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Why Choose Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Is Cognitive Therapy right for me?

There are many different kinds of “talk therapy”, and choosing the best one is sometimes trial and error. So it is good to do your research so that you know what questions to ask a potential therapist, and can better decide if he or she is right for you.

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has many benefits, especially if you don’t want to spend years in therapy or counseling. It addresses behaviors and thought patterns and works in the present time rather than analyzing the past. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is not about diving into what you or your parents did when you were a child. Rather, it aims to focus on the present issues at hand.

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy teaches through self-awareness, moderating your thinking, and dealing rationally with behaviors and thought processes. The average length of a CBT relationship between client and therapist is 16 sessions. This cuts down on both time and money. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is all about giving you concrete tools to navigate your emotions, control your thinking, and thus eliminate unwanted behaviors.

 

CBT operates well for all cultures and ethnicities as it is about common, universal human behaviors and thought patterns. It is focused on the goals of the client.

 

CBT sessions are not just random chats. They are more structured for better therapeutic results.

 

The basic premise and principle of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is that the way we think determines our behaviors, and changing our thinking changes how we live.

 

CBT is therapy for the modern working person, and also for people for whom protracted therapy techniques do not work. It helps you set goals and shows you how to create the steps to achieve those goals. It is pragmatic in its essence, and won’t allow you to dally around in your past.

 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is often the only choice for those who have been stuck and going around in circles. It is concrete, quick, and very successful for many.

How to Deal with A Breakup and Become A Better Person

 

How to Overcome Breakups

No one likes to go through broken hearts. But it’s absolutely guaranteed that a broken heart is a part of everyone’s story. Whether it was the girl in third grade, or your first love, or even a divorce, break ups are never easy to cope with. According to social psychologists, there are five stages that everyone dealing with loss and grief goes through. Each step is a personal journey to a better life ahead of you, as you take advantage of new opportunities. The steps of grief are as follows:

Denial

When we first enter the realm of break ups or divorces, there is a part of us that refuses to believe it’s really happening. We think maybe our partner will change their mind. Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow and it will blow over. Maybe I’ll give them a week to calm down and then we’ll talk. Denial comes in many forms, and it’s easy to stay comfortably in denial. As reality begins to set in, we move onto step two.

Anger

Once our brain registers the severity of the situation, we get angry. Anger is a natural response to things that are beyond our own control. We’re angry because we our partner left. We’re angry because they aren’t doing everything in their control to make things better. It feels like a betrayal when we trusted them more than anyone else. Anger is normal, and healthy. It’s also common to be angry at ourselves for things that we should have done in the past. The trick to coping with this stage of loss is to turn the anger into something productive. Use it to get more done at work. Use it as motivation to work out. Set some new goals and channel that energy into making choices that will improve who you are a person.

Bargaining

Once the anger settles and things begin to calm down, the bargaining begins. Whether we are bargaining with ourselves: “What if I did this differently?”, or… we try to bargain with the ex-partner to get back together by saying “I can change”.

Depression

Although I might argue that depression can emerge at any point along the process, it’s predicted to come out after the bargaining stage. Depression is the times when our sadness takes over our whole feelings, and there is not anything you can do to emerge from it. During times of depression it’s important to lean on some good friends. Talk out your situation, and read inspirational things. Listen to upbeat music, and do your best to just keep chugging along. Depression will slowly fade into just a twinge of sadness, and then you’ll find yourself in the last step of grief.

Acceptance

Reaching acceptance isn’t always an easy process. Sometimes break ups are sudden or especially painful. It’s really hard to accept things that we don’t understand. I’ve found that doing your best to understand the situation is the best way to learn to accept it. Listen to the things your partner said during the break up. Think critically about the relationship, and don’t obsess over just the good things. Of course there were good times, but breakups don’t occur for no reason. Were you unhappy at the core? Was it bad timing? The important thing is to not resist acceptance. Refusing to accept a situation will keep you in a revolving door of the steps above. You’ll be stuck in anger and depression, even denial at some points.

Chances are there is always room for personal improvement after the end of a relationship. You just spent so much time focusing on a whole separate being. Imagine if you took that energy and poured it into your own wellbeing. Take this time to write down goals and achieve them. Use the extra energy as motivation to become a better version of you. A version of you that you will be proud to share with someone else in the future.

