Does Couples Counseling Work? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

One of the most essential needs we have as human beings is the need for companionship. Healthy relationships help us thrive and also fulfill our emotional needs. We all desire affection, and we feel good when we know that other people care deeply about us. Relationships, whether they are romantic, friendships or familial fulfill our need for intimacy and teach us to receive, share and express love.

Like with all other forms of relationships, romantic relationships require hard work and effort. Just like our physical bodies, they require constant maintenance to keep them running smoothly. Most people visit the doctor for a routine check-up once in while to ensure that every organ is working the way that it should. This is the same attitude we should have towards relationships.

Sadly, a lot of people view relationship counseling as a last ditch effort in saving a doomed relationship. In fact, research shows that the average couple is unhappy for 6 years before making the decision to see a counselor. Couples therapy is really beneficial for all relationships, and it helps to improve overall relationship satisfaction even when things are running smoothly. In this article, we explore what relationship counseling is, what it entails and how it can benefit your relationship.

At Thrivetalk, we are committed to making therapy as accessible as possible. Our mission is to change the way couples therapy has been traditionally practiced and make it more accessible and affordable for the couples who need it. We also help couples overcome the stigma that’s attached to going to couples therapy. Our therapists are trained to listen with empathy and used their expertise to assist couples in improving their relationship.

If you need relationship counseling, our therapists are ready to help you. All our therapists are well trained and certified. We list only the best therapists and we match you with an experienced therapist based on your needs and preferences. Our process is simple and we will help you find the perfect therapist in minutes. You can use the online booking system to set up a free 15-minute consultation.

What Is Couples Counseling?

Couples counseling, also known as couples therapy or relationship counseling is a type of psychotherapy. Couples counseling helps all types of couples recognize and resolve conflict, and rebuild intimacy in their relationships. It is helpful for all couples, whether the partners are considering separation or seeking new ways to improve their relationship. In couples counseling, the focus is on the relationship, however, each partner is encouraged to pay attention to self-improvement and self-awareness.

Couples counseling is usually provided by Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT). These therapists usually have graduate or postgraduate degrees and they choose to be approved by the American Association for Marriage and Family therapy (AAMFT). Couples counseling is great for couples who are experiencing difficulties such as constant arguments, feelings of distance, dissatisfaction, lack of intimacy and affection and resentment.

What Does Couples Counseling Involve?

Couples therapy usually starts with the therapist asking the couple questions about their relationship as well as personal questions about each partner. The therapist will then help the couple pinpoint the issue that will be the focus of the treatment, set treatment goals and plan a treatment structure. During treatment, the therapist will help the couple understand the problem, provide them with healthy tactics for navigating it, and help both partners understand their role in solving the problem. The therapist will also give assignments to help them apply the skills that they’ve learned in therapy to their daily interactions.

Types Of Couples Counseling

Couples counseling is beneficial to couples in all types of intimate relationships, regardless of sexual orientation or marital status. Here are some of the different types of couples counseling.

Premarital Counseling

This is the specialized type of therapy that helps couples prepare for a long-term commitment such as marriage. Premarital counseling helps couples build a healthy, strong foundation for their union. It also helps couples identify and address potential areas of conflict in their relationships such as finances, children, parenting, sex, decision making, and marriage roles.  The couple then learns effective strategies for discussing and resolving conflict. Furthermore, it helps couples identify and establish their expectations for the marriage.

A study published in the Journal of Family psychology showed that couples who go through premarital counseling are 31% less likely to divorce. Premarital counseling is usually provided by a specialist over the course of a few sessions. During these sessions, the couple might be asked to do some activities both separately and together to understand how they work together and their level of compatibility.

Marriage Counseling

Marriage counseling helps married couples understand and resolve conflicts in a healthy manner. The therapist provides the couple with tools to communicate better and solve problems. Marriage counseling helps couples rediscover themselves and their feelings for each other

Group Counseling

Group counseling is usually used alongside private couples therapy. Here, the couple is grouped with other couples facing the same issues. There are discussions on how to communicate better, healthy ways to argue, dealing with feelings of anger and rejection, how to rekindle intimacy, etc. This helps the couple realize that they’re not the only couple who has issues.

When Should We Go To Couples Counseling?

Every couple experiences conflict at one point or the other and it can be hard to know when it’s time to seek help. When do you know it’s time to consider couples counseling? It’s important to note that experts agree that it’s best to seek couples counseling as soon as you become unhappy in a relationship. Therapy shouldn’t be delayed until there’s a full-blown crisis. Here are some examples of situations where couples counseling is necessary.

Preparing for changes in the relationship- When a major change is about to occur in your relationship, such as marriage or childbirth or separation it’s advised that you seek couples therapy. Couples who are about to get married will greatly benefit from premarital counseling. Couples who have decided to separate will also benefit from couples therapy As it will help them explore buried wounds, heal and separate on a healthy note.

Trust concerns

Once trust is broken, relationships shatter. It’s essential to seek couples therapy once there has been a breach of trust or a suspected breach of trust. Couples therapy helps partners to rebuild trust by allowing them to vulnerably express themselves and by providing them with the skills to move on.

Couples Counseling

Increasing Conflict

When you and your partner seem to argue about the same things over and over again, it could mean that there are problems beneath the surface that you’re refusing to deal with. Couples therapy helps you to dig deep, find out what these problems are, and resolve them healthily.

Communication problems

Proper and healthy communication is the fuel of every relationship. If you notice that you and your partner barely talk and share how you really feel, or you’re constantly misunderstand each other, or maybe you really don’t just know what’s going on in each other’s lives anymore. This is a sign that you need couples counseling. One of the great benefits of couples counseling is that it helps to increase healthy communication. The therapist helps you learn how to listen to and understand each other much better.

Intimacy problems

Relationships thrive on physical and emotional intimacy. If you feel like the ‘spark’ is gone and you’re no longer excited about each other, couples therapy can help to bring back memories of the things you love about each other and why you’re so crazy about each other. If your sex life has changed significantly, you might need a counselor’s help to reignite the flames.

Does Couples Counseling Actually Work?

According to the American Psychological Association, couples counseling is 75% effective. This is based on research that was carried out over a period of 25 years. Couples counseling can help to improve relationships greatly. When both partners are actively involved and completely committed to improving their relationship, couples therapy is most effective. Also, the more open each partner is to changing their habits and seeing things from a different point of view, the more successful couples therapy is likely to be.

Challenges Of Couples Counseling

Couple therapy teaches couples to improve their relationship by communicating better and strengthening their emotional bond. However, couples may face some challenges that stall their progress. Here are some challenges that might occur during couples counseling.

  • One of the partners may be reluctant or unwilling to undergo couples counseling.
  • The couple may have inaccurate assumptions about couples counseling.
  • Sometimes, couples are more interested in blaming each other rather than taking responsibility for their own shortcomings and working together towards the goal of fixing the relationship.
  • Some partners find it difficult to come clean during therapy sessions and keep secrets about issues such as affairs and addictions.
  • Some partners don’t follow through by refusing to do what the therapist asks them to or refusing to apply the lessons they’re learning to the relationship.
  • Some couples wait too long before getting the help they need. Sometimes, it’s too late to salvage the relationship.

Couples Counseling Online

Relationship counseling helps you and your partner release pent-up emotions, learn more about each other and learn to treat each other better. It also teaches you both to be conscious of your actions and decisions. All of this is done with the help of a qualified relationship counselor who helps you to process all these feelings and arrive at a solution that works for you both in a safe space. Online therapy has several advantages that may not be available in traditional face to face couples therapy.

One of the major benefits of online relationship therapy is that you can easily fit it into both your schedules, so it’s easier to convince your partner to join you in therapy because there’s no need to go to the therapist’s office. Also, if you have kids and have difficulty finding childcare, online relationship counseling is great because you can access your therapist from the comfort of your home without having to leave your kids.

Couples counseling is usually not covered by most insurance plans and a few sessions can be quite expensive. A lot of couples don’t go for relationship therapy because they’re unable to afford it. Online therapy is a much more affordable alternative and helps couples resolve their relationship issues without breaking the bank.

After online relationship counseling, a lot of couples gain insight into the patterns in their relationship, learn to express themselves better and possess the skills to communicate with each other more effectively.

Find a Therapist Now

Here at ThriveTalk, we’re all about providing honest therapy for everybody. We understand therapy can feel like a big commitment and that it can feel scary or shameful. That’s why we’ve created this blog, to talk about tough subjects and demystify the world of mental health and therapy. And that’s also why we try to be straightforward and upfront in everything that we do. We have our pricing here. You can meet some of our therapists here.

Through all of this, our job is to help you in whatever way we can, whether that’s answering your questions or helping walk you through the hard times in your life. So if you think you might need therapy, just have a few simple questions, or just plain don’t know what to do, get in touch with us here, and we’ll do everything we can to help you make the best choice for your life. We’re here to help you take care of you.

Making the decision to undergo couples counseling can be difficult. However, it is worth it. If you have a troubled relationship, seeking help is the best decision you can make. Most couples come out of couples counseling with stronger relationships.

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Overcoming Your Worries: Anxiety Therapy

In broad lines, anxiety therapy refers to any type of clinical or non-clinical intervention which aims to help people manage and prevent anxiety disorders.

Over the last decades, researchers and healthcare professionals have focused extensively on this condition in hopes of determining the best possible treatment options.

From CBT and exposure therapy to medication and group therapy, today’s mental health professionals possess a vast arsenal of strategies that have been proven to reduce anxiety and help people regain control over their lives.

But before we get into more details on anxiety therapy and which treatment options guarantee the best possible outcomes, let’s take some time to understand.

Overcoming mental illness can be challenging especially if you don’t have someone who understands your problem and can lend a helping hand.

If anxiety is interfering with your personal and professional well-being, perhaps it’s time to see a specialist who can offer expert insights on how to overcome this problem.

Fortunately, help is at your fingertips.

ThriveTalk is an online mental health platform that puts you in touch with a licensed counselor or therapist who specializes in the exact problems you’re dealing with. You can access your therapist at any time, set up appointments easily, discuss your issues in a confidential space, and receive the help you need to overcome anxiety.

Mental health services have never been more accessible!

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a fundamental emotion without which our survival and development as a species would have been impossible. This ‚primal’ emotion helps us spot potential dangers and mobilize resources in the face of adversity.

The frequency and intensity with which we experience this emotion and the regulatory mechanisms that help us cope with anxiety vary from person to person. While some of us are perfectly capable of handling anxiety, others are completely overwhelmed by its unpleasant symptoms.

When it reaches a severe intensity, over a prolonged period, and interferes with our day-to-day business, anxiety becomes a severe disorder with potentially devastating effects on our personal and professional life.

Acute anxiety can manifest as a ‘bad’ feeling (like something terrible is about to happen). It can be either vague and without object or clearly oriented towards a particular event. It can also be accompanied by physiological symptoms such as sweating, rapid heartbeat, breathing difficulties, blushing, nausea, vertigo, and insomnia.

In broad lines, anxiety disorders are characterized by overwhelming fear, constant worrying, restlessness, and social isolation. Another central element of anxiety is represented by the chronic, worrying, and repetitive thoughts that can generate a lot of stress, making it difficult for us to attend school/work, enjoy fun activities, and engage in meaningful social interactions.

Depending on the cause and symptoms, there are several types of anxiety disorders:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety
  • Specific phobias
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

But regardless of the form of anxiety you might be dealing with, there are plenty of effective strategies to combat this problem.

Stats About Anxiety

Anxiety disorders can affect all age groups. From children and adolescents to adults and seniors, everyone is prone to develop this unpleasant condition.

According to a 2017 report by The World Health Organization, approximately 264 million people are living with anxiety worldwide. [1]

The same report revealed that, regardless of the geographical region, anxiety disorders are more prevalent among women. For example, in the Region of the Americas, nearly 7.7% of all women suffer from anxiety disorders.

But the worst part is that only 36.9% of those who suffer from anxiety receive proper treatment. [2] Furthermore, 25% of all the American children between 13 and 18 years old are diagnosed with a form of anxiety which, if left untreated, can result in poor academic performance and substance abuse.

