Category Archives: Anxiety

Perspectives…

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Boys carrying spaghetti in a macaroni factory in Naples, Italy. 1929

Psychological and philosophical point of view, brought to you in plain language…

http://www.raptitude.com/2010/10/9-mind-bending-epiphanies-that-turned-my-world-upside-down

 

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The Therapeutic Alliance: The Essential Ingredient for Psychotherapy

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umbrellas

 I am currently writing on the ‘therapeutic alliance’ – its relation to mindfulness, psychotherapy, understanding, and ‘being listened to…’   What follows is an interesting article that I came across that may interest some of you…

Excerpt:

Have you ever tried to change the way you do something? It could be anything — the way you hold your tennis racket, blow into a flute, meditate — you name it. If so, think about that experience. No matter how motivated you were to change, and no matter how much you knew that it would help your serve, musicality, or sense of inner peace, it can be difficult and scary to change even the smallest thing. In order to change, you have to give up your old way of doing something first and then try the new way. That means that for a while you’re in a free fall — you no longer have your old habit to rely on and you don’t yet have the new one.

The anxiety of trying to change something as complex and entrenched as how you relate to people close to you or manage stress takes the feeling to a whole new level. Yet, that’s just what you do when you enter psychotherapy. Just as you had to put yourself into the hand of your teachers and coaches, in therapy you need to gradually do just that with your therapist to help you through what can be a harrowing adventure. The foundation for therapy is called the therapeutic alliance (1, 2). When it’s there, you know that your therapist is there to help you, no matter how hard the going gets.

The therapeutic alliance might be the most important part of beginning a psychotherapy. In fact, many studies indicate that the therapeutic alliance is the best predictor of treatment outcome (3-5).

See entire article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-l-cabaniss-md/therapeutic-alliance_b_1554007.html

 

ReMoved

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ReMoved

In Uncategorized on March 9, 2014 at 9:06 am

I woke up this morning to this lovely short film in my inbox. A sweet friend, who has devoted her professional life to therapeutic foster care issues, sent it along with the words, “Shelley: for those days you wonder ‘why’.”

I’m unsure of how the makers of this film so completely understand the path of a foster child, but I suspect at least one of them has shared the path of this little girl. This film is especially poignant for me, because my children came to me one at a time, which will resonate once you’ve seen the film. Please view and share. My heart is full of tears and love for these artists.

 

A mad world A diagnosis of mental illness is more common than ever – did psychiatrists create the problem, or just recognise it?

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Unfortunate Events

When a psychiatrist meets people at a party and reveals what he or she does for a living, two responses are typical. People either say, ‘I’d better be careful what I say around you,’ and then clam up, or they say, ‘I could talk to you for hours,’ and then launch into a litany of complaints and diagnostic questions, usually about one or another family member, in-law, co-worker, or other acquaintance. It seems that people are quick to acknowledge the ubiquity of those who might benefit from a psychiatrist’s attention, while expressing a deep reluctance ever to seek it out themselves…

…While a continuous view of mental illness probably reflects underlying reality, it inevitably results in grey areas where ‘caseness’ (whether someone does or does not have a mental disorder) must be decided based on judgment calls made by experienced clinicians. In psychiatry, those calls usually depend on whether a patient’s complaints are associated with significant distress or impaired functioning. Unlike medical disorders where morbidity is often determined by physical limitations or the threat of impending death, the distress and disruption of social functioning associated with mental illness can be fairly subjective. Even those on the softer, less severe end of the mental illness spectrum can experience considerable suffering and impairment. For example, someone with mild depression might not be on the verge of suicide, but could really be struggling with work due to anxiety and poor concentration. Many people might experience sub-clinical conditions that fall short of the threshold for a mental disorder, but still might benefit from intervention.

See link for interesting article on psychiatry…and bits about the importance of psychotherapeutic intervention…

http://aeon.co/magazine/being-human/have-psychiatrists-lost-perspective-on-mental-illness/

How would you like to be met?

