My Coping Skills Aren’t Helping

Have you ever been having a great day and then all of the sudden felt sick to stomach? You start feel nauseous. Your heart feels like it is going to pound out of your chest!

There you are just trying to go on with your day and you literally feel like your body is attacking itself. You might if think “I am having a heart attack?”

You are feeling dizzy, lightheaded, and your vision is blurry.

You can’t focus on your thoughts that are cycling through your head on repeat.

You wonder if this is anxiety or a sign or symptom of something much worse. Should you go to the hospital or doctors?

Eventually, things get better, but you still fell unsettled. You don’t know exactly why this happened and you feel like you are walking on eggshells just waiting for it to happen again. The fear of having a panic attack becomes its own constant anxiety.

The problem with panic is the level of intensity. No amount of journaling, thinking of something positive, or listening to music is going to bring you out of your panic attack.

Let’s be real here! These coping skill just don’t work for panic. The reality is that coping skills don’t mean that we don’t feel our difficult or distressing feelings. Coping skills teach us to cope with them…how to feel them without going into crisis. They can help decrease the frequency and intensity of distressing feelings.

So how do you cope with panic you ask?

Great question? A huge part is accepting your anxiety. The more we avoid something the bigger it gets. Buried feelings never die. So acknowledging your anxiety and panic is the step. Then creating some space from it by being the observer.

Acknowledge your anxiety and panic. Focus on what’s happening and acknowledge that physical sensations and try to shift out of the thoughts. Similar to going for a jog, your heart-rate is high, breathing deeply, muscles might be sore (especially me). Your body will need time to return to status quo.

Shift your mind to the physical aspects of your panic and remember that your body needs some time to return to status quo.

When you learn to identify your anxiety, accept it, focus on it as an observer you will feel better able to cope. If you or someone you know needs help developing coping skills for anxiety and/or panic we are here to help.

What is EMDR and Can It Really Help?

To be fully transparent, I thought Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) was a load of crap for a really long time. I mean, just look at the name, Eye Movement Desensitization, what the heck does that even mean? How is moving my eye’s around going to heal my panic or trauma? Let’s get real here! Sounded like another fast fix promise meant to prey on people in pain.

BUT…One year, close to my birthday (that’s when all our yearly training requirements are due) I realized I still needed to take more training courses to meet my annual requirements. The only course that fit my schedule was an introduction to Mindfulness and EMDR. “Ugh,” I thought.

Turns out, everything is always as it should be. I got to experience first-hand the fast and immediate benefits of EMDR. We did a simple practice exercise in the training. Going through the protocol on an insignificant frustration allowed me to let go of a frustration and wound I didn’t even know existed, least of all how significantly it was impacting my daily life! Each day after that was brighter, easier, and more peaceful for me. I literally felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders (and for those of you who know me, know I not the rainbows and optimistic type). This was truly an amazing experience.

So, naturally I sought out my own EMDR therapist to see if it really worked or if it was a fluke. I needed to know I didn’t drink the EMDR Kool-Aid. “Had to be a fluke, right?” “Eyes moving, still sounded silly to me.” But low and behold, it was not. Next thing I did, was sign up to become an EMDR therapist. Extensive training later, I can officially say I drank the Kool-Aid and am honored to be part of the club.

So you are still probably wondering…

WHAT THE HECK IS EMDR?

EMDR is a form of therapy that allows you to deeply heal from symptoms of emotional distress. This type of deep healing is often believed to take years of processing and talk therapy. Repeated studies have shown that by using EMDR therapy you can have the same benefits as years of other forms of treatment.

EMDR was originally used to treat clients suffering from trauma and has proven to be the most effective method of treating PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). It has since been proven to be an effective treatment for anyone with anxiety, eating disorders, phobias, relationship issues, depression, grief, addiction, and more.

During EMDR sessions, the therapist uses bilateral stimulation (right/left eye movement) to stimulate both sides of the brain. The theory is that this continual movement releases traumatic or emotional experiences that reside in the nervous system. This then taps into the mind/body connection, allowing you to heal both emotional and physical symptoms simultaneously.

Many people like EMDR because they can begin to process experiences or feelings they aren’t able to easily talk about.

WHAT ABOUT SKILLS? DON’T I STILL NEED THEM?

