Wendy Bradley is a Child and Family Therapist with a Master’s degree in Art Therapy and Child Development and a rare skill set, honed by years of experience working with children and their families. “The great thing about working with kids is that each time they come in ready to roll. Even if I spend only six weeks with a child, I feel like the impact I make can last a lifetime. This positive experience with me and learning that they can express themselves safely will carry forward for them in some small way,” says Wendy. [Read more…] about How to Talk to Your Kids About Your Anxiety
It’s no secret that today’s society contributes to and feeds the development of anxiety in many of us. Some of the most common forms of anxiety result from over-immersing oneself with information and media.
Social media, online news, and the 24-hour cable news cycle mean that we are constantly bombarded with media that can inform us if consumed appropriately, but that can also easily overwhelm us. San Francisco-based psychiatrist Dr. Krishan Abeyatunge cites the avalanche of media headlines as an example, explaining that if you are constantly consuming news about everything that is wrong with the world, it can generate a level of existential dread. [Read more…] about Tips for Dealing with Anxiety
According to Psychology Today, “One of the most useful things you can do to combat stress and anxiety is to keep a running record of your thoughts on paper. There’s simply no better way to learn about your thought processes than to write them down.” Dr. Maggie Perry, the founder of Huddle.Care, agrees. Dr. Perry says that quick, in-the-moment journal can be extremely beneficial to someone with anxiety.
“When inklings of anxiety begin to arise, take a step back, consider all aspects of these sensations and journal about them as they happen. This is a good technique for reconciling your anxious feelings with what you’ve learned about your anxiety and what you know to be true,” says Dr. Perry.
In other words, do not believe everything you feel.
Writing a journal to examine and challenge feelings
Writing a journal provides an opportunity to examine and challenge your feelings. Dr. Perry adds that “there are other times, like life transitions, in which just having someone write for thirty minutes each morning about what they think and feel about that transition will bring down their stress, bring down their anxiety, and make them more resilient against depression because they are more self-aware.”
Journal entries as self-reflection
Kaia Kordic, a licensed MFT who splits her time between her private practice and the county foster care services, believes that journaling and self-reflection are some of the most proactive and healthiest ways to practice self-awareness.
“Journaling helps develop that awareness muscle. If a client reflects on her fight with the boyfriend only during the session, progress will take a lot longer. But, if she journals about it or tracks symptoms and conflicts throughout the week, she will become aware of her choices, actions, and experiences sooner.” – Kaia Kordic, Marriage and Family Therapist
Kaia recommends test-driving Therachat, a new tool that allows clients to journal on their phones. It’s available to clients and therapists interested in improving therapy outcomes. “Therachat is going to be really helpful for clients who need the self-reflection process in between therapy sessions,” says Kaia. “The insights and analysis it provides to therapists are also going to be helpful. It is one thing to see someone’s memo on their phone,‘ I’m anxious today, I’m not anxious today,’ but to see their mood patterns throughout the week in a clean format and be able to focus on important topics together is another. I would imagine that people would get better faster.”If clients see mood patterns throughout the week in a clean format and be able to focus on important topics, people would get better faster. Click To Tweet
Anxiety is a broad and widely misused term, and the experience varies from person to person. Because of this, it can be quite difficult to recognize it in ourselves and in our loved ones. How do we distinguish between normal stress, personality traits, and the deep-rooted sense of general anxiety? [Read more…] about Common Misconceptions About Anxiety
May is Mental Health Month. I have to admit, even though it’s been observed in the United States since 1949, this is the first year I’m paying such close attention. What is it all about? Why are we talking about this, and why is Mental Health Month important to all of us?
As the Product Marketing Manager at Therachat, I spent the last few months researching mental health topics, listening to countless interviews with industry experts and talking to therapists and counselors of various backgrounds. I’ve also been self-reflecting because that’s what you tend to do after talking to a bunch of psychologists. It’s a bit like participating in one long therapy session every day of the week for 6 months. The effect of this on my life has been profound. So, let me share some of what I’ve learned in this intensive process.
Sometimes “Mental Health” Just Means “Mental Fitness“
The words “mental health” have a bit of a vibe to them. You know what I mean. It feels serious and, for those who struggle with severe disorders, it is. But for many of us, taking care of our mental health may simply mean forming good mental health habits and working on ourselves to live a fuller life. It’s about internal exercises that help us improve and evolve. Think of it as mental fitness.
The same way we struggle to eat right and commit to the right exercise routine, we struggle to identify and make time for ways to take care of our mental wellbeing. What’s worse is that we may not even realize that it’s necessary. It’s just not something that people talk about. Perhaps it’s because poor mental health habits can be easier to hide than poor physical health habits. As long as we somehow manage to get through the day, the subtle internal damage we cause by neglecting our mental health is not visible and, thus, easy to ignore. But why not just live better? Our mental health deserves the same love and attention we wish to give to our bodies. If living healthy is high on your list of priorities, mental health should be added the equation. It just makes sense.
