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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/

Guide Your Child Through Life

Figuring out the best way to guide your child through life can be scary. There is no perfect manual that tells parents what to do when your child throws a temper tantrum at the grocery store, when your child refuses to eat anything but cookies and chicken nuggets, when your child becomes curious about life, when your child experiences their “terrible twos or terrible teens.”
Ultimately, parenting is a ‘learn as you go” journey. There are several great books that teach parents some really useful strategies when navigating through different stages in your child’s emotional development. One thing that I suggest to parents is to assess their parenting approach. The beauty of a child’s development is that they are taking in their environment. A parent’s parenting style is a major source of influence on how a child will interact with others in their adult life. Children thrive off of high expectations while being supported and guided in a loving environment. When parents take an authoritative approach, parents recognize that their child and/or teen are still developing emotional maturity and depend on their guidance and limits to navigate through life. Through their guidance and boundaries, parents empower their children to make decisions. A because “I said so approach” is not taken but statements like “what do you think about..” “I do or do not think this is a good idea because…” ‘Which one would you choose…” “Help me understand…” “I can understand you are upset but it has to be this way because…”
Creating healthy parent-children relationships is important in creating healthy and secure adult individuals.
Written by Jessica Sagastume – Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Bilingual and Immigration Counselor

Holly Jolly Stress

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Right? For some, the holiday season is a time to be anticipated. It’s a time for family, friends, celebrations, and thankfulness. Christmas carols boast of joy, love, cheer, family traditions and light hearts. This, however, is not the reality for some. The holiday season can be a time of extreme stress, exacerbated loneliness, depression, anxiety, and even grief. To make matters worse and the burden heavier, the holidays are also a time during which people tend to compare their lives to those around them, magnifying and compounding those negative feelings. Here are some important tips and reminders for those who struggle during the holiday season:

1. Consider creating new traditions for yourself if the old ones aren’t working.

2. Surround yourself with people who may be in a similar mindset during the holidays and need like-minded friendship and support. Focus on connecting with others even if it is not by conventional means. Avoid isolation and disconnection.

3. Recognize and accept your feelings without judgement. You are absolutely not alone. Be gentle with yourself and go out of your way to avoid potential triggers even if that means declining certain invitations.

4. Prioritize your self-care. Remember, the holiday season is just that: a season. If this time of year is particularly difficult for you, remember it will pass.

Written by Nicole Geddie – Graduate Student in Mental Health Counseling

FORGIVENESS IS ESSENTIAL FOR HEALING

Forgiveness is a tool that we all possess as humans, but if you choose not to utilize your tool it becomes something that is foreign and many times it leads to something that we feel we no longer possess.
The truth is that forgiveness is a necessary tool to utilize in your daily life because it a tool that kick starts healing in your life both mentally and physically. According to Kirsten Weir, Research has shown that forgiveness is linked to mental health outcomes such as reduced anxiety, depression and major psychiatric disorders, as well as with fewer physical health symptoms and lower mortality rates.
In life, energy is something that we definitely utilize everyday, but if the energy you contain is contaminated with a lot of ongoing pain that you choose to not relieve yourself of it leads to various developments of mental and or physical conditions. This is why forgiveness is meant for the survivor rather than the offender that inflicted the pain.
Many may assume that forgiveness means that you are letting someone off the hook, but this is false evidence appearing real because forgiveness really means that a person is choosing to forgive the experience that they had and is choosing to relieve their-self of the negative emotions that has had a hold on them for years because of the choice to hold on to the constant pain and torment that is familiar to them.
When you choose to not forgive it is as if you are drinking a toxic drink and expecting those that hurt you to reap the consequences of it.
Forgiveness is a process and in that process the first step is to be willing to allow yourself to be open to forgiving. Then acknowledge all hurt and pain rather than consuming it as something you can never overcome. Once this is done identify how not forgiving is helping or not helping you. In addition, identify how forgiveness could help you and what your life could be like if you chose to forgive. After going over all of this review everything that you identified and based upon your realizations choose what will serve your life for the better because your life is yours and nobody else can live it but you.

Written by Bria Young, Registered Mental Health Counseling Intern

Reference

Weir, Kirsten. (2017). Forgiveness can improve mental and physical health. American Psychological Association. Vol. 48 (1). Pg. 30

When Positivity Becomes Toxic

Have you ever heard the following phrases?

  • “Positive vibes only.”

  • “Everything happens for a reason.”

  • “Failure is not an option.”

  • “Why are you so upset? So-and-so has it much worse.”

  • “Look on the bright side.”

 

If these sound familiar, it’s because this type of mindset is glorified in mainstream culture. Toxic positivity is the belief that one should focus on the bright side of things and keep moving forward while ignoring or neglecting the negative aspects of life. While the intention is seemingly optimistic and positive, the impact is nothing short of harmful. Imagine having to be objectively strong, ambitious, successful, level-minded, in control, unaffected, emotionally stable, invincible, and perfect all the time. What an exhausting way to live! Toxic positivity essentially tells us that it’s not okay to be human because being human is messy and difficult. This is why so many people suffer in silence and feel like they’re failing in life. But what if we began looking at these positive attributes through a realistic and empowering lens rather than a dismissive one? What if we acknowledged that part of being “strong” is learning how to grow through moments of weakness? What if we believed that part of remaining “in control” is recognizing that there are things outside of our control and focusing on the things we can help? What if we accepted that part of being “emotionally stable” is becoming familiar with the emotions that hurt and feel uncomfortable and learning how to process these emotions in healthy ways? I believe we can normalize the real human experience and allow others to feel more comfortable and free to admit they aren’t doing well, ask for help, and receive support! No one should have to suffer alone or in silence.

