Therapy Blog

  • ADD & ADHD: The Truth of the Matter

    Is it ADD? Is it ADHD? Is it depression? Is it anxiety? Or is it something else medically related? These are all valid questions that you have possibly asked yourself or asked about your child at one time or another. It is a difficult diagnosis to pin-point and can often be confused with other diagnoses. It is extremely important try the following steps, in this order, to assess whether or not you might be dealing with ADD/ADHD:

    1. Get a full physical. Rule out any medical issues that could be masquerading as inattention or hyperactivity.
    2. If medical issues are ruled out, seek assessment by a mental health professional. Don't try to diagnosis and/or treat yourself.
    3. If your child is the one displaying ADD/ADHD- like symptoms, speak to his/her teacher, school counselor, principal, and any other school professional that may be involved in your child's education. They can give you insight into what they see in the classroom and what is observed as they interact with peers during the school-day.
    4. Work with your mental health professional to institute an individualized treatment plan to deal with whatever diagnosis is made. If outpatient therapy is not successful, consider being evaluated by a psychiatrist for possible medication management IN ADDITION TO mental health therapy.
    5. Be sure to take care of your physical self as this impacts your emotional and mental well-being. Getting plenty of sleep, eating right, and exercising are all key ingredients to getting any ADD/ADHD-like symptoms under better control.

    So, what would symptoms of ADD or ADHD look like? Often times in my practice, I see individuals come in who assume that since they are having trouble concentrating, it might be ADD or ADHD. I carefully evaluate their medical, personal (including mental health, substance abuse, and family), and work history to get a handle on the bigger picture of what we might be looking at as a diagnosis. Sometimes, a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD is deducted from certain combination of hallmark characteristics along with the close assessment of behavioral and emotional health information a client gives. However, sometimes issues as basic as stress, depression, loneliness, grief/loss, or anxiety are truly at the root of what might otherwise be considered ADD/ADHD.

    There are a number of checklist symptoms of ADD and ADHD which include:

    • Inattention
    • Difficulty Concentrating
    • Easily Distracted
    • Unable to Sit Still
    • Fidgety
    • Frequently Interrupts
    • Struggle to Complete Tasks
    • Frequent Forgetting
    • No Filter
    • Restless
    • Talk Excessively

    Now please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list of symptoms for ADD/ADHD. This article is also not a substitute for professional help. However, if you are needing to find relief from these symptoms while working on yourself between sessions with a therapist and/or appointments with a psychiatrist, you may want try this simple tips:

    • Get Adequate Sleep
    • Keep a Consistent Schedule
    • Take Breaks
    • Get Organized (start color coding, use a journal, use a note pad as a reminder system, etc.)
    • Eat Healthy
    • Exercise (get out excessive energy to assist you in focusing and concentrating through your day)
    • Learn Healthy Communication Skills
    • Use You Support System
    • Relaxation Techniques

    Again, this is not an exhaustive list, and more information can be obtained from your therapist or doctor to institute specific treatment options and steps to help you get a better handle on this disorder. Remember that ADD/ADHD is quite common in our extremely busy and high expectation society. It is no wonder that especially if you have a genetic propensity to having ADD/ADHD, that your environment can aggravate it and exacerbate it. Take care though. There is always help that can be located through your school, work, EAP, health insurance, and simple Google searches for the proper treatment professionals.

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Meghan L. Reitz, MA, LCPC, NCC

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor

Meghan has worked within the counseling profession for over ten years. Her experience includes providing individual, family, group, crisis, and substance abuse counseling. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa in Anthropology and Psychology and her graduate degree from Bradley University in Human Development/Community Counseling.

Meghan has worked and volunteered in the following settings as a therapist:

  • Non-profit social service agencies
  • Mental health hospitals
  • Residential treatment centers
  • Therapeutic day schools
  • Managed Care/Insurance companies
  • Private practice
  • Geriatric settings- including nursing homes, older adult care centers
  • Non-profit fundraising agencies

Please check out her daily tweets on Twitter and periodic blogs on mental health topics. You can also chat with her live and/or email her through this site.

Everything listed under: Techniques

  • SAD: Got the Winter Blues?

    Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) affects a great deal of people throughout the world. Basically what it means is that someone's moods are affected by changes in seasons. This is pronounced in individuals who live in more northerly climates. When were there are long winters with short, overcast days, it can really have a big impact on someone's disposition. Daylight is a huge factor in triggering the brain's ability to cope with depressive feelings.