Therapy Is Not All Talk
Good mental health habits are as important as good physical health habits, but who knows what good mental health habits are? You can certainly do a lot for your mental health by researching the subject on your own and practicing mindfulness (that’s a great start!). But just like with physical exercise, the right coach can help you take your self-care to the next level. It’s not uncommon to go to a nutritionist for nutrition advice or to exercise with a personal trainer. Well, think of therapists as mental health coaches.
One thing I’ve learned from the countless therapist interviews is that they are pretty awesome people, who know things. Things that can help you bring about real, meaningful, positive change. Sure, they are always there to listen, but there’s more to it. Good therapists carry real knowledge that can help you reprogram your own behavior and manage your thoughts. Just think about how powerful that can be. Think of those random, negative thoughts that pop up in your head and derail your day, or think of the occasional, mildly (or not-so-mildly) destructive behaviors that get in the way of your relationships, your work. The right therapist can help you learn to overcome yourself, to change by your own choice instead of some external factors beyond your control. Basically, therapy can help you get in the driver’s seat of your life. It’s worth a try. It’s worth several tries, since finding the right fit can take a few sessions with different therapists.
Self-Awareness is a Big Deal
Self-awareness can help separate our core personalities, the inherent character traits that make us unique, from the behavior patterns we’ve fallen into for whatever reason. It can help align our actions with our true values. It can help us overcome the parts of ourselves that get in the way of the life we want to live, make us better people. That’s a big deal. Maybe that’s why therapists put a lot of emphasis on it. Self-awareness seems to be the key ingredient in good mental health, which may sound like a no-brainer, but there’s really more to it.
The things I’m learning at Therachat from the inspiring, passionate therapists we talk to, are making me a better person. There’s just no denying it. Through self-awareness, I’m learning to separate certain feelings, thoughts, and behaviors from each other. Actually, keeping in mind that that’s even possible is helpful. I’m able to make more conscious choices and reduce knee-jerk reactions, which keeps me out of unnecessary trouble. I’m becoming more selective when it comes to what I allow myself to think, and I pause to question the thought process and change direction. I can live smarter. I try. It’s like a workout for my brain, which is firing in ways it hasn’t before. And it feels awesome!
So this year, I’m all about Mental Health Month. Let’s do this! Let’s talk about it, share our thoughts, compare notes and discuss (respectfully). This month, let’s start making mental health a priority!
Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Therapy, like many things in life, is a process. It is about taking the steps to grow and apply what is discussed in therapy to everyday life. Kaia Kordic, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist from Humboldt County, California, says it’s like building a muscle.
“I’ll give you an example,” offers Kaia. “Let’s focus on a specific event in a client’s life, an argument with her boyfriend. Two weeks after the argument, we are in a therapy session, and she’s talking about the fight. ‘I wish I had said this instead of this, done this differently,’ and so on. Next time there’s a fight, we’ll talk about it again, we’ll work on it, build that muscle of mindfulness, awareness, and intention. We’ll set the goal of how she wishes to act in that situation. Over time, what I hear from my clients across the board is that they time gap between the event and the realization of how they should’ve act gets smaller. So, it might be like, ‘Yeah, we got into an argument, and a few hours later I thought that maybe this should have gone differently.’” The goal is to get as close to the event as possible and increase awareness to the point where you’re able to choose your own behavior.
Results of therapy
One of the most exciting results therapy can bring about is the ability to break away from harmful, damaging default responses and to learn to choose positive, thought-out responses instead.
“Through therapy we learn to correct course. You know therapy is working when a client thinks, ‘You know, my behavior is actually not cool with me. This is not what I want. How I want my life to look, along with my values, is actually more to the right of my current path in this moment.’ So, we correct course. In therapy, you can learn that,” says Kaia.
Therapy helps you realize that you have choices. You can decide how you want to react to the world you’re living in, to the events in your life, to your emotions. “It is noticing where you have a choice, and then developing processes to make the choice that really feels good to you.”
Making Therapy Work Yourself
It’s no secret that therapy results largely depend on the person’s willingness and readiness to work on themselves. Journaling and self-reflection are some of the most proactive and healthiest ways to practice self-awareness and define one’s intentions outside of therapy sessions. “It helps develop that awareness muscle,” says Kaia. “If the client only reflects on her fight with the boyfriend during the session, progress will take a lot longer. But, if she journals about it or tracks symptoms and conflicts throughout the week, she will become aware of her choices, actions, and experiences sooner.”
A new journaling tool, Therachat, is available to clients and therapists interested in improving therapy outcomes. “Therachat is going to be really helpful for clients who need the self-reflection process in between therapy sessions,” says Kaia. “The insights and analysis available to therapists are also going to be helpful. It is one thing to see someone’s memo on their phone,‘ I’m anxious today, I’m not anxious today,’ but to see their mood patterns throughout the week in a clean format and be able to focus on important topics together is another. I would imagine that people would get better faster.”