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The Silent Struggle: Unraveling the Mental Health Consequences of Infidelity

Infidelity is a complex and emotionally charged issue that can have profound effects on individuals involved in a relationship. While the impact on trust and the relationship itself is widely acknowledged, the mental health consequences of infidelity are often underestimated and overlooked. In this blog, we will delve into the silent struggle that many individuals face when grappling with the aftermath of infidelity and explore the psychological toll it can take.

  1. Betrayal Trauma: One of the most significant mental health consequences of infidelity is the experience of betrayal trauma. The discovery or revelation of a partner’s infidelity can shatter a person’s sense of security and trust. Betrayal trauma often leads to symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including intrusive thoughts, hypervigilance, and emotional numbness. The betrayed individual may find it challenging to rebuild a sense of safety and security, impacting their overall mental well-being.
  2. Emotional Rollercoaster: The emotional rollercoaster triggered by infidelity can be intense and prolonged. Feelings of anger, sadness, confusion, and despair may cycle through an individual’s mind, making it difficult to find stability and emotional balance. The constant oscillation between different emotions can lead to heightened stress levels, anxiety, and even depression.
  3. Self-Esteem and Identity Crisis: Infidelity can inflict a severe blow to one’s self-esteem and identity. The betrayed individual may question their worth and desirability, leading to a profound sense of inadequacy. This crisis of identity can trigger feelings of shame and guilt, further contributing to mental health challenges. Rebuilding self-esteem after infidelity requires a delicate and intentional process of self-reflection and self-compassion.
  4. Trust Issues and Fear of Intimacy: The breach of trust caused by infidelity can result in long-lasting trust issues. Individuals who have experienced infidelity may struggle to trust others, even in new relationships. The fear of intimacy and vulnerability can hinder the ability to form deep connections, perpetuating a cycle of isolation and emotional distancing.
  5. Coping Mechanisms and Unhealthy Behaviors: To cope with the emotional pain, some individuals may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse, overeating, or excessive work. These behaviors, while providing temporary relief, can exacerbate mental health issues and contribute to a cycle of self-destructive patterns.

Infidelity is not just a breach of trust within a relationship; it leaves a lasting imprint on the mental health of those involved. Acknowledging and addressing the psychological consequences of infidelity is crucial for individuals to navigate the path toward healing. Seeking professional help, fostering open communication, and practicing self-care are essential steps in rebuilding mental well-being after the tumultuous experience of infidelity.

Written by Catherina Rosen

Embracing Healing: The Crucial Role of Therapy in Maternal Mental Health

The journey into motherhood is a transformative experience, filled with joy and challenges. Amidst the joy, many mothers grapple with the complexities of maternal mental health. Therapy emerges as a powerful and essential tool in navigating this terrain, offering a space for healing, understanding, and resilience.

Understanding Maternal Mental Health Challenges: Maternal mental health challenges are diverse, ranging from the “baby blues” to more severe conditions like postpartum depression and anxiety. These challenges can impact a mother’s emotional well-being, her ability to bond with the baby, and overall family dynamics. Recognizing the signs and seeking therapeutic support is a crucial step towards addressing these challenges.

The Therapeutic Connection: Therapy provides a unique and safe space for mothers to explore their thoughts, feelings, and experiences without judgment. The therapeutic relationship can offer a sense of validation, empathy, and understanding that is particularly valuable during a time when mothers may feel overwhelmed or isolated.

Validation of Emotions: Mothers often experience a wide range of emotions, from joy and fulfillment to guilt and self-doubt. Therapy helps validate these emotions, emphasizing that it’s okay not to be perfect and providing tools to cope with the challenges of motherhood.

Addressing Postpartum Depression and Anxiety: Therapy is a cornerstone in the treatment of postpartum depression and anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and interpersonal therapy are among the therapeutic approaches that have demonstrated effectiveness in helping mothers manage and overcome these conditions.

Improving Mother-Infant Bonding: A strong mother-infant bond is crucial for the child’s emotional development. Therapy can facilitate this bond by addressing any mental health challenges that may hinder a mother’s ability to connect with her baby. Techniques such as parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT) can be incorporated to strengthen this vital relationship.

Support for Relationship Dynamics: The transition to parenthood can strain relationships. Therapy provides a space for couples to navigate this transition, improve communication, and support each other through the challenges, fostering a healthy family dynamic.