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Mental health and psychological problems are still stigmatized, even if 50 % of us will quality for some disorder once in our lifetime. The stigma can be explained many ways. Sometimes, people don`t know enough about psychology, but even people who`ve read a lot, can have prejudices. I have prejudices and problems with understanding, too, but I try to be aware of it.

Have you heard stories about people with psychological issues who weren`t believed or felt ridiculed if they tried to explain what they felt? Unfortunately, I have, and it scares me more than anything. I might even have acted differently myself, because we show dislike or contempt in many ways (and you don`t always notice it yourself). When busy, I must confess that I have a tendency to not meet the eyes of a beggar, and I have stepped back when I`m approached by for example an alcoholic.

When I do, I remember to watch myself from above, and take a deep breath. Usually, it helps, and I have learnt so much that way.

To illustrate what I mean by prejudice, I`ve included some pretty explanatory pictures.

 

 

Mindfulness and Trauma

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Stability

Stability

Mindfulness is about stabilizing. Studies have shown that people who have experienced trauma can benefit highly from this type of work. (Cullen, 2011). When people have experienced trauma, they can be challenged with high levels of stress, anxiety and depression at any time.

When we increase focus, stress and anxiety decreases, and as insight increases, depression may also be reduced. The implications of effective mindfulness on these specific features are truly significant and the more studies that are being done, the stronger the evidence of effective results of mindfulness.

When a person experiences trauma, racing thoughts and chain reactions of distressed thinking and intense emotions are more frequent, more intense and can last for longer periods of time. The thought pattern easily becomes negative and thereby creates greater levels of anxiety and depression, especially if ignored.

What mindfulness does is brings us into the present moment. Being in the present is provides direct opposition to the racing thoughts which are based in the past, thoughts about things that have happened, or based in the future, worrying about things that might happen. When we practice mindfulness, we pull away from these past and future thinking patterns and redirect ourselves into the moment, grounding ourselves in the present where we regain the ability to address the negative emotions of anxiety, stress and depression that are associated with our thoughts.
We can, for example, tell ourselves that in the present moment, there is nothing bad or harmful occurring to us. We are most likely sitting or lying quite comfortably in a safe place where we can focus on slowing down our breathing and letting the negative feelings go as we exhale. We can ground ourselves and regain our stability, acknowledging the feelings but proving to ourselves that in this present moment, we are okay…we are fine…and we are safe.
We have managed to regain control over the intense emotions that were beginning to overwhelm us. We have become more aware, more able to calm ourselves and less of a victim to our run-away thoughts.

Kabbat-Zin (1994) provides this definition of mindfulness: “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” We are actually doing an awful lot although it seems we are doing nothing. We are freeing ourselves and giving ourselves permission to just be in the moment. And it is extremely soothing. It is like allowing our mind to float and just immerse itself in now.

It is very important for people to work out their own form of practicing mindfulness, something that works for them. I strongly advise people to do some research on it and see what feels like it might be a way to begin your personal journey.

Attention

Attention

Remember that the point is NOT to empty our thoughts but rather to pay attention to them in a purposeful way without judging them and then refocus attention onto whatever it is you were focusing on prior to the thought popping up. Mindfulness is a journey of exploration, discovering sounds, textures, shapes, temperatures, things that always exist but that we don’t focus on because we are not being mindful to them.

If you are just starting out, I suggest just a 10 minute exercise in which you find something to focus on, an object to look at or hold perhaps. It is wonderful if you become adept enough at it to practice it when you begin to notice any negative thoughts or symptoms that you are trying to decrease such as depression, racing or distressing thoughts, etc.

Snoopy Writing

Snoopy Writing

There is a wealth of information available on mindfulness as more and more people are finding it beneficial to many different situations they encounter. I would love to hear from you about your mindfulness journey and results. Feel free to comment or contact me directly.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

How Mindfulness Works

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Looking Under a  Hood

Looking Under a Hood

Many years ago, I read a book that spoke about how we need to provide ourselves with self-check ups. It was a strange idea, I thought, because I’m with myself all the time, what on earth do I need to check in about?

