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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

Steps for Starting Therapy

Starting the therapy process can be simultaneously exciting and nerve-racking, especially if you have never done it before. There may be a lot of questions regarding what it looks like or what to expect. You might even be envisioning what we see in TV shows or movies where you have a client laying on a couch and staring at the ceiling while the therapist is sitting nearby, jotting things on a clipboard, and asking, “How does that make you feel?” In a space of many questions and uncertainties, I have found that these guidelines can help out tremendously in preparing for a therapy session and ensuring you feel comfortable and informed.

Identify the reason(s) why you want to receive therapy – This can include symptoms, life stressors, personal development, and so on.

Do research on providers – This part is twofold: (1) Find providers that are covered by your insurance or have rates that work best for you and (2) explore what the therapists of that practice specialize in; the aim is to pair your needs with someone who knows how to tend to them.

Schedule a consultation – If you have further questions you would like answered before your session (i.e. rates, scheduling, etc.), set up a phone call with the office manager to gather more information.

Test it out – Like a good pair of jeans, you want to test out your therapist to see if it is a good fit. While they are the experts of how to treat mental health issues, you are the expert on your sense of safety and comfort. You should never feel unseen, unsafe, or dismissed with your therapist.

Maintain open communication – If you have questions, concerns, thoughts, or anything at all, be sure to talk about it with your therapist and be as transparent as possible. The only way to fully assess your needs and come alongside you to lend support is to fully know what you are experiencing.

Work collaboratively – While the therapist is learning more about you, you will also be learning more about yourself. Some interventions might work and others might not, but so long as you continue collaborating with your therapist, the both of you will learn what works best and what helps you get to where you want to go.

While the logistics of each session may vary, these guidelines should become standard practice. If you are going to enter into a space where you are required to be vulnerable and open, you should ensure you take all the measures possible to be informed and feel prepared for what is to come.

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

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

Six Dimensions of Wellness

On the heels of world changing events like a global pandemic, many communities were intensely affected by Hurricane Ian in September. As we adjust to new challenges and situations which have arisen from these, we continue to experience the problems that existed before pandemics or natural disasters. Now, as we approach holidays and other stressful situations it is more important than ever to focus on key concepts for maintaining wellness.

Mental health counseling focuses on striving for wellness in all areas of our lives as foundational to managing stress and other mental health concerns. If you currently feel overwhelmed, lack direction, or simply don’t ‘know where to start try using the six dimensions of wellness listed below daily to gain control over your mental health and wellbeing.

Environment: First, take a look at your daily routines throughout the week and on the weekends. Your environment is your home, your commute, your workplace, etc. As you evaluate your space, you may feel calmer when your space is tidy and organized. This would become an area of focus each day by spending time to clean and organize and then to maintain this space. If your commute is stressful, take a look at areas you can improve. For example, choose calming music, an entertaining audiobook, or podcast to reduce the focus on the stressful aspects of the ride. Or turn the music off and use this time to transition from work to home.

Emotional: A daily focus on emotional wellness may begin with noticing your emotions throughout the day. Are you in control of your emotions? Do you struggle maintaining your level of calm, anxiety, happiness, sadness, or anger? Journaling is a great way to record your thoughts and learn more about the emotions you are experiencing. Therapy is a great place to jump start or explore this focus and to gain insight into how you are feeling and how you are currently managing.

Physical: Physical health is a dimension most of us are aware we need to focus on. A daily focus on physical health means eating foods that are nourishing, establishing a sleep schedule for adequate restorative sleep, going for a walk or taking time to stretch between activities throughout the day. These can be simple, but it requires us to make them a priority consistently to achieve wellness.

Intellectual: Learning something new every day can be the goal here. Or it can mean reading a new book, exploring a subject of interest at the library or online. Learn more about yourself as well by seeking to learn a new skill or hobby. Overlap between the dimensions might be helpful here, so use that long commute to listen to an audiobook or podcast.

Social: Focus on the social dimension might include calling a friend or a loved one just to check in and say hello. It may mean making time to visit a friend or family member. This could also be a time to overlap dimensions with the intellectual and join a group and learn to cook or paint. Volunteering your time is also a good way to develop friendships and make lasting contributions to the community.

Spiritual: This dimension is about your connection to your belief system. Meditation, prayer, or taking time to commune with nature are ways to recharge your batteries in this dimension. This also allows you to explore how you find meaning and the ways in which that meaning is influencing your life.

The six dimensions of wellness focus on our environment, emotional wellbeing, physical health, intellectual pursuits, spiritual involvement, and social interactions. Remember, we are individuals and our needs in each area will vary from person to person. Also, being flexible with how we focus on each dimension daily will help with making these a priority in some way every day. If you are having difficulty finding or maintaining balance in your life, reach out to a qualified mental health professional for assistance.

