Tag Archives: Therapist

How to Deal with Bullying

Unfortunately, many of us have been or will be bullied at some point in your lives. This can take a serious toll on your mental health and self-esteem.

Bullying happens when a person abuses their position of power or authority, physical strength or position in life to hurt someone else, whether that is emotionally or physically. This is done due to a need to boost their ego for personal satisfaction or even to impress someone else. The truth is that a bully has personal issues that they refuse to deal with head on, so they use relieve their frustration by taking it out on others.

So what can you do to stop or avoid being bullied?

It all depends on your situation.

In most cases, the best thing to do is nothing. This shows the bully that you are not affected by their actions. Bullies thrive off of making you uncomfortable and putting you down. So showing that you are not affected by their antics actually makes them lose their interest because they also lose a sense of accomplishment. Most bullies are acting out to get attention, so if they are not getting a rise out of you, they are likely to move on and leave you alone. It is also important to have someone that you love and trust to talk to for support while all of this is going on.

In other cases, it may be necessary to have a parent, counselor, or teacher get involved. You will know that this is the right thing to do if the bullying has gone beyond the limits of your ability to cope with it on your own.

People often think that if you remove what makes you different and if you conform to the norms of society, that you will reduce the chances of being bullied. But we must realize that those things that make us different and unique are also what makes us special and can take us far in life. So go forward boldly and unapologetically because the world needs you just as you are, regardless of anyone else’s opinion.

Procrastination: Tips to Stop Waiting and Start Doing!

Infinity time spiral 15267876“I”ll do it later.” – the anthem of the procrastinator. Too often later never comes around or we wait so long that we have to scramble to get things done. Procrastination can be the monkey on your back that you feel you just can’t shake off. The best thing to do is to understand why you are procrastinating and work from there.

There can be numerous reasons for procrastination. One may feel as though they do not have the skills or tools needed to complete the task, so it is put off. The task could also seem unimportant, thus lacking the motivational qualities for you to start working on it. Another common reason for procrastination is a fear of the outcome. You may have been in the same situation before and things turned out poorly, so, you are avoiding the outcome by avoiding the task. On the other hand, it may be that you have no clue what the end result will be, thus you are steering away from the potentially perilous unknown. What is important here is to note that the act of procrastination varies between tasks and people. We don’t procrastinate on everything and we don’t always procrastinate on the same thing in the same way. So how can you decrease the possibility of procrastination? Know yourself.

One of the best things to do is to NOT label yourself a procrastinator. We tend to act in self-confirming ways. So if you think you’re a procrastinator, you will procrastinate. The second thing to do is to recognize why you are procrastinating and correct the issue. If you think the task is too boring, find meaning in it. Yes, the 12 page essay on cyberbullying may be tedious, but consider all of the information you will gain that will help you keep your future children protected from it. If you feel like you are lacking a skill, see this as an alarm to spring into action and find the proper resources to solve that issue.

By changing your perspective of procrastination so that it is an alert rather that a barrier, you can change your slacker ways into proactive ones.

When A Family Member Has A Mental Illness

selfcareThere’s lots of information out there about different mental illnesses and how to find help or treatment for them.  But what is often missing is advice for you on how to cope when it’s your child or another family member who has the mental illness.  Perhaps you’ve connected this person with great resources and treatment is progressing as expected, but that doesn’t always mean there isn’t a ripple effect created that impacts you and your family.  Here are three tips for helping yourself, while you’re helping your family member.

Accept your feelings.  You might feel shame, anger, guilt, embarrassment, disappointment.  All of these feelings are normal.   It’s hard to let go of the dreams we have for our children or our families, and sometimes a mental illness gets in the way of those dreams coming true.  Maybe it will help to know that everyone in your position runs through a gamut of emotions; you’re not alone (even if it feels that way).  Sometimes life is challenging in ways we don’t expect, and in those cases, we just do the best we can.  Under these circumstances, advocating for your ill family member and taking care of the business of running your family can seem like an enormous responsibility at times, but remind yourself that anyone in your shoes would feel the same and that you’re doing the best you can.