Anxiety Therapy Options

Since anxiety is among the most common mental health disorders, researchers and healthcare professionals have focused extensively on developing and implementing intervention strategies to help people overcome this condition.

Let’s look at some of the available options:

Traditional

Traditionally, anxiety therapy relies on individual sessions with a licensed mental health professional. If the person is struggling with a severe form of anxiety, healthcare professionals often recommend a mix of individual therapy and medication.

Group

When it comes to mental health, social support represents a crucial factor. It’s comforting to know that there are others who’ve been in your position and are willing to help you overcome anxiety. Support groups where anxiety sufferers can inspire and help each other have proven to be a viable option.

Texting/Chat Therapy

The development of text-messaging software has revolutionized human communication and interpersonal relationships. Online platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, or Instagram have rendered borders obsolete.

Nowadays, we can communicate instantly with people from all over the world. From a mental health standpoint, this technological advancement has given rise to texting/chat therapy.

Online Therapy

In a nutshell, online therapy merely is ‘traditional’ therapy transferred to the online environment. Whether it takes place via text-messaging or video chat platforms, online therapy can be an excellent option for those who wish to overcome mental illness but don’t have the time to visit a therapist’s office.

Anxiety Therapy Treatments

Regarding treatment options, healthcare professionals can use a wide variety of treatments and techniques through which they can deliver top-quality anxiety therapy.

Let’s look at a few science-backed techniques to overcome anxiety disorders:

CBT

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most popular options among mental health professionals specialized in anxiety therapy. The reason why CBT is used by counselors and therapists from all over the world that it offers a structured approach to treating anxiety.

Furthermore, researchers have repeatedly shown that cognitive-behavioral therapy is a practical approach for both managing and preventing anxiety disorders.

According to CBT experts, the reason why we end up feeling anxious is that we hold irrational and self-defeating beliefs about ourselves, others, and the world in general. These beliefs can trigger unpleasant emotions (anxiety, fear, stress) and dysfunctional behaviors that can negatively impact our personal, social, and professional life.

By challenging our anxiety-inducing thoughts and acquiring healthier coping strategies, we can keep anxiety in check and prevent it from ruining our life.

Anxiety Therapy

Exposure Therapy

Another popular strategy used by healthcare professionals to treat anxiety disorders is exposure therapy. This step-by-step puts us face to face with our fear and worries.

Exposure-based therapies reflect a variety of behavioral approaches that aim to help individuals expose themselves to anxiety-triggering stimuli. This strategy relies on the fact that anxiety is often fueled by avoidance, and therefore the individual does not have the opportunity to learn that he can tolerate the unpleasant reactions associated with this emotion.

Although this approach may sound a bit intimidating, keep in mind that exposure therapy is a gradual process that takes place under the guidance of a licensed mental health professional.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) aims to change the relationship individuals have with their own thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and bodily sensations.

By cultivating acceptance and present moment awareness, ACT teaches individuals how to reduce avoidance, put aside the worrying future, and live in the ‘here and now.’ As a result, anxiety sufferers learn to clarify their goals, discover their values, and engage in behavioral change.

The principles and strategies promoted by this approach can be successfully used by healthcare professionals specialized in anxiety therapy. Furthermore, experts also recommend ACT for problems such as depression, stress, eating disorders, and many more.

EMDR

Often, anxiety disorders are the result of traumatic events that have reshaped the way we interpret our environment. For example, if we’ve been bitten by a dog when we were kids, chances are we might develop a phobia.

To address the traumatic events that trigger mental illness, Francine Shapiro developed the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR).

Using hand tapping and side-to-side eye movements (which induce a state of relaxation) while recalling painful memories and distressing images, individuals can overcome the traumatic events that generated anxiety.

EMDR is especially effective in treating specific phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Medications

As in the case of any other form of mental illness, anxiety can be in part caused by a neurochemical imbalance. For that reason, anxiety therapy can sometimes include the use of psychiatric medication.

Some of the anxiety medication (or anxiolytics) mental health professionals are using these days are:

  • Xanax
  • Valium
  • Librium
  • Ativan
  • Klonopin
  • ProSom
  • Dalmane
  • Onfi

When dealing with a severe form of anxiety, a combination of therapy and medication is often the most effective intervention strategy.

Once the individual functions and feels better, the healthcare professional who’s in charge of his treatment plan will help him gradually go off medication, as many of the substances used can have unpleasant side effects. [3]

How to Find a Therapist

When it comes to anxiety therapy, finding a therapist is relatively easy.

Although word-of-mouth recommendation is still the most popular way to find a therapist, there are other ways to get in touch with a professional who can help you manage anxiety.

Nowadays, most healthcare professionals have web pages where you can contact them and find out more about their background and experience.

What Should I be Looking for in an LMHP?

Thanks to strict guidelines set by organizations such as The American Psychological Association (APA), mental health professionals have to go through an extensive accreditation process to obtain their license.

In broad lines, a licensed mental health professional is required to have both a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Psychology, Social Work, or any other related field. Aside from that, LMHP’s receive extensive training in one or several therapeutic approaches.

The purpose of this extensive accreditation process is to ensure top-quality mental health services. And since the Internet is bristling with self-proclaimed experts, getting more info about your therapist’s background and certification should be a priority.

Questions to Ask a Potential Therapist

Before you set up an appointment, make sure the therapist you wish to see is in fact specialized in anxiety therapy.

Here are some questions that will help you gain valuable info about a potential therapist:

  • What’s your academic background?
  • How long have you been working in the mental health field?
  • Have you ever worked with clients who were dealing with anxiety?
  • Can you tell me a bit about your approach to anxiety?
  • Can you prescribe medication?

Find a Therapist Now

Here at ThriveTalk, we’re all about providing honest therapy for everybody. We understand therapy can feel like a big commitment and that it can feel scary or shameful. That’s why we’ve created this blog, to talk about tough subjects and demystify the world of mental health and therapy. And that’s also why we try to be straightforward and upfront in everything that we do. We have our pricing here. You can meet some of our therapists here.

Through all of this, our job is to help you in whatever way we can, whether that’s answering your questions or helping walk you through the hard times in your life. So if you think you might need therapy, just have a few simple questions, or just plain don’t know what to do, get in touch with us here, and we’ll do everything we can to help you make the best choice for your life. We’re here to help you take care of you.

Final Thoughts on Anxiety Therapy

All and all, anxiety therapy is a collection of techniques and explanatory models which aim to help individuals manage and prevent one of the most common mental health issues – anxiety disorders.

Whether it’s through individual, group, or online therapy, healthcare professionals can quickly and effectively provide the support you need to overcome mental illness.

From cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication to EMDR and ACT, today’s counselors and therapists possess an impressive collection of intervention strategies that have been scientifically proven to ease anxiety.

Meta description:

References

World Health Organization, “Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders,” World Health Organization, Geneva, 2017.

n.a., “Facts & Statistics,” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, [Online]. Available: https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics.

n.a., “Getting Help for Anxiety,” GoodTherapy, 13 3 2018. [Online]. Available: https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/anxiety/getting-help-for-anxiety.

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How to Deal with Anxiety: 7 Easy Steps for Big Improvements

Everybody experiences anxiety. This is natural – even healthy. Why? Because anxiety is a normal response to situations which are stressful or dangerous. It can keep you out of harm’s way; and it can also motivate you, as in the case of preparing for an exam or presentation, for example.

In certain cases, however, anxiety can have a devastating impact on your quality of life, which is when an anxiety disorder might be diagnosed. This article covers the basics of anxiety and anxiety disorders, including seven evidence-based pointers for how to deal with anxiety.

The seven strategies that we outline here today can go a long way in showing you how to deal with your anxiety. However, if you find that these self-help methods aren’t quite enough, there’s absolutely no shame in seeking a bit of extra input! ThriveTalk is a platform that makes it incredibly easy for people to do just that. With affordable rates and an expansive team of qualified and licensed mental health care professionals, we can team you up with the right expert for your needs. Furthermore, you’ll be shown how to deal with anxiety from the safety of your own home.

What is Anxiety?

Before we discuss how to deal with anxiety, we need to define this term. Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension, stress, fear or worry. These experiences manifest in our thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Furthermore, anxiety can affect the physiological functioning of our bodies. You may experience a pounding heartbeat, breathlessness, sweating, nausea, dizziness and muscle tension, among others. These symptoms are especially common in people who suffer from panic attacks.

However, experiencing anxiety is not the same as having an anxiety disorder. This would only be diagnosed if your anxiety is so severe and persistent that it seriously interferes with your ability to live a normal life. Anxiety can manifest in various ways, and so there are many different forms of anxiety disorders. These include generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder and a range of phobias.

Stats About Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are diagnosed more frequently than any other form of mental illness. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that 40 million people in the USA have an anxiety disorder. Just to put this figure into perspective, that’s one in six people! Phobias represent the most commonly occurring anxiety disorder, followed by social and generalized anxiety.

What Are the Traditional Treatments for Anxiety?

Before we describe how to deal with anxiety at home, what are some of the traditional approaches?

Therapy for Anxiety

There are many different forms of counseling or talk-therapy that may be used to treat depression. Popular options include Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Psychodynamic Therapy. While these treatments are effective, therapy requires a commitment in terms of time, energy and money.

Today, more and more therapists are providing their services online. Many people – especially those who struggle with anxiety – appreciate that they are now able to do therapy from the comfort of their own homes.

Medications for Anxiety

The medication most commonly used to treat to anxiety is a form of antidepressant known as a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (examples include Celexa and Prozac). Benzodiazepine medications (e.g. Xanax or Valium) may also be prescribed at times, but these carry a risk of addiction and other negative side effects.

What Are Other Ways of Dealing with Anxiety?

Given how prevalent anxiety disorders are, it’s not surprising that many creative strategies have been developed to help people take back control. Let’s explore three alternate options for how to deal with anxiety.

Exposure Therapy for Anxiety

When we’re anxious, we naturally strive to avoid the source of our anxiety. But this avoidance inadvertently strengthens our fear. How? By denying us the opportunity to prove to ourselves that we are in fact capable of surviving the things that make us anxious. Exposure therapy is all about overcoming avoidance and directly exposing you to the source of your fear.

For example, let’s say you have a phobia of spiders. Your therapist would train you in some effective relaxation techniques, before gradually exposing you to spider-related stimuli that trigger your anxiety. You might start by looking at a photo, followed by a video and then viewing a real spider that’s contained within an aquarium. All the while, your therapist would help you to maintain a state of calm. The goal would be to gradually bring you to a point where you’re confident enough to, say, handle a real (non-venomous!) spider without being overwhelmed by anxiety.

While the prospect of exposure therapy is terrifying for many, this is a highly effective approach. You need not worry too much – your therapist will seek out your full consent and allow you to set the pace as you work to overcome your fear.

Meditation/Mindfulness for Anxiety

For many years, people have used meditation to still the mind. But can it be used to treat anxiety? Research suggests that a specific form of meditation known as Mindfulness is especially helpful in this regard. Derived from Buddhist principles, Mindfulness emphasizes the importance of being fully present in the now, rather than allowing yourself to get swept away by worries about the future. This approach also encourages non-judgmental acceptance, whereby you learn to let go of critical thoughts about yourself and the world.

In recent times, Mindfulness has been wholeheartedly embraced by the West as an evidence-based way for people to reduce stress and increase their wellbeing. These techniques have also been incorporated into many different forms of psychotherapy and medical practice.

CBD Oil for Anxiety

CBD oil contains a chemical called cannabidiol. This is a natural substance found in marijuana and hemp plants. This chemical binds to receptors in our brains that lead to changes in levels of a brain chemical called serotonin. Anxiety disorders are thought to be linked to altered levels of serotonin and research shows that CBD oil may be effective for reducing anxiety symptoms. But is it legal? In the USA, certain states permit the use of hemp-derived CBD oil for medicinal purposes, in which case you would need to have it prescribed by your doctor.

7 Ways to Start Dealing with Anxiety Now

We’ve already covered some of the formal treatment approaches – but what can you do right now? The following can be used as an evidenced-based guide, showing you how to deal with anxiety at home.

