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Choosing the Right Therapist

By Jerry Nelson October 20. 2013

What is Psychological Health?

I have spent the last seven years working with our military Service Members and their families as they contended with the cycle of being deployed, coming back and being deployed again. As you can imagine, their service to our country impacted every area of their life. This was especially difficult for our National Guard and Army Reservists who came back home to their community without the same resources available to active duty personnel.  Working closely with these individuals, reinforced for me that our daily life consists of four main areas, as illustrated below, and that there is a lot of overlap. Psychological health takes a holistic approach to wellness – recognizing we are an integration of mind, body, and spirit. Difficulties in any one or more of these areas can have a major impact on other areas. Psychological health is achieved with balance in these four areas.

4 spheres

 

When Should a Person Seek Assistance?

I also used to work as a surgical nurse and often assisted with cancer surgery.  Most cancers start as a small group of cells that can grow to produce a noticeable lump.  If caught early enough, the cancer can be stopped in its tracks. In our daily life we can have early warning signs, lumps if you will, starting in any of the four areas illustrated above. These can spread into other areas and infect how you view yourself and/or others. For instance, there may be a situation in the social aspect of your life where a relationship has gone bad, such a divorce, unforgiveness, hurt by a friend, etc. Soon you notice you don’t want to associate with others, your appetite has gone away, sleep is impossible, you’re grumpy and irritable and it seems life is spiraling downward. It doesn’t take long for all four areas of your daily life to be affected.  It may be time to do something about these signs and look for a change.

Need a Change?

Need a change

Often the longer we wait to do something about the warning signs, the more entrenched the problem becomes in all aspects of life. Perhaps there is a lot of uncertainty in your life and you feel like you’re in a giant maze.  My experience with military Service Members and their families, as well as private practice, revealed that often changing one area of life, (such as emotions, behaviors, relationships, or even a direction in life) can help bring back the psychological health that was once enjoyed.

 

How CAN a Counselor Help?

Counselor Help 1 Counselor Help 2

You can think of a counselor as someone who comes along side of you and helps you sort out the changes you want to make. Often this involves giving you a new perspective on an issue, or developing new skills to approach old problems in a new way. Maybe you need someone to be more directive and point out things you just can’t see. In the illustration above, can you see the young woman/saxophonist, or the young woman/old woman? Some people can see the images right away, but others need more direction to make the distinction.

Wrong Results?

 Simpsons

I often hear “I tried counseling and it just didn’t work,” especially from men.  Perhaps the problem was you weren’t getting the results you were looking for after just one session. No matter who the counselor is, try to give it at least 2 to 3 sessions before you leave counseling with that individual. However, research shows that the best predictor of a positive outcome is being connected to your counselor. One way to avoid future conflicts is to interview several counselors before starting counseling sessions. I recommend you briefly describe your problem and ask the counselor how much experience they have with that problem. Ask them what their approach to your problem would be. Also ask them how they know when someone is done with counseling. You are listening for two things: the first is the actual answers the counselor gives you; and the second is how they answer you. Do you like what you hear and do you think you can connect with the therapist? You have a right to be proactive in your counseling.

The Bottom Line!

 Bottom Line Military

The military has a credo of leaving no one behind. Finding the right counselor to come alongside you as you work through some things in your life goes a long way toward having, and maintaining, psychological health.

Contact Jerry right now at 608-785-7000 x221 to schedule an appointment or click here to make an appointment request. 

Unleash the Power of the Positive in You….

The power of the positive…….by Diane Walker

What really happens to us when we get “stuck in the negative”; what does our body experience as a result? Conversely, how does our body react when we have a more optimistic outlook, believe in the good?

Research shows that men in unhappy marriages/relationships have a shorter lifespan of 10-15 years compared to those in happy marriages. For the purposes of this writing, we’ll define a happy marriage as one in which both partners exist on equal footing, emotional safety is present for both partners, and the ability to be completely ourselves is constantly present.

Negative thought patterns can lead to depressive symptoms, lack of energy, physical illness, unsatisfactory relationships, anxiety, anger, and that feeling of “just wanting to stay in bed all day.” It is often very difficult to maintain positive relationships when we don’t trust or believe in the goodness of others. Negative thought patterns can be instilled when we’re kids, by parents, school experiences, “life” in general. Most of us have some type of trauma in our childhoods, experiences and perspectives are individual and varied. We view our pasts through our own rose colored glasses, our own perspective, which has to be as important as anyones.

Let’s look at recent events in this country such as the Boston bombing a few weeks ago. We think about the victims with sadness, horror, and anger. We ask “why does this have to happen”; we want answers and feel like someone has to pay. Sometimes, we may get stuck in thinking we can’t explore the “unsafe” world, we don’t want to leave our houses. We may start or continue viewing other’s intentions as negative, wanting something from us, “why would you want to spend time with me”. We may look at the incredibly terrifying experience as a whole, not the incredibly compassionate events that take place within the tragedy.

