset, you need to take a deep breath and center yourself. No, this is not being selfish, but it helps to place yourself in  bubble so that we don’t absorb their energy.
  3. Practice vulnerability – “Too often we are taught to equate vulnerability with weakness. Not so, I like being vulnerable and also strong. This disarms people.” (Orloff,2000, p. 166).
  4. mediate Practice daily mediation which helps you to connect with yourself.

Step 4. Ask for Inner Guidance

At times no matter what we do, we first need to ask for guidance for everything. So take a breath, center yourself and ask for guidance from the Lord. Set aside the excuses that we often lets us missed a great opportunity to receive guidance. Give it a try to see what happens. It takes a lot of practice and patience so don’t give up on yourself.

Step 5. Listen to your Dreams

We often go to sleep at night and wake up to some nightmare or we can’t seem to shut off our thoughts. Dreams are way of telling you something that may help you in your life. Don’t be troubled my your dreams. Continue “to cultivate inner peace and resolve, strengths that come forth invisibly. There’s nothing like a little centeredness to

counteract even the biggest, baddest, most unsettling calamity. Have confidence in your own power.” (Orloff, 2000, p. 175).

Reference

Orloff, J. (2000). Guide to Intuitive Healing. 5 Steps to Physical, Emotional, and Sexual Awareness.


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The pregnancy I always wanted didn’t save me

You never know what the Lord has in store for you. Be patient and wait on him. Enjoy the rebloged entry.

notes from the neighborhood

Four years. We spent four years trying to get pregnant. Every last hope. Every last wish. Everything I ever wanted hinged on having children. I wanted a baby so bad.

Anyone who has struggled with infertility knows the cycle of emotions. Shame. Pain. Embarrassment. Hope. Disappointment. Hope. Disappointment. Jealousy. Shame for feeling jealous. Hope. Disappointment. Anger. Sadness. Depression. Round and round it goes.

The emotions are suffocating. And so, so lonely. Because it is such a hard thing to deal with it’s an even harder thing to talk about. Infertility is very isolating. Every time I  hear of someone who has been ‘trying to get pregnant’ I am taken back to the place of isolation. I feel those emotions again: the sadness- deep and aching and I long to say, “I get it.” But having a baby after struggling with infertility boots you from the club. Yes I can relate…

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