1. Keep an Anxiety Journal

There are two ways in which you can ‘journal away’ your anxiety. First, you can write about what you’re experiencing in the moment, when you’re feeling anxious. Describe what you’re feeling emotionally. Choose the words that most accurately capture your experience. Then, write down any thoughts that are passing through your mind. Finally, make note of any physiological anxiety that you might be experiencing.

You can also schedule in a time at the end of your day to track any moments of anxiety that you may have felt during the day. This can help you to recognize patterns, trends and triggers for your anxiety, which ultimately can help you gain more control in the long run.

2. Challenge Negative Thinking

The key to challenging negative thinking patterns is by first becoming aware of them. Often, these sorts of thoughts pass through our minds without us even noticing them. For example, anxiety is often caused and reinforced by negative thoughts such as: “I’m a failure”, “It’s not going to work out”, “I’m defective” or “I’m unloveable”.

Next time you feel anxious, stop and take note of what just passed through your mind. If you identify what appears to be a negative thought pattern, evaluate the evidence for and against this thought. How accurate is your thought? If your friend was having a similar thought, what advice would you give them? Is there a different, more helpful thought that you could use to replace the negative thought?

How to Deal With Anxiety

3. Practicing Acceptance

If you’re wondering how to deal with anxiety, practicing acceptance is a great starting point. Acceptance is about learning to relinquish your need for control. It’s about acknowledging and embracing your situation for what it is.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you’re giving up and resigning yourself to misery and discomfort. Rather, acceptance is about choosing to acknowledge the reality of your situation instead of expending energy on fighting the unchangeable. By making a conscious choice to accept your situation, you’re likely to end up generating the mental clarity and vigor which you need to tackle your anxiety more effectively.

4. Practicing Positive Self-Assurance

Positive self-assurance is a way of using targeted phrases, or mantras, to help you cope throughout the day. Research shows that basic acts of self-assurance can activate parts of your brain that are associated with emotional wellbeing. How can you implement positive self-assurance in your own life?

Choose a phrase that is short, simple and easy to remember. This strategy is most effective when you’re able to create your own mantra – one that speaks directly to your individual experience. Nonetheless, here are some phrases which you could adopt or adapt as a way of reassuring yourself:

“I am strong”

“I’m a good person”

“I’m a survivor”

“My anxiety does not define me”

You may find it helpful to write down your mantra on a post-it sticker, which you can look at periodically throughout the day. For best effects, recite your mantra not just when you’re feeling anxious, but make a routine of reciting it to yourself at the same time every day – before each meal, for example.

5. Set Up a Routine

People who struggle with anxiety are often plagued by a perceived lack of control – regarding themselves, their lives and their futures. However, establishing routine within one’s daily life can help to restore a sense of calm and predictability. How? If you know what to expect from your day, that’s one less thing that you need to worry about.

Start by establishing a predictable morning routine. For example, you might choose to specify the order in which you shower, brush your teeth, eat breakfast, recite your mantras and leave home for work. Try to eat meals at the same time every day and be sure to go to sleep and wake up at the same time, as this can improve the quality of your sleep which in turn can help reduce anxiety.

6. Practicing Relaxation Techniques

A Google search will reveal an extensive list of possible relaxation techniques. These range from breathing methods and meditations to exercises involving muscular contraction and mental distractions. Controlled breathing, for example, is a highly effective way of interrupting your brain’s fight-or-flight response – the reflex that underlies many symptoms of anxiety.

Practice controlled breathing by taking slow, steady and regular breaths. Aim to breathe deeply, right into the pit of your belly; and hold your breath for one or two seconds before slowly emptying your lungs. You may find it helpful to imagine a balloon in your belly which expands as you inhale and deflates as you breathe out. This will help to ensure that you’re taking deep, diaphragmatic breaths which promote relaxation.

7. Get Some Exercise

Moving your body can change your brain chemistry for the better. For starters, exercise triggers a release of endorphins, which may lead to improvements in your mood. Furthermore, exercise reduces stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, both of which serve as triggers for anxiety in the body and brain.

How much exercise do you need? The Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise each week, or alternatively, 1.25 hours of vigorous activity spread out across the week. Walking, running, hiking, aerobics, Pilates, dancing, gym, Zumba, hockey, Yoga, weight-lifting, baseball and mountain biking are all great options. For best effects, try to do something that you enjoy!

How to Find a Therapist

Here at ThriveTalk, we’re all about providing honest therapy for everybody. We understand therapy can feel like a big commitment and that it can feel scary or shameful. That’s why we’ve created this blog, to talk about tough subjects and demystify the world of mental health and therapy. And that’s also why we try to be straightforward and upfront in everything that we do. We have our pricing here. You can meet some of our therapists here.

Through all of this, our job is to help you in whatever way we can, whether that’s answering your questions or helping walk you through the hard times in your life. So if you think you might need therapy, just have a few simple questions, or just plain don’t know what to do, get in touch with us here, and we’ll do everything we can to help you make the best choice for your life. We’re here to help you take care of you.

Bottom Line: How to Deal with Anxiety

Do you wish you knew how to deal with anxiety? Would you like to eliminate it from your life completely? If so, you’re not alone. However, anxiety is an inevitable part of life. If someone says they never get anxious, they’re either lying or speaking from the grave! Rather than trying to eliminate it completely, we should be learning to roll with the punches by finding effective ways of managing anxiety. The seven strategies that we have discussed here will allow you to do just that, helping you to create a calmer, healthier and happier life.

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Dream the Impossible Dream: 5 Ways of Dealing with Social Anxiety

Do you fear being judged by other people? Are you nervous about talking in front of people? Do you avoid social situations?

People dealing with social anxiety find it nearly impossible to meet new people, go on dates or find jobs. For them, spontaneity along with any form of normal functioning in social settings is an unattainable dream. They can only imagine a world in which they can spark a conversation with little effort and enjoy the company of new people.

We are social by nature and, therefore we have a desire to belong to a group and to be accepted by its members. Social anxiety results from the fear that our peers may not accept us for who we are. We fear negative evaluation by other people and we have a biological need to be liked.

Social anxiety is still poorly understood in the world today and, outside of scientific circles, people, in general, don’t have a good understanding of the condition. The good news is that it is highly treatable according to the experts.

What is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that is also known as social phobia. People with social anxiety feel fearful or anxious in social situations like being on a date, meeting new people and going for job interviews.

Someone dealing with social anxiety becomes anxious doing normal things in front of others. Eating, drinking or talking in front of another person may be very uncomfortable to someone with social anxiety.

The persistent fear of social situations or performance situations are the main factors by which social anxiety is characterized. Someone who lives with social anxiety is fearful of being in the presence of unfamiliar people. They fear that their actions will embarrass them or humiliate them and to top it all; they are afraid that people will notice their anxiety.

Some level of anxiety is normal and most people endure some or other form of social anxiety during their lives. However; people with social anxiety disorder tend to worry excessively and for long periods of time before an anticipated social situation.

People dealing with social anxiety attempt to avoid the social situations that they dread. Sometimes, avoidance is not an option and they have to endure the situation while experiencing intense distress.

Social anxiety can cause significant problems in social and occupational functioning. People with social anxiety disorder have a strong fear of social situations which they cannot control. This fear makes it difficult for them to go to work, attend school and take part in other normal social activities. In the end, they stay away from events or places where they expect that they may do something to embarrass themselves.

People who are challenged by social anxiety are not all necessarily afraid of run-of-the-mill social situations. Some people may struggle with the symptoms of anxiety while performing on stage, playing a sports game or giving a speech.

Social anxiety disorder often starts during youth and without treatment, it may last for many years and prevent people from reaching their full potential in life. It is highly comorbid which means that it can co-exist with other conditions like panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder.

People dealing with social anxiety find ways to cope and they usually live fairly isolated lives. They may not have many friends, get married or go to social events like parties. Luckily, various forms of treatment are available to assist these people in living happy lives.

Stats About Social Anxiety

The recognition of social anxiety disorder, in general, is a cause for concern. Adults, children, and young people are often not diagnosed appropriately for this condition.

Many people are misdiagnosed as suffering from major depression alone. A missed diagnosis may occur if history taking was done improperly. This is a serious issue as it may have implications for treatment and it may negatively affect the outcome of the treatment.

Recent statistics indicate that around 12.1% of adults in the U.S. experience social anxiety disorder during their lifetime. Furthermore, it has been estimated that 9.1% of U.S. adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 years have social anxiety.

5 Ways to Start Dealing with Social Anxiety Now

Social anxiety can be dealt with in several ways. By facing what is real and changing what can be changed, the patient can experience drastic improvements in social functioning.

Attend to and Learn About Your Social Anxiety

Experts recommend that people need to face their anxiety. In therapy, the thoughts that drive the anxiety are identified and they are used to bring about improvement. Maladaptive thinking patterns are challenged as people are encouraged to expose themselves to situations that make them anxious over extended time periods. Through this exposure, they have the opportunity to realize that nothing bad will necessarily happen.

Identify and Get Rid of “Safety Behaviors”

People dealing with social anxiety often engage in “safety behaviors”. They use these behaviors to avoid being embarrassed in front of other people and it may seem to work at first. The problem is that “safety behaviors” maintain your anxiety as you end up believing that they are the sole reason why you able to survive uncomfortable social situations.

The most effective way for someone with social anxiety to gain real control is through exposing themselves to feared social situations without using their safety behaviors. Over time, the person will realize that he/she is equipped to handle situations that he/she is afraid of without using safety behaviors. The best idea would be to commence with this exposure under the supervision of a therapist as part of a treatment program.

The treatment involves listing feared social situations in order from least feared to most feared situations. The person is then encouraged to expose themselves to the listed situations repeatedly starting with the situations that are less fear provoking moving up to more challenging situations as confidence improves.

Exposure exercises help people to confront real-life situations through role-play exercises and homework assignments.

Challenge Negative Thinking

Negative thinking has an influence on social anxiety. Therefore, many types of therapy for dealing with social anxiety involve techniques to transform negative thinking into positive thinking. In essence, negative thoughts have to be understood before strategies can be put in place to change these thoughts or lessen their effect.

Cognitive restructuring is a useful technique that involves identifying negative thoughts, evaluating them and replacing them with positive thinking. It can be used on its own or as part of a more complex intervention. At first, it may be quite difficult to think with this new style. But with time and practice, the positive thoughts will come to you more naturally.

Mindfulness training encourages people to distance themselves psychologically from their negative emotions and worries; they become observers. The objective of mindfulness training is to gain greater control of how you react emotionally to certain situations by putting the “thinking part” of your brain in charge.

Dealing with Social Anxiety

Practicing Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques are an important part of treatment as far as social anxiety is concerned. Relaxation commonly forms part of a comprehensive treatment plan, but it can also be practiced at home.

Applied relaxation is a type of relaxation training that is used to teach people how to relax in everyday social situations. Progressive muscle relaxation is used to train individuals to relax on cue in common social situations.

Deep breathing is another helpful technique to use before a situation that may cause anxiety. By practicing it every day, you can become used to it and when you need to use it you won’t need to focus so intensely on it.

Autogenic training is a technique in which the patient repeats a series of statements to themselves about certain parts of the body. By repeating these statements it is believed that the functioning of the autonomic nervous system is influenced. Your heart rate may lower and you may also have more control over other stress or anxiety related reactions.

Practicing Self Acceptance

One of the main goals of treatment used for dealing with social anxiety is to help people understand that anxiety is treatable. Having social anxiety is not the end of the world and various techniques are available to treat this mental health problem.

Instead of focusing on gaining control over and eliminating anxiety, you could learn to accept it. By learning to tolerate your feelings of anxiety, you will start to realize that they are not as objectionable as anticipated.

Learning to accept social anxiety will help to prevent your anxious feelings from spiraling out of control.

What Are the Traditional Treatments for Social Anxiety?

In the 1960’s, social anxiety disorder became established as a separate phobic disorder. The treatment was evidence-based and involved repeated exposure to the feared social situations through imagination. Over the years, treatment approaches evolved to focus on techniques used in real social situations.