What happens when we see the positive in this world; we acknowledge the negatives and violence, but do not let them define our own life’s parameters. Positive thinkers live longer, are healthier, are quick to smile, see the best in others, are motivated and believe in the power of change, and have deeper and more satisfying relationships.
The research surrounding positive thinking is prevalent and everywhere. Some people are born with natural optimism, others learn the secret of positiveness as they age. This is a skill that can be learned, that can transform your life. What about the people who help the victims of the bombing, the vast numbers of people who send cards, donate prosthetics, time, money, and smiles. How do some people get to forgiveness and begin the process of moving on with their lives?

How do some people learn the power of hope, despite everything they have been through in their lives. One Sunday, there was a story about a guy who never learned to read. He is a World War II veteran who survived the landing at Normandy. He worked as a civilian after the war until retirement age. His wife and co-workers covered for him so no one ever knew he couldn’t read. His lifetime dream was to read a book before he died. He is now 90 and has finally read several books; he tries to explain his intense feelings related to accomplishing his goal. He said, “Get in there and learn, you ain’t going to learn in that pine box”. How simple would it have been for him to just forget about this and live his life the way he always had. Change is possible at any age, in any environment, in any circumstance if we want it badly enough.

We can all learn the power of positive thinking and embracing positive change. Counseling can help with your outlook.

To schedule an appointment with Diane, click here now or  call 608-785-7000 x221!

 

Here is a great video on Mental Health Wellness vs Mental Illness…

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Depression – A Long Winter: Types, Effects, and Impact on Relationships

Anti-depressants are the number 1 prescribed medication in the United States. There are various forms of this mood disorder: Major Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Dysthmia.  Within the clinical world of mental health, depression is as common as a cold. Most people with depression do are unaware of it at first although their significant others clearly are aware they are not their usual selves and are worried. They often try to persuade the other to get help with little success until the depression has gone from mild to moderate OR severe.

The first thing to know is that depression comes with various intensities: MILD, MODERATE, SEVERE, and EXTREME. When individuals think of depression, they often think of the most severe or extreme kind. Reality is the vast majority reside in the mild to moderate range and can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both.. A common response is “I don’t think I am depressed” but after a careful evaluation of symptoms and linking these symptoms to behavior does one come to understand the manifestation of depression.

Major Depression:

Depression is a disorder that impacts  the mind, body, and spirit.   Major Depression is also known as major depressive disorder and clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave.

More than just feeling sad or blue (those go away and don’t often have very brief behavioral, emotional, and mental effects), depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain that may come on as a result of genetic, environment, or both. It is more that just adjusting to a stressful situation. It isn’t  weakness or is it something that you can simply “snap out” of. It requires treatment and most do recover from depression in a fairly short amount of time.

Signs and symptoms of clinical depression may include:

  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Persistent sadness or feeling of emptiness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Increase or decrease in sexual desire
  • Excessive guilt
  • Anxious thoughts (be described as an unquiet mind)
  • Loss of concentration
  • Fatigue or Lethargy
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Onset is in fall and winter and is SADS is caused by less daylight during the fall and winter.

Melatonin is a hormone that our brains produce during the hours of darkness. It is involved with regulation of sleep, body temperature and release of hormones. As with any hormone, the amount produced is important.

People with SAD overly produce melatonin. This disrupts body’s ability to regulate itself and  leads to depressive symptoms. If you have had episodes of depression that clearly have an onset in fall or winter followed by feeling better and asymptomatic  in the spring or summer, you may have SAD. Many comment on feeling more tired and often try to self-medicate (unknowingly) through the use of increased caffeine use.

Symptoms of winter-onset seasonal affective disorder include:

  • Depressed mood
  • Irritability
  • Hopelessness
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of energy
  • Social withdrawal
  • Oversleeping (feeling like you want to hibernate)
  • Loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates such as pastas, rice, bread and cereal
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating and processing information

Dysthmia (dis-THI-me-uh)

Dysthymia is a mild, chronic, form of depression. Dysthymia symptoms usually have been present for the  last  two years, but clients report it has been present for much longer than that – sometimes beginning in adolescence.

While the symptoms are more mild than other forms of depression, given the chronicity of it the consequences and impact are more severe. Individuals with dysthymia  often feel hopeless (“What’s the point?), have difficulty beginning and completing tasks (“I just don’t feel like it”) and have a low self-esteem (“My spouse, coworkers, etc..don’t care about me……Why should I care?”). People with dysthymia are viewed by others of as being overly critical, negativistic, constantly complaining and unable to losen up – only, they are unaware others view them this way and when it is brought to their attention, the person with dysthmia will say “that’s just the way I am” OR become defensive OR become critical. The glass is always half empty for a person with dysthmia and they believe someone must have stolen the milk!