    What can you do? Here are a few tips in managing SAD if you think you might be suffering from it.

    1) Get a sun lamp. Google this. They are out there ranging in different prices. This can be helpful if you are currently in a locale in the dead of winter with little natural sunlight.

    2) Talk to someone. Find a therapist. Talk to a friend. Confide in a family member.

    3) See a doctor. If your mood is low enough where you are feeling like you may be experiencing full-blown depression, see your MD for a full physical. Rule out any physical medical problems. Talk to your doctor (or see a psychiatrist) about anti-depressants.

    4) Exercise. Get the chemicals in your brain that produce heightened mood moving.

    5) Eat right.

    6) Don't isolate. Try to be social- even if it's just picking up the phone. It's easy to get into a "hibernation" mode. Don't do it. Try to keep yourself motivated by having people over, going to movies with friends, making time other than just for work and sleep.

    7) Find hobbies to do indoors. Focus your energy on SOMETHING!

    If you're not sure that you're experiencing SAD, try to track your mood to see if you can find a pattern with weather or seasons on your mood and disposition. Talk to a therapist and/or a doctor to be accurately screened. There are a lot of resources out there- and it doesn't mean the only answer is moving to a warmer climate!

  • Back to Basics: What is Therapy?

    A large amount of people often wonder what true mental health therapy and counseling is. These concepts can be quite ambiguous, and there are so many different approaches to therapy that it can seem a little overwhelming and confusing. Many would agree that therapy is an inexact science in that there isn't one right or wrong way to handle particular issues. In most cases, it is very individualistic depending on a person's personality traits, genetics, upbringing, social economic status, culture, religion, ethnicity, and so on and so forth.

    So how is a lay person to know what he/she should be looking for when searching for the right counselor or therapist? It does truly depend on the person. You should start by identifying what you hope to gain out of therapy. Are you looking to cope with grief? Are you trying to manage a behaviorally challenged son or daughter? Are you having marital problems? Making sure that you have a good grasp on what you want to change or improve on in your situation is key to finding the right fit in a therapist.

    The next step is to do a little research. Contact your insurance carrier for referrals. Look up therapists in your area via your internet search engine. Take a careful look at the options you have in front of you. You will want to have a handle on how much you can afford to pay. Take note of the location and hours of the person you are interested in seeing. Would you feel more comfortable seeing a male versus a female? What is the therapist's areas of expertise? Do they fit with what you are trying to work on in your life?

    Make an appointment. I always encourage people to make the jump. You will never know until you try. Now remember, every person has their own personalities, quirks, and abilities. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error in finding the right fit in a therapist. Do not get discouraged if you feel like something does not click after a few sessions. A good therapist will also be aware of these things and should be checking in with you on how you feel things are going. It does not mean there is something wrong with a therapist if you are having difficulty meshing with him/her. It just means you need to find someone that better suits your tastes. It is important to feel comfortable with your therapist as you will need to be honest and open in order to get the most out of your treatment.

    Typically therapists will explain their theoretical orientation towards therapy in the initial session.  What this means is that, again, there are many different approaches to dealing with certain stressors, issues, and mental health concerns. A few different, but common approaches to be on the look-out for are:

    -Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

    -Psychodynamic Therapy

    -Person-Centered Therapy

    -Bio-Feedback

    -EMDR

    Don't know exactly what these entail? That's ok. Educate yourself by looking them up via the internet. Ask your therapist to explain what his/her approach will look like for you and your treatment. All therapies that are in good standing should encompass confidentiality, caring, a level of being non-judgmental, and a place where YOU, the client, feel HEARD. As this post is just a stepping stone in the right direction to finding your fit within the world of therapy, remember that there are a lot of resources out there. Sometimes the hardest step is making that first phone call and setting up an appointment. It can definitely be well-worth it.

     

  • High Emotions: The Ups and Downs of Feelings

    What are "high emotions?" Simply put, they are the mental feelings that literally run "high." These emotions can be extreme amounts of anger, sadness, hurt, disappointment, guilt, happiness, and confusion just to name a few. When individuals are experiencing high emotions, typically they can feel over-exaggerated and flip-flop from good to bad and vice-versa. Most people will experience these kinds of feelings surrounding major events in their lives. This could include graduating, moving, weddings, divorce, and losing a job. When anything positively or negatively stressful occurs in one's life, it will typically produce some type of emotional response.