Written by April Daniel – Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern

Restore Your Relationship

“The first step to problem solving in a relationship is to simply take the rope and set it down.”
When working with couple’s in conflict resolution. The first question I ask them is: “what is one step you can take to work towards a solution?” Being able to work towards healing and restoration in a relationship means creating a mental shift from focusing on all the areas the other partner is lacking, and begin to focus on what steps are needed to take to make your partner comfortable in working together as a team. It is easy to fall into a “tug of war” battle where each partner refuses to let go of their own personal perceptions, opinions, and truths. While it is important to acknowledge your own thoughts and feelings, it is also important to show empathy and understanding towards the other partner. Taking accountability of your own actions and coming together to fight against the problem versus each other creates a sense of “partnership”. Partnership means you are no longer on opposite sides of the playing field but working together as a team.
Written by Jessica Sagastume, MH# 16756 – Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Bilingual and Immigration Counselor

Feminist Theory and Self-Care in the Modern Age

Rebranding the “Bimbo”

In 2022, young people have abandoned traditional theories of feminism and equality. Instead, they’re concentrating on something far more optimistic and unexpected: “bimboism.” But what exactly is a bimbo? Isn’t “bimbo” a derogatory term? And what does this have to do with mental health? The answer is, shockingly, quite a lot.

Traditionally, “bimbo” was defined as an attractive but insipid or “dumb” woman. Nowadays, young people are looking to reclaim the word. Feminist Theory has been prevalent in mental health counseling for decades; The work of Karen Horney comes to mind. But Millenials and Generation Z have a new take on feminism. Shot into the zeitgeist by Tiktok and Generation Z, the modern “bimbo” is the lovechild of social media and third-wave feminism. She stands for equality for all and, surprisingly, self-care & mental health. Syrena, a Tiktok creator known as @fauxrich, defined a bimbo as a traditionally or hyper-feminine woman often villainized for her love of traditionally feminine things, including self-care, caring for one’s physical appearance, and being in touch with one’s emotions. Griffin Maxwell Brooks, a Tiktok content creator, expanded on “the study of bimbology” in a video, saying, “nobody can tell you how to be a bimbo, since it isn’t about how people see you.” They continued, “There is no gender, class, color, or ability in the bimbo. The only prerequisite for bimbofication is embracing and reclaiming your body in the name of independence.”

For years, psychologists, therapists, and other mental health workers have worked for equal rights for both men and women. Unfortunately, in modern media and Western culture, traditionally feminine interests (such as watching romantic comedies, enjoying a spa day, or participating in any form of feminine activities as self-care) were seen as superficial, shallow, and for the unintelligent. Even in medical and mental health fields, the deep disdain for female emotions can be seen. For example, the verbiage of Histrionic Personality Disorder, with “histrionic,” originating from the Greek prefix hystera, meaning “womb” or “uterus.” Extreme emotions, attention-seeking behavior, and even being excessively consumed with grooming are all female-coded symptoms of HPD.

While the sub-culture of the new-age bimbo is relatively new on social media, what she represents is clear: a new, radical acceptance of all things traditionally feminine, including the full spectrum of her emotions, interests, and preferred self-care.

Written by Victoria Baker, Graduate Student in Mental Health Counseling

Nothing Changes if Nothing Ever Changes

Regardless of our thoughts or intentions for ourselves or others, this phrase reminds us we are experiencing difficulty because doing the same thing over and over isn’t working. We need to change. We need to break a cycle or a way of being.

Change can be very difficult which is the reason cycles repeat. Anyone can fall victim to habit or routine and the excuses that maintain them. We can see these cycles repeating among our families, friends, coworkers, and others. It is also evident when someone chooses to change. To do something different. This breaks the cycle.

Change doesn’t have to be big or even scary. Sometimes it is just the way we think about a certain situation, ourselves, or others. Thinking differently is the beginning of change.

Impactful change can result from changing our vantage point or location. These changes may alter our moods! Skeptical? Give it a try, the next time you feel anxious, depressed, hopeless, or frustrated.

Challenge yourself to stand up and walk to another room, to a window, or outdoors. See how just moving yourself can feel like the beginning of a bigger change. At the very least, you handled your situation in a different way. You chose to think of it differently and to act upon those thoughts which lead to powerful, meaningful changes.

If the small change felt good, challenge yourself to consider the next step in this change. Will you incorporate this change into your routine? Will you add to this step by taking another step toward your goal of changing your self-perception, your situation, or relationships? It can!

It all starts with one small change.

Written by April Daniel, Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern #21443

Summer Loving ❤️

Summer… Even the word brings on a sweet smile!

This spectacular time of year comes after spring and before fall. Many agree that it’s the best season of all. A time where we can all use a splash of replenishment as the days grow longer and the soul longs for sunshine and the sea.

Traditionally, this special season suspends the 3 R’s of reading writing and arithmetic and sets the stage for 2 R’s that are far more gratifying and satisfying to our mental health, rest, and relaxation.

Have you put much thought into making this summer sizzle? If not, it may be time to turn up the heat and consider the following FUN and affordable activities:

stargazing
exercising
gardening
pleasure reading
dancing/movement
yoga/pilates/tai chi
visiting a park/ zoo/ museum/ planetarium
building a treehouse
creating/sketching/ drawing/ painting/sidewalk chalk
praying/ meditating
collecting seashells
building a sand castle
hiking
writing/ sharing your story
kissing
playing board games
playing cards
playing hopscotch
playing sports
serving others
volunteering
baking
floating/ splashing in the sea
cycling/skating/roller blading
caking an ice cream sundae
other

Can you think of ten additions to begin your Summer Bucket List?
FUN things to do that lift your spirits and make your eyes sparkle!
If so, add them to create your unique summer bucket list! Check off as you complete and add other activists as you discover all of the pleasures of summer.
Let’s make the most of this awesome season!
Summer… I’m loving it!!

written by: Ria Ruane, MA, RMHCI art work by: Alexa Ruane

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