Develop coping strategies.  There are going to be lots of things you can’t control, so get control where you can.  Whether it’s regular exercise to offset stress, or a monthly night out, or a few minutes with a book before bed, do what you can to impose a little bit of order and structure to your days.  Remember that you can’t give away what you don’t have; it’s important to fill your tank up, too, in order to be able to give your best to your family.  You deserve to have moments of relaxation, and joy, and peace, so create those moments in whatever way you can.

You may also need some coping strategies for dealing with your loved one’s behaviour, either at home or out in public.  Plan ahead for these situations as best you can, and remind yourself that it isn’t personal.  Don’t let public pressure or the judgment of others keep you from doing what you know is best for your family.  Have a plan in place for the unexpected, so you’re not derailed by a crisis.

And finally, stay connected.  Maintain a relationship with your partner; don’t let that become a casualty of the illness.  You’ll feel better if you believe that you have a partner in all that you’re going through, so keep that relationship strong.  Seek out support from others who can relate to your challenges or who are reliably there for you, whether that’s an association or support group, a therapist, or a friend or family member.  It’s hard not to worry about being judged for what your family member is doing or experiencing – sometimes people are not very compassionate about the struggles of others and worry only how it might impact them.  Don’t let this get you down or lead you to shut down about your struggles.  It’s not your responsibility to educate every thoughtless person you meet, but at the same time, staying quiet and not sharing your story keeps the whole topic out of conversation and continues the cycle of misunderstanding and suspicion.

Mental illness can have far-reaching effects on a family, but don’t let it define you.  Know that you’re doing the best you can in exceptional circumstances, have a plan in place and strategies to cope, and don’t let yourself become isolated.

By: Andrea Ramsay Speers

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The Journey of Personal Transformation

moving-on-from-a-cheating-partnerPersonal transformation is probably the single most challenging and rewarding activity we as humans can ever take on. If you’ve ever found yourself riding the high of freedom from a lifelong concern, only to wake up the next day in the midst of an emotional crisis, then you will have some idea of what I’m talking about.

 

People wind up on the path of personal transformation for different reasons. Some can no longer stand to live with the pain of childhood trauma. Others live for many years with an inkling there is more to life than what meets the eye. Just like everyone, those “on the path” of transformation are motivated by the desire to live happier, more empowered and meaningful lives. However, those who walk the path of personal transformation have consciously chosen to acknowledge the inner obstacles to happiness. They have chosen to turn their relationships with themselves upside down until they’ve come to peace with every last part – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

During the process of personal transformation, step-by-step we trade the old, outworn cocoon of the personality we inherited from our parents, siblings, babysitters, teachers, authority figures etc. for our unique and irresistible authentic selves. As the process unfolds we experience a continual stream of new possibilities for meeting the challenges and opportunities of life, which are accompanied by a rush of excitement and renewed sense of purpose. We begin to catch glimpses of peace, joy, and bliss more alluring and gratifying than any we’ve ever experienced, and as time goes on we experience these states more and more.

Sounds amazing, right? It is, except for all the personality traits that make up our old cocoons. Make no mistake. We have invested a lot of energy and time – several decades in some cases – in pumping up these parts of ourselves in order to get by in life. We have become so reliant on these parts or our personality that whenever they want something we bend over backwards to give it to them. And since our relationship to these parts is more intimate than any other, they know how to hit us where it hurts the most every time.

The good news is, we are free to choose change in every moment, no matter how slowly it seems to occur sometimes. And by surrounding ourselves with an environment that supports us on the path of transformation, the old parts of us can gradually come to see that they no longer have to work so hard to ensure our security. In the meantime, it helps to remind yourself of the wise adage “there’s nothing to fear but fear itself”. And give yourself permission to sit back and enjoy the ride.

