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  • Overcoming Emotional Disconnection with Radically Open DBT (RO-DBT)

    Are you struggling with emotional shut-down? Do you find yourself purposefully (and sometimes accidentally!) disconnecting from your emotions? You may be lonely but you are not alone. Many people struggle with recurring patterns of detachment and disconnection that can be difficult to overcome. Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy (RO-DBT) classes teach skills to help you understand what is happening so you can break free from toxic patterns and connect with others. Emotional shut-down, also known as emotional avoidance, is a common defense mechanism many over-controlled individuals use to protect themselves from uncomfortable emotions. The benefit is that it works—but only temporarily. The downside is that this coping strategy can lead to a sense of disconnection (and actual disconnection) from others. RO-DBT class is an essential part of full RO-DBT and is specifically developed to help those with over-controlled personality styles. It focuses on increasing emotional expressiveness and openness, which can be particularly helpful in preventing emotional shut-down. According to RO-DBT, an over-controlled coping style can result in difficulty trusting others and may lead to a tendency to withdraw from social interactions. Over-controlled individuals may also have difficulty coping with stress and may be prone to depression, anxiety and eating disorders. If you're looking for an RO-DBT class online, contact us today!

  • Find the Right Therapist

    When it comes to therapy and counseling, it can be challenging to know where to start. With so many different options available, it can be difficult to determine which type of therapy is right for you and how to find the right therapist. Whether you're seeking therapy for yourself, your child, or your family, it's important to understand the different types of therapy services available and how they can help you. Online therapy and virtual therapy have become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. These types of therapy allow you to receive counseling from the comfort of your own home, using video conferencing technology. Online therapy can be a great option for those who live in remote areas or for those who have difficulty leaving their homes. If you're experiencing relationship issues, couples therapy, parent coaching, or family therapy may be the right choice for you. These types of therapy and coaching focus on improving communication, changing behavior, and resolving conflicts within relationships. They can also help families navigate difficult situations, such as the loss of a loved one or a child's behavioral problems. Anxiety therapy and depression therapy are designed to help individuals who are struggling with mental health issues. These types of therapy can help you understand and manage emotions, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and improve overall mental well-being. Adolescent therapy and teen therapy are specialized forms of therapy designed to help young people navigate the unique challenges of growing up. These types of therapy can help teens develop healthy coping mechanisms, improve their social skills, and build self-esteem. When searching for a therapist or counselor, it's important to find someone who is licensed and qualified to provide therapy services. Look for a therapist or counselor who has a Master's degree or higher in psychology or a related field, and who is licensed by your state's professional licensing board. They should be able to answer specific questions about the model of psychotherapy you are seeking. If you're looking for therapy services in your area, you can use the keyword "therapy near me" to find local providers. You can also search for therapy services in your city or state to find providers who specialize in the type of therapy you're interested in. In conclusion, when it comes to therapy and counseling, it can be overwhelming to navigate through the plethora of options. But why waste your time searching through countless therapists when you can trust the experts at PSYCHē to pair you with YOUR perfect therapist? Whether you're looking for couples therapy, family therapy, teen therapy, anxiety therapy, depression therapy, online therapy or virtual therapy, PSYCHē's team of experts understand the importance of finding the right therapy match to achieve your goals. Don't waste any more time searching, let us take the burden off your shoulders and expertly pair you with the perfect therapist for you.

  • Why the HELL Would I Validate?

    "Why would l validate? Especially when they don’t deserve it!" There are multiple reasons to validate. Yeah, one reason is to make the other person feel better, but there are several other options as to why you might want to do it even when you don’t feel like it. Here are a few that might help you stomach the idea a little easier : Reason #1: Because it allows you to establish your personal limits/boundaries Maybe you didn’t know that validation isn’t just the “warm and fuzzies” of communication. In fact, sometimes it can involve actual confrontation. According to Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), the highest level of validation (“Radical Genuineness”) is about being real, and at times, calling out “the elephant in the room.” When I call out a salty adolescent who is working hard to upset their parent by yelling, cussing, or behaving rudely, I am actually validating them in a weird sort of way. How? I’m validating that one of their goals (to behave badly) hit the mark. In essence, I am saying (without saying it) that “Yes, you are correct, that is generally established in society as an inappropriate way to behave. I do not like it.” If I ignored or downplayed it, it would be INvalidation because it fails to acknowledge the obvious truth of the situation: The kid is acting like a shit…and knows it. If the parent doesn’t acknowledge the obvious, the kid can only conclude a few things: the parent is insane or weak, the parent is a fake poser, or they are just a bad kid (but the parent is too angelic to notice). None of these are optimal conclusions. Reason #2: Because this is not the Twilight Zone When a patient shows me self-inflicted cuts on their body, I can promise you I will display a cringe-face. Why? Because that is a normal reaction and this is not the Twilight Zone. Could I control that if I wanted to? Yes. But to do so would be going against my natural (human) response of empathizing with pain. The patient has stopped reacting to physical pain in this way. Why in the world would I control my reaction to match theirs? Some people worry that doing so would reinforce a patient’s need for attention. The problem is, if that hypothesis is true, then the patient will need to increase the severity of the cutting in order to gain my attention…not a great setup. My grimace is a validation that yes, that looks painful. Yes, you hurt yourself. And yes, it is abnormal. Stop trying to change people’s behavior by inhibiting your own normal, natural reactions. That’s just weird. Reason #3: Because it’s easier than fighting Once you get the hang of it, you’ll see you can pretty much validate in your sleep. Even if you mess up, you can always recover immediately by validating how much it must suck for them to have to deal with your mess up. This can be super helpful in bringing strong emotions down a notch. The key is to take yourself (and your ego) out of the equation. If you fully commit to not taking anything personally, you can save a ton of effort you would have wasted in trying to win. It is literally possible to validate ANYTHING. Reason #4: Because they are more likely to hear you out You have a point to make and they have a point to make. Let them go first. If they say “you don’t understand,” trust me, you don’t. Try again. If they say a thing more than once, I can assure you they don’t think you got it. Try again. Most people have to feel like they are heard and that you somewhat “get” their point before hearing the other person out. It’s like we each have a performance prepared and want an engrossed audience. We don’t want the one audience member jumping to upstage us with their song and dance. Pay attention, validate, and wait your turn. You’ll want an attentive spectator, so do your part and hopefully, they will do theirs. Yes, to validate is mostly about communicating like a decent human being to others, but it also has some great side effects for us too. I mean, after all, we deserve it ;)