But I am sure that we can all relate to ‘catching’ ourselves doing certain things – when a moment of sanity hits us smack in the head – and we realize something is going on with us that we had absolutely no conscious awareness of at all.

A great example of that for me, is when I find myself with a piece of candy in my mouth that I just bit down hard into, knowing perfectly well that:
* I certainly wasn’t hungry and didn’t need the extra calories
* The candy was not offered to me
* It will wipe out many positive choices I have made in making healthy food choices and keeping myself more active

And now I know it is time for me to check in under my own hood and see what is really going on.

Most likely, this is what I find when I take a few minutes to still myself and give myself a health dose of self-honesty.

• Something is troubling me.
I may not know what it is immediately, and it may take an extra bit of courage, but something is upsetting me usually on a pretty strong and deep level. I need to be still with myself and let it surface and it usually does.

Fear

Fear

For me, almost all the time, fear is involved, and the fear can be more of an anxiety type fear than a specific fear, in fact, that is usually what I find until I sit still for a while and center things. The fear has not been given the chance to latch onto anything specific because I’ve been ignoring it, so it sort of latches itself all over and forms a sense of very general anxiety, with no real target. EVERYTHING feels pressured and there is a tension right in the pit of my stomach.

For any of you who do mindfulness type work, that is why the focus is on internal body sensations, because when we narrow it down to one area, it becomes more contained and then we can manage it.

Then I begin to miraculously become more aware of how quick and shallow my breathing had become and I now have all the physiological signs I need to realize how totally out of balance I have become.

It is time for me to finish up whatever I’m in the midst of if I can’t just automatically drop it, and give myself 15 minutes of time to refocus myself. It doesn’t cost me by the hour, although if I find it persisting, talking to a friend who really knows me well or even finding a therapist is not a horrible idea.

Mindfulness-Mind-Map

What I need is time to refocus my focus. I concentrate on what is happening inside me rather than outside me, and my breathing becomes more regulated, my heart stops beating as quickly and once again, I regain a feeling of composure and a sense of ‘alrightness’ with me and my world.

THAT is how mindfulness works!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

The Shopping Experience for the SchizoAffected Mind

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The Shopping Experience for the SchizoAffected Mind

“It is advertising and the logic of mass consumerism that governs the depiction of reality in the mass media.” ~Christopher Lasch

As someone with SchizoAffective Disorder, there are certain aspects of socialized living that the SchizoAffected mind is unable to fathom and finds horrifying, terrifying and can result in a psychotic episode. One of such experiences, is spending a day shopping or patronizing too many stores, or running too many errands that can involve customizing too many stores. The Shopping Mall is simply out of the question. Also, the SchizoAffected Mind lives a non-druginduced psychadelic experience daily, as such, exposure to bright, flourescent lights, muzak, commercials playing at subvolume, muted and neuromarketed designs on the floors, ceilings, walls and layout of stores can result in information and sensual overload.

This is my experience of shopping.

The following sound painting (what I call the music/mixes/soundscapes I create) is an attempt to describe and illustrate the internal and psychic experience when I must visit a store. The beginning illustrates the first feelings of anxiety that quickly metamorph into an attempt to squelch the anxiety and just try to get through the act of choosing the items needed in order to exit the store as quickly as possible. As someone who also has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I often worry that I will be blamed for shoplifting, even though I have not, which causes me to walk about the store with my hands in my pockets or behind my back or up my shirt sleeves. The middle of the piece illustrates the dreadful feeling that slowly creeps in and the sort of sickly childish feeling of behaving like this, but being unable to stop it (hence the horror-like, chilling childrens’ theme). Once the psychosis begins to set in, the SchizoAffected mind begins to unravel and to shatter at the overload (hence, the noise, experimental music) as the end of the song approaches, and can feel as if the mind is trapped in a twisted game (which brings feelings and thoughts of paranoia).

 

(If the soundcloud player does not show up in your browser, here is the direct link).