Absolutely! EMDR is a therapy that allows clients to heal from past negative experiences and core belief systems that are holding them back, similar to CBT. However, it often is combined with other forms of therapy to meet your individual needs as the client. For example, EMDR can be combined with CBT or DBT. Many times panic, depression, anxiety, or PTSD can prevent you from learning the day to day coping skills and interpersonal skills that are needed to be effective in your daily life.

If this sounds like something that would benefit you or you want to learn more contact us today to schedule your free consultation!

How Can Observing Something Help Me?

Observation as a coping skill, sounds ridiculous, right? For many people this can be one of the most basic, yet challenging skills. In DBT Core Mindfulness Skills are the foundation of all skills training. Observation skills teach us to take-hold of our mind. Observing is sensing ourselves and our environment without labeling or judging it. It allows our mind to be quiet!

Watch this video to learn more about DBT Observe Mindfulness Skill, the benefits, and how to build and use it!!

If you or someone you know could benefit from DBT skills click here to learn more about DBT at Mindful Healing!

Does Therapy Really Need To Be Weekly?

Wouldn’t less therapy be just as good? After all, I’d have more time to work on things between sessions, right?

One of the problems with going to therapy is that it’s a weekly commitment. Which, let’s be honest, can be a real pain. This is a large time commitment. Not to mention a considerable cost.

Yet, why do the majority of therapists and counselors recommend weekly sessions? Why not every two weeks?

Why Have Weekly Therapy Sessions?

Attachment and Emotional Safety

One of the main reasons that, I, and many other therapists recommend weekly therapy is that it helps make that work deeper. Weekly sessions allow for you to build the healing relationship necessary for trust, emotional safety, and vulnerability deep clinical work.

Reinforcement for Learning

One week is just enough time to review skills or try out a homework assignment if you use one.

“Use it or Lose It”

Long gaps in therapy can mean forgetting important themes, trends, and what you were working on. It can allow for defense mechanisms to take hold and lead to longer term therapy.

Builds Trust and Openness

It takes a lot to start therapy and open up. Having too much time between sessions can make your inner self less accessible for change.

Less to Catch Up On

Having longer gaps between session can keep the focus on catching up rather than diving into the deeper work.

Slippery Slop

Two-week sessions can easily become monthly or less, if you are sick or away and miss an appointment. If you miss another now it becomes weeks before you are in session.

Practice and Repeat

Making changes involves repetition and in the moment feedback. Weekly sessions allow clients to practice what they are learning and insights they are gaining and process them soon after.

Avoiding Relapses

Change is hard. We naturally like consistency. When things get stressful, old behaviors arise. Longer gaps between sessions make it easier to fall into old habits and behaviors.

Provides a Sense of Consistency

Between sessions is when a lot of therapy work is done. Thoughts, feelings, and insights can arise. This can be overwhelming. Knowing your next session is right around the corner and on a consistent basis can provide a sense of security.

Therapy is a commitment and if “you work it works.” When you or your teen is feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious weekly therapy is fastest most effective way to develop long-lasting coping skills and heal underlying triggers so you can live a life you love!

If you want to learn more about therapy options that might be right for you contact us today!

Saying “I’m Just Impulsive” Is An Excuse

Saying, “I’m just impulsive” to justify acting out is just an excuse. It is a way to not take ownership of your own behaviors.

It’s like saying, “just like to be alone” to justify isolation or “I’m just a messy person” to justify not cleaning or doing chores.

However, there are skills that you can learn and actions that you can take to change your behaviors. You are not powerless!

And at Mindful Healing, while we believe that you’re doing the best you can at any given moment, we also believe that you can improve, be more skillful and make better choices.

Often times emotional teens act without thinking. Teens tend to think about what they want in the moment and don’t always think about all the consequences.

In fact, this happens a lot with teens in general. The pre-frontal cortex the area of the brain that controls reasoning and decision making isn’t fully formed until approximately age twenty-six.

So making effective decisions takes some effort.

Your teen needs to learn and practice skills so they don’t respond in an instant to intense emotions…

and self-harm, or lash out, or refuse to go to school, or cave to peer pressure, etc.

We’ve see teens act impulsively all the time in order to avoid intense emotions.
And we’ve heard the response “I’m just impulsive” many times, as I am sure you have. But this is not an excuse. They CAN improve.

