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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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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Stress Awareness- Meditation

Mediation helps you to relax and focus on your mind, body and spirit. Here are some tips on getting started with mediation.

  1. Relaxed yourself and bring yourself to a comfortable position which can include sitting in a chair, on the floor or lying on your back.
  2. Release – Exhale completely. Please mentally be aware that you are releasing your frustration, anger, etc.
  3. Release- Make sure to inhale slowly and you can mentally say ” one” while doing this. Allow yourself a slight pause then begin to exhale again. Mentally know that you are allowing peace back into your body.
  4. Exhale and release- Continue to do this cycle for about 5 mins and continue to say inhale “peace” exhale “frustration”.
  5. Added bonus ~ Music can also help you as well as listening to nature. For example, you can go outside and sit and listen to the wind blowing, the birds chirping etc. It is also beneficial when you can go to the beach and listen to the waves.

inner peace

Here are a list of activities that you can do for self-care:

Outdoors-  hiking, running, biking, bonfires, walking, camping, canoeing, visit a park with trails, roller skating, painting, swinging on the porch, listening to the wind, listening to the wind chimes, pulling weeds, gardening,

Fire- smores and bonfire with ice cream, light some  vanilla and lavender candles at the end of the day to balance yourself.  getting a massage with candles, bubble bath with candles.

Bubbles or feathers  bubble bath, blowing bubbles,  deep breathing while using bubbles, running fingers over the feathers

Wood-  Listening to the crackling of the fire, playing jenga, rocking in a rocking chair, creating things with blocks. sauna, tree hugging, play a guitar, walking on a trail and noticing the trees all around you, sitting on the porch and making inspirational signs from wood.

Water- Listening to the ocean, swimming, exercise in the water, drinking at least 64 oz of water, kayaking, going to the beach, shower mediation, small water fountain for home or office,  fish tank, water balloon fight, snorkeling, water-color painting, water massage,  dance in the rain, scuba diving,  and a warm Jacuzzi.

My final thoughts

I love to mediate at times, paint, pull weeds, go for long walks, visit the ocean, listen to nature. But most of all, I love to mediate on God’s words and remind myself of how grateful I am because God loves us unconditionally and we must learn to trust him. When stress takes over, we are not trusting God and we end up feeling sad, upset, worried, troubled etc. It takes time, patience and practice to begin to trust God. Be gentle with yourself and begin to let go of all the frustrations that comes our way.

“Never Give up or Give In” ~ Trust God to work it out.

 

 

 

 

National Stress Awareness Month Flyer


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5 Lessons as a Military Spouse

I was inspired to write about my own lessons learned while being a military spouse. The following 5 lessons can be helpful for others to be aware of what really goes on in a military life.

  1.  Be careful of what you say about a military spouse and never underestimate them.

(a) We may never have a stable career, but over the years I have volunteered, assistant teacher and counseled others. My main job is a stay-at-home mom with 3 children 2 boys ages 20, 16 and 13-year-old daughter who has downsyndrome. During the first couple of years of marriage, we have been separated three occasions which is a rare for those familiar with the military.

After we relocated overseas, I actively participated in spouse clubs et. My family always come first and I did everything by myself. If you saw me in action, you will be amazed so don’t judge someone for what you see on the outside, you will run the risk of never learning about their inner character and strength.

  1. Things are still the same

(a) Deployments haven’t changed for a very long time and it’s still a short notice, long and frequent. The time spent away from your loved one is very painful and lonely. I realized that I had to take on 2 roles of a mother and father and we missed our wedding anniversary which was not spent by myself, but with family. Being a mom is a very important job, but when you are raising your military children through a war this is challenging. Overseas assignments reminded me of the absence of family such as your parents who missed the growth and celebration of their grandchildren.

  1. Acceptance you didn’t marry a banker.

(a) Let’s be clear, when we said “I Do” that also took into account the to roll with the punches regardless of what career move my husband had. I would support him and at time he would work long hours or several weeks at a time which meant that he would miss school activities, sports etc. But he deserved a pass and its unfair to blame him due to the frequent moves every 3 years or so. We are almost near our retirement so until then, i will just let it flow.

  1. Expect the unexpected

(a) Oh yes, we do have a number of unexpected events, but there are sacrifices that come with the life of a military spouse. One thing that I have done when we relocate from one place to another is to plug into the community and reach out for some encouragement as I face these challenges. I also plug into a group of other military spouse who are family and we support each other. With that said, there may be some drama, but when women are together what else do you expect. Just make the best of it and move on.

  1. Make the best of life

(a) Life is what you make of it and with that it helps to keep your attitude in check. Life is an adventure, never a dull moment, but it is worth it. The life of a military is challenging, but we travel to various places around the world and we meet people who enrich our lives. Take full advantage of your life because no one is promised tomorrow. So surprise a military spouse the next time that you see her/him.