Therapy for Social Anxiety

Social anxiety disorder is treated with psychotherapy, medication or with both. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a useful therapy in the treatment of social anxiety which teaches people that there are different ways to think, behave and react in social situations to reduce anxiety. With CBT you have the opportunity to learn and practice new social skills.

Other forms of therapy include interpersonal psychotherapy and psychodynamic psychotherapy.

Exposure Therapy for Social Anxiety

Seeing as many people with social anxiety tend to cope with dreaded social settings, they try to stay away from awkward situations all together as the ultimate coping strategy. For this reason, a therapist will encourage the individual to do the exact opposite during therapy.

Exposure therapy is built around the assumption that the avoidance of feared situations forms a central part in social anxiety. The treatment involves creating an exposure hierarchy which is a list of situations in which you become anxious; in order of severity.

You start with the easiest situation and move up the list to the more difficult social situations.

Meditation/Mindfulness for Social Anxiety

Mindfulness is a practice in which you detach yourself from your own thoughts and emotions and view them from an outside perspective. The objective here is to gain control over your feelings and thoughts. By allowing the practical part of your brain take over, you can keep your emotional reactions under control.

CBD Oil for Social Anxiety

The research on CBD oil or cannabidiol oil is still young. However, there is evidence suggesting that CBD oil may reduce the symptoms of social anxiety.

How to Find a Therapist

At ThriveTalk, we make it easy for you to find a therapist. ThriveTalk offers a simple sign-up process and affordable rates.

The guidance provided by our fully trained, licensed, accredited and experienced psychologists is based on proven best practices and the most up to date methodologies in human psychology. Our therapists are both caring and dedicated. We are here to listen and to provide you with proactive strategies for overcoming the obstacles in your life.

With online thera,py you can work with a therapist from your own home, which will allow you to apply the recommended techniques in everyday situations.

Get in touch with us at ThriveTalk here to learn about our services and about the benefits that our therapy has to offer for people dealing with social anxiety.

Dealing with Social Anxiety

Social anxiety can be quite debilitating and the effortless social situations that most people take for granted can only be imagined by those who live with this condition.

If social anxiety is getting in your way of having a fulfilling life, seek help and you may be able to dream the impossible dream!

References

  1. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-more-than-just-shyness/index.shtml
  2. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/10/what-is-social-anxiety/411556/
  3. https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/Full%20Social%20Anxiety%20Guidelines%20(May%202013).pdf
  4. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/social-anxiety-disorder.shtml
  5. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-are-safety-behaviors-that-maintain-social-anxiety-3024885
  6. https://psychcentral.com/lib/6-ways-to-overcome-social-anxiety/
  7. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-change-negative-thinking-3024843
  8. https://www.verywellmind.com/relaxation-techniques-for-sad-3024334
  9. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/28674195_Acceptance_and_commitment_therapy_for_generalized_social_anxiety_disorder_A_pilot_study
  10. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319622.php

 

How to Find a Good Therapist Near Me

Choosing to see a therapist is a big step no matter what your reason. Whether you need help with particular problems or want to find more direction, good therapy will make a major difference. The next step is generally asking the question: “how do I find therapy near me?”

The process of actually finding a therapist can seem daunting. Some feel uncomfortable asking for recommendations, as in some communities there is still a stigma around it. Others are put off by high hourly rates. There are those who simply do not have anyone to ask for a referral.

These days, finding a therapist is a lot easier than it once was. If you’re uncomfortable asking a friend, you can find recommendations online. There are also online alternatives which are not only cheaper and more accessible, but also suit many people better.

In this article, we’re going to take you through every step in the process of finding not just a good therapist, but the right therapist for you.

How Do I Start Looking?

Before you start looking for “therapy near me,” you need to decide what kind of therapy fits you best. While this question is a little trickier today than it once was, this is for the best. There are now different types of therapy to choose from, making it more likely you’ll find the right therapist.

Traditional Therapy

Traditional therapy has been around in some form for over 100 years. It has evolved significantly since the early days when Freudian psychoanalysis was the only option. However, the basic concept has remained the same. You sit in a private room with a therapist and talk through your problems.

There are many different approaches taken by traditional therapists. Some stay relatively quiet throughout the session, while others will have a lot more of a direct, guiding hand. Anyone who is fully licensed and has good testimonials will be more than capable of helping you, regardless of their approach. But if you know a bit about the different approaches, and one of them appeals to you more than the others, you may want to search specifically for “therapy near me” that follows your preferred approach.

Online Therapy

Online therapy is obviously a relatively new innovation which makes finding good therapy near me a lot easier. Online therapy generally refers to therapy carried out via video or voice calling. An online platform matches you with a therapist suitable for your needs who also has availability.

The major difference between online and traditional therapy is that you are not in the same room as the therapist. In all other senses, therapy is virtually the same. Therapists use one approach or another, or one that is more eclectic. Therapy relies on a relationship between the therapist and the client. Therapy takes place in scheduled sessions on a regular basis.

For some, lack of physical proximity may be a disadvantage, especially if their internet connection does not facilitate clear and fast video or audio. However, there are also many advantages to online therapy. Online platforms use sophisticated questionnaires and algorithms to match clients with the most appropriate therapist. They will provide all the information on the therapist that a client needs to make an informed decision. Schedules tend to be far more flexible, and travel or waiting time does not need to be accounted for. Those who would be worried about being seen going into a therapist’s offices no longer have that obstacle.

The therapist is also generally more available for quick check-ins or urgent sessions when necessary. And, of course, it is somewhat cheaper. Finding a therapist near me using online therapy is definitely the easier option.

Text/Chat Therapy

While most online therapy is primarily based around voice or video connection, some platforms offer a text/chat only option. This makes finding a therapist near you incredibly simple. However, it comes with its drawbacks.

Therapy that occurs primarily over text is mistrusted by many mental health professionals and researchers. Only one study thus far has supported its efficacy. Therapy traditionally relies on a strong relationship between therapist and client, something which is difficult to achieve over text. Furthermore, we’ve all had the experience of misunderstanding someone over text, or being misunderstood, simply because tone does not come through. Misunderstandings in a therapeutic context can be dangerous.

On the other hand, proponents of text/chat therapy point out that it is better than nothing. Those who would not have pursued any type of therapy were it not for text therapy, are better off for it.

Finding text/chat therapy near me is simple, but the extra accessibility comes at a cost.

Recommendation Lists

When looking for traditional therapy near me, using recommendation lists is one of the most common options. The website Psychology Today has a quite comprehensive list of therapists, which can be searched by city or ZIP code. Psychologists are listed along with a write-up of their own, their specialties, their therapeutic approach(es), contact details, location, average cost, and more. The website also tells you if their information has been verified by Psychology Today.

The American Psychological Association (APA) offers a similarly comprehensive list of therapists with a similar gamut of information. The APA list also allows you to search by specialty.

Once you’ve found a therapist who you think might suit you, searching their name to find any online reviews can sometimes prove helpful.

What Kind of Therapist Should I Look For?

What confuses a lot of people is the different types of professionals available to provide therapy. Many mistake the role of a psychiatrist for that of a therapist. A psychiatrist is a licensed medical professional who can diagnose mental illnesses and prescribe medication. Not everyone seeking therapy needs this, and those that do generally need to seek therapy elsewhere as well. Psychiatrists do not specialize in providing therapy, after all, although they are trained in psychotherapy. Many do not offer it.

But even among those offering therapy, there are a range of different titles, which you should understand before seeking therapy near me.

Psychologists

A psychologist is an expert in psychology who holds a doctoral degree (PhD or PsyD) in the field. Since their doctorate is not medical in nature, they are not permitted to prescribe medication. However, they are experts at providing therapy, and are familiar with a range of approaches. They have necessarily had thousands of hours of experience before achieving their doctorate, and can generally provide various types of therapy. Nonetheless, they usually have a specialty in which they prefer to practice and have the most knowledge and experience.

Licensed Counselors

Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) and Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs) hold at least a master’s degree in counseling, and have over 3,000 hours of post-master’s experience. They are licensed or certified to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders. While they do not necessarily hold a doctoral degree, they are nonetheless experts in their fields and should provide excellent treatment.

Social Workers

A Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) provides many of the same functions as an LPC. They have somewhat different educational backgrounds, with a social worker requiring at least a master’s degree in social work, rather than counseling. They provide social services in health-related settings which are governed by managed care organizations. They focus on improving a person’s psychological and social functioning. Social workers often help people function in their particular environment, and are therefore useful for those seeking to deal with relationship, work, and financial problems.

Therapist Near Me

Family and Marriage Therapists

Family and marriage therapists are licensed counselors (LMFT) who specialize in helping couples and families. Rather than meeting in a one-on-one setting, they meet with couples or whole families, in order to find solutions to dysfunction in the relationship(s). They can help couples get through tough times or, when necessary, to end a relationship in a way that is least damaging. On the other hand, many couples seek out couples’ therapy despite having identified no dysfunction. They recognize that relationships come with no guidebooks, and that a therapist can help them learn how best to support each other and maintain a healthy partnership.

Family therapists identify damaging patterns in families, along with the roles each member has unconsciously taken on. They help the family make changes in how they relate to each other, as well as to step away from roles which are only exacerbating problems.

How Do I Assess Potential Therapists?

Before settling on a therapist, you will want to assess their suitability for you. The first step is ensuring that they have the relevant certification and licensing from the American Psychological Association (APA). This filters out those who do not have the training or experience to help you.

Of course, that does not mean all remaining therapists are right for you. On the APA or Psychology Today lists, you can get an idea of their particular specialties and approaches. By searching their names online, you may find independent reviews or testimonials that help you make your decision. It is important to note that some clients take out their frustrations on their therapist when the process is not working, even if the therapist has done the best possible job. Therefore, one or two negative reviews are inevitable. If all reviews are negative, it may be a good idea to search for alternatives.

With online therapy, assessing a potential therapist is somewhat easier. The platform will set you up with appropriate therapists based on your particular needs, and information and reviews of the therapist will be readily available. Since physical proximity is not relevant, you will not have the pressure of choosing only from the options nearby. You can therefore choose the therapist who appeals to you the most, rather than the one within driving distance.

What Do I Do to Set Up the First Session?

This depends on the format of the therapy and the therapists themselves. With online therapy, the website will have clear instructions and a simple system to set up the first session. Available slots will be provided, and you will be able to choose which suits you best without having to call or email the therapist.

With traditional therapy, it depends on the therapist. Some have modern platforms on their professional websites, which show you available slots and take your relevant information. Others will require you to phone or email them to set up an appointment and will take your basic information at the first session.

What Happens in the First Session?

In the first therapy session, your therapist will try to get to know you. They will try to get a basic understanding of your history, your present circumstances, as well as what you wish to gain from therapy. They will take some of the most basic information on forms you’ll fill out before the session begins, either online or in person. The rest of it they will discuss with you. They will give you an idea of what you can expect from them, and will try to come to an agreement of what each you will commit to the process. Those therapists that expect you to do “homework,” for example, will let you know this and will discuss how you feel about this.

You can also ask any questions that have been bothering you, and provide the information you think it is most important for the therapist to know about you.

Questions to Ask a Potential Therapist

Ask a potential therapist about their professional qualification and license, if you have not been able to establish this yet. Ask them about their approach and whether they believe they’re the right person for your particular needs. Furthermore, ask them how often they will need to see you in order for change to be made. Some therapists will want you to come in weekly, others once every second week, and some as often as twice a week.

You can also ask how long they expect therapy to last – whether it is open-ended or whether they prefer to work towards an end-point in the process.

Find a Therapist Now on ThriveTalk

For excellent online therapy, ThriveTalk is an online platform that matches you with an experienced therapist based on your needs and preferences. ThriveTalk has a team of committed therapists, each with their own specialties and approaches. The simple online process will help you find a great therapist in minutes. You can then use the online booking system to set up a free 15-minute consultation.

Finding therapy near me is no longer the difficult process it once was. Online lists and platforms make finding the right therapist far more seamless. You can learn all about a therapist, their specialties, and approaches online, and online platforms will match you with the most suitable option for you.