  • Not Just DBT Group: Types and Benefits of Group Therapy

    One of the hardest parts about dealing with a mental health condition is the isolation, loneliness, and lack of connection one struggles with. It's the exact opposite of what's required when going through a difficult time. This is where group therapy comes in. What is group therapy? Simply put, it’s a form of psychotherapy involving one or more therapists working with a group of individuals struggling with similar issues. While it can provide the often-needed support to the clients, on the flip side, it might seem intimidating and scary to open up to strangers. What’s important is for the individual to join the right kind of group at the right time to be able to realize the many benefits of group therapy. Types of Group Therapy A person can join different types of group therapy depending on their preference and mental health condition. This is one of the reasons why group therapy can be so effective. Let’s explore the four main types of group therapy: Psychoeducational Group Therapy As the name suggests, psychoeducational groups are aimed at providing knowledge to clients about their condition and help them cope with it. These groups work well for conditions like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and phobias. Support Group Therapy Support group therapy has unconditional acceptance and encouragement as its goal. People in this type of group share their stories and challenges while seeking support from other members. Alcoholics Anonymous is an example of a support group. Process Group Therapy Process groups, while led by a licensed therapist, are more unstructured in nature. Unlike psychoeducational groups, they don’t focus on a single topic. The focus is on the interpersonal processes. People encourage each other to develop self-awareness and foster deep connections. Skills Development Group Therapy Skills development groups are highly effective in cultivating and honing specific, constructive skills. Members can practice these skills with each other in the group setting and later implement in their real life. An example of a skills group is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) group. Benefits of Group Therapy Group therapy isn’t as popular as individual psychotherapy and thus its many benefits aren’t widely known. However, people who do go through group therapy come out with fresh perspectives, better strategies to cope with their condition, and even new friendships. Here are some ways in which group therapy can prove to be highly beneficial: Reduces the feelings of loneliness and isolation Struggling with a mental health issue is an incredibly difficult experience. What makes it worse is the feelings of isolation that accompany it. Group therapy helps one realize that they are not alone and there are many others who can truly empathize with them. Offers support and encouragement Since the people in the group understand what it’s like to deal with a mental health condition, they are highly supportive and encouraging towards others. Every small victory is cheered and every setback is met with support. Opens you to new perspectives Hearing others talk about their situations, challenges, and how they cope with it can provide a unique perspective on the problems one is facing. It allows you to be open-minded and think differently. Gives you a safe space Group therapy lets everyone freely talk about their problems and deepest emotions without any fear of judgment. Every voice is heard and respected. Just as in individual therapy, groups remain confidential so that each member can be their authentic self. Instill hope and optimism In the throes of a mental health struggle, the light at the end of the tunnel is barely visible. Hearing stories of others who have overcome similar challenges can make that light seem a bit brighter, reigniting hope and optimism in recovery. Teaches you adaptive strategies A trained therapist is often there to guide the group therapy session and teach adaptive strategies to cope with issues one is facing. Learning also comes through other people who share what helps them overcome certain challenges. Group therapy comes with a myriad of advantages. It can seem a little daunting at first, which is natural for everyone in the beginning, but as you meet others, that feeling of awkwardness fades away and a sense of belonging sets in. We at PSYCHē provide virtual group therapy covering various skills. Every group is led by a handpicked licensed clinician who is an expert in their field.

  • Treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

    When it comes to true Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), not all therapy is the same. The gold standard of psychotherapy for the treatment of OCD is Exposure & Response Prevention (EX/RP) and it is essential to find someone who is trained to do it well. With OCD, alternative models of therapy can actually cause harm. Complicating matters further, clinicians who are unfamiliar with the multiple varieties of OCD often have difficulty identifying the disorder due to lack of training and experience. As seasoned OCD therapists know, patients do not always present as a person who washes their hands repeatedly or lines up shoes with a measuring tape. Subtypes OCD can manifest in a variety of different ways, but always includes thoughts or urges that an individual has attempted to control without success. There are several different themes that obsessions can reflect and few people are aware of all of the variety that exists. Some examples include hoarding, fears of contamination, existential types, homosexual/heterosexual fears, repugnant obsessions, and more. It seems that if it is something that can be thought, there is an OCD version of it. One of the most difficult types of OCD to diagnose is a variety called “Pure-O.” This is basically OCD that involves mental gymnastics instead of physical ones. For more about Pure-O: What it looks like There are multiple formal instruments that can assist with diagnosing OCD, but the real key is finding someone who knows the subtle way it can hide and how to listen (and watch) for the signs of OCD in an evaluation. The commonality for all OCD is that there is an avoidance of certain internal experiences—anyone who has OCD has at least one idea, thought, urge, image, sensation, or emotion that they work very hard not to have. They work very hard trying not to have the thought, image, idea, etc. It is exhausting and it takes up a great deal of their mental energy and actual time. The method that they use to stop the process determines what their type of OCD actually looks like. For example, they may have an image of themselves becoming ill and the work they put into it is disinfecting everything, researching illnesses, and avoiding touching people. Another person may have the same fear of becoming ill, but the work they put into it is praying hundreds of times a day, getting tested for illnesses, and checking their blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature daily. It is common for individuals to be completely unaware that they have OCD. Instead, they think of themselves as chronic worry warts, as “hypochondriacs,” or as a “bad” person who is able to fool everyone around them. The Danger Treating OCD the wrong way can lead to disaster. EX/RP involves identifying the fear and allowing it to be fully present without the individual “doing their usual.” If “their usual” is washing, then they would get dirty instead. If “their usual” is arranging things perfectly, then they would mess them up. If “their usual” is to reassure themselves that they aren’t actually sick, then they would imagine, in excruciating detail, the specifics of having a terminal illness and their own impending funeral. This may sound cruel, but in actuality, the most harmful thing that a treatment provider can do to a person with OCD is reinforce their compulsion by encouraging them to do it, or avoiding it alongside them. Avoidance only leads to worsening of symptoms. As an example, a young woman experienced thoughts of harming her child and her “usual” response to the thoughts was to overprotect her child. She hid knives, avoided her child, and made sure she was never alone with her. She was terrified of hurting the baby but had no actual desire to do so, in fact, she spent the majority of her waking hours trying to figure out how to keep the infant safe. When she finally summoned the courage to seek mental health treatment, instead of identifying the issue for what it was and providing her with assistance, her child was summarily removed from her custody. Thankfully, she located a treatment provider who was familiar with EX/RP who was able to coach her through a series of imaginary scenarios in which she killed the baby. Read the last sentence again. What healed her in the end was a combination of imagining horrific scenes involving her stabbing her child along with holding a knife in her hand while her daughter lay beside her. She, nor her thoughts, were dangerous; but she was led to believe differently by the very people who were supposed to help. Imaginal exposure to the idea that was feared (killing her child) combined with exposure to the avoided objects (knife and daughter) led to the alleviation of symptoms and this mother and daughter could go on with their lives without the burden of fear and shame. Accurate diagnosis and informed treatment are key. Don’t compromise when it comes to choosing a therapy or a therapist. Although “supportive therapy” may feel good and EX/RP may be uncomfortable, when it comes to the treatment of OCD, it’s like your grandmother used to say, “if it hurts, that means it’s working!” Are you looking for an expert therapist who specializes in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)? We have Clinical Psychologists and Licensed Therapists with training and experience in modalities proven to treat OCD. We can pair you with someone near you so you can get started in online therapy.

  • How does social media affect mental health?