Postpartum Support and Beyond: Therapy is not only beneficial during the postpartum period but can also provide ongoing support as mothers navigate the various stages of parenthood. It equips them with coping mechanisms, stress management skills, and resilience to face the evolving demands of motherhood.

Destigmatizing Mental Health: Engaging in therapy helps destigmatize maternal mental health challenges by normalizing the idea that seeking help is a proactive and courageous step towards well-being. This shift in perception is crucial for creating a culture where mothers feel empowered to prioritize their mental health.

Therapy stands as a beacon of support and healing for mothers facing the complexities of maternal mental health. By recognizing its importance, society can contribute to creating an environment where every mother has the opportunity to embrace healing, find resilience, and cultivate the emotional well-being needed to nurture both herself and her child.

Written by Jennifer Freel – Mental Health Graduate Student

Rapid Transformational Therapy

Are you curious about what’s the fastest way to achieve the life, relationship, and mental health you desire? Most of us spend years struggling with the same problems despite our best efforts to conquer them. There is a good reason for this which is more easily understood with the following explanation:

 

Our mind is separated into two parts; our conscious and our subconscious mind.

 

Our conscious mind is part of the mind that makes the “to-do list” for the day and helps strategize at work or write a paper for school. It is the critical thinking and problem-solving machine that we tell what to do and how to do it.

 

Our subconscious mind runs on autopilot for 95% of the day – it is the part that helps us mindlessly make our bed in the morning, gets us through the shower and other morning routines, and drives us to work while we listen to a podcast. But – have you ever arrived somewhere and realized you hadn’t been really paying attention to where you were going? Our subconscious mind automatically does our regular daily tasks so we can focus more mental capacity on the critical areas of our lives. Our subconscious mind is an extremely powerful tool we use daily to be more efficient with our time without even realizing it. However, this same tool can also inadvertently sabotage our relationships, careers, and mental health.

 

The subconscious mind contains a vast library of all of our past experiences, including the programming of what we felt we “are worth” at some point in our lives and what we “need to do” to be safe. It implements automatic programming to keep us in specific states it feels most familiar with, sometimes to the point of keeping us from what we want.

 

This is why we can literally write down on a piece of paper exactly what we want, but find it very difficult to achieve it. The subconscious mind that’s running 95% of our day is doing so on autopilot and is using outdated information from our past – keeping us right where we are.

 

Using Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT), we are able to tap into this part of our mind to rapidly rewire our neural pathways for fast and permanent change. RTT is a pioneering therapy based on neuroscience that uses the most beneficial principles of Hypnotherapy, Psychotherapy, NLP, and CBT.

 

With the help of the counselor and while in a state of relaxation and reflection, you are able to look back at your old beliefs to see how they are affecting your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a negative way. Through a simple and highly effective process, it replaces our outdated belief systems and negative behavior patterns and creates new life-affirming beliefs as the transformational process begins.

 

If you are ready to release your past and move forward to the life you deserve in a powerful new way please contact Kellie Hatch  – Mental Health Graduate Student,
for more information.

 

The Power of Avoidance

We spend our lives avoiding uncomfortable things. Avoidance is powerful. Here is what you need to know about it: Avoidance makes everything worse! I learned this the hard way.

I was driving home on a Friday night after shopping. I felt tension in a small area of my neck. There was no pain, just mild tension. This could be the beginning of a something. I might wake up with a painful stiff neck. I have had this before, and it usually goes away in half a day

It got worse. I woke up at 2 AM with really bad pain. I could not sleep all night. At 5 AM I was looking online for a massage therapist who worked on Saturday. Within 100 miles there were only two open on Saturday. One of them was only four miles away. I needed a daily massage for four days before this thing settled down. It was awful.

I knew these principles were true, but now I was living them. The body acts to avoid pain. A little tension in a small area recruited all my back and neck muscles to avoid that tension, to prevent movement. All the muscles on the right side from skull to hips went into action to avoid any movement. Within six hours the pain spread everywhere and increased to the point that I could not rest. It took four days of intense massage to resolve all this.

One night, as I was improving, I had another restless night. I would turn over in bed and feel pain in my neck. I learned that If I moved slightly into the pain, the pain would go away after a few minutes. I did this throughout the night – moved toward the pain, instead of away from it. It worked great.