The Process of Loss

 

Loss is a part of life and we all will experience many losses as we navigate our journeys. Loss comes in many guises; it is not only the death of a loved one. Loss can be the dissolution of an important relationship, having to move from a beloved family home, losing a part of your life to illness; almost any life transition is accompanied by a sense of loss. Loss and the grieving process go hand in hand, and grief is something one should not try to side-step. It is an essential part of being able to move on from the loss, and if you don’t allow yourself to grieve, you could end up with psychological and physical health issues later on.

 

In her book On Death and Dying, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross posited fives stages of normal grief. They need not occur in any particular order, and most often people in grief will move back and forth through the different stages. But all grief is a highly personal and individual process, and there is no timetable for it. Each person will grieve in his or her own time, and in his or her own way.

 

The five stages of grief are:

 

  • Denial and Isolation
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

 

In denial and isolation one is not accepting the reality of the situation. Often this feeling makes the person feel isolated and alone, or causes him to isolate himself from others. It is important in this stage that you try as well as you can, to be with your support system – loved ones, friends and family – and that you talk about how you feel as openly as possible. If you need to seek professional help, do not wait. Get it.

 

With anger, your feelings are deflected because the pain of the situation is too much to bear, and anger is the result. People who aren’t in awareness of this stage, often take their anger out on loved ones or others, getting agitated and losing their tempers easily. But anger is a more active stage than denial, and puts you on your path towards acceptance.

 

In bargaining people go through the “if only’s”. If only I had gotten a second opinion, if only I had said “I love you”, if only I had gotten help earlier. The “if only’s” can drive you nuts if you aren’t careful, and is also another way to not have to feel the actual pain of the loss.

 

Depression is the beginning of dealing with the pain. You could be depressed over more practical matters, like costs and bills, and then you get depressed because you know you must say goodbye and let the situation or person go. This part of the depression stage is more individual and private, and comes along with deep reflection, memories, and deep sadness. It is normal to feel this for months, but if it goes on for too long, get professional help. Sorting through your feelings, which can be very complex, may need a fresh set of eyes.

 

Acceptance does not come to everyone. Some people are never able to move out of denial and anger. The ability to make peace with the situation is sometimes hard won, and not everyone gets there. Give yourself time and don’t be impatient with yourself. The grieving process can be quite protracted, and there are no time limits.

 

Loss and grief are necessary parts of living a full life, and knowing something about them, can help you to cope a little better. The process is personal, and will take longer for some than others. But there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and you may move back and forth through the different stages a few times before you come to some peace. Journal about your feelings, talk about them, even paint or draw them. You don’t have to be an artist to be creative in your expression of them. And in the end, getting your feelings out will ease the pain and speed up the process.

 

 

The Ego: Can We Really Take It or Leave It?

What is the ego?

 

Dictionary.com defines “ego” as “the ‘I’ or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought.”

It goes on to say that the definition in psychoanalysis is “the part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the outside world and thus mediates between the primitive drives of the id and the demands of the social and physical environments.”

 

New Age gurus everywhere have said that the ego is that part of the human experience that makes us separate from others, the part that individualizes itself, the mind chatter that plagues us, the child part of ourselves that needs constant attention, and the part of the self that makes decisions based upon the past, and coming from a place of fear. They also tell us that the more evolved we are, the less interference the ego presents in our lives, and that letting go of the ego is the ultimate goal. This attitude makes a lot of people involved in the New Age movement feel “less than” because they can’t seem to quiet or eradicate the ego. It’s a very counter-intuitive thing to put on people.

 

Whether you are religious or on some spiritual path, or a total atheist, learning to live with the ego is part of accepting yourself totally and embracing the human experience. Stressing over the ego’s chatter, being in a constant battle with it, and beating yourself up for mistakes it has made, are all a waste of energy. As long as we are in bodies, having a human experience, we are going to have to deal with the ego. Learning how to quiet it in order to de-stress is a wonderful practice to get into. Meditation is a good way, so is listening to your favorite music, getting out in Nature. Getting into the habit of giving yourself time to make decisions so that you know that your decisions are not coming from a place of fear – which is the ego – is also a practice that it is good to take on.

 

Not accepting the ego as a part of who you are is essentially denying a part of who you are. But the ego doesn’t have to be in control. You love your child, but you wouldn’t allow her to drive the car, would you? Learning how to manage it takes practice and self-awareness is the key. You really can’t eradicate the ego, but you can befriend it, embrace it, and acknowledge the role it plays in making you who you are. Self-esteem requires that you accept the totality of yourself, and the ego is just one aspect of that.