    Side Effects of Social Media on Mental Health If you spend too much time on social media and feel frustrated, dissatisfied, sad, or lonely, now is perhaps the time to analyze your social media engagement. We, as human beings, are social creatures and need others' companionship to thrive. Our connections greatly affect our mental health. A good social relationship reduces anxiety, stress, depression and adds years to your life by preventing loneliness. On the other hand, a lack of healthy social connections can be a severe threat to emotional and mental health. We rely on social media platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook to connect with others. Although all these are beneficial in some ways, social media can never be a substitute for human connections in the real world. In-person contact is vital to activate hormones that reduce stress and allow you to feel joy. Spending large amounts of time on social media leads to mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Side Effects of Social Media Everyone has their frequencies to spend time on social media; often, you check for updates or make posts to indicate your use, but how this usage impacts your mood is the concern. Like, it may be trouble if social media usage causes you to distract from work, ignore real-life relationships, or make you angry, jealous, or depressed. Also, if you turn to social media because you feel lonely or bored, or post something to put others in an inferiority complex, then this is a sign of your social media habits, and you need to replace them. Here are some signs that your mental health is affected by social media: You spend excessive time using social media than spending time with real-world friends. Using social media has become very popular even if you are out with your family or friends. You constantly check social media and feel like others are having more fun than you. You often compare yourself with others on social media, feel low self-esteem, or get into an inferiority complex. You become worried about cyberbullying that you can’t control what people post about you. You feel distracted at work because you have to post regular content, get likes or comments, or quickly respond to friends' posts. You can’t manage time for self-reflection as you are more engaged with social media and have little or no time left to reflect on you, your thinking, or your actions — the most important things that help you grow as a person. To get more likes or shares on social media you engage in risky behavior such as playing dangerous pranks, cyberbullying others or posting embarrassing content. You are facing sleep problems. You check social media first thing in the morning and the last thing at night, or even when you wake up at night. The phone's light interferes with your sleep, which can seriously affect your mental health. You feel an increase in depression or anxiety symptoms. Instead of overcoming them, you feel more sadness and feel lonelier. How to Cope With It? Change Your Focus Focus on your motivation to log in; this helps you avoid many negative aspects of social media and can improve your mood. This way, you will also spend less time on social media. Use social media for specific purposes like to contact a friend who is ill, find some information, or share your family photos. If you're logging in just because you're bored or want to see likes from the previous post, your experience may be very different. The next time you use social media, just focus on your motivation to log in. You may ask these questions yourself: Are you using social media as a real-life alternative? Are you an active user? Does social media make you feel frustrated about your life? Decrease Social Media Usage A study from the University of Pennsylvania shows that decreasing the use of social media to 30 minutes daily decrease sleep problems, depression, anxiety, loneliness, and FOMO levels. But to improve your mental health, you don't have to cut back on your social media use. The same study concluded that just paying more attention to your use of social media can benefit your focus and mood. Reducing the use of social media to 30 minutes daily may seem a tiny target, but we can still benefit from it. With the emergence of new apps like the Truth social media platform, Get social media platform and DWAC, its more important than ever to stay focused and conscious of these habits. Spend Time with Offline Relationships To be healthy and happy, we need the face-to-face company of our loved ones. Ideally, social media helps in the best manner to connect with real-life relationships. But virtual connections are not healthier than real-life friendships in your life; there are various ways to have more beneficial connections without relying on social media. You can set aside some time to interact with your loved ones every week. Arrange a meet-up with your friends for face-to-face interaction. Find a hobby that you enjoy and join a group of like-minded people you meet regularly. If you don't have someone to spend time with, contact someone you know, or you may interact with strangers. Connect with the people you meet on the coffee shop, public transport, or grocery store. Practice Mindfulness Comparing yourself with others keeps you focused on the frustrations and disappointments of life. By practicing mindfulness, you can be more focused in the present moment, avoid negative thoughts and improve your overall mental health. Practice Gratitude Practicing gratitude for things you have can relieve the frustration, anxiety, and dissatisfaction caused by social media. Take some time to reflect. Keep a gratitude journal and write three things you are grateful for every day. Write your great memories and people you will remember if they suddenly disappear from your life. Volunteer As human beings, we need social connections for a happy life, so we love to help others. Helping others assists you in improving your relationships with others and makes you feel grateful and more joyful. You can help teens and children to use social media responsibly: First, keep your children away from social media by encouraging them to pursue physical activities including real-world interaction. You can monitor and limit the use of social media of your child. Parental control apps can help you restrict your child's data usage or restrict the use of phone usage to a particular time. Teach your child that social media is far from people's lives. Talk to your child about various issues, like is your child experiencing social anxiety? Are home problems a source of stress for them? Problems with the use of social media can mask deeper issues. Restrict social media until your child has finished their homework, done their dinner, etc.

  • It’s OK to Fake It

    When was the last time you responded to a casual “How are you?” with, “I’m doing horribly, thanks.” You probably don’t feel compelled to confide your deepest, darkest feelings to the local barista during hard times. Don’t worry. It’s ok to fake it. When it comes to sharing raw thoughts and feelings, we have a filter for a reason. We respond “I’m doing well, thanks, how about you?” when asked how we are, regardless of how we ACTUALLY are. It’s a part of many cultures' social norms, and although it’s absolutely, TOTALLY normal, social media psychology “experts” seem to want it to stop. They emphasize authenticity to the max and suggest that going along with social etiquette expectations equates to “faking it” or “wearing a mask.” While this latest trend of encouraging being "authentically you" definitely has merit, there are some serious limitations to looking at it as an “all or nothing” situation. It’s true that letting go of the use of emotional armor can lead to great things such as deeper connections with others, improvements in self-esteem, and reduced anxiety, but like most things, it can also be taken too far. While it's important to get real with people you are close to, you can't just go around airing how you feel and what you think to everyone all the time–that is if you don’t want to end up in jail or the psych ward (or both!). As a reminder, filtering isn’t even fully under conscious control. In the 1890s, Freud created the technique of “free association” in which he directed patients to say aloud everything that came to their minds without inhibiting anything. The idea was to explore the depths of the unconscious. The problem was (and is!) that resistance got in the way. The human mind has limits. The fact is, no matter how hard you try, you WILL cover up, hide, minimize, and outright lie, even to yourself, because it’s simply the way that the mind works. It protects itself. Some information is just too much…i.e. “you can’t handle the truth!” Contrary to what you might read on Instagram, this tendency to deceive yourself and others isn’t necessarily a problem. In fact, it’s pretty important both for our own comfort and for sustaining relationships. Think about it. We cover up our bodies for a reason…actually a few really good reasons. In addition to the law and the weather, we also refrain from showing all the cracks and crevices of our physical selves to the world so that WE can feel more comfortable. For most people, there are bits and baubles here and there that we prefer to keep concealed. Everyone has a different comfort zone. Yes, there are nudist colonies, but if you’re headed to one of those, you know what you’re getting into. It’s the same when it comes to bearing it all emotionally. Another reason we hide our parts is as a courtesy to others. Certain situations and settings require different levels of coverage. You don't wear a swimsuit to a funeral, right? Most of us try to avoid being disturbing or disrespectful to others. Just because you’re ok with letting it all hang out doesn’t mean your rideshare is. There is virtually NO relationship in which sharing EVERYTHING (i.e. "stream of consciousness") is recommended… that is, if you have any expectation of keeping that relationship long-term. For some people, there is a natural tendency to want to be "transparent" when emotions are high and feeling like you want to "get it off my chest." It may feel good temporarily, but It's not always best for the relationship. Recognizing and respecting the comfort zone of the other person (within limits) is part of the process of being in relationships. Taking it too far in either direction is where things can go awry. There's a reason why we have a choice in whether or not we speak. Feelings, thoughts, and urges come and go, but spoken words have a tendency to hang around in the mind of the listener. Considering what your INTENTION is prior to sharing can make a huge difference. When you consider your intention and ask, "what am I trying to bring about by saying this?" or "what am I hoping the effect of my saying this will be?," you are better able to make an informed decision. Consider the likely effect of what you have and to say and whether that is something you want. It's simple, but not easy to do when the moment is heated. In short, it’s ok to set restrictive boundaries when it comes to sharing the inner workings of your mind and heart. Respect your own limits and don’t buy into the idea that there is something wrong with you if you’re more tight-lipped. You are the expert on you, after all. Need help finding a therapist online? Tired of dead ends in your “find a therapist near me” search? Let us do the work for you. We find the perfect therapist for each of our clients. Call 615.274.8400 or email for more information.

