What is Counseling?

April is counseling awareness month as designated by the American Counseling Association. Since many misconceptions exist about the nature and process of counseling, Aspire Behavioral Hospital is utilizing Counseling Awareness Month to provide the community with information and education on what counseling is and what it isn’t, the benefits of counseling, and various types of counseling options. What is Counseling? Counseling (also known as psychotherapy) is a process of working with a trained and licensed counselor to increase self-awareness and insight into one’s feelings, behaviors, and beliefs. It is a journey of self-discovery manifested through the therapeutic relationship.   What Counseling is Not? Counseling is not a relationship in which the counselor tells the client what to do, what to think or how to feel. On the other extreme, counseling is not a passive process in which the client shares his thoughts and feelings and the counselor simply listens providing no feedback.  Counseling is an active, goal driven process, and the counselor utilizes specific therapeutic techniques and principles to address the client’s distressing symptoms.   Benefits of Counseling Research suggests many benefits of counseling\psychotherapy which includes but is not limited              improvement in mood, improvement in sleep, improvement in relationships, increased use of coping skills, improvement in communication skills, decreased isolative behavior and increased social supports to name just a few.   Types of Counseling There are many different types of counseling including mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling, and marriage and family counseling. Additionally, counselors are trained and may specialize in specific treatment approaches for example cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, psychodynamic, or psychoanalysis.   Amanda S....

Above and Beyond

  ASPIRE HOSPITAL: ABOVE & BEYOND   Aspire Hospital is a small 30-bed acute care hospital in Conroe that provides mental health services primarily to Montgomery County, but also responds regularly to requests in helping meet the mental health needs of individuals in nearby counties. Since people commonly emotional, healing and medical needs in addition to mental health needs, Aspire strives to provide services: Above and beyond what psychiatric hospitals tend to offer Above and beyond what state and federal regulations require Above and beyond what Medicare, Medicaid or commercial insurance pays for “Individuals and families in our community need more than the bare minimum treatment traditionally provided for decades by psychiatric hospitals that regulations and insurance requires. At Aspire Hospital, we are dedicated to providing treatment for our patients that is above and beyond the minimum required and establish a new standard in mental health care for our community,” is the commitment of Aspire Hospital’s current senior administrative team. The above and beyond commitment Aspire Hospital has for our patients and community is evidenced by the following 2016 facts: Began providing Community Education Series Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) Full days of free depression screenings; which, in 2017, will be expanded to be provided monthly Music therapy Pet therapy Medicaid or community resources. All at no additional charge to patients, families, insurance, Medicare, Dedicated four beds permanently for complex-care (medical-psychiatric) to help minimize the length of time psychiatric patients spend in the overwhelmed emergency rooms (in Montgomery County as well as nearby counties) without the being provided the mental health treatment they so desperately need Established a...

Exercise Improves Mental Health

As a mental health therapist for over 20 years, I can assure you that exercise enhances the body’s ability to respond to stress, thus improving mental health by helping the brain cope better with stress, anxiety and depression.  Evidence suggests that physically active people have lower rates of anxiety and depression than sedentary people. The more sedentary you get, the less efficient you are in responding to stress. Exercise essentially burns away the chemicals like cortisol and norepinephrine that cause stress. At the same time, vigorous exercise releases endorphins into the system. Endorphins are morphine-like hormones that are responsible for the feeling of elation, or well being that distance runners get from running. Other chemicals like dopamine and serotonin are also released in the brain during exercise. Together, these give a feeling of safety and security that contributes to off-setting some of the “internal” causes of stress, such as uncertainty, pessimism and negative self-talk. To benefit from exercise, it needs to be regular. Exercise needs to be part of a daily routine. Instead of working during lunch, why not take the time to go for a brisk walk, a run or work out at a gym? Exercise will reduce stress and reducing stress can increase productivity. Since exercise reduces stress chemically, it can also have a meditative effect during sustained cardiovascular workouts. Biologically, exercise seems to give the body a chance to deal with stress. It forces the body’s physiological systems to communicate much more closely than usual. Running on the open road or treadmill can relax and clear the mind. Clearing the mind allows you to have a...

NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION AWARENESS MONTH SEPTEMBER 2016

Erica Overshiner, MSW, LCSW, Clinical Director at Aspire Behavioral Health Hospital Most likely you or someone you know has been impacted by suicide. I have heard many patients say they feel as though they have been burdening their families or loved ones for years with their difficulties, including mental illness. Often, that individual cannot see how their leaving this world by suicide would impact and devastate their loved ones. If a person tries or commits suicide they are often thinking death is the ONLY or BEST way out. Desperation flows from an individual who feels there are no choices left. When talking with individuals about their suicidal thoughts or attempts, I often ask them, “Do you really want to die, or find relief from what you are struggling with”. Nine times out of ten, he or she wants relief. Relief from mental illness, financial stressors, familial/relationship conflict and the list goes on and on. So how does one know if a loved one is contemplating suicide? Fortunately, there are signs and behaviors that can set off red flags to be aware of. Generally speaking, one should become concerned when they see a loved one’s behaviors changing dramatically. This could be the result of something traumatic happening, or an exacerbation of a mental illness. Some signs include, but are not limited to: giving all their belongings away, isolating oneself, talking about being a burden, increased use of alcohol or drugs, increased talk of death, and mood changes. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, talk to your doctor, a therapist, a trusted family member or friend,...

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Erica Overshiner, MSW, LCSW, Clinical Director at Aspire Behavioral Health Hospital It was a hot, clear afternoon. I was driving back from Houston when I saw traffic slowing to a halt. Much to my terror I had just arrived onto the scene of a horrific accident. There were not even first responders on the scene yet. I got out of my vehicle to try to help, but sadly there was no help to be offered. Every time I tried to fall asleep scenes from the accident overwhelmed my mind. I started having flashbacks during the day, panic attacks, becoming hypervigilant and agitated. As a therapist I understood what was happening to me and needed to seek out a therapist who could help me process this trauma. I looked for someone who had been trained in EMDR. EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing  It is a type of psychotherapy that is relatively new. It incorporates bilateral stimulation (eye movements, tactile pulsars etc) to help the brain process the trauma. Since trauma can get “stuck” in non-verbal parts of the brain, the brain needs a nonverbal method to process it. I had been trained in EMDR a number of years ago, and now needed to utilize it myself. I had one 2 hour session with a therapist and my flashbacks and panic attacks dissipated, my sleep returned to normal, and my hypervigilance and agitation disappeared.  While this treatment may not work for everyone, it helped me tremendously. With EMDR the patient doesn’t have to talk at length about the trauma, which makes this method so appealing for the client....

Back to School and Mental Health

School starting in the next couple of weeks can be stressful for both kids and parents. Transitioning from the relaxed summer schedule into the hectic, activity filled school year can bring out a variety of emotions ranging from anxiety to excitement. With some planning and insight, easing back into the routine of school does not have to be a stressful time for your family. First, change can be a trigger. Change of routine and environment can bring about anxiety and nervousness in children. In some cases, the change can be substantial enough to bring out the first signs of a mental health condition or amplify existing symptoms. Help your child find healthy ways to manage their emotions surrounding the new school year. You are your child’s first resource Be and stay available for your children. Try to incorporate uninterrupted time where you are free from distractions to be both physically and emotionally available to your child. Your child knows when you are distracted and they will appreciate having your genuine interest with an open ear at the end of each school day. In the car or over dinner are great times to communicate and bond. Additionally general observations, expressing curiosity or concern is a great way to start the conversation: “I’ve noticed that you have been quiet lately… You can talk to me about anything, I am here to listen.” Remember do not assume you know your child’s thoughts or struggles before you ask them. Even if your assumptions are correct, the act of asking shows that you are genially interested and open to talk. One of the hardest...