    When do high emotions become problematic? If you are feeling overwhelmed by your mood swings or the intensity of a certain mood, then your emotions are probably interfering with your ability to maintain a normal, healthy existence. These extreme emotions can affect your personal life, your work performance, and your physical health. That is why it is important to be able to recognize when you are experiencing high emotions so that you can start to regulate your mood and how it is impacting the different areas of your life.

    Seek out help. This can come in a number of forms including but not limited to individual counseling, group counseling, attending support groups, confiding in a close family member or friend, educating yourself about what you're experiencing, journal, soul-search, and identifying the triggers. There are many resources both online and off that can assist you in whatever you are dealing with. Remind yourself that you are never alone in what you are going through, even if it seems like it at the time. More often than not there are many people who have been in your shoes before. That is why you should reach out.

    Having a hard time getting a handle on what you are feeling? Start by keeping a daily log of what is going on in your life. Note when you are having certain emotions throughout the day. Eventually you should be able to decipher a pattern in what triggers your emotions. Once you are able to identify your triggers or stress, you can them begin to implement ways to manage your triggers in a different way. Remember: There is always hope. The way you are feeling will not last forever.

  • DBT: What is it? Help for Bipolar Disorder & Borderline Personality Disorder

    What is DBT? Dialectical Behavior Therapy is "combines standard cognitive-behavioral techniques for emotion regulation and reality-testing with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful awareness largely derived from Buddhist meditative practice (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectical_behavior_therapy)." It has been shown to be effective in treating Borderline Personality Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Self-Injury, and other mood disorders. It was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan beginning in the 1970s. Techniques derived from this type of therapy can be very helpful in managing symptoms of personality and mood disorders. If you are a therapist, it is encouraged to learn more about these techniques to incorporate them into your practice if you are not already aware of DBT. If you are a patient/client, ask your therapist if they do any DBT techniques. This could really decrease your symptoms if you fall under the category of any of the above mentioned disorders.

    Part of DBT is a technique called mindfulness. It helps you to practice and utilize focusing on an innocuous item or topic. By doing this, you can center your attention away from desires to seek attention negatively, self-harm, use substances, wallow in depressed/angry moods, etc. A good website on DBT is http://behavioraltech.org/resources/whatisdbt.cfm. In particular, try observing your environment, describe/express your environment, and fully participate in your environment. It is important to do these things without judgment, try focusing on one thing in your environment, and to be "effective" in doing it.

    Mindfulness is just one skill under the DBT umbrella. There are many other pieces to it. It is encouraged to research this further to gain a better understanding of the other skills it uses. You can find a lot on internet; however, make sure if you are trying to utilize these skills to get assistance from a professional savvy in DBT.

     

  • Weight 1-2-3

    A lot of clients, friends, and family members have asked me about the link of weight to one's own mental, physical, and emotional health. It may seem like a no brainer- that what you put in OR deprive yourself, has an impact on your health. However, it's the HOW to get yourself back to healthy eating and exercising that really appears to be the struggle. Change is very difficult. Especially if you have a high stress job, it can feel natural to want to reward yourself for a good job done by swinging by the nearest fast food place. Unfortunately, this contributes to weight gain, general unhealthy eating habits, physical health problems, and mental/emotional issues. Do you really feel better after that cheeseburger and fries? It's ok in moderation. It's when things get to an extreme that I suggest people look at their daily living habits and ask themselves if they are happy where they are at in life (appearance, self-esteem, self-confidence, physical health, etc.).

    It is up to YOU and you alone to make CHANGE today. Excuses are just that....excuses. Start using that gym membership. Often times, gyms offer a free trainer if you've just joined or a trainer at a discounted rate if you ask. This can help keep you on track for your workouts. The word "workout" may make you want to run and hide. It doesn't mean you have to be doing heavy cardio for an hour even. Do what you CAN. That is why it is good to consult with a trainer so that you can choose a workout plan that fits with your body and lifestyle. Swimming, running, walking, yoga, bicycling, kickboxing, rowing, basketball, volleyball, and weights are just to name a few options for getting yourself back in shape. Take a buddy with you if you have trouble getting yourself motivated. New mom? Try Stroller Strides. These groups can be found through your community postings at the library, local mall, or park district.