  • What Psychological Testing CAN’T Tell You

    Psychological testing is a great tool but it isn’t without flaws. Yes, just about anything can be addressed using psychological testing, but it doesn’t mean everything SHOULD be. Psychological testing isn’t a tarot card reading or a medical lab test. It doesn’t always provide the clear-cut answers people expect. To test, or not to test. At times, people use testing to make decisions. If the reason for doing testing in the first place is to stigmatize or scapegoat, then more harm than good will come from the process. That’s not rocket science, of course, but sometimes the REAL intent is hidden under the guise of “just wanting to know.” The purpose of testing is to benefit the examinee by providing information that would help create a plan for moving forward. Ideally, the process would help to instill hope and a sense of empowerment. If the real reason is to find someone to blame, it’s best to skip it altogether. Testing the Obvious Sometimes, the diagnosis is clear to the clinician from the start. And the thing is…licensed clinicians aren’t required to do testing to support a diagnosis. For example, you don’t need any psychological testing to find out if someone has anxiety. Just ask them! If the situation is pretty clear, it may be a waste of money and time to go through the process. However, even when the diagnosis is obvious, some “powers that be” require formal testing in order to justify providing certain prescriptions, considering accommodations, determining educational placement, etc. There are a few situations in which I would highly recommend neuropsychological/psychological testing: Suspicions of Attention Deficit Disorder or Autism Spectrum Disorder Concerns about learning disabilities such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, visual/motor deficits, auditory or visual processing issues, etc. Memory problems/loss, unexplained changes in consciousness, sudden changes in personality Getting a baseline BEFORE you have problems so you can compare the testing at a later time When you disagree with your current diagnosis So, what are some limitations to psychological testing? The results of the test are only as good as the test itself. Self-report measures are biased but are frequently used The tests often rely on agreed-upon constructs (such as the word “personality”) rather than on concrete data (such as red blood cell count). This leaves them open to error if the construct itself is problematic. The test was developed to be used with a specific population. If the examinee is different in any way, this could make the results invalid. There is no definitive test that can determine a diagnosis. The results of the test reflect only a snapshot in time. The examinee may test differently on another day or in another situation. The results of the test are only as good as the clinician who is giving them. Some tests are highly sensitive to the training of the examiner. Bad data in = bad data out. Even if the test results support a particular diagnosis, the clinician can disagree. Here’s the bottom line: There is no psychological or neuropsychological test that can tell anyone definitively that they have ANY diagnosis. It actually requires that a trained, qualified clinician combine their opinion of the test results with a full diagnostic interview AND the test results. And guess what? Take a random sample of 10 clinicians and I’ll bet you a back tooth (southern saying) that maybe 3 of them would agree. Maybe. Why? Well…maybe you’re familiar with the expression about what opinions are like ;)