It’s time to stop blaming lacking skills as personality traits and own the responsibility to do the work to improve.

Because we know you can.
Because we believe in you.

Are you ready to believe in you too?

When your teen is ready, we are here!

What The Heck Is DBT and Why Will It Help My Teen?

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a comprehensive treatment model that offers hope for teens who have not seen improvement in other therapies. It is based on actionable skills and focuses on problem solving and acceptance-based strategies. DBT is led by a DBT-Certified therapist who is intensively trained by Behavior Tech.

At Mindful Healing, LLC our DBT program for adolescents involves group skills training. These actionable skills focus on helping teens learn to feel in control of their emotions rather than their emotions being in control of them. To transfer skills to the home and school environment, many teens also participate in individual DBT and parent coaching.

DBT is used to treat teens with anything from school avoidance to suicidality. It is the gold standard of evidence based treatment for emotion regulation in teens.

What Skills Does DBT Teach?

DBT skills group is a co-ed open-enrollment group. It runs for 26 weeks.   Group has a maximum of 8 clients to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to fully engage. We ask that you make the commitment to attend for a minimum of 12-weeks to give your teen ample time to develop skills and begin to see progress.

DBT skills training is very structured and consists of five modules.

Mindfulness skills: Teaches teens how to focus the mind and to observe and describe what they are feeling and thinking in the moment without judgement. These skills can help teens reduce reactivity to painful thoughts and emotions.

Distress Tolerance: Learning how to accept yourself and the situation. More specifically, learning to tolerate a crisis and being able to recognize urges to do things that would be ineffective, such self-harm, without acting on them.

Emotion Regulation: Addresses emotional sensitivity, mood changes such as depression, anxiety, or anger. In addition, recognizing and coping with negative emotions, and reducing one’s emotional vulnerability by increasing positive life experiences.

Interpersonal Effectiveness: It’s often relationships with others that are the triggers for self-destructive behaviors in teens. Interpersonal effectiveness skills teach adolescents how to engage more effectively with others. In addition, it enables them to feel more supported by others.

Middle Path: Teaches teens how to shift perspectives and see more than one viewpoint rather than only extreme thinking and behaviors. These skills involve learning about how to compromise and negotiate, as well as methods of behavior change, validation and acceptance.

Additional DBT Supports Available At Mindful Healing:

Individual DBT psychotherapy: This is the main way of developing and refining the ability to apply skills taught in DBT skills group to daily life. Individual DBT focuses on helping teens identify personal triggers for behaviors and explore skill based solutions.

Parent Tele-Coaching: Many parents feel unsure of how to approach a particular situation, when or how to set limits, if setting limits will make things better or worse, how to encourage skills use, etc. Parents can contact our intake corrdinator to arrange an individual parent coaching session for assistance in developing their own skills!

Commitment Strategies: “Commitment strategies” are a cornerstone of DBT treatment. Not all adolescents choose to come to therapy. Some are encouraged by parents or friends to seek treatment, and may not be “motivated” initially to attend therapy. Special commitment strategies are used to help adolescents gain a better understanding of their behaviors, and how DBT skills will help them meet their own unique individual goals!

In a nutshell, DBT teaches teens actionable skills to help them learn to live a life they can love! DBT targets the issues that cause distress. It teaches teens skills to deal with them without having to resort to self-defeating behaviors.

GROUP THERAPY: IT’S NOT JUST “SOCIAL HOUR”

Sometimes I hear from parents that they don’t think group is right for their teen because they don’t believe that a “social hour” will help their depression or anxiety. Or that “social hour” would create too much anxiety or comparison for their teen.

But Here’s The Deal:

Support has been scientifically proven to be the #1 indicator of overall wellbeing. It leads to improved symptoms of anxiety and depression, and better physical health.

3 REASONS GROUP CAN BE THE BEST FOR YOUR TEEN:

Group helps your teen experience and learn that they are not alone

Being in a group with others who have similar struggles lets your teen know they are not the only one who feels this way and that they aren’t broken, bad, wrong or different for having the feelings that they do. It allows them to feel heard and understood and this experience is the first step towards healing.

Group hold your teen accountable their goals

Group members support each other in making healthy decisions and actionable changes. I’ve had group members commit to end toxic relationships, finish school work on time, work on angry outburst, and more… and they actually follow through because they have PEERS holding them accountable weekly and cheering them on. Peers accountability is more effective adults checking in on teens!