By: Kelly Pritchard

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Achieve Your Goals! Tips for Goal Setting

ladder 1When there is a big enough discrepancy between what a person is and what a person wants to be, we tend to set goals in order to get to that ideal state. Unfortunately, we often don’t know where to start or how to go about setting up a plan that will lead us to attaining those goals.  Here are a few things to think about when goal setting.

We need to consider the level of difficulty and the specificity of our goals.  The difficulty of a goal is what energizes our behaviour. We need to make sure that our goals are difficult enough that we know it will make us exert effort, otherwise, let the procrastination begin.  Nothing worth doing is easy. We also need to be specific in terms of what we have to do and how we will do it. This directs our behaviour and decreases ambiguity. If we know exactly what we have to do, we are more likely to do it because it removes any guessing; like following a recipe.

And like a recipe, we need to follow small steps in order to get to the desired result. Set small goals that will help you get to your final goal. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

We need to remember that this is a dynamic process. Too often we sit down, create a plan, and when things don’t go as we expected, we see it as a failure. This is not the case! Things happen and we have to adjust our plans accordingly, rather than giving up.

Feedback! It is essential to document your actions in order to make goal setting effective.  You can use the record to make sure you are keeping on track. Also, by having something to look at to see your progress, you create emotional importance for yourself in relation to your goals.  If your performance is greater or at par with what you expected, it creates a sense of satisfaction which can lead to you creating new, more difficult goals. If your performance is less than expected, it can motivate you to increase your effort in order for you to reach your goal.

Setting goals is something we all do, but we don’t all do well. By creating small, specific and difficult goals, we can create a ladder that will raise us up to where we want to be. And by taking note of out progress we can properly adjust our plan to make sure we achieve our goal.

Practising Mindfulness in Everyday Life

mindfulness-imageIt’s easy to live our lives on autopilot, going through the motions without ever being fully present in our experiences. We can find ourselves always waiting for what’s next and never fully appreciating the here and now. For example, we may find ourselves always waiting for our meeting to be over or waiting for the end of the day. When we are not living fully in the present, we miss the magic in the simple moments. If we do this for long enough, we miss our entire lives. After all, life is made up of moments.

When we think of mindfulness, we often think of yoga or meditation. While these can be wonderful ways of incorporating mindfulness into our lives, we can also be mindful in the simple moments.

First Thing in the Morning

When we are mindful, we purposefully ‘tune in’ to the present moment. Take some time when you first wake up to notice your surroundings, along with the infinite potential that your day holds. Notice the softness of your sheets, the sun shining through your window or the gentle patter of raindrops on your windowsill.

Commuting to Work

Notice the colour and smell of the flowers, the crunch of newly fallen snow under your feet or the way your boots splash in the puddles as you walk. If you drive or take transit, notice how the steering wheel feels in your hands or the shape of the clouds in the sky.

Mealtimes

Meals are a prime time to practice mindfulness. There are numerous benefits to mindful eating, so take a moment to truly savour the colour, texture and flavour of your food.

Conversations

When you’re speaking with someone, instead of being focused on how you’re going to respond or the meeting you need to be at in five minutes, really focus on what the other person is saying. What emotions are being conveyed, what is their body language telling you?

Doing the Dishes

Some people say they find doing the dishes to be therapeutic, and it really can be! When you’re cleaning up after dinner, notice how the warm water feels on your hands and the gentle scent of the soap bubbles.

These are just some examples of how we can incorporate mindfulness into our everyday lives. None of the above may be particularly extraordinary in and of themselves, but through mindfulness ordinary moments can begin to feel purposeful and special – as opposed to only “exciting” or “extraordinary” events being meaningful. The more we incorporate mindfulness into the simple moments, the more we open ourselves up to experiencing the beauty and magic that exists in even the most ordinary of moments.

By: Jenny Gomez

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Workplace Conflict I: Assessing the Problem

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At one point or another we all encounter difficult relationships on the job. Taking a proactive approach to on-the-job conflict is essential to our emotional and mental health, in addition to our performance. Due to modern technology and around the clock work demands, today’s workplaces are already stressful enough without having to deal with uninvited conflict. The good news is, there are easy steps anyone can take to nip workplace conflict in the bud.