If you’re looking for a “therapist near me,” the resources are at your fingertips. Use this information to make an informed choice.

Psychodrama: It’s Showtime for Healing!

In therapy, as in life, some level of drama can be necessary. Truth be told, drama is a nearly inevitable aspect of all our life experiences. This fact sheds some light on why drama has been used through the years both in theater and for emotional healing. Psychodrama has put an innovative spin on the approach of “talking it out”. Instead, with psychodrama, you become an actor portraying either yourself or another significant character in a short drama play about certain events in your life.

By taking to the stage along with other “actors”, you have the opportunity to consider your life from different points of view. Life will applaud your efforts and you may learn that there are more ways than one for a scenario to play out.

Psychodrama: What is it?

Psychodrama is a form of therapy in which people explore their issues by using role playing and dramatic self-presentation. The aim of this method is to help people gain insight into their lives. In other words, they are encouraged to gain perspective on their emotional concerns or conflicts in a safe and trusted environment.

In group therapy, psychodrama essentially uses action methods to delve into issues that are identified in the therapy group.

The theory of psychodrama was developed by the Psychiatrist J.L. Moreno in the early 1900’s and it came to be recognized as the first established method of group psychotherapy. Moreno observed the way in which role-playing exercises affected professional actors. He became intrigued by the idea of combining his interest in philosophy, the theater, and mysticism for therapeutic purposes.

As psychodrama took a more clinical form through the years, it was transformed into a more structured and specific method of psychotherapy.

Psychodrama Theory

The modern approach of psychodrama is based on the known fact that life is quite dramatic in itself. The theory is that drama can be used in an artistic manner to address psychological issues. Role-playing, enactment, impersonation, and improvisation are used for the purpose of assisting people in dealing with different aspects of their lives.

How Does Psychodrama Suggest the Mind Works?

Psychodrama is a strengths-based approach to psychotherapy through which people are helped to explore situations in their own lives through enactment. The past, present, and future can be used to gain perspective on certain life events.

Some key principles of the approach include spontaneity, creativity, group dynamics, and role-playing. People are guided to understand their roles in life, the ways in which they interact with other people and how certain things create challenges in their lives.

How Does Psychodrama Cause Change?

People in treatment under the psychodrama approach use action methods to look upon occurrences in the past, present or future. They gain a better perspective on life events and it allows for correction through re-experiencing and improvement is achieved through role rehearsal and expression.

Psychodrama helps people to see their lives from an outside perspective. A session is regarded as a safe place for the person to consider new solutions to their life challenges.

What Happens in a Psychodrama Session?

Psychodrama sessions are generally presented as group therapy sessions on a weekly basis. The groups are normally made up of 8 to 12 members and the sessions last anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours.

A psychodrama includes:

  • The protagonist
  • The auxiliary egos
  • The audience
  • The director

Each psychodrama is focused on one person’s life situation with the members of the group taking on different roles as needed. The protagonist is mostly the individual whose story is presented. Through role play and dramatic enactment, the group develops greater insight into the struggles of the person whose life is concerned and they have a chance to learn how to manage future events more effectively. All the participants gain knowledge and perspective from a group session as each person should be able to relate to the situation at some level.

A session is most often executed in three phases.

  • Warm-up phase
  • Action phase
  • Sharing phase

The aim of the warm-up phase is to create a safe feeling among the members attending the session and to allow them to establish trust in each other. This is extremely important as the group members need to be comfortable enough to perform action methods and to explore the issues in question.

Role presentation is a technique used in the warm-up phase during which the group members introduce themselves and assume specific roles. One person may volunteer to be the protagonist of the psychodrama who will be the focal character of the enactment.

During the action phase, the therapist assists the protagonist to create a scene based on the significant event under evaluation. Other group members play auxiliary roles in the psychodrama while the session is directed by the therapist. The remaining participants act as the audience.

After the initial performance, the scene is acted out again with alternate endings. These endings would, typically, empower the protagonist or provide ways to correct the portrayal in some or other way.

In the sharing phase, the therapist abandons the role of director so as to assist in processing the played-out scene. The feelings and emotions that were at play need to be processed for transformation to take place. The sharing phase allows time for discussing the events that transpired during the action phase.

Techniques Used in Psychodrama

The following are fundamental techniques used in the action phase of a psychodrama session:

  • Role reversal

This is a technique in which the protagonist steps out of character to assume the role of someone important in their life. Through this action, the protagonist is enabled to understand what role the other person plays and this also helps the therapist to get a better understanding of the relationship dynamics involved. Another benefit of role reversal is that it may increase empathy toward others.

  • Mirroring

In mirroring, the protagonist observes as others take over their role in the play and act out an event involving their life. The mirroring technique is helpful in a situation where the protagonist is feeling particularly disconnected from feelings or emotions. It may also help in cases where extremely negative feelings are a concern.

  • Doubling

Doubling is a technique in which a member of the group adopts the movements and behaviors of the protagonist. The actor attempts to express their inner emotions and thoughts. In other words, they reveal what they believe the protagonist might have felt or thought in a specific situation.

  • Soliloquy

With this technique, the protagonist shares their inner feelings and thoughts with the audience. This can be achieved by speaking to a double.

Psychodrama

 

 

Does Psychodrama Work?

Psychodrama allows for correction by means of re-experiencing and active improvement brought about by role rehearsal and expression. Participants in psychodrama may discover the benefits it has for the development and enhancement of cognitive and behavioral skills and for boosting emotional well-being.

The psychodrama approach can facilitate the expression of emotions and feelings effectively. It can also help people who seek to exercise greater control over their emotions. As a holistic technique, psychodrama works with both the body and mind. It is regarded as a successful approach for various concerns.

What Kinds of Concerns is Psychodrama Best For?

Psychodrama may be a beneficial approach for people who are experiencing problems with their emotional functioning, social functioning and relationships. It may also help patients who have experienced a traumatic life event, the loss of a loved-one or people with addiction problems.

People in treatment for eating disorders or mood disorders may find the psychodrama approach worth-while as they can communicate their pain and the challenges they face in a safe space.

How Are Psychodrama Specialists Trained?

The American Board of Examiners in Psychodrama, Sociometry, and Group Psychotherapy governs the training and certification of professionals who use psychodrama in practice.

To become known as a practitioner who is certified to utilize psychodrama in treatment, an individual needs to complete training with Board-certified professionals and participate in supervised sessions. Furthermore, once certified and throughout the process of certification; professionals need to participate in continuing education workshops.

Concerns/Limitations of Psychodrama

Therapists who work with the psychodrama approach generally report the effectiveness of the treatment based on their experience of transformation within therapy groups. To date, little empirical research is available to support the effects of psychodrama. However, recently, psychodrama and its effects have been receiving more attention.

Seeing as trust and safety form an essential part of the psychodrama approach, group members who intend to part-take in a session need to be pre-screened and prepared beforehand. The therapist has to ensure that the group members are willing to work on sensitive issues. Any people who are not open to this should be referred for individual therapy. This process can be quite time-consuming for the therapist.

Another aspect of psychodrama that requires a lot of time and effort is the lengthy warm-up phase. The group members have to learn to trust one another to be comfortable enough to act out life events spontaneously.

Confidentiality is also an important concern in psychodrama. The therapist has to discuss confidentiality with the group members. This is to make sure that they understand the events involved in the psychodrama are meant to be kept in the group. At the beginning of the psychodrama session, every group member has to sign a confidentiality contract. There are, however, no legal implications for breaking this agreement. If someone did break the confidentiality, the therapist would hold a group meeting during which the group may democratically decide whether the person should be kept in the group. Trust within the group along with a feeling of safety is important to the psychodrama and a break in confidentiality can hinder its effectiveness.

Important Practitioners in Psychodrama

The method of Psychodrama was developed by J.L. Moreno and it continued to expand and grow as he predicted. Other notable names in the field include:

  • Martin Haskell
  • Eya Fechnin Branham
  • Anne Ancelin Schutzenberger
  • Gretel Leutz
  • Marcia Karp

How to Find a Therapist

Online directories are available for your convenience to help you find a therapist. The ASGPP (American Society of Group Psychotherapy & Psychodrama) website contains a link that guides you to such a directory.

What Should I be Looking for in an LMHP?

A therapist who uses Psychodrama in treatment should ideally be certified with The American Board of Examiners in Psychodrama, Sociometry, and Group Psychotherapy. They should also be active participants in continuing education workshops or other professional activities.

Questions to Ask a Potential Therapist

If you are curious about the psychodrama approach or if you want to find out if you or a loved one could benefit from this form of treatment; get in touch with a professional who can provide you with more information.

Psychodrama may hold the solution to the puzzles that you face in your life.

Find a therapist who can help to put the pieces back together!

It’s Showtime!

The psychodrama approach allows people to safely express their inner feelings and it may also help those who need to keep their emotions in check. Participants have the opportunity to move from the “talk about it” approach to a more actionable approach. Through this, they have a chance to heal the past, see the present more clearly and imagine the future.

The world is a stage and maybe it is time for you to face your world and let the show begin!

References

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/247201488_Psychodrama_and_Drama_Therapy_A_Comparison
  2. https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/psychodrama
  3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-healing-crowd/201011/what-is-psychodrama
  4. http://www.asgpp.org/index.php
  5. https://www.iasa-dmm.org/images/uploads/Chip%20Chimera%20and%20Clark%20Baim%20Workshop%20on%20Psychodrama.pdf

The Ultimate Guide to Yoga Therapy

Yoga therapy represents a new approach to mental health that seeks to alleviate emotional pain and restore well-being through a series of meditative practices that involve both the body and mind.

Over the last decades, researchers and mental health professionals have realized what Hindu monks have been teaching for thousands of years – a holistic approach to psychological and physical health is the key to balance and well-being.

Yoga – which is the foundation of yoga therapy – is an extremely complex spiritual tradition that has a history of roughly five thousand years, rich literature, and clear practice guidelines.

Luckily, over the years, practitioners have simplified this approach and made it accessible to anyone who’s interested in self-exploration and self-growth.

Yoga Therapy: What is it?

Considered both an art and a discipline, yoga is an ancient Indian practice characterized by meditation and physical activity, which can improve the body’s flexibility, reduce stress, and cultivate an overall state of health and well-being.

Yoga therapy represents a collection of principles, techniques, and practices derived from Hindu philosophy and adapted to clinical settings. By using meditation, breathing techniques, and body poses, this approach aims to improve our overall health and promote a state of calm and well-being.

According to a 2013 study [1], yoga therapy helps people with mental illness by cultivating a state of calm, increasing awareness and focus, promoting acceptance and adaptability, and cultivating a sense of security.

Yoga Therapy Theory

In Sanskrit (a language of ancient India), yoga means union. In other words, yoga therapy promotes an integrative and holistic [2] approach to mental health.

The union that yoga therapists and practitioners often mention is that between body, mind, and spirit. Yoga teachings stipulate that once we unite these three fundamental aspects of human experience into one element, we can reach a state of balance and health on all levels.

Some practitioners go so far as to believe that spiritual enlightenment and true unity can only be achieved in India, the birthplace of Yoga.

However, this doesn’t mean that yoga – as a series of health-promoting practices – can’t be effective in other parts of the world. In fact, countless practitioners have successfully promoted and implemented this approach all over the globe.

How Does Yoga Therapy Suggest the Mind Works?

In yoga therapy, the relationship between body, mind, and spirit represents a fundamental element that can serve as an explanatory model for the cause of physical and mental illness and also provide a pathway to balance and healing.

We all strive, more or less consciously, to free ourselves from the limited notion of what we are or, more precisely, what we commonly believe we are. In broad lines, we tend to identify with our body, mind, possessions, relationships, social status, bringing all these elements into one comprehensive picture we call ‘life.’

But these mental constructs are merely shadows of the truth that lies within ourselves; a truth that’s often hard to understand because of ignorance, narrow-mindedness, or lack of self-awareness.

By taking a holistic approach to health, yoga therapy seeks to restore balance and well-being through a series of physical, mental, and spiritual practices.

How Does Yoga Therapy Cause Change?

