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...

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....

Teamwork: Parents and Teachers Working Together

  Carol Gooch, M.S., LPC, LCDC, LMFT     As a former school teacher and school counselor and currently a mental health professional, I know the importance of teachers and parents working together to foster the success of their students. Communication is the key.   Parents and teachers have a common goal: to facilitate the best educational experience possible for students. When parents and teachers communicate with one another, they are able to work together towards this common goal. Technologies like texting and e-mails have made communication between home and school more efficient, and improved in both quantity and quality. Parents and teachers alike would be well served to seek out opportunities for communication with one another on a regular basis to ensure that all students have their physical, emotional and intellectual needs met. We know that the best educational outcomes occur when each of these needs are met.   A partnership implies that all parties work together — as equals — with specific rights and responsibilities toward a common goal. Each party contributes their own specific skills and knowledge toward meeting the objectives. Unfortunately, much home/school communication is one-sided and school-directed. Information is shared… but power is not shared. This approach is not conducive to creating a genuine partnership. The great majority of home/school crises are a direct result of poor communication.   The Beginning Stage requires teachers to establish their credibility as competent and confident professionals. They must set the tone for ongoing collaboration and outline the specific goals, roles and responsibilities of each member of the new partnership. The Maintenance Stage requires teachers to use ongoing conferencing and communication to...

Staying Positive

  Carol A. Gooch, M.S., LPC, LCDC, LMFT When you are starting a healthy diet, beginning an exercise program, stopping an unhealthy habit or working on a relationship, one of the main elements for success is staying positive. The power of remaining positive, whatever the situation, can never be underestimated. We are all here for a limited period of time, is it worth it to spend any of that time in a depressed, negative mood? The true test of an individual to remain positive is when challenges become difficult. Remaining positive keeps one’s mind in the right state of balance and often opens resolutions to the problems at hand. Negativity is contagious and it spreads to anyone you interact with. Eliminating negativity, or rather, being positive is a mindset that can be found at any moment, and turned into a habit. So, what are some ideas to help you shift your mindset to remain positive? Be conscious of your thoughts. Especially, when life just isn’t going your way. The moment you see that you are diving into frustration, agony, sorrow and low self-esteem – shift your thoughts, by thinking about something completely unrelated. This breaks the pattern of self-pity. What makes us different from other mammals is our ability to control our thoughts and think for ourselves. There is a lesson to be learned from every situation. You may have made a mistake, but now you can accept it and continue, knowing that you will make a different decision in the future. Understand this and be appreciative for the experience. You cannot be both angry and grateful at the...