The number one thing to remember when a co-worker is getting under your skin is not to take it personally. How people show up in one area of their life is usually how they show up in all areas of their life – so you can bet you are not the first to encounter the behaviour in question. By not making the behaviour about you, you will be in a much more balanced state to address the situation than if you were to interpret it as a personal insult.

Next it’s important to keep things in perspective. Is this the first time the person has done something like this? Are one or both of you having a particularly stressful day? Is your preferred outcome a “need-to-have” or is it more of a “nice-to-have”? Or, on the flip side of the equation, is this behaviour that you have already addressed repeatedly, and shows no signs of going away? Egos are at their strongest in the workplace, so it can be difficult not to rush in to correct a perceived injustice. However, the more we can hold off on reacting, the more we can prevent ourselves from getting “hooked” into responding in kind, and saying or doing something we may regret later.

If you’re not sure whether a particular situation requires you to take action, then give yourself some time to reflect on it. Find a way to clear your head – exercise, meditate, or if all else fails, sleep on it. They key is to approach the situation from a balanced frame of mind. And then trust your instincts to point you in the right direction. If you’re still not sure about what to do, then talk to a trusted mentor. And always remember, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. So as hard as it may seem, trust that there is a benefit to taking the time to contemplate your best course of action.

If you are confident that intervention on your part is required, then you’ll likely want to assert yourself. Stay tuned for the next installment in our workplace conflict series, which provides easy tips for how to confront co-workers while maintaining amicable professional relationships.

By: Kelly Pritchard

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5 Common Myths About Emotions

FeelingsThere are some colloquial ideas out there about emotions and mental health that we tend to carry with us. I pick up on them all the time in therapy with clients.  Try to recognize if you believe any of these…

1. Sadness and depression are the same thing:

Nope! Sadness and depression are different. We tend to use “depressed” these days as a word for “feeling really down because something bad happened.” However, there is an important difference between difficult life circumstances that result in sadness, and depression. Clinical criteria for depression includes various changes in behaviour and functioning, and consistent depressed mood all day, everyday, for an extended period of time. Sadness about aspects of life is healthy, normal, tends to come and go, and is often alleviated by crying or talking about it. This can be an important distinction for people who have been depressed before, as after a clinical depression, any sense of sadness can feel like a warning sign for depression.

2. If I let myself feel something, I’ll feel that way forever:

Nope! Your emotions will not last last forever. Emotions are varied and they also have a time limit. Even though it might feel like you’ll experience sadness, worry, uncertainty, despair (or any other unpleasant emotion that exists) I promise it will abate, or at least lessen in intensity over time. Identifying your feeling, talking about it with others, engaging in self-care and other coping activities can help to speed up this process.

3. I must. Be. Positive. All. The. Time.

Nope! You do not have to think positive and project positivity all the time. There seems to be a trend in distinguishing “negative” and “positive” people and emotions. Let’s clarify something: being “negative” is not the same as sharing and being vulnerable about harder (notice I didn’t say negative!) emotions. I hear a lot about “being negative and “negative people” in the self-help and social media world and I think those get equated (incorrectly) with people simply expressing feelings that are not considered “positive”.  Contrary to popular opinion, sharing vulnerabilities and finding validation and support about the tougher side of life brings people together – not apart. And it’s not negative!

4. I have ultimate control over my mind and emotions and should be able to fix things myself:

Nope! I think the way we blame people for mental illness has a lot to do with the perceived sense of control we have over our brains. But brains, just like bodies, need help to get better. When our bodies are injured or unwell, we consult a team of healthcare specialists to help bring us back to health. Similarly, in our efforts to improve our mental health, we shouldn’t expect our brains to be able to go at it alone.