    See a dietician! Even if you can swing just ONE APPOINTMENT with a dietician, I highly recommend it for anyone with any body shape and lifestyle. This can help you make sure you are getting what you need through your daily intake of food. Just because you are average weight does not mean you are getting all of the nutrients you need. Again, this is helpful to give you that extra bump of motivation to get your act in gear.

    Talk it out. Feeling stressed? Don't know where to put this stress? Find a healthy outlet. Often times, talking out what you're going through with a significant other, close family member, or friend can be very helpful and an alternative to burying yourself into sedentary activities (like watching TV and overeating). Also, get active in CREATIVE outlets! Singing, writing, drawing, playing music, painting, jewelry making, woodworking, landscaping, and the list goes on and on in things you can do to focus your energy in positive ways. Get active in the COMMUNITY. Whether reaching out to your church or to a nursing home, try volunteering your time to help out non-profits or other service oriented businesses in your area. Don't like people? That's ok! Maybe you have an affinity towards working with animals. Local shelter and pet stores need help too.

    Feeling empowered yet? Talk to your counselor or therapist to obtain more motivation if you feel you're lacking it. Reach out to clergy or a church member for help. Get involved in your childrens' school functions and field trips. Make your life worth living. William Saroyan said, "Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough."

  • Weight Loss and Its Link to Stress Reduction

    Weight. The never-ending battle. If you yourself isn't dealing with weight issues, you probably know someone who is. There is definitely a link between stress and weight gain. There are a number of studies that have found that stress can increase a chemical in the body called cortisol to be produced at higher rates. This in turn can cause weight gain by slowing down the metabolism. So the question is: How do you reduce stress in your life?

    In previous blog articles I have mentioned different techniques and tips that you can do manage stress more succesfully. However, I feel that there can't be enough of techniques and ideas shared on stress reduction since it is such a pervasive issues for most American lives. Stress is a way of life for most. Some stress is positive like major life changes such as getting married, having a child, graduating, etc. Some stress is negative like work, school, family and interpersonal issues, loss and grief, etc. Either way, stress is present and something that we all need to learn how to manage.

    The following website links are great resources in finding different ways to manage stress:

    http://www.holisticmed.com/stressfree.html

    http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/tai-chi/SA00087

    Know that you can't rid your life of stress. However, accept it and practice techniques like journaling, drawing, painting, cooking, baking, music (listening or playing an instrument for example), knitting, jewelry making, fishing, playing catch, exercising, eat healthier, taking a walk and enjoying nature, deep breathing, counting, positive self-talk, and the list goes on and on. Don't know where to start? Try starting one technique. Doesn't work? That's ok. Try another. Also, make sure you know who is in your support network. List these individuals out so you can readily access them by phone, email, text, etc. Sometimes when we are most stressed we don't reach out for others. Try not to isolate. It is ok to need help!

    Find more information about stress and it's connection to weight gain/weight loss through the following sites:

    http://www.advance-health.com/cortisol.html

    http://technorati.com/lifestyle/article/assist-weight-loss-with-stress-reduction/

    http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/can-stress-cause-weight-gain

    If you feel like your stress is out of control, and you're having trouble managing your stress even if you are trying the above techniques, talk to your MD, talk to a dietician, find a counselor if you don't already have one, and reach out to friends and family. You are not alone.

  • Sexual Assault Victims: Past, Present, and Future

    Do you know someone who has been sexually assaulted? Have you been the victim of sexual assault. Chances are that you probably at least know one person that has. Although Sexual Assault Awareness month (April) has came and gone, it is never NOT a good time to discuss the topic. What I hope to accomplish in today's article is to look at some statistics on sexual assault, what it means to a person's past, how it affects his/her life now, and what it all means for the future of that individual.

    According to this site, the following statistics stood out significantly on this topic:

    How Often Does Rape Happen to Women?

    • One in Four college women report surviving rape (15 percent) or attempted rape (12 percent) since their fourteenth birthday.
    • In a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease control of 5,000 college students at over 100 colleges, 20% of women answered "yes" to the question "In your lifetime have you been forced to submit to sexual intercourse against your will?" Thus, one in five college women has been raped at some point in her lifetime.
    • In a typical academic year, 3% of college women report surviving rape or attempted rape. This does not include the summer, when many more rapes occur.
    • In the year 2000, 246,000 women survived rape and sexual assault. This computes to 28 women every hour.
    • A survey of high school students found that one in five had experienced forced sex (rape). Half of these girls told no one about the incident.
    • Rape is common worldwide, with relatively similar rates of incidence across countries, with 19%-28% of college women reporting rape or attempted rape in several countries. In many countries, survivors are treated far worse than in the U.S.