Mental Illness and Creativity: Is There a Connection?

artistic expressions

A great many creative people – artists, poets, musicians, even philosophers – have been thought to be mad since ancient times. Some cultures honored their eccentrics, the “different” ones, but others often had them put in asylums or even executed as witches. Obviously times have changed since then and society has become much more open minded about mental illnesses. Psychological studies have shown that there is, in fact, a connection between mental illness and creativity. While mental illness does not necessarily equal creativity, and vice versa, there have been found many cases of links between the two.

 

For many people who live with mental illnesses, it provides them with an opportunity for a unique perspective on life, coming at reality from an oblique angle. Couple that with creative talent and intelligence, and an artistic genius can be born. People with serious mental illnesses such as clinical depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders exist with their sensory volume turned way up. It is harder for them to filter out information for the purposes of focus, and so they take in much more than most people do. While this may cause a lot of inner turmoil and suffering, it also gives them the ability to form connections out of seemingly disconnected things, feelings, and ideas.

 

William Lee Adams, who writes for CNN, said in his article The dark side of creativity: Depression + anxiety x madness =genius?, “Celebrated Norwegian artist Edvard Munch’s life was fraught with anxiety and hallucinations” But, he goes on to write, “The painting (The Scream) is thought to represent the angst of modern man which Munch experienced deeply throughout his life, but saw as an indispensable driver of his art. He wrote in his diary, ‘My fear of life is necessary to me, as is my illness. They are indistinguishable from me, and their destruction would destroy my art’.”

 

Psychologists, having been almost enraptured with this question, conducted early studies of well-known artists who worked in a variety of media, and the conclusion was that many highly creative people suffer from mood disorders. Clinical depression plagued people like Charles Dickens, Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Jackson Pollack, and Anne Sexton.

 

Many of these studies rely on anecdotal evidence and have been harshly criticized. But neuroscientist Andreas Fink of the University of Graz in Austria published a study in which he compared brains of creative people to those with schizotypy, which is a milder form of schizophrenia.

 

Adams writes that the psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman, who also writes for Scientific American “has summed up the results (of this study) this way. ‘It seems that the key to creative cognition is opening up the floodgates, and letting in as much information as possible. Because you never know: sometimes the most bizarre associations can turn into the most productively creative ideas’.”

 

While creativity remains somewhat elusive, the answer to the question posed in the title of this article is “Yes”. There is a connection between mental suffering and creative expression. The depth required to probe the human condition through art of any kind, sometimes takes a special vision and sensitivity that the “normal” person often escapes. Is creativity a curse? Modern pharmacology has made it less so. But people need to want to be helped and many artists hold the sentiments of Edvard Munch – that without their illness, their art wouldn’t exist.

Rethinking Mental Illness

Mental Health and mental illness | Hope Counseling

 

All throughout history, individuals with mental illnesses have been marginalized, if not brutalized and shunned. In ancient times, the mentally ill were often seen as possessed by demons, or in league with the devil, and as a result, were put to death. It is a sad commentary on world perception, that the mentally ill are still stigmatized, living as the outsiders among us, considered to be not “normal”, and sometimes dangerous.

 

People tend to fear what they don’t understand, and unfortunately, the mentally ill are still all too often misunderstood, and thought to be people to avoid. They are considered to be “strange”, “weird” and “crazy”. As a result, their lives are often lived in secret, and they seek no help or support. Even people who are well-educated have many misconceptions about mental illness, and frequently, it is up to the mentally ill to teach the rest of us what it’s really about.

 

That mental illness is physiological, that there is frequently medication involved in treatment, and there is a “diagnosis”, a label placed on the mentally ill person, that label oftentimes follows that person all her life. People say of the mentally ill, “She is a schizophrenic”, and instead of the schizophrenic saying “I have schizophrenia”, she will tell others, “I am schizophrenic”, thus identifying the totality of who she is with her illness. She takes societal stigma and judgment and places it on herself. Society’s stereotype becomes her own. She has become her illness. It is so counter-intuitive to her potential wellness.

 

The truth is that the those who live with mental illnesses are us. They often continue to live lives that are full and meaningful. They want to love and be loved and accepted, and to feel useful – that they matter. They want to be seen as more than just one part of who they are. They can be intelligent and creative and productive. And they walk this earth, not as outsiders or ghosts, but as human beings, the just the same as regular people. They only need the chance to become as fully realized as they can be. For that chance, it is up to us to educate ourselves and in doing so, to eradicate the terrible stigma that has followed people with mental illness for too long.

 

Mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression, and bi-polar disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and several other mental illnesses are difficult to live with, but can also be overcome. For those that suffer these illnesses, it’s possible to live a completely normal life, without revealing that the illness is present. On one hand, this is great because it allows the person to live without prejudice. On the other hand, it forces them to be underground about their symptoms.