The other lesson I learned was to trust my massage therapist. It hurt when she pressed on a knotted muscle; it hurt a lot. I kept jumping a few inches off the table. Then I learned to relax, instead of tensing when it hurt. This allowed more effective breaking of the tension. I had to trust my therapist, so I could begin to relax in the face of pain. And then we worked together to unravel the knots.

I hope you can see how these principles are also true in counseling, in psychological therapy.
Defense mechanisms – denial, avoidance, rationalization, excuses, etc. – these can create more pain than the original problem.
Avoidance makes the pain worse; over time it sets up a complex system that governs our lives.
You need to find a therapist you can trust. When you do, relax a bit, take it slow as you face painful memories and situations.
When you feel emotional pain gently move toward it, not away from it. Become curious about it. Watch what happens inside you, how you react. Let your therapist help you with it.

Avoiding your pain ensures that it will never go away. Studies of PTSD have shown that avoidance is the primary factor in keeping the pain in place. People only get better when they face the pain. It is necessary to face the pain with a therapist, or a team of therapists and others. The same principles are true for any persistent emotional or relational disturbance.

All of us have been through our own journeys. We understand the urge to avoid pain, and the necessity of facing it. When it is in your face, then turning away is no longer possible. But you really do not have to wait until it is that bad. Move toward it, in a safe environment. We are here if you need us.

God bless you.

Dave Hall, LMHC

Creating Everyday ‘Insta’ Moments with Nature

The old pond
A frog leaps in.
Sound of the water.
– Basho, (1644-1694)

In therapy, one of the things counselors like to share with clients is the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is something that everyone, even kids, can learn. It is bringing attention to the experiencing of the moment. The idea is sensual noticing, acknowledging thoughts and accepting feelings. But practicing mindfulness can also be incorporated into daily life, to uplift the moment. For this exercise, we will use the frog haiku poem as mindfulness inspiration.

Basho, a famous Japanese poet, wrote the above haiku in the fifteenth century. It recalls just one single moment of nature. The silence is part of it. The sound of the water is easy to imagine. When you think of it, can you visualize the moment? What do you see, hear, smell?

Here is an exercise in mindfulness that anyone can do. Pay attention to the details and experience of nature like Basho. Think of it like producing mini ‘Insta’ moments for your senses and mind. This can be done anywhere there are elements of nature. When you notice something beautiful or special, breath it
in deeply like you are smelling a beautiful rose.

Here are some ideas:
-Take a nature walk in your neighborhood and focus on the flora and fauna in all the yards, any nature sounds you hear and the state of the sky. Breath it all in.

-Go to a botanical garden and give yourself permission to soak up the beauty of each tree, flower and shrub. Breath it all in.

-Go bird watching. Take in all the splendor of the environment. Enjoy the movement of bird flight. Breath it all in.

-Sit or take a walk on the beach, noticing the sounds of the waves, the colors and shapes of the shells, the rocks, and the composition of the horizon. Watch the sun rise or set. Breath it all in.

-Buy a beautiful bouquet of flowers and take time to study them. Look at their textures and colors and smell each part of them. Breath it all in.

-Listen to the birds in the morning through your windows. Florida is a place with birdsong. Tune in to them like a radio channel. Breath it all in.

-Try kayaking or paddle-boarding and notice all the life under the water. Breath it all in.

-Grow a seed and observe each stage closely. This one is great for kids. Teach them to breath in the moment.

-Stare at the clouds. Notice subtle colors, the sky in in motion. Look for beauty. Breath it all in.

-Houseplants are also a reliable source of connecting with nature. Study the beauty of an orchid, or the smell of a basil plant.

The exciting news is that you can bring mindfulness to anything. You can do your dishes mindfully. You can play with your children mindfully and interact with your partner mindfully. You can bring it into the shower, and to yardwork. Mindfulness is kind of like magic because it transforms the moment. If you transform enough moments, your life will be transformed.