The profound changes that occur during yoga therapy sessions imply a confrontation with the fascinating mysteries of our own nature.

Questions like, Who am I, What is my purpose in this world, or What do I want to achieve, cultivate an introspective attitude that eventually results in valuable answers about ourselves.

As human beings, most of us are aware of our flaws, imperfections, and limits. Yoga therapy induces the power and energy to overcome them and transcend the human condition.

In other words, this approach cultivates inner freedom and understanding. It makes us realize that everything is possible, although not everything is permitted.

Most of those who resort to yoga therapy often discover that this approach can significantly improve the general condition of their body and mind. From increased flexibility and healthy weight loss to reduced stress and fewer worry-filled thoughts, yoga therapy seems to have a profoundly curative effect.

Throughout the years, this approach has proven to be a viable alternative to complement modern medicine. However, experts suggest yoga therapy should only serve a complementary role in the overall process of healing.

What Happens in a Yoga Therapy Session?

First of all, yoga therapy can be performed either in a group or individually, depending on the client’s needs.

Second, each client goes through an evaluation phase which consists of a detailed discussion with the therapist regarding specific problems he or she wants to address.

Based on professional experience and the severity of the client’s condition, the therapist can determine if the client is a viable candidate for yoga therapy.

Throughout each session, you will receive detailed instructions on how to execute different poses and meditative practices. With a combination of body and mind techniques, yoga therapists can help you achieve physical and mental health.

Techniques Used in Yoga Therapy

To help clients achieve health and well-being, yoga therapists focus on various techniques that target both the body and mind.

Here are three of the most popular techniques used in yoga therapy:

  1. Physical postures represent a fundamental practice in yoga. Through various yoga poses, clients can address problem areas. During the first sessions, this practice takes place under the supervision of a yoga therapist.
  2. Breathing exercises are an excellent way to relieve stress and ease your anxious mind. Using various breathing techniques, the therapist will guide the client throughout the entire session.
  3. Meditation helps clients achieve a state of peace and serenity, allowing both the body and the mind to relax.

Once the mind and body are in tune, clients begin to experience the amazing benefits of this approach.

Yoga Therapy

Does Yoga Therapy Work?

Although many researchers were somewhat skeptical about yoga therapy, especially when it first became popular among Western cultures, there plenty of scientific evidence suggesting this approach may work great as a complementary treatment for various conditions.

For example, studies indicate that yoga therapy can alleviate chronic back pain [3], reduce psychological symptoms associated with menopause [4], and work as an adjunct treatment for major psychiatric disorders [5].

Although at first yoga might seem like a series of light exercises, the details of this practice are far more complicated than that. While it implies the individual’s ability to adopt certain poses, the purpose of yoga therapy is to create a perfect balance between body, mind, and spirit.

In time, this balance leads to physical, mental, and emotional health.

What Kinds of Concerns is Yoga Therapy Best For?

As the studies we mentioned above indicate, yoga therapy is an effective complementary treatment for both physical and psychological conditions.

From joint and muscle pain, high blood pressure, and insomnia to depression, anxiety, and stress, yoga therapy is anyone who seeks complementary alternatives to specialized treatments.

Furthermore, yoga therapy is also a great way to achieve personal growth and work on some of the limits that hold you back from reaching your full potential.

However, as with all complementary and alternative treatment, it’s best that you consult a general physician before going to yoga therapy. For example, because yoga poses require some physical flexibility and resistance, this practice may be too risky for patients with arthritis.

Sometimes, even if there’s an improvement in their health condition, patients are not advised to give up specialized medical treatments and rely solely on yoga therapy. Any discontinuation of treatment, unrecommended by the physician, may result in serious consequences.

How Are Yoga Therapy Specialists Trained?

Unlike other therapeutic approaches, yoga therapy doesn’t require a background in medicine, psychology, or any other related field. That’s because yoga therapy is a relatively new approach that has yet to establish a formalized certification process.

However, professional yoga therapists should be well familiar with anatomy, physiology, nutrition, yoga philosophy, yoga techniques, first aid, medical care, and business ethics. [6]

Another crucial indicator of a good yoga therapist is the institution from which he or she received training and certification. The International Association of Yoga Therapists is an excellent place to start digging for more info.

Concerns/Limitations of Yoga Therapy

Although yoga therapy can be a viable complementary treatment for a wide array of physical and mental conditions, there are certain limitations that we need to consider.

First, yoga therapy is a relatively ‘young’ approach, which means there aren’t any strict guidelines and formalized certification processes. However, the International Association of Yoga Therapists represents a promising attempt to standardize the yoga therapy training and certification process.

Second, as a complementary treatment, yoga therapy lacks the diagnostic methods that would help therapists conduct a thorough and objective assessment. This is one of the reasons why you should consult a general physician before taking yoga classes.

Despite the limitations and concerns related to this newly developed approach, yoga therapy shows promising results in the treatment of various mental and physical conditions.

Important Practitioners in Yoga Therapy

Tirumalai Krishnamacharya

Tirumalai Krishnamacharya was a yoga teacher and ayurvedic healer. With extensive knowledge and experience in various forms of yoga, many consider him to be the father of modern yoga.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is probably the most well-known yoga teacher and practitioner. He’s also credited with developing Transcendental Meditation, a healing technique he shared with nearly 40,000 yoga teachers.

How to Find a Therapist

When searching for a professional yoga therapist, the best thing you can rely on is word-to-mouth referrals. Ask around as see which name pops up most often.

Also, make sure the yoga therapist you choose has extensive training and solid experience in the filed.

Since you can rely solely on referrals and other people’s feedback – as some of them might be biased – a good idea would be to get more info from the institution where he/she completed his/her training and received his/her license.

What Should I be Looking for in an LMHP?

Just like in the case of any health specialist, there are several qualities that separate licensed professionals from self-proclaimed experts.

As the phrase ‘licensed professional’ suggests, a good yoga therapist should have proper certification from an accredited school.

Since the market is flooded with self-proclaimed gurus, teachers, and yogis, the best way to verify credentials is by looking over the guidelines provided by the International Association of Yoga Therapists.

Lastly, qualities such as understanding, empathy, and communication are among the tell-tale signs of a professional yoga therapist.

Questions to Ask a Potential Therapist

Before you decide on a yoga therapist, it’s essential to have a brief conversation about his/her background and experience.

Here are some questions that will help you dig up valuable information:

  • How did you get your license?
  • Where did you receive your training?
  • Are you (or the school where you received your training) accredited by the International Association of Yoga Therapists?
  • What type of clients typically employ your services?
  • What the problems or conditions that yoga therapy is best for?

Final Thoughts on Yoga Therapy

Even though there are many types of yoga, they all have a common purpose – to improve overall health and facilitate the union between body, mind, and spirit.

In the end, yoga is a way of life. A healthy lifestyle that keeps you grounded in the present moment and helps you evolve towards the best possible version of yourself.

References

  • R. Nagendra, “Integrated Yoga Therapy for mental Illness,” Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 2013.
  • McCall, “An Introduction to Yoga Therapy,” Cruz Bay Publishing, 28 August 2007. [Online]. Available: https://www.yogajournal.com/teach/an-introduction-to-yoga-therapy.
  • Williams, C. Abildso and L. Cooper, “Evaluation of the Effectiveness and Efficacy of Iyengar Yoga Therapy on Chronic Low Back Pain,” Spine, vol. 34, no. 19, pp. 2066-2076, 2009.
  • Cramer, R. Lauche, J. Langhorst and G. Dobos, “Effectiveness of Yoga for Menopausal Symptoms: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012.
  • Cabral, H. B. Meyer and D. Ames, “Effectiveness of Yoga Therapy as a Complementary Treatment for Major Psychiatric Disorders: A Meta-Analysis,” The Primary Care Companion to CNS Disorders, 2011.
  • n.a., “Yoga Therapy,” GoodTherapy, 6 8 2017. [Online]. Available: https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/yoga-therapy.

Brainspotting: Healing Trauma Though the Mind’s Eye

If you previously participated in therapy and did not see the results you were looking for, it is important to know that the field of psychology is always advancing. Sometimes those advancements allow for new forms of therapy to emerge. One relatively new form of therapy is called brainspotting (abbreviated as BSP). Learn all about brainspotting and decide whether this therapy approach may be helpful for you:

Brainspotting: What is it?

One of the newest forms of therapy, brainspotting was designed to help people work through experiences of trauma, often seen in post-traumatic stress disorder. This recovery occurs in therapy by helping the person to access the painful memories, process the associated negative emotions, and overcome any lingering psychological pain that might otherwise cause mental health symptoms.

Some psychologists and mental health practitioners view brainspotting as a neurobiological tool for diagnosis and treatment. It can be used to access, diagnose, and treat emotional and somatic conditions. It is theorized that brainspotting may almost act as a stimulant to promote activity in the brain and body. It is further thought that this will promote the body’s natural healing processes.

Brainspotting Theory

The theory behind brainspotting grew out of the work of David Grand starting in 2003. Like other psychologists who put forth new theories and approaches, Grand was seeing in his psychotherapy patients a need for more help. Through observation and research, he was able to identify a new way to help. Grand, in particular, was working with survivors of trauma. However, since the initial development of the theory, it has also been successfully applied to assist with other various mental health concerns.

Grand based some of his theory on other similar approaches. One of these is somatic experiencing (SE) and the other is eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR). At the core of Grand’s theory is a belief that the direction a person looks or gazes will affect the way they feel. Further, Grand believes the therapist can help people position their eyes in certain ways that will allow them to directly target any sources of negative emotion for a cathartic expression of that emotion.

How Does Brainspotting Suggest the Mind Works?

As noted, Grand believed that a person’s eye movements and the direction they look will play a big part in determining their mood. Essentially, where you look affects your feelings. The term brainspot is used to represent the correlation between an eye position and the part of the brain that holds some negative memory. Brainspotters believe that the negative memory is fixed in some part of the brain, which is typically harmful for a person’s mood and well-being.

Important Practitioners in Brainspotting

David Grand is the developer and most well-known practitioner of the brainspotting approach. He defined the term brainspot as “the eye position which is related to the energetic/emotional activation of a traumatic/emotionally charged issue within the brain.”  This definition formed the base of the theory and the techniques that are used by brainspotting practitioners.

How Does Brainspotting Cause Change?

Brainspotting therapy sessions occur in one-on-one settings, similar to traditional therapy. The sessions involve a specially trained therapist assisting the client in repositioning their eyes in ways that will allow them to target (and reduce) their sources of negative emotion. This is done with the use of a pointer.

The brainspotting therapist will use the pointer to slowly guide the eyes of the client through their field of vision. It is thought that during this, the client and therapist can identify “brainspots,” which are eye positions that activate particularly traumatic memories and the associated emotions.

According to brainspotting practitioners, it is thought that this process will allow access to emotions on a deep level and that even the physical effects of trauma can be targeted. The latter of these benefits is in line with recent research that suggests trauma may be “stored” in the body, even altering the way that the brain works. It is thought that brainspotting essentially helps the body to heal itself from trauma.

In particular, some evidence suggests that brainspotting works to alter the limbic system of the brain. This is a collection of brain structures that play important roles in emotion, cognition, memory, motivation, and impulse control, along with other psychological factors.

What Happens in a Brainspotting Session?

In a brainspotting session, the therapist helps the client to identify and then access negative memories of trauma experiences, so they can then release those memories from the brain. This is done with the pointer device and the process of guiding the client’s eye movements. Certain reflexive signals may reveal a brainspot. These can include primarily facial expressions. An eye twitch, brow furrow, facial tic, pupil dilation/construction, yawn, cough, and movement can also be revealing. When brainspots are discovered, the therapist will help the person focus on that spot to work through the negative memory.

Techniques Used in Brainspotting

When a brainspotting practitioner attempts to access the emotional and physical locations of negative emotions they aim to trigger somatosensory experiences. The client and therapist work together in this process to identify the brainspots and then decide how to address them.

One technique that is frequently used is called “dual attunement.” In this case, the two processes being attuned to includes the therapeutic relationship between the client and therapist and the brain-body response of the client. Other techniques that may be used include: integrative model, neurophysiology, bilateral sound, one eye, and outside/inside window.