5. Anger is a bad emotion and I shouldn’t ever feel it.

Nope! You are allowed to feel and express your anger. The problem with anger is when we express it in ways and behaviours that harm others (I.e. physically, or in emotionally/psychologically abusive ways), not the emotion itself. Naming when you’re angry, and taking time to allow yourself to feel angry and have it pass is healthy. Anger even has a productive side and can be a useful emotion to facilitate change, establish boundaries, and learn about yourself.

This is undoubtedly only a partial list of the myths surrounding mental health and emotions that are out there. Keep an ear out and tune in to your own beliefs to uncover more!

 By: Beth Moore

Beth Moore Counselling & Psychotherapy

How to Make a GREAT First Impression

Handshake“First impressions are everything!”

We’ve all heard this, and although it may be a bit of an exaggeration, it does hit the point that first impressions have a lasting effect on relationships, regardless of their type. We tend to make up our mind about someone within the first 15 seconds of meeting them, meaning how we initially present ourselves can be crucial. Here are a few tips to keep in mind, whether you’re going on a first date or a job interview.

Be aware of yourself.

In first meetings our anxiety can to take over and we can lose ourselves, sometimes not even remembering what we said. Stop and take a breath. Be aware of your body and speech. Make sure you’re sitting up straight and avoid jittering. Also, be sure you’re not talking too fast. Be calm and make eye contact, both of which will radiate confidence.

Don’t forget to ask questions. People love talking about themselves, but remember that this is an opportunity to not only to present yourself, but also to get to know someone else. If at a job interview, make sure you have read up on the company, and have a couple questions ready. Being inquisitive will show initiative.

Be your best self.

A first encounter is an opportunity to put your best self forward and show off what you are, rather than lying or covering up what you’re not. It is all about putting your best foot forward. This is where dressing well plays a role. Dress for the job you want. If you think you shouldn’t wear it, you probably shouldn’t. Also, keep in mind that mood is temporary. So if you are in a bad one, it would be best to set it aside and allow for your best self to shine through!

Remember to relax.

Who knows you better than you? A positive first impression is perfectly attainable if you remember that there is no need to be nervous! At the end of the day you are presenting yourself and you are an expert on you. And if you can’t quiet the butterflies, use them! They just mean that you care about the result, which shows you that you’re in the right place. Just prepare the main points you would like to talk about, and stay cool, calm and collected. If you do feel like you may have been less of yourself, don’t be afraid to acknowledge it! We all have off days, so don’t be too hard on yourself if your first impression seems to be a bit out of your norm.

First impressions are important, but they are not everything.

Are you a Therapist? Why Self-Care is Even More Important for You

I-Love-Me-written-in-sandThe practice of psychotherapy is unique, creative, and multifaceted. Although therapists are trained to care for others, we often do a poor job of care for ourselves. Self-Care is defined as the integration of a therapist’s emotional, social, physical, and spiritual health. In essence therapist self-care encompasses understanding and attending to the needs of one’s self; balance in one’s life; the quality of one’s life; serves as protection against burnout; influences client care; and is related to connecting to social support systems.

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Creating a daily/weekly self-care plan would be a great way to start giving attention to and managing your self-care. Take some time to ask yourself what you need on a daily basis to refuel and reset in order to operate at your apex in your clinical work. However before you do that, please take a few moments to explore your current thoughts and practices about self-care.

Therapist Self-care Self-Assessment

1. How important is self-care to you?
2. What do you need to refuel and refocus daily?
3. What shifts do you need to make to meet your self-care needs?
4. How would your clinical work be influenced if you were attending to your self-care?
5. How would your personal life be influenced if you were managing your self-care?

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The practice of self-care is an intentional, ongoing, and advantageous practice. Although the above-mentioned statement may seem obvious, it is easy to fall into a routine of daily life which may deny the energy needed to attend to caring for the self. Caring for ourselves deserves to be looked upon from the perspective of resource management. Likewise, therapists must continually develop and cultivate their most precious resource which is ultimately themselves.

By: Tequilla L. Hill

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