QOTD Terence McKenna*Source

*Image Credit (used with permission through CC license and fair use):
“1964. . . check out the check out!” by James Vaughn

CG Jung and the ‘Leap of Faith’ Into Individuation

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The Red Book has been described as Jung’s creative response to the threat of madness, yet it has also been seen as a deliberate exercise in self-analysis. I believe it’s likely both. When creating The Red Book, Jung knew he was on the verge of madness, and he also knew his analytical skills and expertise as a psychiatrist were his best chance at alleviating suffering, if not creating the conditions for transformation.

In many regards, The Red Book reads like a healing journey — a phrase often used to describe the reclaiming of self after a history of abuse — which is a transformative period that happens for many people committed to overcoming early life trauma. On the way to an authentic self there is first the need to step away from the person one became to survive abuse. Those confronted with this journey often experience a period of ‘going crazy’ on their way to establishing an authentic sense of self.

As The Red Book shows, individuation is a blessed curse. It opens the way to becoming one’s authentic self, and yet also the risk of alienation from the ‘tribe’. Childhood trauma survivors often know this conundrum intimately. Transformation requires a significant reorienting away from the beliefs, feelings, fantasies, and body states that made possible living in traumatizing conditions. Invariably, there is a part of the self that has gone unacknowledged or rejected, and aches to be reclaimed.

In The Red Book Jung found a process for continually rediscovering authenticity. As he often remarked, individuation is an ongoing journey and not an endpoint reached. Jung also intimated the need for what I called in an earlier post leaps of faith: turning away from the larger world’s expectations and towards one’s inner world of wisdom with acceptance and curiosity.

This quote from The Red Book inspires the impulse to creatively go forth into all that you are:

“Woe betide those who live by way of examples! Life is not with them. If you live according to an example, you thus live the life of that example, but who should live your own life if not yourself? So live yourselves.

“The signposts have fallen, unblazed trails lie before us. Do not be greedy to gobble up the fruits of foreign fields. Do you not know that you yourselves are the fertile acre which bears everything that avails you?”

Jung knew such a ‘leap of faith’ is not easy. He also wrote:

“To live oneself means: to be one’s own task. Never say that it is a pleasure to live oneself. It will be no joy but a long suffering since you must become your own creator.”

But he gives helpful advice for the journey, particularly how to live if the world feels contrary to whom you are becoming. Then you must learn to be your own guide:

“To certain things of the world I must say: you should not be thus, but you should be different. Yet first I look carefully at their nature, otherwise I cannot change it. I proceed in the same way with certain thoughts. You change those things of the world that, not being useful in themselves, endanger your welfare. Proceed likewise with your thoughts. Nothing is complete, and much is in dispute. The way of life is transformation, not exclusion. Well-being is a better judge than the law.”

Reprinted in full with permission by the original author Laura K. Kerr, Ph.D, who moderates the blog, Trauma’s Labyrinth: Finding Ways Out Of Trauma. Laura K. Kerr is a mental health scholar, blogger and trauma-focused psychotherapist. [Her] focus is on healing, with special attention to trauma, modernity, and mental health systems of care.

Trauma Recovery Done Right: 8 Keys to Safe Trauma Recovery

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Trauma Psych

TraumaRecoveryReview8 Keys to Safe Trauma Recovery: Take-Charge Strategies to Empower Your Healing.
Babette Rothschild. 2010. W.W. Norton, New York.  174 pages.

Living with persisting trauma memories is tough. Involuntarily triggered by events, or people, or places, or thoughts, or feelings . . . well, anything can be a trigger, actually . . . these intrusive, searing memories will turn one’s life inside out. Recovery from traumatic experience is tough as well, and achieving a sense of safety is essential to successful recovery. Rothschild’s brief, personable, and accessible book directly targets safe, successful recovery in a way that compels and convinces the reader. If trauma memories impact your life or that of someone you know or treat in a healthcare setting, you need this book. Because of the importance of this material, and because I want this to be a bit more than a mere review, I will be discussing this book in a two-part post…

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