    Are Men Raped?

    • 3% of college men report surviving rape or attempted rape as a child or adult.
    • In a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control of 5,000 college students at over 100 colleges, 4% of men answered "yes" to the question "In your lifetime have you been forced to submit to sexual intercourse against your will?"

    Who are the Perpetrators?

    • 99% of people who rape are men, 60% are Caucasian.
    • Between 62% and 84% of survivors knew their attacker.
    • 8% of men admit committing acts that meet the legal definition of rape or attempted rape. Of these men who committed rape, 84% said that what they did was definitely not rape.
    • 35% of men report at least some degree of likelihood of raping if they could be assured they wouldn't be caught or punished.
    • First-year students in college tend to believe more rape myths than seniors.
    • Sexual assault offenders were substantially more likely than any other category of violent criminal to report experiencing physical or sexual abuse as children.
    • In one study, 98% of men who raped boys reported that they were heterosexual. 

    Who are the Survivors?

    • 41% of college women who are raped were virgins at the time.
    • 42% of rape survivors told no one about the rape.
    • False reports of rape are rare, according to the FBI, occurring only 8% of the time.

    Circumstances of Rape

    • 57% of rapes happen on dates.
    • 75% of the men and 55% of the women involved in acquaintance rapes were drinking or taking drugs just before the attack.
    • About 70% of sexual assault survivors reported that they took some form of self-protective action during the crime. The most common technique was to resist by struggling or chase and try to hold the attacker. Of those survivors who took protective action, over half believed it helped the situation, about 1/5 believed that it made the situation worse or simultaneously worse and better. 
    • 84% of rape survivors tried unsuccessfully to reason with the man who raped her.
    • 55% of gang rapes on college campuses are committed by fraternities, 40% by sports teams, and 5% by others.
    • Approximately 40% of sexual assaults take place in the survivor's home. About 20% occur in the home of a friend, neighbor, or relative. 10% occur outside, away from home. About 8% take place in parking garages.
    • More than half of all rape and sexual assault incidents occurred within one mile of the survivor's home or in her home.

    What Happens After the Rape?

    • Throughout the last 10 years, the National Crime Victimization Survey has reported that approximately 30% of rape survivors report the incident to the police.
    • Of those rapes reported to the police (which is 1/3 or less to begin with), only 16% result in prison sentences. Therefore, approximately 5% of the time, a man who rapes ends up in prison, 95% of the time he does not.
    • 42% of rape survivors had sex again with the rapist.
    • 30% of rape survivors contemplate suicide after the rape.
    • 82% of rape survivors say the rape permanently changed them.

    As I mull over these statistics, and as you read them as well, a mixture of emotions runs through me as I am a therapist, a female, and a survivor. It is difficult to take an objective standpoint on these issues with numbers glaring you in the face of the prevalence of rape- particularly among high school and college students. It is equally as scary that there are men who have admitted they would sexually assault someone if they new they would not be caught. It makes you wonder where the values and morals were instilled in the male psyche and how our culture possibly continues to perpetuate a dominant role for males and a submissive role for females. These meanderings are just food for thought.

    So what DOES someone do with being a rape victim and survivor? Usually, victims tend to feel shameful, guilty, and as if it the rape was his/her own fault. Kind of like a "I was asking for it" mentality- especially if there was drinking involved. It's easy to go back to the situation and say, if I had only done this or not done that. Unfortunately, hindsight is 20/20, and RAPE IS NOT YOUR FAULT. No means no. Period.

    It is strongly suggested that someone who has been sexually assaulted seek counseling in order to work through the issues and baggage that comes with being a victim of such trauma. If help is not sought, often times individuals turn to other means in order to cope such as eating disorders, becoming a workaholic, self-harm, and sometimes even suicide. It cannot be stressed enough that if you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, that you or that person should contact the police. This perpetrator could and probably will do it again to someone else.