Depression and Couples

Depression of any type can create what are known as “cognitive distortions” in a relationship/marriage.  Distortions are a set of internal beliefs that an individual takes as FACT when it is what they tell themselves about the facts. For example, a dumped coffee on the ground “I can’t believe someone dumped out their coffee here. They should have dumped it in the garbage can” or “Too bad, someone accidentally spilled their coffee” are beliefs and a story based on the coffee on the ground. We don’t know which is the real story because we were not there, but as human beings, we make inferences based on what is observable.

Depression strongly impacts a persons beliefs about marriage, their spouse, and themselves in a way that contributes to a negative cycle of interaction. It impacts a marriage at all levels; friendship; fondness and admiration, intimacy, positivity, resolving conflict, repairing the relationship, how issues are raised, being open to the others’ thoughts and opinions, de-escalating and calming down, compromising, and creating lifelong dreams and meaning (Gottman, 2002).

After a thorough assessment of each persons view of relationships in the above areas, a therapist can determine the issues a client brings to therapy that make marital interventions ineffective and develop solutions couple specific to reduce the impact of depression on treatment resistance to mariage therapy.

Awakening from the Deep Sleep : A Powerful Guide for Courageous Men (Paperback)

”For men who realize there is a better way to live, but need help in discovering it… For those of us who were, like most men, “raised to work not to relate,” Robert Pasick goes beyond the usual clinical anecdotes to reveal practical lessons and to deliver a real ste-by-step, you-can-do-it book. I highly recommend it. Furthermore, I fervently wish every man would read it and embrace its lessons. We could make not only our lives, but the world a better place.” James Autry, author of Love and Profit — James Autry, Author of Love and Profit

The Don’t Diet, Live-It! Workbook: Healing Food, Weight and Body Issues (Paperback)

This unique workbook is full of in-depth information, moving personal stories, and insightful exercises to help people understand and resolve their food, weight and body issues. It takes readers through four “Journeys” on such topics as: • Isolation vs. Reaching Out • Thoughts vs. Feelings • Criticism vs. Praise • Emotional Hunger vs. Physical Hunger • Weight Control vs. Natural Weight • Holding On vs. Letting Go • Diet vs. Live-it

Includes a special section for professionals who want to lead Don’t Diet, Live-It! Groups, with a sample structure for meetings, group guidelines, goals, and responses to common problems. Also includes lists of Internet sites, organizations, support groups, and recommended readings.

Overcoming Depression One Step at a Time: The New Behavioral Activation Approach to Getting Your Life Back (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook) (Paperback)

Learn breakthrough self-activation techniques to: ·Become more engaged with your life ·Enjoy daily activities ·Feel able to face challenges ·Stop avoiding social situations ·Feel strong and competent again ·Conquer the obstacles that keep depression going ·Stop making decisions based on your moods ·Get back on track with your life goals ·Recognize the habits and patterns that fuel your depression

Achieve medication-free recovery

Behavioral activation therapy offers effective, fast relief from depression. This powerful and progressive therapy steers away from the idea that depression symptoms represent an illness or weakness. Instead, depression is merely a signpost pointing directly at the things that need to change in one’s life. Its engaging exercises make it easy for you to focus on activities that will inspire you with feelings of pleasure, mastery, and engagement. Learn to develop a list of enjoyable activities, or activities you need to engage in as a part of a normal and satisfying life. Begin with the easiest (or sometimes, the most indispensable) activities on your the list, and learn how to tackle them one by one. This simple, profound process will connect you with naturally occurring rewards, which are powerful antidotes to feelings of depression. With this foundation, go on to change how you approach your day-to-day life-your daily activities, the choices you make, and the way you cope with life’s ups and downs. You’ll find this proven-effective approach to coping with depression easy to master.

The Anger Control Workbook (Paperback)

The ever-escalating costs of anger are well documented: sabotaging careers, alienating friends and family, triggering illness, causing bodily harm. Written by two well-regarded experts in the field, The Anger Control Workbook introduces a new and radically simplified approach to anger control. Step-by-step exercises will aid readers in identifying, understanding, responding to, and ultimately coping with their hostile feelings. “Half the anger battle can be won by simply learning to relax the physical tension that develops in provocative situations. It’s a proven fact that if you can relax your body, and keep it relaxed, it’s almost impossible to get angry. Combating stress using the skills you’re about to learn can help you calm down, think clearly, and handle any situation in an effective, positive way.” – from the book

The Anger Workbook: A 13-Step Interactive Plan to Help You… (Minirth-Meier Clinic Series)

This is the only anger management system we’ve found that offers interactive exercises to help readers understand and modify their own behavior. Whether your anger is from tension at work, frustration at home, or just life in general — this workbook will help you identify and modify the anger that keeps you from inner peace and contentment. From doctors nationally known in the field of Christian counseling.

The Dance of Anger: A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships

’A careful and compassionate exploration of women’s anger.’ SUSIE ORBACH ‘An inspirational book.’ RELATE NEWS ‘Provides a whole new way of looking at your problems. A good investment.’ Amazon reader, 2001 –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Faithful and True

Dr. Laaser offers help and hope for regaining and maintaining sexual integrity, self-control, and wholesome, biblical sexuality.

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