  • Anxiety Treatment and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

    If you are struggling with mental health issues and want to learn about anxiety and its treatment, look no further. Whether you got here because you’re trying to figure out what causes a panic attack or you’ve been furiously searching the internet for a “therapist near me” who can treat anxiety, I am going to provide all the information you are looking for about Cognitive Behavior Therapy for anxiety. So grab your favorite anxiety ring spinner and let’s get started. Anxiety Disorder We all get anxious sometimes, but common anxiety does not interfere with our daily life. You may feel anxious when taking an exam, moving to a new place, or starting a new job. Such anxiety is unpleasant, but it can motivate you to do better. But in anxiety disorder, you may experience the feeling of fear at all times. It can be severe or draining. Anxiety disorder can prevent you from doing things that you love to do. Sometimes it may prevent you from crossing the street, entering the elevator, or leaving your home. If an anxiety disorder is not treated on time, it may get worse. Anxiety disorder can affect anyone at any age, and women are more likely to experience anxiety than men. Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder Depending on the experience of the person, anxiety may feel different. You may feel a racing heart, butterflies in your stomach, or you may feel out of control, like a disconnect between your body and mind. Anxiety also includes panic attacks, nightmares, or painful memories. You may have a feeling of fear, or you may be afraid of a particular place or event. Anxiety symptoms may include rapid breathing, difficulty sleeping, increased heart rate, difficulty concentrating, and restlessness. Anxiety symptoms may vary from one person to another, so it is vital to know how anxiety can occur. Types of Anxiety Disorder The major types of an anxiety disorder include: Social Anxiety Disorder You may have an extreme fear of being judged by others in social situations. What is a Panic Disorder? You may experience repeated panic attacks several times in panic disorder. The person experiencing panic disorder may live in fear of the next panic attack. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder You may have repetitive thoughts that lead you to repeated behaviors. Illness Anxiety Disorder You may become anxious about your health. Phobia You may experience excessive fear of a particular situation, thing, or activity. Separation Anxiety Disorder You may have a fear of being away from home or loved ones. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder You may have experienced a traumatic event that leads you to PTSD. Anxiety Attack An anxiety attack makes you feel extreme worry, fear, or distress. So what triggers a panic attack? For some people, anxiety attacks gradually build up. As a stressful event happen, an anxiety attack may get worse. Anxiety attacks may vary from one person to another as some people don't have various anxiety symptoms. Some significant symptoms of anxiety attacks are distress, fear, restlessness, sweating, shortness of breath, dry mouth, numbness or tingling, and dizziness. Causes of Anxiety Experts aren't sure about the causes of anxiety. But, multiple factors likely lead to anxiety, such as environmental, genetic, and brain chemistry. Researchers also believe that the brain parts responsible for controlling fear may be affected. Treatment of Anxiety Disorder There is no immediate solution to anxiety. Although sometimes medications are necessary, therapy also helps to deal with anxiety. It enables you to find the cause of anxiety and the steps you can take to deal with it. Cognitive behavior therapy is also effective in treating anxiety. Cognitive Behavior Therapy CBT is a therapy that works to identify and reconstruct negative thinking patterns or behaviors. CBT helps you to change the way how you think of a situation. Starting a new job can give you different feelings and attitudes. These differences depend on our personal beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions about our circumstances. If you are experiencing anxiety, negative emotions and thinking patterns overwhelm positive thinking. Feelings of fear can begin with this. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for anxiety helps to change the way you think. Change in your thought patterns can change how you feel about a situation. CBT for Anxiety Treatment Everyone experiences anxiety at some time in life, and extreme anxiety depends on how we think about a particular situation. Creating space between your thoughts, feelings, or action and a specific situation can give you the strength to deal with the situation. It doesn't make things worse. When you have negative thoughts or feelings about a situation, it affects your behavior over time. These behaviors become repetitive patterns. Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for anxiety, you learn to identify those patterns and practice to change them. CBT can help prevent these behaviors from happening again. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety Here are some CBT therapy techniques to change your behavior and deal with anxiety. Behavioral Activation If anxiety doesn’t let you do a particular activity, you can schedule it in your calendar and set up a plan to prevent worrying about it. Behavioral activation helps you cope with the problem through alternative ways and prevent worrying about it. Cognitive Reframing This includes paying attention to negative thought patterns. Maybe you tend to suppose worse things happen, pay close attention to minor details, or overgeneralize the things. To identify negative patterns, your therapist will ask about your thinking process. Once you know about them, you can reframe those thoughts into more positive ones. Behavioral Experiments You can actively observe various behavioral experiments like what you predicted and what happened. Over time, you will begin to realize that your worst-case scenarios do not happen most of the time. Relaxation Techniques Relaxation techniques help you to think clearly and reduce your stress. Also, they can help you overcome a situation. These techniques may include meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and deep breathing exercises. These techniques don’t take much time and help you to overcome anxiety. Thought Challenge Thought challenge is all about looking at things from various angles and using real-life evidence. It assists you in considering the objective perspective of things rather than supposing the facts of your thoughts. You may have difficulty justifying problems in anxiety. You may feel anxious without understanding the reason for it. Or, you may not know why you are afraid of social gatherings. Thought challenge helps you to actively look at various angles to prevent unknown fears. Journaling Journaling is also known as thought recording. It helps you stay in touch with your thoughts and feelings and bring awareness. It can also help you to organize your thoughts. You may create positive and negative thoughts lists and swap the negative ones with positive thoughts. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that we happen to have Clinical Psychologists and Licensed Therapists who specialize in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for anxiety. We can pair you with someone near you so you can get started in online therapy. Learn more and book your first appointment here.

  • Self-Deprecation: A Form of Self-Harm

    Oftentimes, we purposely make ourselves the brunt of jokes and put ourselves down for fun, but self-deprecation can take this to a different level. Self-deprecation is properly defined as “modesty about or cynicism of oneself.” This method is commonly used by individuals who seek attention or a boost of confidence. Self-deprecation occurs when a person speaks negatively about themselves to others. This typically manifests itself in obvious ways, like a person not being able to take a compliment or constantly complaining about themselves and pointing out their flaws. Self-deprecation can range from mild phrases like “I’m so ugly” to more extreme language like “I don’t deserve to live.” Self-deprecation is a form of verbal self-harm. A person experiences self-deprecation in various phases, starting with a thought. They use a part of the brain to conjure these negative thoughts and then move on to vocalizing the thought, utilizing another region of the brain. When a person thinks these pessimistic thoughts and then speaks them, they’re getting this negativity in multiple routes. These cynical thoughts often stem from a need to feel better about oneself. When a person self-deprecates, they are verbalizing these negative thoughts, wanting someone to negate them. It feels good to hear someone say the opposite of what a person negatively says about themselves and turn it into compliments and positive words. Constantly seeking validation from others and engaging in self-deprecation can lead to alienation. When a person self-deprecates, they don’t take the time to consider how it makes others feel. These individuals tend to know their audience and choose to utilize this behavior with those they know will chime in and boost their self-confidence. Although, this quickly dissipates, leaving a person alienated. People never want to feel as though they are frequently being forced to have to say nice things or respond to things in a certain kind of way. When working with a live audience fails, individuals who self-deprecate commonly turn to social media. When there is no one around to negate these negative thoughts, posting on social media may get a person the reaction they seek. While this may work in some instances, it’s temporary and can only go so far as to help the behavior. It can be challenging dealing with someone constantly utilizing self-deprecation as a form of attention-seeking. Whether it be a child, family member, or friend, there are various ways to help others to stop verbalizing their negative thoughts. First and foremost, learn to recognize a person’s self-deprecating tactic. When an individual begins engaging in self-deprecation, pull back and refrain from being warm. Do not give them attention or feed into what they’re saying, as attention is what the person seeks. When a person who is self-deprecating gets the positive response they’re looking for, it reinforces this negative behavior. Disclosing how you feel in the moment also allows the person who is self-deprecating to know how their actions are negatively affecting those around them. That may give them a different perspective and motivate them to stop using self-deprecation as a way to fix their low self-esteem. Giving others an incentive to combat self-deprecation on their own is the absolute best way. When engaging in self-deprecating behaviors, it’s necessary to recognize that this starts with you and needs to end with you, too. Self-awareness is key when trying to get yourself to stop self-deprecating. Ask yourself -- “Why am I doing this?”, “What is it that I’m trying to bring about when I say this out loud?”, “How are other people going to feel?”, “Are they going to feel obligated?”. When you become more aware of yourself and your intentions it can lead to healthier ways of coping with negative thoughts or low self-esteem. Learn to ask directly for what you want. Self-deprecation is not necessary to get the feedback you seek from others. Instead, come out and ask questions or turn negative talk into dialogue with others.