Notably, it is considered very important for the client to feel safe in the brainspotting process. If a client does not feel comfortable, they may not be able to do this work. Finally, also notable, is the fact that clients can use other adjunct treatments along with brainspotting. Some clients may find additional value in receiving acupuncture, physical therapy, or chiropractic services.

Brainspotting

Does Brainspotting Work?

As noted, the development of brainspotting was inspired by the EMDR approach. EMDR has been extensively studied to ensure its efficacy for helping clients. Brainspotting has similarly shown favorable results and it is becoming increasingly more popular. Grand used brainspotting to successfully help survivors of natural disasters, 9/11 survivors, and combat veterans. Practitioners of brainspotting argue that the results of this approach emerge at a fast pace, which allows healing to happen more quickly.

One research study did examine the effects of brainspotting for treating PTSD. The brainspotting approach was compared to an alternative treatment approach. The researchers did find that the positive effects of brainspotting occurred in a short period with a rapid decrease in symptoms.

What Kinds of Concerns is Brainspotting Best For?

Although brainspotting has been reported to help with many different psychological symptoms, it is primarily used as a part of trauma therapy. This includes using brainspotting to treat PTSD. Other concerns that have been effectively helped with brainspotting include: inattention, motivation, procrastination, stress, anger, and injury recovery. Interestingly, many of these concerns are directly related to trauma or at least appear to be a result of the effects of trauma.

It does appear that anyone who has experienced some form of emotional or physical trauma could benefit from the brainspotting approach. It has also been used to effectively treat the following separate conditions: anxiety, ADHD, phobias, substance use, and sports-related performance. In fact, it is reported that athletes may particularly benefit from this approach.

How Are Brainspotting Specialists Trained?

Most brainspotting practitioners will first obtain education and training to become a general mental health provider. The training will involve learning how to form a rapport with clients, how to assess for presenting concerns, and how to address mental health problems (such as trauma). Providers who have a special interest in working with trauma survivors may elect to receive special training in brainspotting.

The developer of brainspotting, Grand, has also defined an approach to training providers of the brainspotting approach. Interested mental health providers can participate in that training to become more adept at working with clients on trauma recovery. Today, many providers do seek that training.

Concerns/Limitations of Brainspotting

Although many individuals do report positive results from participating in brainspotting treatments, the approach is still new. More research is needed to further understand the approach and its benefits. At this time, it is difficult to determine whether it is more helpful than other approaches due to the limited body of research. As the brainspotting approach grows in popularity, more research will be conducted.

How to Find a Therapist

If you are interested in receiving brainspotting as a part of your therapy process, then you may want to seek out a mental health provider that practices from this approach. To find a brainspotting practitioner, you will want to research for nearby licensed mental health providers that use the approach. You can just research online for potential providers who practice this approach. You may also ask your other existing medical providers and friends or family for their recommendations of good providers.

What Should I be Looking for in an LMHP?

When you seek out a licensed mental health professional (commonly abbreviated as LMHP) your first concern should be to work with someone who is appropriately trained and adequately experienced in the field of therapy. To know whether this is the case, look for a provider that is licensed. When a provider holds a license, it is an endorsement of their training background.

To participate in brainspotting, you do need to look for a practitioner who has specialized training in this technique. Currently, there are over 13,000 trained and certified brainspotting providers all over the world. You may be able to find a trained provider near you with the official brainspotting website search tools. This formal training is necessary to make sure the therapist can be in complete attunement with clients. Otherwise the use of the approach will not be effective. Generally, you also want to feel comfortable working with your therapist.

Questions to Ask a Potential Therapist

When you choose to pursue counseling, ask your potential provider some important questions. Ask about their previous experience and their general approach to treatment. If you have an interest in participating in the brainspotting approach, then you will want to ask about their training in the use of this approach. It is generally helpful to ask what approach your potential provider will take to work with your particular concerns. Finally, you should ask how your provider will monitor your progress towards the symptom relief that you want to achieve.

Finally, many people find they feel most productive in therapy when they feel comfortable with their therapist. This becomes even more important if you are doing particularly difficult therapy work, such as addressing unresolved trauma. Therefore, to make your therapy more productive, ask questions of your therapist that will help you discern whether you will feel comfortable.

Find a Therapist Now

If you choose to seek out therapy, there are two websites to locate nearby providers. One online search site is Psychology Today. The SAMSHA website also has an online locator to assist in finding nearby low-cost options. Today, many people also choose to obtain their therapy online.

Here at ThriveTalk, we’re all about providing honest therapy for everybody. We understand therapy can feel like a big commitment and that it can feel scary or shameful. That’s why we’ve created this blog, to talk about tough subjects and demystify the world of mental health and therapy. And that’s also why we try to be straightforward and upfront in everything that we do. We have our pricing here, and you can meet some of our therapists here.

Through all of this, our job is to help you in whatever way we can, whether that’s answering your questions or helping walk you through the hard times in your life. So if you think therapy could be helpful, just have a few simple questions, or just plain don’t know what to do, get in touch with us here, and we’ll do everything we can to help you make the best choice for your life. We’re here to help you take care of you.

Final Thoughts on Brainspotting

The brainspotting approach is one way to address mental health counseling. It can be used to help with trauma recovery and other mental health concerns. Participating in brainspotting may assist you in improving your mental health, daily functioning, and your overall quality of life.

How PCIT Can Help You and Your Kids

Are you embarrassed by your child’s tantrums? Do you get tired of fighting to keep their attention? Are you frustrated with their destructive outbursts? A form of child therapy called PCIT could help.

If you are struggling with your child’s behavior, you are not alone. Parenting can be an extremely challenging undertaking. Without a manual for each of life’s little moments, parents are left to fend for themselves to determine the best decisions for their children. There are times when it can seem like no matter what you do, your child will always be the screaming one in the middle of the grocery store earning you dirty looks from the other shoppers.

In a world where social media shines a spotlight on “right” and “wrong” parenting styles, you may feel even more isolated in your struggles with your child’s inappropriate behavior. Fortunately, there is help available to improve your child’s disruptive behaviors and equip you with the resources you need to reestablish a strong relationship with your child.

PCIT: What is it?

Parent-Child Interaction Therapy, or PCIT, is a well-studied therapy used to improve a child’s behavior and relationship with their caregiver. In PCIT, parents or other caregivers, their children, and a therapist work together to improve the relationship between the caregiver and the child. Therapists who practice PCIT help coach parents through these struggles with their children to improve their interactions and ultimately improve their child’s behavior.

PCIT Theory

PCIT focuses on the relationship between the child demonstrating bad behaviors and their caregiver(s). In PCIT sessions, therapists work with children and caregivers to promote more consistent parenting and improve obedience and the attitude of the child. By focusing on both pieces of the relationship, PCIT can create lasting change and a healthier relationship for parents and their children.

How Does PCIT Suggest the Mind Works?

PCIT was created under the assumption that improving a child’s relationship with their parent or caregiver would decrease their negative behaviors. It suggests that when a parent demonstrates consistent expectations and disciplinary actions, their child is more likely to listen because they have a clear understanding of what they are expected to do and the consequence if they do not.

PCIT also teaches parents how to praise their child’s good behavior while ignoring their bad behavior. This strategy is helpful because children naturally seek approval and attention from their caregivers, and when they learn that this is associated with their good behaviors, they will be more likely to exhibit those behaviors. Research has shown this method of improving the caregiver-child relationship results in better child development and improvement in the child’s overall behavior.

How Does PCIT Cause Change?

PCIT has been proven to be effective for causing change in problematic behaviors in both parents and children. Therapists utilizing PCIT help parents improve the relationship with their child by coaching them on appropriate interactions to reinforce positive behaviors and reduce negative behaviors.

The focus of PCIT is to achieve this reduction in negative behaviors by improving the child’s relationship with their caregiver and improving their self-esteem. Building a strong relationship between the caregiver and the child improves the child’s trust in their guardian and allows for improved communication between the two. All of these improvements contribute to the child’s future development.

What Happens in a PCIT Session?

PCIT can be applied in different environments, but the structure is consistently applied. During a therapy session, the therapist observes the parent or caregiver playing with their child. This can be done through a one-way mirror or online through telemedicine platforms. The therapist is able to communicate with the caregiver through an earpiece during these play times to share techniques and strategies with them in order to improve their interaction with their child.

After this portion of PCIT is over, the therapist often goes over the progress between sessions with the caregiver, and they may assign them small homework assignments to practice what they have learned in their home environment. The sessions continue until the parent demonstrates that they have mastered the techniques provided in their PCIT sessions and their child’s behavior is improving.

Techniques Used in PCIT

PCIT is typically performed in a two-phase approach. The first phase of PCIT is called Child-Directed Interaction, or CDI. During this phase, the therapist observes the caregiver interacting with their child and teaches them how to reward their child for positive behavior. The therapist also gives the caregiver strategies to ignore a child’s negative behaviors. The skills taught during this phase are often referred to using the acronym PRIDE.

  • Praise: Caregivers are taught to consistently praise their child for demonstrating good behavior.
  • Reflection: The caregiver reflects on what their child is talking about by repeating back their words and adding their thoughts to encourage their child to continue talking with them.
  • Imitation: The child’s behavior is imitated by the caregiver to demonstrate their consent of that action or activity.
  • Description: The caregiver observes their child and explains what they are doing to help their child develop a stronger vocabulary and further demonstrate their attention.
  • Enjoyment: The caregiver shows their child that they are having a good time playing and talking with them.

Once the therapist feels that the parent or caregiver has mastered the first phase of PCIT, they can move to the second phase. This phase is called Parent-Directed Interaction, or PDI. During this phase of PCIT, the caregiver is taught how to consistently give direction to and discipline their child.

To accomplish this, the therapist provides instructions for the parent to give the child and directs them in making sure the child obeys. If the child does not obey or acts out, the therapist helps the parent appropriately enforce a disciplinary action. If the child listens, the caregiver is taught to reinforce this behavior by praising them.

PCIT

Does PCIT Work?

PCIT is an extremely well studied and effective therapy for behavior disorders in children. It has been proven to improve disruptive behaviors in children, and it has also been shown to help reduce depression and stress in parents and caregivers. While it was originally developed for children with behavioral problems, it has since been studied and applied in many other populations.

What Kinds of Concerns is PCIT Best For?

PCIT has the most evidence for helping children aged 2-7 years old with behavior problems. It has been found to help children who do not listen to their parents, who act out to get attention, or who are aggressive towards others. It has also been adapted to help children who have suffered from abuse or trauma or those who demonstrate signs of anxiety. It has been applied in cases of ADHD and autism as well. While the goals of these therapy sessions may differ for these different cases, the strategies used and techniques taught to parents are the same.

How Are PCIT Specialists Trained?

PCIT specialists are expected to be licensed mental health providers with at least a master’s degree in counseling or mental health and be licensed in the state they practice in. Providers who provide services under a licensed provider can also be trained in PCIT. PCIT International offers a certificate in PCIT. This certificate is awarded if providers complete the required workshops and training time.

Concerns/Limitations of PCIT

PCIT is an extremely effective method for improving the relationship between a caregiver and child. Because it involves a high level of commitment from the caregiver, it may not be the best option for children with parents or caregivers that have minimal contact or are unable to participate in therapy due to a history of abuse or substance abuse.

It can also be difficult to implement if the parent is unable to use the earpiece to hear the advice of the therapist during each session, so parents who are hard of hearing or unable to wear the earpiece might not be able to participate in the traditional PCIT sessions.

Important Practitioners in PCIT

Sheila Eyborg is credited with developing PCIT in the 1970s. She combined and restructured multiple recognized therapy techniques, including social learning theory, behavior therapy, and play therapy, to create PCIT to help children with behavioral issues. Cheryl McNeil and Toni Hembree-Kigin played an important role in helping practitioners utilize this therapy by creating a guide for PCIT. Robin Gurwitch, Beverly Funderburk, and Anthony Urquiza were also notable therapists who created manuals for applying PCIT to other specific pediatric populations.

