the healing journey counseling fl

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


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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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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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Depression and Loss

In honor of suicide prevention awareness month, I wanted to share about Depression and how it affects us all. Yes, there are several people who are suffering in silence due to not wanting to burden their loved ones which their problems. But, I wanted you to know that you are not alone and together we can cope and live a better life.

Did you know that “suicide is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. among young people and the there are a variety of mental health conditions that affect people who are very vulnerable” (NAMI, 2015).

Lets review some of the warning signs of suicide

  • Mood swings
  • talking, writing or thinking about death
  • increase in alcohol and drug use
  • aggressive behavior
  • isolate from friends, family and community
  • impulsive behavior

Let’s review if there is an imminent danger?

  • Saying goodbye to friends and family
  • Mood shifts from despair to calm
  • planning to borrow, steal or buy tools to commit suicide

Mental health professionals such as your primary care physician, psychiatrists,psychiatric or mental health nurse practitioners are trained to assess if you are at risk. The first step is to acknowledge that you cannot do this by yourself and give yourself permission to get the help that you need. We may believe that we can handle this, but a therapist will be able to help you understand so that you can cope with your thoughts and feelings.

This blog was inspired after reading a guest post on a blog that you can find here at this link http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/blog/ . A husband (Brandon) shared a story about his wife Naomi who had a long history of troubles. In any marriage there are good times as well as bad times and Brandon got engaged to his wife after knowing her for 3 to 4 months. The story begins with the loss of their baby boy who had down syndrome. This loss was very devastating for his wife and Brandon wanted to share the story of his wife so that it can help others.  Patience is not easily acquired, but with persistence we need to encourage one another to talk to someone if they are experiencing depression. Yes, it’s easy to say, I don’t feel like they understand. But,  know that you haven’t given yourselves the chance to let someone hear your story. Yes, it may be painful, but when we hold unto our thoughts this will do nothing for us but bring us downhill. My plea as Brandon mentioned in his blog post is for you to talk to someone about whatever is going on with you. If you are depressed, grieving, sad, lonely….please call someone. There is hope for you and me so ask and you shall receive it.

If you need to talk to someone please call  the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255

Here’s a link to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention where I am a field advocate in the state of Kansas.

https://www.afsp.org/. This organization has a variety of events and I will be participating in a Community walk in Kansas to raise funds for suicide prevention.

References:

Hibbert, C. (2015). Depression, Loss & A Grieving Husband’s Plea:  “Too Short a Fairy Tale, by Brandon Gerdes.” Retrieved on September 20, 2015 from http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/blog/

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).(2015). Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.  Retrieved on September 20, 2015 from https://www.nami.org/suicideawarenessmonth/hp


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June is Post- Tramatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month

Each year we recognize PTSD in the month of June and as we enter a new month, I would like to focus on understanding PTSD.

The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs provides a definition of PTSD  that occurs “when a person experience a traumatic event such as combat, assault or disaster which most people have some stress reactions after trauma that lingers for some time” (U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, 2015).  There are several types of trauma that includes war, terrorism,violence and abuse and disasters.

Effects of PTSD and the Family

It can be very difficult to live with someone who has been diagnosed with PTSD and often your daily life is disrupted  by nightmares, avoiding crowds, and  difficulty driving. The children at times have a lot of trouble in schools and PTSD affects the relationship with their spouse, family members and friends. There is also a list of common reactions of family members of a person with PTSD that includes sympathy, negative feelings, avoidance, depression, anger and guilt, variety of health problems.

At times family members neglect themselves and spend a lot of time taking care of their loved ones with PTSD which is a set up for failure.  It is important to seek help and surround yourself with others who understand what you are going through.

What can providers do to support family members?

Family members often neglect themselves and are confused about what to do when they find out that their loved one has PTSD.  As a clinician, we must educate the family members and let them learn more about trauma and its effects. It will take some time to learn about PTSD which can be overwhelming, but if you are not aware of what PTSD is and its effects then you will be lost. It also takes a lot of patience to help someone who is affected by PTSD and in time they will heal.  There also various classes that are offered to help the family which includes stress and anger management, addiction, couples communication or parenting (Carlson,E & Ruzek, J,2014).

Help to spread the awareness of PTSD by printing this PDF flyer: http://www.ptsd.va.gov/about/ptsd-awareness/RaisePTSD_Awareness.pdf

Follow this link for a About Face PTSD videos on Youtube: 

Follow this link provided by the Defense Centers for Excellence – PTSD Fact Sheet. http://www.dcoe.mil/Libraries/Documents/DCoE_PTSDFactSheet_20140410.pdf

References

Carlson,E.B (PhD), & Ruzek, J.(PhD). (2014) PTSD and The Family. Retrieved from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treatment/family/ptsd-and-the-family.asp

Defense Centers of Excellence. (2015) PTSD Treatment Options.  Retrieved from http://www.dcoe.mil/PsychologicalHealth/PTSD_Treatment_Options.aspx

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.(2015). Promotional Materials and Tips to Raise Awareness. Retrieved from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/about/ptsd-awareness/promo_materials_awareness.asp


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Review of Tokens of Affection:Reclaiming your Marriage after Postpartum Depression

Tokens of Affection Amazing contribution by Karen Kleiman and Amy Wenzel who wrote “Tokens of Affection: Reclaiming Your Marriage after Postpartum Depression”. As a clinician, I am particularly impressed with the emphasis on giving one partner permission to use the tokens of affection to work on their marriage, even if one partner is not ready. We mostly see women in therapy who benefit from the skills mentioned in this book, but it will enlighten their perspective on their marriage. It is so important to note that the author addressed the fact that working on your marriage is not easy, but there is hope and with the right support and commitment your marriage will be much better. The tokens mentioned in the book included Esteem, Compromise, Selflessness, Sanctuary, Expression, Tolerance and Loyalty which provides guidance for couples to work on forgiveness, resentment and frustrations. As couples, we must be gentle with ourselves and each other. Each person’s perspective will mislead us into a turmoil of frustrations. We all have a choice to be mindful of our thoughts and behaviors. We must protect ourselves and our significant others. The ripple effect of life and the unknown circumstances that creeps up on our lives are never-ending. However, we must adapt to the changes that comes our way. I would definitely recommend this book for couples who are simply recovering from the aftermath of postpartum depression and need to reconnect their relationship. Annmarie Wilson L.P.C-IT https://thehealingjourneycounselingfl.com/