  • Guilt Trips: The Holiday Edition

    The holidays are a great thing AND they can be rough as hell. If that is confusing to you, just skip this blog…and thank your lucky stars for your current life circumstances. For the rest of us, there can be a love/hate relationship with “the most wonderful time of the year.” There are multiple reasons for that (which we will go into in a later podcast), but one of the reasons is due to feeling pressured to make everyone happy. That pressure becomes multiplied if your family has several divorced members, you have kids (and may be divorced), your partner has family obligations, you live out of town, you have emotionally sensitive family members, or all of the above. Here are some tips for managing the guilt you are likely to struggle with during the holiday season: Communicate timelines early and with little room for negotiation. Instead of letting emotions dictate when it’s time to leave, make a plan ahead of time and communicate it in advance. Decide on when you’re getting there and when you’re headed out. Remember that one of the benefits of being grown is that you are actually able to leave any damn time you please to do anything your little Grinchy heart desires. When you’re making that phone call about the price limit for the annual Dirty Santa gift exchange, briefly and succinctly lay out your plans: “Hey—so we’re planning on getting to town between 1pm-3pm on the 23rd, but since we’re bringing the dogs, we’ve gotta run by and drop them off at the Airbnb first. If you guys want to do dinner that night, just let us know whether you want to go out or stay in. We’ll be headed out to [persona non grata’s] house on Christmas Eve around 4pm and will be back to your house for Christmas morning breakfast at around 9am if that works ok with your plans for serving it. We’ll head back home early that next morning cause I’ve got to work on Friday.” Done. Prepare ahead to accept and allow others to have their emotions. Stop being so controlling of how other people feel. They have the right to feel ANY WAY THEY WANT TO and you or I can’t necessarily do anything about it. If they are hurt that you are leaving, they have the right. If they are frustrated that you are “only” participating in breakfast (but not dinner) by all means, give them the space to do so. If they are disappointed that you didn’t spend the night at their house, let them to express the pain. It is only when we tell ourselves that “they shouldn’t feel like that because…” that we get into trouble. We can get defensive, exasperated, and even change our plans based on their expression of feelings. How THEY FEEL and what YOU DO are actually independent entities. Don’t take it personally. How anyone feels depends on their thoughts and beliefs. Cognitive Behavioral therapists know that only irrational and maladaptive thoughts lead to unpleasant emotions and moods. So it behooves you to repeat one of my favorite interpersonal mantras: “Other people have the right to be wrong.” Carry on with your plans regardless of their expression of emotions. Commit to disappointing everyone…just a bit and spread it evenly. I actually came up with this approach when I was considering how to discuss Christmas plans with my family. It had been one hell of a rough year for me personally, so I was emotionally more sensitive and I was afraid I wouldn’t handle conflict as skillfully as I hoped. I was truly doing the best I could and knew I didn’t deserve what I felt would be criticism about how I chose to spend time over the holidays. It dawned on me that no matter what I did, at least one set of family members would be disappointed. That realization helped me to radically accept that there was absolutely NOTHING I could do to make everyone happy. It was oddly freeing. I saw that if I gave all of my time to one set of members, they would be SUPER pleased , but the other set would be absolutely irate . I laughed to myself as I realized that the solution was not to seek to please anyone, but in fact, it would work best if I thought of it like “pissing everyone off just a little.” That approach allowed me to do two things: It helped me normalize other people’s negative feelings rather than look at them as my problem to solve and it provided me with a little irreverent humor to get me by. Hey-even if there’s no way to get an A, you can still “pass” the test, right? No need to be a perfectionist about everything :) Don’t read between the lines. “We hate that you have to leave so soon,” “We never get to see you anymore,” “I thought because you went THERE last year you would be HERE this year.” As none of these verbalizations are questions, so you actually don’t need to go into any explanations. Don’t assume you know “what they really mean.” That’s too much work and can really confuse the facts. Most of the time, people who say things like this just do so as a way to express caring and love toward you rather than as a way to make you feel bad or to start some shit. Take it at face value and avoid unnecessary conflict. If they DO ask as question, the same rules apply. For example, “Do you HAVE to leave so soon?” can be answered simply,“Yes we do—love you!” or “We don’t ‘have to’ but it’s important to us to get back in time to unpack and wind down.” Decide what you believe about yourself BEFORE you go. It’s not the time to determine if you’ve “done enough” for them or “spent enough time” with them once they confront you with their opinion that you don’t and haven’t. Figure this out ahead of time. If you feel you come up short, first forgive yourself, then make a plan to repair that doesn’t involve trying to fit everything in to this one visit. Or just forgive yourself and let it go entirely. Challenge any bullshit thinking you have that suggests you are a “bad sister,” “terrible son,” or “selfish person.” Give yourself some kindness and assurance that you have been doing the best that you can. This approach also applies to semi-insulting or even outright abusive things that drunk uncles/aunts, siblings, and in-laws say. There are two approaches to this: Practice coping ahead of time or avoid it entirely. For the first, if you know or suspect they’re going to say it or imply it, practice dealing with the feelings that will come up ahead of time. See if you can figure out a way to hear the stuff, but not buy into it. You may try imagining hearing it while relaxing your body at the same time. Do this over and over until you aren’t as reactive. Alternatively, avoid the situation entirely. You can opt not to be around people you know who make efforts to emotionally harm you. You are not required to be subjected to abuse just because the person doing it is family or “doesn’t mean it.” For either situation, rehearse skillful responses that leave you feeling good about how you handled things regardless of how they acted. You are the only one who can protect you. Protect your kids as much as possible. If you’ve got kids, be aware that you are teaching them all the time. If they see you burned out, angry, and exasperated, they learn that the holidays are stressful. If they see you battling it out with your father, crying over the jab your mother threw about your divorce, or awkwardly sitting through dessert after your sister stormed off in a drunken rage, they learn that the holidays are just about going through the motions so you can get out of there. They can also conclude that adults are powerless and are subjected to the emotional whims of others. Alternatively, they conclude you are an ineffectual mouse, and when they grow up, they will NEVER put themselves or their future families through this crap; these kids end up rejecting family traditions entirely. When you have children, it is up to you to provide as positive of an emotional environment as possible. Don’t put them around volatile family members, don’t set your expectations so high that you stress yourself out, and don’t use them as a pawn in a chess game with your ex or in-laws. Use the time to help them learn that it’s ok to enjoy life, set boundaries, and be kind to yourself. Finally, remember that it’s your holiday too! It’s ok to make some decisions simply because you WANT it to be that way. Don’t let the entire holiday go by without doing something that is important to you. Create new traditions for yourself and with your kids, friends, partners, etc. Don’t spend the entire time running around trying to make everyone happy. You aren’t likely to succeed in that endeavor anyway!