Group helps your teen learn to love and accept themselves the way they are

The experience of showing up week after week, sharing with teens who have similar struggles allows them to start to feel emotionally safe and be their authentic self. They begin to stop hiding behind emotional walls and allow themselves to be seen, known, and accepted for who they really are. This is a priceless experience and will rocket their self-esteem!

There are other ways to find social support for your teen. Whether you decide on group as a way to help your teen find support, or you seek connection for your teen elsewhere, our mission is to help your teen understand that they are not alone.

If you think group might be right for your teen contact us here for your free consultation.

What Teens Really Want!

It is hard to be the parent of a teenager. It is even harder to be the parent of a teenager that is struggling with depression, anxiety, anger, or suicidal thoughts. The worry, the desire to take their pain away, the sleepless nights and more…

Parents of teens that are struggling often say that they don’t know how to help them and feel that their teen is often isolating, angry, or pulling away. However, teens have a different perspective.

Watch this video to learn what teens really want and what you can do?

To learn more about how to connect with your teen click here to schedule your free consultation!

UNDERSTANDING NORMAL VS. ADNORMAL TEENAGER BEHAVIOR

With the school year starting I have been getting a lot of calls from parents worried about their teens. School anxiety is spiking, teens are beginning to feel overwhelmed and their dread of the new year is sinking in.

Parents ask me: “Lianna, how do I know if what my daughter’s is doing is a ‘normal teenager thing’ or if it’s something more serious? How do I know when I’m at the point where I should get my teenager some help?”

One of the hardest aspects for parents raising teenagers is understanding the difference between normal teenager behavior and unhealthy, abnormal teenage behavior. It’s normal for teens to become cranky, withdrawn, and — let’s be honest — irritating at times. But how can you tell if a teen is being moody or showing the warning signs of anxiety and depression? How can you distinguish typical teenage behavior from dangerous red flags?

WHAT’S NORMAL AND WHAT’S REASON FOR CONCERN?

I put together this list to help you get an idea of some of the differences to keep an eye out for. This is not an exhaustive list by any means but hopefully will help give you an idea of the basics.

WHAT CAN PARENT’S DO TO HELP?

Teen’s are always communicating with us, verbally and non-verbally. Sometimes we are just too distracted to notice all the signs. Listen to what they are saying and what concerns are on the minds. Ask questions for clarification, if you are a nag. Just own up to it, admit to being annoying and ask what they mean. Pay attention to their body language or any changes in behavior.

If you think your teen is in need of additional support contact me today!

3 Tips To Help Your Teen Cope With Back To School Anxiety

As you know school is starting and you know what happens next feelings of overwhelm, stress, and anxiety. I am going to address some of things you can do as a parent to help your kids be successful this year despite feeling anxious.

Many of us believe that by the time our kids reach high school they have back-to-school anxiety under control. Nope. Many of the teens I work with talk consistently about worrying about returning to school. They worry about a number of issues including classes, being liked, fitting in, finding their way around, what to say, managing their schedule and work load, etc.

Something I see a lot of with the teens I work with and I am sure many of you parents are familiar with too as that when teens get this anxious and uncomfortable they beg and plead to stay home. They actually can make themselves sick.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP…

So bearing in mind that your teens are nervous not only about the first day, but the first few weeks or months here are some tips you can use to help your teen adjust to returning to school:

  1. Look At the Basics

Have a routine. Start about 1-2 weeks before school starts. Get their sleeping back on track for a school schedule. Eat breakfast! No one copes well when they are hungry. Pack your book bag the night before, decide on your outfit, etc.

  1. Avoid reassuring instead focus on problem solving

Parents this doesn’t mean solve the problem for them. However, try to avoid statements like everything will be fine. Your teen doesn’t believe this and it can feel invalidating. Instead try to ask them problem solving questions, such as, If (worst thing) happened what would you do? Use things they identified as being anxious about (try not to come up with your own things, this may increase fears).

3. Encourage them to breathe

Practicing their coping skills will help them feel more confident when school starts. Try making this part of your house-hold routine. Role model using this as a skill or practice it as a family before or after dinner.

If your teen needs support with coping skills for returning to school contact me here  to learn more.