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How Do You Get Your Mental Health Needs Met During the COVID-19 Crisis?

May 16, 2020

Even during the best of times life is full of stressors and challenges. It is difficult dealing with the competing demands of work, finances, relationships, kids, parents, and trying to do a little something for yourself. Nearly 20% of American’s will be faced with a clinical depression or anxiety disorder at sometime in their lives. It may be triggered by a major life stressor such as moving, a divorce, loss of a loved one, or job loss. For others it is just the cumulative impact of unrelenting stressors that wear any person down. At some point in our lives most of us have been faced with the need for some additional support, guidance, and counsel. Historically, this has been readily available and at our disposal with local psychologists and psychiatrists. In addition to the normal stressors of everyday life, we have all had our lives turned upside down by this global pandemic. Since the last pandemic occurred over 100 years ago, none of us has any frame of reference or experience to draw upon in coping with this. While trying to juggle all the normal stressors, we have all been scrambling to adjust and cope with trying to ensure our basic safety and physical wellbeing. The weeks are dragging on and for most of us our mental and emotional reserves are running low. Where many of us could use the help of a good therapist and psychiatrist, we may be unsure about the accessibili read more

May 9, 2020

In the fight against COVID-19 and its rapid spread, the human race is going to great lengths to ensure the safety and survival of ourselves and the ones we love. It seems that until we have an effective treatment or eventual vaccine, the best precaution and tool we have at our disposal is social distancing. Washing our hand and keeping a social distance is good common sense and pretty easy to implement in the name of safety. Because these measures are pretty simplistic, most of us have been dutifully complying. The worst we get from all the handwashing is some dry skin, which can be remedied with lotion. Social distancing, on the other hand, maybe having a negative cumulative impact that we are unaware of. Our species has evolved over a couple hundred thousand years to be a highly cooperative and social creature just like our primate cousins. We have an innate and hard-wired need to be with each other and engage in physical touch. An interesting experiment by Harlow done in 1965 drives this point home (Harlow, 1965). In the study, a rhesus monkey baby was presented with the choice of two artificial surrogate mothers in its cage. The first was a wire monkey mother that had a bottle that would supply milk to the baby. The other surrogate mother provided no nourishment but was designed to be soft and comfortable having been made from terry cloth. Researchers were amazed that the b read more

May 2, 2020

For the first time in our lives, our society is faced with very real danger and threat. As we struggle to figure out how to cope and survive a worldwide pandemic, many people are experiencing increased anxiety. They find themselves worrying, ruminating, and are preoccupied with news and updates about COVID-19. Compounding their anxiety is a dramatic disruption to our everyday lives. Our routines and the structure we are accustomed to has been turned upside down and most of us are floundering and scrambling to keep up and create some sense of normalcy in our lives.

What is Coronavirus Anxiety?

Anxiety is a very normal emotion and reaction to a perceived threat and unknown situation. Often the fear of the unknown will amplify our anxiety. Many people are prone to catastrophic thinking, meaning their thinking often goes to the work case scenario. With this thinking, anxiety can increase tenfold. Although this virus poses a real threat to people’s wellbeing, it is important to try to keep our thinking grounded so we are not pouring gas on a fire. Often in the course of therapy when dealing with anxiety in clients, we discover that much of their anxiety stems from irrational and unfound fears and conclusions. In this situation, the dangers are real and are not irrational inventions of our thinking or distorted interpretations. Anxiety for one’s physical health and finan read more

April 25, 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has affected life as we all know it. The entire world is hunkering down to do their best to slow the spread and impact of COVID-19. As a result of these extreme measures, everyone’s world and sense of normalcy has evaporated. Everyone is struggling to stay informed, engage in safe practices, figures out logistics of work and schedules, remain calm, and still try to be a good parent. Parenting is a difficult job under the best of circumstances, with these added stressors many parents are finding themselves with very little fuel left in the tank for parenting demands. Children and adolescents, just like adults, thrive on routine and schedules. Just as our lives have been upended, so has our kids. They are struggling to adapt as best they can, and some are doing it with more grace than others. Many parents are finding that they are at a loss for words when it comes to trying to explain this crisis to their children. It might not be quite as bad as talking to your kids about sex and drugs, but it is not much easier. What follows are some tips and suggestions for handling and talking to your kids about the COVID crisis.

  • Normalize Feelings: It’s important to have our feelings validated by others. We all seek this out and it holds true for your children as well. Regardless of age, your children need to hear that it is normal and

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April 18, 2020

For decades we have heard about the hardships and tragedies around the globe from the relative safety and calm of our own personal lives. For the first time ever all of humankind is faced with a very real and serious threat all at one time. The whole world is hunkering down in an effort to escape this coronavirus. We are faced with a whole new stress that threatens our physical wellbeing and that of the people we love. Although humans are adaptable as we have all demonstrated over the last several weeks, it is not without its toll. We are all wrestling with the stress and worry about contracting this virus and have made great changes to our lifestyles to keep ourselves healthy. As a social creature keeping our distance from friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even family limits the comfort and support we naturally derive from being with each other. We are isolating and alienating ourselves from the people we very much want to be with for our own mental and emotional needs. In short, we are struggling to cope with the possibility of contracting the coronavirus and at the same time trying to cope with the lack of connection and support we would usually seek to cope with this type of stressful situation. On top of feeling scared and lonely most of us have been forced to deal with a lot of change on top of the stress of isolation. Our children are no longer going to school or daycar read more

April 11, 2020

In the last article, we talked about what burn out is, the signs and symptoms of burn out, and some of the common causes of burn out. Now you can find out if you have burn out and we will discuss what to do about it.