  • You Gotta Be Tough If You’re Gonna Be Stupid

    Lesson #1: Don’t take anyone’s word for anything as 100% truth…not even mine. Always check in with your Wise Mind. Lesson #2: You know you. You (and only you) know what is best for you and what you can handle. F^*k em if they don’t get it. Some people end up in “difficult” relationships whereas others choose them. Many professionals in the mental health industry would suggest that if you are the latter type, you are probably disturbed. I vividly recall a liability insurance conference I attended years ago in which the speaker chuckled about therapists who would actually CHOOSE to treat Borderline Personality Disorder and how there must be “something wrong with them.” Don’t worry—I made sure to raise my hand in the middle of the room to passive-aggressively #represent, but I was disgusted. This same attitude permeates our industry in other ways. Being in a relationship with a partner who is using drugs or alcohol, for example, is often automatically considered to be “codependent” and evidence of boundary issues, lack of ego strength, or poor “self-esteem” by those in the mental health field. And unless you are doing “self-care” the way that Brene Brown does it, you are just in denial and “self-medicating” by taking care of others (as if that was the worst thing that could happen). My unpopular opinion? There is a subset of people who have a higher threshold for emotional pain— and thankfully they exist to help people with a lower threshold. I am one of those people…as I SHOULD be because I’m a therapist who helps people with THEIR emotional pain. And not only do I CHOOSE this profession of working with highly suicidal and severely depressed/anxious/angry people, but I have been known to choose to stay in personal relationships that some might call “toxic” (I call it “difficult”) because I think there’s something I can learn from it and I care about the person. *GASP * So what’s the difference between a “difficult” vs a “toxic” relationship? A toxic relationship causes damage that is greater than the benefit received from it. A difficult one is just uncomfortable, but not harmful. I think of it like the difference between 2 people sitting in the sun for the same amount of time…one is soaking up the Vitamin D with no ill effects while the other gets burned. Different genetics, different experiences, the same amount of exposure. That’s how it works with relationships—some can take more heat than others. But you’ve gotta be real with yourself about what you can take. If you numb out, you won’t know you’re getting burned. The trick is to check in with how you’re feeling and whether or not you can truly keep going without causing yourself damage. We take our hand away from a stove because it’s hot…we FEEL it. The key is to FEEEEEL the emotions in full. I know when I’ve had enough…for now, at least, and I’ll stop then. But if you find that you are getting depressed, self-harming, anxious, or otherwise symptomatic, you may be kidding yourself about what you can handle. THAT’S when it becomes toxic…both for you and the other person. Because you end up blaming them, you, or both. At the end of the day, you are the only one who knows how long you can and should “swim with the sharks.” Happy diving. ;) —Stephanie Vaughn, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist-HSP, owner of PSYCHē

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