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....

Start Fresh in the New Year

Carol A. Gooch, M.S., LPC, LCDC, LMFT As a mental health professional, I can tell you that some people have difficulty coping with holiday stress and depression, so as soon as the holidays are over, they start to reflect on what they can change for the next year. 2017 can be a great year for you, if you begin thinking about ways to improve your life. A new year is a fresh start and provides the psychological boost needed to set and meet your goals. Many people would benefit by making a few changes to improve their fitness level, diet, weight or general well-being. One or two small changes can make a difference in a person’s health. Health screenings can save lives. Early detection for diseases, such as colon, breast and cervical cancer can improve prognosis dramatically. Screenings to test for diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease should also all be considered. The type of screening needed is based on your age, gender and risk factors for certain conditions. Talk with your doctor to determine what is recommended and make this the year to get screened. Fiber rich foods, such as oatmeal, leafy green vegetables and beans help you feel full longer, decreases the risk of colon cancer and helps keep things moving through the digestive system. Increasing calcium in your diet can help prevent osteoporosis. Good sources of calcium include yogurt, milk, bok choy, broccoli and baked beans. Most people know that exercise can improve their health, but they may not know just how beneficial it can be. Exercise can help lower blood pressure...

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...

Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. This month is about being aware and informed. This particular issue hits close to home as the majority of our patients at our Department of Radiation Oncology are being treated for prostate cancer. Risk Factors A risk factor is anything that affects your chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Different cancers have different risk factors. Some risk factors, like smoking, can be changed. While others, like a person’s age or family history, can’t be changed. But having a risk factor, or even several does not mean that you will get the disease. Many people with one or more risk factors never get cancer, while others who get cancer may have had few or no known risk factors. Age The older a man is, the greater his risk of getting prostate cancer. In fact, more than 65% of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65 and is extremely rare in men younger than 40. Race & Ethnicity Studies show that African American men are approximately 60 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer in their lifetime than Caucasian or Hispanic men. African-American men are also more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as white men. Additionally, the disease starts younger and grows faster in black men. The reasons for these racial and ethnic differences are not clear. Geography Men in the United States have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer regardless of their race or ethnicity. Additionally, men who live in northern regions of the country have a higher risk of developing prostate...

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....