Burn Out Quiz

Read through the following questions and ask yourself if you would agree with the statement most days over the past month.

  1. I feel that my support is lacking and I don’t have people I can talk to.
  2. I feel misunderstood and unappreciated.
  3. I have negative thoughts about my relationship and/or job.
  4. I wake up tired even when I go to bed early.
  5. I don’t have enough time to plan or get things done.
  6. I feel like I have more tasks, chores, and jobs to do than there is time to do them.
  7. I often feel frustrated with my job, coworkers, or the people in my life.
  8. I am easily irritated by things that I know should not bother me that much.
  9. I find myself being unsympathetic toward others.
  10. I feel run down and lacking energy physically and/or emotionally.
  11. I dread what lies ahead today or tomorrow.
  12. I feel less productive or accomplished than I should.
  13. I feel I am in the wrong job or career.
  14. It seems like small tasks take more energy than I can afford.
  15. My efficiency is down and things seem to take longer to do than they did in the

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April 4, 2020

What is Burn Out?

Burn out is no longer a trendy descriptor for how you might feel, it has now been classified as a legitimate condition by the World Health Organization (WHO). Burn out is categorically different than the usual stress that we all feel. Stress produces feelings of frustration and anxiety but is often short-lived and tied to a specific event or circumstance that resolves in a short period of time. Burn out, on the other hand, is a longer-term state of mental, emotional and sometimes physical exhaustion. This often evolves from prolonged or repeated stressors. People are often left feeling overwhelmed and struggle to meet life’s demands and can develop a negative or cynical outlook toward their stressors. There are three types of burn out:

  • Organizational Burn Out: This occurs when there is a mismatch between the person and their job or work environment. For some people, this could be hours that are too long, work that is monotonous, or work that is not aligned with your sense of purpose.
  • Interpersonal Burn Out: This can evolve from difficult relationships at work, with family, or a romantic partner. Burn out could manifest from dealing with a difficult coworker, a strained and dysfunctional marriage, unhealthy family relations, or even the taxing impact of caring for others such as elderly parents, oft

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March 22, 2020

Just 1-2 months ago we were watching the news of the Corona Virus in China with the safety and security of nearly 7,000 miles of ocean between us. Today we find this threat on our doorstep and our world-changing all around us. All the things we took for granted are now becoming scarce and inaccessible. We face trying times ahead and many people think it may last for a while. Sustained stressors are one of the known variables that put us at risk for developing depression and anxiety disorders. Once you have a few essentials in place, it is going to be important to think about your mental and emotional wellbeing over the long haul of this crisis. Telehealth will be a great way to receive the services you need and retain your sense of safety and security by not having to go out.

What is Telehealth and How Can it Help During the COVID-19 Crisis?

Telehealth includes both teletherapy and telepsychiatry visits. Teletherapy is a psychotherapy session conducted over the internet using software that allows for both audio and visual display between a therapist and their client. Given the need to social distance at this time to prevent the spread of COVID-19, online therapy provides a convenient work around to be able to receive the services clients want, while protecting themselves and the public at the same time. Clients can remain in the safety of their home and still see highl read more

March 14, 2020

Making the decision to begin counseling takes a lot of courage. It is a difficult step for most people to take the leap of seeking the assistance of a professional. Many people are quite private about their personal affairs and are reluctant to talk about some of the most intimate details in their life, with what starts out as a perfect stranger. For other people, deciding to seek help is no big deal, but they do want to make sure they are finding the right person, so they are not wasting time, energy, and money. The research shows that most people will go through three counselors before they find the right one for them. We tell you this in part to set a realistic expectation. Be prepared to meet with more than just one person, and do not get discouraged and give up if the first person is not the right fit for you. Now with that in mind, let’s discuss some tips that can hopefully keep you on the lower end of that average before you find the right therapist.

Things to Consider Before You Pick Up the Phone

  • Insurance: Whether you have done therapy in the past and have a good idea of what you are looking for, or this is your first run at counseling, there are factors you will want to be mindful of before you book an appointment. The selection of a therapist in many ways is a narrowing process. The vast majority of people will be using their heal

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February 29, 2020

This is a handout used in therapy around acceptance and talks about why so many people have trouble with acceptance when it comes to upsetting events that occur in our interactions with others.

  • Upsetting Events: The first thing we need to examine in this model, is the validity of the upsetting event. Many events that are upsetting are a direct result of our perceptions and interpretations. Our thinking can often distort reality to fit our established beliefs and are accordingly upsetting. We may find that we can diffuse many upsetting events by examining our beliefs about the events or circumstances and no further action is needed beyond modifying our beliefs to be more rational and logical. If we conclude that the event is legitimately upsetting, then we can proceed through the model. For example, let’s say a friend stands you up for a lunch date because they didn’t feel like going. This is a situation that would be upsetting to most people, considering that a friend could have called and canceled.
  • Fairness is a Human Value: We find many people get hung up on the issue of fairness. This can be seen in children as early as two years old. We often hear them saying, “It’s not fair!” As humans, we seem to have this imbedded sense of what is just and fair. Many people dwell and ruminate on events

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