Written by Megan McKeon – Mental Health Graduate Student at University of the Cumberlands

CBT and The Cognitive Triangle

Cognitive behavior therapy is a widely utilized and popular form of therapy based on the cognitive model of psychopathology. CBT states that our emotions, body responses, and behaviors are influenced by our perception of events that we are currently experiencing or have experienced in the past. According to the CBT model, situations do not initially determine what people feel or how they behave. However, it reflects how our perception of these events determines the emotions we feel, resulting in patterns of behavior. In contrast, it is the interpretation of the event or situation that contributes to our feelings of distress which is referred to as the cognitive model triangle. According to this model, the cognitive triangle illustrates how thoughts, emotions, and behaviors affect one another. This idea forms the basis of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). In addition, an important aspect of CBT is centered around “automatic thoughts” which shape our perception of an event that is taking place. This implies that when we change our thoughts, we will also change our emotions and behaviors. By focusing on irrational or maladaptive thoughts, mood, and behavior can be improved, therefore shifting our understanding or perception of the events that have or are currently taking place. Educating a client on the importance of their automatic thoughts can lead them to understand how past traumas and significant experiences have shaped their current worldview. This realization can lead to the healing required to overcome past traumas and assist in the treatment of PTSD. CBT is known to be quite effective for depression, anxiety, stress, and trauma. In conclusion, the cognitive triangle shows how thoughts, emotions, and behaviors affect one another. This means changing your thoughts will change how you feel and behave.

Written by Dr. Jason-Anthony Prendergast – Doctorate in Pastoral Psychology and Registered Mental Health Intern

Therapy Goals

We have all experienced moments in which we felt we were at a loss for handling a situation or a feeling. It is during these times we seek outside assistance, be it from friends, loved ones or with a therapist. Because these are difficult and stressful times, problem solving, positive thinking, or solution finding can seem impossible. However, in therapy this is exactly what we strive for in the midst of these chaotic moments.

This first requires an individual’s awareness they have exhausted their mental and emotional resources and acknowledge the need for professional guidance through this process. Finding a therapist with whom you can share this space continues this process through the sharing of these experiences, feelings, and struggles. It is through this exchange of honest and often difficult information the therapeutic alliance is formed. This alliance between therapist and client is the foundation on which therapy goals are created and refined.

Many individuals do not have clear therapeutic goals at the outset of this journey. Taking the time and making space to sort through uncomfortable situations and emotions brings clarity to one’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and therefore, their goals. Therapeutic goals can and will change throughout the process but having a goal on which to focus allows us to see solutions, successes, and areas of improvement. Therapy goals could be considered the mile markers on the journey to wellness.

Working with a therapist to achieve these goals requires individuals, couples, and families to join together, taking the information and insight acquired in sessions into their everyday lives. This day-to-day application solidifies new skills, new ways to view or assess problems, and ultimately achieve goals. Once the goals for therapy are achieved, the skills and benefits of these changes can be applied to future issues and concerns resulting in lifelong improvements in one’s well-being.

Written by April Daniel MS, NCC, LMHC – National Certified Counselor (NCC) and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor

 

Protecting Your Peace

Peace is often thought to look like a straw hammock on a sunny beach or a crackling indoor fireplace on a cold day. And as comforting as these moments are, what they represent is something deeper and more crucial for fortifying our mental health. How can we cultivate feelings of peace that carry over into our day-to-day lives?

In our era of 24-hour news cycles and constant smartphone notifications, it may feel like there’s simply no time for real peace. When free time arises in our busy lives, we have an instant abundance of bite-sized video clips, clickbait headlines, and social messaging to drown our attention in. And somewhere in the constant reach for pleasing distraction, we might occasionally wonder why we feel drained, strained, and burnt out.

Now more than ever it is up to us to be deliberate about cultivating peace. It starts with finding what practice works best for us – prayer, mediation, reading, walking, journaling, or other focused, lowkey activities. It should facilitate a shift from preoccupation to centered mindfulness, creating time for presence, reflection, and grounding. With enough consistency, practices like these can open up a new perspective quite different from the hustle mindset that colors modern life. But what happens when the practice ends, and we step back into daily life?

Just as peace is cultivated, it also needs to be protected. As a calm perspective helps us recognize the inner habits and outer noise that shake our focus, we can also find new approaches. This may look like restructuring a room to limit distractions, setting healthy boundaries in relationships, or challenging negative patterns of thinking or action. In doing so, we protect the restorative peace that prepares us to take on more of life’s challenges.