 

The solution is to allow change the way we think about mental illness. It can be scary and unpredictable. But at the root, it can be simply another hurdle for us to overcome. Diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders is paramount.

Scared to see a counselor?

 

Being scared to seek counseling is really common. After all, we’ve been taught that we should solve our own problems! Sometimes overcoming the realization that we need help isn’t an easy thing to do. Even if whatever your challenge is isn’t serious, admitting that we can’t fix the situation ourselves is difficult. Maybe you know what you should be doing, but you aren’t motivated to do it. Maybe you’ve just got a couple roadblocks to overcome. Whatever it is, you’re thinking that talking it over with a counselor might be helpful, but you’re a little scared to get started. Counseling can be the first step you take in making a difference in your life.

Here are some things to think about while considering seeking some guidance:

Hope Counseling | Session

 

It’s only a conversation

Sometimes all it takes is one meeting with a counselor to get the advice we’re looking for. Maybe it’ll take two. Maybe you’ll decide it’s really helpful and become a returning client. Either way, you’re not losing anything by just making one appointment.

You run things

If there’s a topic you don’t want to discuss, you don’t have to talk about it! Sometimes people are afraid that counselors will try to get inside your head and read your thoughts. Although this would be an amazing super power, I don’t know any counselors that can actually do that. If there is a topic you don’t want to talk about, just say so. If you feel like the conversation is going in a bad direction, say so. You have the stage to work on whatever problem you want to work on.

It’s Effective

You know how just venting to your friends is so cathartic? Imagine that your friend was actually educated in how to help you perfectly. That’s what counseling is. Many people have overcome depression, relationship issues, or self-esteem issues just by working through their problems with a therapist. They’ll help you look at your situation from a different angle.

Start with a phone call

Call the office and request to just talk to someone on the phone, to get a feeling if talking it out is something that can help you. You’ve got nothing invested, and you’re totally anonymous. If once you talk to the counselor for a bit, you’ve decided that it might be helpful to schedule a full session, go ahead! You’ve already made huge progress.

How to Cope with Being Alone

Hope CounselingHumans are inherently social creatures. We thrive from connections that we create with loved ones. And although there is a large spectrum of comfort with social contact, it is true that we all need to feel connected. When we are forced to be alone by whichever life matters have brought us there, coping with solo life can be difficult. Here are some things to consider trying during your streak of independence:

Have a happy mindset:

Most of our troubles are created by our frame of mind. Look at this as an opportunity to explore and learn more about yourself. You now have this time to devote to yourself! This really is true independence. Keep an open mind about meeting new people, and engaging in new activities. Happiness comes from within. Don’t make excuses!

Learn Something New:

What is something that you always wish you had learned? For me, I would love to learn how to play the guitar. During a time when I was alone previously, I learned how to knit. Take lessons or watch video tutorials online. Connect with others who have a passion for whatever it is you want to learn to do. They will love the opportunity to share their passion, and you will get to absorb their knowledge!

Adopt a Pet:

For longer periods of time alone, pets are great way to focus your need for connection. Dogs are great because they really love their humans. Their reliance upon you will help to give purpose to your day. If you can’t adopt a pet, volunteer at your local animal shelter. Walking the dogs is a great chance for you to get out, take walks, and connect with another being.  

Read:

This summer my goal is to read five new books. There is always something to be gained from reading. You’ll become more educated, pass time, and become a better-rounded person. Check out some classics like Huckleberry Finn, Wizard of Oz, The Catcher in the Rye, or The Great Gatsby. Walden, by Henry David Thoreau is about a spiritual quest to live independently in nature.

Exercise:

Imagine getting that body you’ve always wanted. Now you have no excuses. Wake up with the sun and just take a walk. Join a work out class. There is Yoga, Pilates, Barre, Spin, Zumba, Weight Lifting, and SO MANY MORE! Some big cities offer free exercise classes outside during the summer. You’ll look great, feel better, and you’ll seriously impress your loved ones next time you see them. See this story about a woman who took advantage of her time away from her husband to drop 100 pounds.

Pick up hours at work:

Focusing your extra hours into your work life will give you an extra cushion in your bank account. You will have more free money to pay off bills or save for your next goal. If putting in more hours at work sounds like the worst idea in the world, consider volunteering. It’ll still keep you busy, but you will have more control over your schedule and hours. You’ll be making a positive impact in the world as well!