 

Here are some healthier phrases to replace toxic positivity:

  • “I’m here for you.”

  • “I am so sorry that happened to you.”

  • “You have every reason to feel that way.”

  • “Do you want to talk about it?”

  • “How can I support you right now?

Written by Cindy-Joy Rosado, Graduate Student in Mental Health Counseling

Speak Your Mind In Therapy

There are many issues that arise over a lifetime for which we may need assistance from a mental health counselor in working through. We are social creatures, but we can get lost or trapped in our own thoughts. This is when we need a trusted someone to help us see ourselves in a new way. Typically, we only share portions of our thinking, or depending on the listener, we share very edited versions of our thoughts. Depending on your situation, you feel your friends or loved ones don’t want or need to hear all that is going on in your head. This is where mental health counseling can help.

A mental health counselor assists others by listening and identifying areas of change. But something else is also happening during therapy sessions. You are speaking your mostly unedited thoughts aloud for someone else to better understand you. Focusing on yourself in therapy and without editing for the listener’s needs or wants allows you to better understand your own thoughts through this clarification process.

This happens with couples as well. In relationships, we may fall into communication styles that become frustrating cycles. These can become predictable enough for one person in the relationship to recite both sides of an entire argument routinely experienced with their significant other. The therapist can assist in recognizing and changing these cycles of communication. Here again, speaking these thoughts aloud is helpful because the couple works to identify how they are thinking and feeling in a clear way for themselves, for one another and for the therapist.

Families benefit from therapy through these same processes with the added benefit of shared insight within the family. When parents, separated or divorced co-parents, and/or stepparents and their children of all ages are included in sessions, there is opportunity for shared understanding and change. For example, parents may benefit from learning their fears or concerns for their children aren’t their children’s concerns. Children also see their parents making a healthy choice to seek assistance for issues that arise and watch as they model healthy coping skills for these issues within the family. What better way to change generational communication cycles that keep families stuck and repeating destructive patterns of behavior?

Whether you are interested in individual, couples, or family therapy seeking the services of a mental health counselor to discuss your needs provides an opportunity for sharing one’s most unedited thoughts and concerns. This new way of sharing and learning is the perfect opportunity to change yourself and your relationships.

Written by April Daniel

Bringing Intimacy Back Podcast Becomes Non-Profit

Bringing Intimacy Back, a podcast that is dedicated to inspire, enlighten, and encourage intimate connections, is officially registered as a non-profit. Visit Bringing Intimacy Back for more information and watch previous shows or follow their social media (Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, & Twitter).

Bringing Intimacy Back, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit, has provided an engaging environment to discuss how to enhance intimacy in one’s personal relationships with significant others, families, friends, Spirit, and oneself. Bringing Intimacy Back is always the place where intimacy comes alive, where intimacy has no limits; it is Where Intimacy is Real.

Dr. April Brown is a Licensed Mental Health Christian Counselor (LMHC), Certified School Counselor (CSC), Certified Relationship and Sex Therapist, Board Certified TeleMental Health Counselor (BC-TMHC), National Certified Counselor (NCC), and a Qualified Clinical Supervisor. Kanya Ford best known as Coach Kay is a clinical sexologist, master sexologist, Bedroom Kandi consultant, and owner of Love & Intimacy 101, LLC coaching practice.

Two strong, independent entrepreneur women with the education and dedication to educate and improve intimacy for viewers as a non-profit podcast. Hosts Dr. April Brown and Kanya Ford are on a mission to increase intimacy in a world that is so disconnected by asking the nitty, gritty questions you are all dying to ask. Bringing Intimacy Back is based on building intimate connections to empower us to live a more fulfilling, driven, and purposeful life. It is time we squash our fears and be comfortable with finding our true intimate selves and Bringing Intimacy Back is the podcast that does just that. Live shows every Thursday at 3:30 pm eastern time, new intimate topics alongside new guests, no topic is off-limits.

With the advancements in technology, staying communicated and reaching a lot more people has never been so easy, but it comes at a price. Technology has also caused distance, we are all guilty of staying glued to our phones, if we are being honest, any technology we can get our hands-on. Bringing Intimacy Back is here to close the gap, lack of intimacy is one of the top three reasons why relationships fail or face problems. The higher the intimacy level is, the lower there is of anxiety, depression, stress, relationships failing, and arguments within the relationship.

The podcast you didn’t know you needed, but you finally found. The first steps in building and establishing strong intimate connections start with you, what better place to do it than taking a plunge into Bringing Intimacy Back. The podcast with a purpose to inspire, educate, and encourage stronger intimate connections and now proudly so as a non-profit. Bringing Intimacy Back registered as a non-profit created for its viewers, reaching new heights and exploring intimacy. Tune in for LIVE shows every Thursday at 3:30 pm EST or visit Bringing Intimacy Back for more episodes.

Written by Rachel Gonzalez