    There is a future beyond going through someone as traumatic as rape or sexual assault. With the proper support and working through issues of guilt and shame, you can learn that it was not your fault. You may not be able to forget- but you can definitely move forward. There are support groups, counselors, therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists who specialize in this very area. There are also many different therapeutic techniques to move past the flashbacks, the feelings of depression, and the anger you or the victim is experiencing. In order to find some local resources in your are on sexual assault, I recommend taking a look at this site:

    http://www.rainn.org/

    In closing, SEEK HELP for being a victim of sexual assault. There are a lot of therapies, techniques, and resources to gain back your life.
     

     

     

     

  • Anger Management: Signs, Symptoms, and Tips

    Ever get that feeling where you feel like you just can't hold your anger in and you might just burst? Ok...maybe some of you can say yes I've definitely felt this way, others of you may not be able to relate as closely. Either way, everyone gets angry. It's a normal human emotion that everyone experiences in some form or another. However, there are definitely healthy and unhealthy ways to manage your anger, and that's what this article is about. How do you know if you have an anger management problem? If you do, how do you work to take your unhealthy behaviors of anger management and make take them to healthier outlets? These questions and more will be answered below; But, before getting started ask yourself the following questions:

    1) Do you feel like you cannot control your anger at times?

    2) Do you ever take out your anger on loved ones when it isn't deserved? Whether verbally or physically?

    3) Do you feel guilty or ashamed after you have lashed out at someone when being angry?

    4) Have people told you you have an anger management problem?

    5) Does your anger seem to consume your normal life activities?

    *If you said yes to any of these questions, then it might be fair to say that you need assistance in gaining some anger management skills.

    This article is definitely not a quick fix for these issues. It is encouraged to take steps through talking with a counselor, seeing a psychiatrist, and looking into anger management group therapy to assist you in your journey through managing this emotion. However, there are ways to work on this daily with just a few of these tips:

    • Note when you physically START to feel angry: turning red, feeling hot, clenched fists, tightening of muscles, heart racing
    • Note when you mentally START to feel angry: racing thoughts, increasingly focused on the issue(s) that have triggered your anger, inability to control your emotions or physical body
    • Journal when you start this process- if you can see these signs and symptoms, you know it is time for a TIME-OUT
    • Usually anger comes from sadness, being upset, depression, feeling hurt- this may be your way of displaying those emotions; if this is so, you should look into yourself and your past and see what is really at the root of the problem
    • Is your anger warranted? It's ok to be angry about things! Just don't take it out on others, especially those who don't deserve it- or channel that anger into something positive (i.e. upset with something your child has done- it might be helpful to take a five minute break before you come back to the situation to sit down and talk to your son/daughter instead of instantly going into yelling mode)
    • Outlets for stress, anxiety, depression, and ANGER: exercise, relaxation exercises, playing music, drawing, painting, writing, meditating, talking it out with a spouse or friend (venting-but appropriately)

    These are just a few things you can start to do in order to begin the process of healing and managing your anger. Seek counseling for more extensive assistance in keeping your emotions under control. When you can check your anger, manage it healthily, it will really give you a new lease on life.

  • Tips & Tools in the Counseling Trade: Ideas to Promote Peace of Mind

    I thought that this week a focus on sharing tools of the trade would be helpful. Sometimes, I think as both a client and a therapist, you really want to reach solution-focused help. Talk therapy can be very therapeutic, cathartic, and releasing. However, when you walk away from a session- do you have homework to do between sessions? If not, then maybe ask yourself, why you don't.

    In order to engage in the therapy/counseling process, it takes work on the client's part to make changes and be held accountable for the goals that he/she has set out in seeking therapy/counseling in the first place. A good place is to start learning techniques that can ease stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness- basically giving a person a better state of mind.

    I am going to touch upon a few here. There are so many out there- and with the world of Google, many of you can find similar and additional ideas. But, for the sake of this article, I'd like to stick with some of the powerful ones that I utilize in my practice with individuals.

    1) Guided Imagery:

    Gently inhale and exhale until you feel yourself calming down from your activities. Now, gradually allow an image of yourself to emerge from within your mind. See yourself sitting in the middle of a Triangle–as a point in the middle …

    (You can put on quiet, transcendental music as you begin to imagine yourself).

    Feel the Triangle forming itself all around you … right where you are … Let your senses really create this sensation … Now, notice how you feel sitting in the midst of this great structure … how are you sitting, what you look like. Notice as much as you can … (long pause).