Explore:

Go outside! It’s a big beautiful world out there! You won’t meet any interesting people by staying home. Get yourself a pair of hiking shoes and explore local state parks. Connect with nature by kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, swimming, or even just having lunch in the park.

 

 

 

The Truth about Teenagers and Depression

depressed teenagerTeenagers often experience strong emotions for the first time, and for them, everything feels like the end of the world. It’s a time of life where, as humans, we tend to exaggerate every emotion we have; teenagers are emotional vampires. We’ve always been this way, it’s in our nature; except now, teenagers now have a voice that reaches billions of people.

The teenagers of today can broadcast their mood swings publicly, for all to see. You’ll notice on Twitter, almost every teenager claims to have some mental disorder, as if it’s a badge of honor. You might hear your teenager claim to have OCD because she doesn’t like a messy room, or maybe she’s lonely and sad, so she determines that it’s depression. These are very serious problems that ruin the lives of many, and they shouldn’t be minimized by those seeking attention. 

Chances are, if your son or daughter is really struggling through something, he or she probably won’t broadcast it in public. However, some people do use twitter when they’re suffering from depression, to connect with others in the same boat. So you have to know the signs to tell if it’s a genuine problem, or if you have to talk to your child about the magnitude of his or her attention-seeking habits.

How can you tell if your teens tweets are legit or an over dramatization of a bad day? Check some of the signs below.

 

When Your Teenager is Deeply Depressed You May Notice…

  • Comments or a belief that life is pointless
  • A lack of interest in things he or she once loved
  • Dramatic changes in weight or appetite
  • Physical laziness/lethargy
  • Self-loathing, overly critical of self
  • Poor attendance/performance at school
  • Writing about death, giving away things
  • Frequent complaints of physical pain
  • Withdrawn behavior
  • Possible self-harm or drug usage

When Your Teenager is Just “Twitter Depressed” You May Notice…

  • Your son or daughter is still interested in hobbies and family
  • He or she also posts about how great life is only a few days after several depression tweets
  • A coincidence between certain events and the “depression” that seems to come and go with it
  • Several other mental illness claims such as “anorexia” or “OCD”
  • He or She often tweets about how hard it is to have [insert various disorder here]

 

How does yoga influence emotions?

Yoga: Helping To Heal and Balance Emotions

 

Yoga is a body, mind, and spirit practice. The word yoga means, to “yoke”, unite, or join together “at the roots”. In layman’s terms, yoga is the bringing together of every aspect of the person, and also bringing the practitioner to a place of oneness with all of existence. So when we speak of health, in yogic philosophy, we are speaking of complete health, body, mind, and emotions.

 

Yoga aims to place its practitioners into a meditative state, only focusing on the present moment, not the past or the future. In yoga, neither the past nor the future exists. There is only Now. So there is nothing else to consider. Since the 70’s, meditation and other methods of reducing stress have proven to have positive effects on depression and anxiety, and have been thought to be possible effective treatments. It is beneficial that the physical practice of yoga can be done in many different forms; from relaxing slow movements, to a more strenuous and vigorous style. There is a method of yoga practice for everyone, in spite of their physical abilities or disabilities.

 

Because yoga is a practice that just about everyone can participate in, it is available to those with emotional challenges and illnesses, no matter their physical circumstance. According to many reviews of what yoga can do for the physical body, yoga practice, if done consistently, can lessen the body’s responses to extreme stress; therefore, it may alleviate some symptoms of anxiety and depression. By assisting in reducing levels of stress and anxiety, yoga then helps to balance our stress response systems, which decreases our physiological responses. These physiological responses are the ones that usually raise our heart rate and blood pressure.

 

A 2005 German study on the effects of yoga, included 113 participants who had admitted to dealing with high stress and anxiety, major depression, and even bipolar disorders. These willing participants were all patients of New Hampshire Psychiatric Hospital. All of the participants agreed to take one yoga class, and after that single yoga class, tension, stress, anxiety, anger, and fatigue, were reported to have significantly decreased. This decrease was measured by the Profile of Mood States, which is a 65 item questionnaire the participants answered before and after the yoga session.

 

Women who participated in a three-month yoga study also reported decreases in perceived stresses, anxiety, fatigue, and depression. Of course, anyone dealing with deep emotional issues and illnesses should always seek medical attention. No one is suggesting to use yoga as a replacement for medical and psychiatric help; but instead as a supplement to any ongoing treatments one may be receiving.

 

As was stated in the beginning, yoga is about unity and wholeness, not exclusion; it aims to treat the entire person, body, mind, and spirit.