So, in those times when a vacation is still aways off and it feels like our responsibilities are piling up, we can always choose to be deliberate about cultivating and protecting our peace. When we set aside time for lowkey reflection and mindfulness, it can flow outward and refresh other areas of our busy lives.

Written by Louis Nicholas, IMH24151 – Registered Mental Health Intern

Walk + Talk Therapy by the Bay

Walk + talk therapy by the bay is one of my favorite approaches to mental health therapy. As a trauma-informed therapist, I utilize many different therapeutic techniques to best accommodate each client’s needs. I know that sitting on a therapist’s sofa doesn’t feel safe or comfortable for many people. That’s why I offer walk + talk. It’s just like going for a walk with a friend (if your friend was a highly trained mental health professional who knew therapeutic techniques that are clinically proven to improve your mood). ♡

For people who have experienced trauma, the idea of meeting an unknown person in a small office in a new building can feel paralyzing. With walk and talk, we are able to meet in a public park where we are surrounded with other people and beautiful views. While the name implies that we will walk the entire time, there are many seating areas along the route to enjoy the shade and the warm breeze from the bay.

Walk + talk therapy offers an opportunity to reduce stress, relieve body tension, improve circulation, breathe deep and clear the body-mind of intrusive, negative, and ruminative thoughts. These sessions can help you decrease anxiety, regulate mood, enjoy more restful sleep, and more. Additionally, you can receive the feel-good brain chemical benefits of exercise, mindfulness practice and eco-psychology. In session, you can enhance insight, release body trauma, and alter behavior patterns while verbally processing your authentic truth.

In urban planning, there is a concept of integrating waterscapes into cities called “blue spaces.

👫Studies have found that short, frequent walks along waterscapes (blue spaces) are good for your mental health.

👫There is a significant improvement in well-being and mood immediately after a person goes for a walk in a blue space, compared with walking in an urban environment or resting.

👫Waterscapes have healing effects that enhance psychological resilience to promote mental health.

👫Walk + talk therapy by the bay gives clients an opportunity to enjoy some blue spaces while boosting their mental health.

Similarly, when urban architects add nature elements to cities such as trees, plants, and grass, these are called “green spaces.

👫 Green spaces provide fresh, healing air to the body

👫 Some mental health benefits of green spaces include: lowered stress levels, reduced rates of depression & anxiety, reduced cortisol levels, and improved general well-being

👫 Enhance your cognitive functioning, improve your sleep, and increase your levels of physical activity.

👫Walk + talk therapy by the bay gives you an opportunity to spend some time outside connecting to nature while working on your mental health.

If you’re joining me for walk + talk therapy, here are a couple things to keep in mind:

👫We don’t have to walk the whole time!

👫There is plenty of seating along the route should we choose to sit by the water and/or stop to talk in the shade.

👫Walking shoes or comfy sandals are recommended.

👫Please bring a water bottle—we’ve got to stay hydrated!

Written by Kalli Portillo, IMH24576 – Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern, EDMRIA-Approved EMDR Therapist, Certified Prepare/Enrich Couple Counselor

To learn more, review the following open access research studies or google “blue and green spaces mental health benefits.”

Benefits of walking psychotherapy:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8892051/

Waterscapes for mental health:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8618438/

Importance of greenspace: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5663018/

The Marvel of EMDR Therapy

Research shows that the brain has up to 70,000 thoughts per day, and most of them are negative! It is just the way that the brain has been wired through our collective evolutionary experiences, but now we have this wonderful tool, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), that can allow for the engagement of the part of the brain that looks for creative solutions and adaptive thinking-the cerebral cortex. So, if you’re wondering why some thoughts and unpleasant emotions stick around much longer, no need to ruminate, try EMDR. Many people are not aware that EMDR can be used for many unhelpful thinking patterns and not just what we define as traumas. If something has affected you, and it is still on your mind in the present day and guiding or influencing your, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, that too can be accessed and processed in an efficient manner and bring you relief. What may create a trauma for one person, may not for someone else, but distress can be a very subjective matter. Don’t hesitate to consult with an EMDRIA-approved therapist to assess whether EMDR is right for you, as unhelpful thinking can cause unnecessary suffering. Through EMDR, you can truly have a more balanced brain.

Written by Michelle Gissendanner – Registered Mental Health Intern/EMDRIA-Approved EMDR Therapist/Certified Integrative Mental Health Professional