    Now, very slowly, allow this Triangle to become filled with a warm and gentle blue light … until you can feel yourself being enveloped in it … Bring this light into your solar plexus … and on up into your heart … (long pause).

    When your heart is full, imagine a point in the center of the sun … way out there in space where the heart of God resides … Gradually now, allow yourself to merge with this heart in the center of the sun … (long pause). Feel your mind … your heart … your body becoming filled with the energy of the sun … (long pause).

    Now, sit for awhile in calm reflection … in the center of the sun … and just let this experience fill you to the very core of your being. Breathe it in with long, slow breaths … (long pause).

    Very slowly, now, feel yourself returning here … and coming back into your body. Feel your feet, your arms, your face. You may want to move around a little to bring your consciousness fully back … Take some time to feel yourself being totally present in your ordinary reality.

    ~This was taken from: HEALING THE EMOTIONS by Jacquelyn Small, Eupsychia Institute

    2) Positive Affirmations:

    By using the power of affirmations you state what you want to be true in your life. You see reality, as you want it to be. For a while, you ignore your current circumstances and your doubts, and concentrate on a different reality.

    - I am healthy and happy.
    - Wealth is pouring into my life.
    - I am flowing on the river of wealth.
    - I am getting wealthier each day.
    - My body is healthy and functioning in a very good way.
    - I have a lot of energy.
    - I study and comprehend fast.
    - I am getting A's in my exams.
    - My mind is calm.
    - I am calm and relaxed in every situation.
    - My thoughts are under my control.
    - I radiate love and happiness.
    - I am surrounded by love.
    - I have the perfect job for me.
    - I am living in the house of my dreams.
    - I have good and loving relations with my wife/husband.
    - I have a wonderful satisfying job.
    - I have the means to travel abroad whenever I want to.
    - I am successful in whatever I do.
    - Everything is getting better every day.

    ~ Copyright 2001-2005 Remez Sasson, SuccessConsciousness.com

    3) How to do the Grounding Technique:

    1. Bend your knees slightly and place your tongue on the roof of your mouth behind your top teeth. Focus on your feet and imagine them sinking down into the ground that supports them.
    2. Place the fingertips of one hand beneath your lower lip and the heel of the other hand on your navel with the fingertips pointing down towards the ground (see arrow on diagram).
    3. Hold your hands on the points for about 30 seconds, or 4 - 6 complete breaths. Then switch hands and repeat.
    Breathing slowly and deeply encourages relaxation and further enhances the benefits of using this technique.

    How it Works:
    When you hold your hands in these positions they are contacting key points on the central vessel of the energy system. By simultaneously stimulating the beginning and end points of this meridian the brain is stimulated and mental fatigue is relieved.
    This simple exercise is useful during breaks from repetitive tasks, when working in front of a computer, or after long spells of driving.

    The Grounding Technique helps with:
    - General co-ordination
    - Organizational & sorting skills
    - Reading without disorientation (smoother tracking along lines of text)
    - Promoting grounding
    - Mental alertness
    - Improved posture (discourages slouching)
    - Relaxes the eyes

    ~From livingbydesignonline.com

    4) Anger Management Techniques:

    Anger is a very strong emotion. Uncontrolled anger is a life-long pattern. It is not easy to overcome anger; it requires determined commitment. It requires honesty, courage, and tremendous inner strength. It also requires help from others. To overcome anger, these steps are important:

    • Consciously determine to be calm. Don't react, think! Remember your goals and respond appropriately. Choose to remain calm!
    • Communicate. When someone upsets you, tell them. Calmly talk to them about how you feel about their words or actions. Learn to express yourself better -- clear and composed. Choose to!
    • Remove yourself from the scene until you can respond without anger.Your success will not happen overnight. Take it one step at a time, one day at a time. Remember to relax. Relaxation exercises or music can be helpful. Keep in mind you can reach out to someone you trust for help. Choose to!
    • Frequently take time for yourself. Do something you enjoy like walking in the park, swimming, reading the Bible, or seeing a feel-good movie. Do something nice for someone you admire. It's okay to feel good about yourself. Choose to!
    • Look for the positives. Don't dwell on the negatives. "Don't sweat the small stuff." Learn to be forgiving. This is difficult, but we need to start by learning to forgive ourselves!

    ~ From allaboutlifechallenges.org