How to Find a Therapist

There are many resources available to help you find and choose a therapist who can help you and your child through PCIT. Talk with your child’s pediatrician to see if they are aware of any providers in your area who offer PCIT, or seek out a school guidance counselor for help finding a therapist. When you identify your options, evaluate their qualifications and talk with them to determine which therapist would work best with your family.

What Should I be Looking for in an LMHP?

When you are looking for a LMHP for PCIT, there are some important qualities that can help ensure you and your child receive excellent care.

  • Trained: It is important to find someone with the appropriate qualifications. There are training programs available to providers to ensure they are adequately prepared to offer PCIT to children and their caregivers. Ask each therapist if they have received training in PCIT.
  • Adaptable: Each child and situation is unique. Talk with each LMHP about their ability to adapt PCIT to different problems or situations, and see if they think they can work with you and your child.
  • Approachable: Although PCIT does not have as much direct interaction between children and the therapist as other forms of therapy, it is important that you and your child feel comfortable with the LMHP you choose. This will help you openly discuss your concerns and help your child feel comfortable interacting with you and the therapist.

There may be other qualifications or traits that are important to you and your child. These should be considered when choosing with LMHP you will work with.

Questions to Ask a Potential Therapist

There are many questions you can ask your potential LMHP before and during PCIT therapy. They include:

  • What is your experience with PCIT?
  • What types of behavioral problems have you worked with in the past?
  • How many sessions should we expect to participate in?
  • How will you communicate your suggestions to me during therapy?
  • Will there be homework assignments?
  • How fast should I expect to see improvement in my child’s behavior?
  • What caused or could have contributed to my child’s behavior?
  • What caregivers should be involved in this therapy?
  • Do I need to explain these techniques to my child’s school or daycare?

Find a Therapist Now

Finding a therapist for provide PCIT does not have to be challenging. Online therapy is a great option for working with a therapist. ThriveTalk has many therapists available with a wide variety of qualifications to help you receive the help you and your child need. Online therapy allows you to work with a therapist while in your own home, allowing you to apply the techniques they recommend in real-life situations.

PCIT is a proven therapy to help you if your child is struggling with behavioral problems. While it was originally developed to help decrease destructive or aggressive behavior in children, this therapy has now been successfully applied to children who have experienced past trauma or who have developmental concerns as well.

By learning how to provide consistent praise and discipline for your child, you can strengthen your relationship with them and ultimately provide them with the improved self-esteem and trust they need to improve their behavior. PCIT can also benefit you by lowering your stress level and helping to improve your mood.

If you are concerned about your child’s behavior or development, consider PCIT to help guide both of you to a healthier, happier life.

Resources

http://www.pcit.org/

https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/parent-child-interaction-therapy

https://pcit.ucdavis.edu/about-us/

http://www.cebc4cw.org/program/parent-child-interaction-therapy/detailed

http://www.traumacenter.org/research/pdf_files/pcitfactsheet.pdf

http://www.apa.org/pi/families/resources/newsletter/2013/01/parent-child-interaction.aspx

http://www.institutefamily.org/programs_PCIT.asp

https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/f_interactbulletin.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5519301/

https://www.nctsn.org/interventions/parent-child-interaction-therapy

https://www.kurtzpsychology.com/parent-training/what-is-parent-child-interaction-therapy/

https://psychiatry.uchicago.edu/page/parent-child-interaction-therapy-pcit

What Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Can Do For You

It’s normal to wake up on the wrong side of the bed from time to time. Have you ever noticed that when you’re not feeling all that well emotionally, you’re more likely to think in a way that makes your mood worse? For example: “I can’t face this day”, “I don’t have what it takes” or “There’s no point getting out of bed”.

Furthermore, our daily lives are often so frantically busy that we fail to stop and observe what’s actually happening inside our minds and bodies. We run on autopilot, in other words. Before we know it, we’re caught up in a frantic cycle of goal-directed behavior, stress, exhaustion and negative emotional states. But it’s possible to break this harmful cycle. Read on to learn more.

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy: What is it?

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy was developed to help people improve their emotional wellbeing by becoming more aware of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that are linked to unhappiness and mental illness. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is an amalgam of two existing treatment models:

1. Cognitive Therapy (CT)

CT was developed in the 1960s by the pioneering psychologist Aaron Beck. CT aims to change harmful thinking patterns that underlie many psychological disorders. Since the 1960s, much research has been done on CT and it is often seen as the gold standard for treating depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders.

2. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is not a form of therapy per se. Rather, it describes a Buddhist philosophy that has been around for thousands of years. To be mindful is to cultivate a deep awareness of your moment-to-moment experiences. This philosophy teaches you to become more aware of the present moment and to accept your current experience in a nonjudgmental way.

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Theory

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is based on a simple concept that has a complicated name: the differential activation hypothesis. According to this theory, our negative mood states are closely linked to dysfunctional ways of thinking about ourselves and the world we live in.

Negative mood states tend to trigger problematic thoughts; and problematic thoughts reinforce negative mood states. People who struggle with depression, therefore, tend to get trapped in a vicious cycle that can be reactivated easily, unless they are trained to break this cycle.

How Does Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Suggest the Mind Works?

According to Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, our minds operate in two different “modes”:

1. The Doing Mode

Your mind is incredibly good at setting goals and working towards them. This might be a matter of cooking dinner, getting to work on time, building a career, trying to feel happiness or overcoming mental illness. When your mind is filled with these sorts of thoughts, it’s operating in the doing mode.

This can be a good thing: your mind is preparing you for action and allowing you to move forward in life. Often, however, while you’re in the doing mode you’re comparing your own progress with broader standards and expectations for where you should be. This sort of comparison can fuel thoughts and feelings that are not conducive to mental health. Furthermore, when you’re in this mode, your mind is so preoccupied with doing that you fail to take a step back and notice when you’re becoming embroiled in a negative emotional cycle.

2. The Being Mode

This mode is about experiencing and accepting the present without wishing for it to be different. In this mode, you’re not thinking about goals or comparing your progress to set ideals; rather, you’re simply living in the moment. If you’ve ever surfed an ocean wave, played a piece of music or lost yourself on a dancefloor, these are perfect examples of operating in the being mode.

In our goal-orientated lives, very few of us find the time and energy to tap into this mode of being. This is unfortunate, because the being mode allows us to experience and enjoy life, rather than rushing through it and allowing it to pass us by. Furthermore, switching to the being mode is potentially therapeutic in terms of reducing stress and improving your mood.

How Does Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Cause Change?

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy helps you to achieve a balance between being and doing. Both modes are necessary and important, but there are times when it can be therapeutic to engage in being rather than doing. This helps us to become aware of and separate from harmful thoughts and behaviors that lead to emotional distress.

In other words, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy can help you to break the cycle between negative mood states and dysfunctional thought patterns, in order to foster a greater level of emotional wellbeing. At the same time, you’re empowered to cultivate a more accepting view of yourself, which can promote healing.

What Happens in a Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Session?

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy was originally designed as a form of group therapy that takes place over 8 weeks. The program is intensive: clients meet once per week for 2-hour sessions. On every other day of the week, clients are required to perform 45-minute homework exercises. Homework typically consists of mindfulness-related meditation practices, and research shows that while this homework represents a time commitment, it has a significant therapeutic impact.

While this is the standard format for Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, this modality is also used in individual therapy, which research shows to be equally effective. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy may also be used as an adjunct to other forms of therapy, and at times therapists may draw on certain aspects and principles of this approach without necessarily sticking to the format described above.

Techniques Used in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy sessions draw on a broad range of techniques and skills which you can use to enhance your own emotional wellbeing. For starters, your therapist will help you to identify problematic beliefs and thinking patterns that are underlying any emotional difficulties that you might be facing.

You’ll also be trained to switch between the doing and being modes. This is typically aided by mindfulness-based techniques including breathing exercises, guided meditations, yoga poses and learning how to perform everyday activities – such as eating, showering and brushing your teeth – in a more mindful manner.

Another hallmark technique associate with Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is known as the three-minute breathing space. This involves taking three minutes each day to turn your attention inwards toward your emotions, thoughts, breathing patterns and physical sensations. This helps to alter neural networks in a way that gives you a greater degree of control over your emotional and behavioral responses.

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy

Does Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Work?

On the whole, the answer to this question appears to be a resounding ‘yes’! Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is generally viewed by the medical community as a safe and effective treatment option for a broad range of conditions and concerns.

What Kinds of Concerns is Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Best For?

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy was initially developed for people suffering from depression. Research suggests that it is particularly effective for helping people who experience recurrent depressive episodes, reducing relapse by up to 50%! Since being developed, however, this modality has been used more broadly to help people cope with symptoms related to psychosis, anxiety, bipolar and eating disorders.

This technique is not only used in the treatment of psychiatric conditions, however. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy has been used to help people cope with medical symptoms related to fibromyalgia, chronic pain, diabetes and epilepsy, among others.

How Are Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy Specialists Trained?

To practice Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, one must undergo training at an approved institution, such as the UCSD Mindfulness Based Professional Training Institute in the United States. There are other accredited facilities around the world; in Canada, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

To be considered for entry into a program, the therapist needs to satisfy certain prerequisites. These typically include being registered as a mental health practitioner, performing mindfulness as a part of their own regular daily practice and having prior experience with cognitive therapy. The initial training phase is the teacher qualification, in which the therapist receives mentorship, completes courses and attends retreats. Thereafter, the therapist becomes formally certified, which involves additional advanced training along with supervised practice.

Concerns/Limitations of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy

The research on the effectiveness of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is promising. However, because this technique represents a recent development within the world of psychotherapy, researchers have not yet had a chance to properly assess whether the positive outcomes that we see with Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy will extend into the long term.

Furthermore, some of the studies which provide evidence for the efficacy of this approach have been criticized in terms of the way that the studies are designed. With time, it’s likely that more sophisticated studies will be conducted so that we can develop a more accurate understanding of the strengths and limitations of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy.

Important Practitioners in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy was developed through a collaboration between three doctors: Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale. While Dr. Segal is based in Canada, Dr. Williams and Dr. Teasdale are both from the United Kingdom. All three are greatly respected for their contributions within the fields of psychology and psychiatry, particularly with regards to the use of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy in the treatment of recurrent depression.

Another practitioner who is bound to be mentioned in any conversation regarding Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is Jon Kabat-Zinn. While he was not directly involved in developing this modality, Jon Kabat-Zinn is credited with incorporating the principles of mindfulness into Western mental health care practice.

How to Find a Therapist

A Google search should provide you with a list of therapists in your area. Alternatively, you could speak to your GP or psychiatrist for a referral. You can also visit www.mbct.com for more options.

What Should I be Looking for in an LMHP?

Seek out a professional who is formally licensed to practice as a mental health professional. Ideally, they should also have been trained to practice Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy specifically. For the sake of establishing a good therapeutic alliance, seek out a therapist in whose presence you feel safe and comfortable.

Questions to Ask a Potential Therapist

  • With which professional boards are you registered?
  • Have you completed training and certification in MBCT?
  • Where did you complete your training?
  • How long have you been practicing MBCT?
  • How can MBCT help me?
  • How long will treatment last?
  • What are your rates?
  • Will sessions be covered by my health insurance?

Find a Therapist Now

Here at Thrivetalk, we make the process of finding a therapist easy. We work with a broad selection of experienced mental health practitioners, all of whom have received appropriate training and hold the relevant accreditation. Many of our practitioners are familiar with Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy. Furthermore, Thrivetalk offers a simplified sign-up process, affordable rates and therapists who are both caring and dedicated. Follow this link to start the process of being matched with the perfect therapist for your needs.

Final Thoughts on Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy

Does it ever feel as if your life is a non-stop stream of chaotic activity and goal-directed behavior? Do you repeatedly find yourself trapped in a vicious cycle of negative moods leading to dysfunctional thinking patterns which then reinforce your negative mood? Are you so focused on doing that you’re missing out on the opportunity to experience and appreciate your life?

If so, you’re not alone. But what if you could slow things down – to stop and smell the roses, so to speak. Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy provides you with the necessary tools to break the cycle between harmful thoughts and feelings, allowing you to reach a place of self-acceptance and improved mental health.