This is how a book is born.
Thursday, June 06, 2013
This is how a book is born.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
It's a difficult, yet brave and courageous moment when someone makes the decision to pursue mental health therapy. More difficult than the decision to go to therapy is the decision of who to choose as a therapist.
So, how does someone find a good psychotherapist?
Types of Therapists
First, it is important to think about the type of therapist you think is best for your presenting symptoms and issues. There are many kinds of mental health therapists, but sometimes understanding "who does what" can be confusing. Here is a list to help identify the specialties and degrees therapists can hold.
In the United States, Doctors of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctors of Psychology (Psy.D.), or Doctors of Education (Ed.D.) must complete at least four years of post graduate school, however, only those who have been licensed can call themselves Psychologists. Licensed practicing psychologists are specifically trained in the mind and behavior as well as diagnosis, assessment and treatment of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. The treatment provided is "talk therapy". It is important to know that not all psychologists are experienced therapists. Some specialize in areas such as statistical research or industrial psychology, and may have little experience treating people. Therefore, it is important to inquire about the caliber of clinical experiences. Generally speaking, most psychologists do not prescribe medication.
Clinical Social Workers (C.S.W.) usually have earned at least a Masters' Degree, which is two years of graduate school, and some Social Workers obtain a doctoral degree (D.S.W. or Ph.D.). Clinical Social Workers credentials may vary by state, but these are the most common: B.S.W. (Bachelor's of Social Work), M.S.W. (Master's of Social Work), A.C.S.W. (Academy of Certified Social Workers), or D.C.S.W. (Diplomate of Clinical Social Work). Although there are exceptions, most licensed clinical social workers generally have an "L" in front of their degree (L.C.S.W.) communicating that they are a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Clinical Social Workers also receive training in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders. Their goal is to enhance and maintain physical, psychological, and social functioning in who they treat.
A Psychiatrist completes a medical degree (M.D.) like any other physician, followed by a four-year psychiatry specialty. Psychiatrists prescribe medication yet sometimes do psychotherapy with patients. Psychiatrists, unlike Psychologists, have the background and experience to understand how the body and the mind as a whole react when psychiatric medication is given, and have extensively studied the total body including brain biochemistry, tissues, glands, and organs, leading to a fundamental understanding of how these all interact and react to the patient's environment in mental health and mental illness.
Marriage Family Therapists & Professional Counselors
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (L.M.F.T.), and Professional Counselors (L.P.C.) usually have two years of graduate school and have earned at least a Masters' Degree such as: M.A. (Master of Arts), M.S. (Master of Science) or M.Ed. (Master of Education). Marriage and Family Therapists have additional specialized training in the area of family therapy.
Certified Counselors are typically trained in drug or alcohol abuse specialties. A Certified Addiction Counselor (C.A.C.) or a Certified Alcohol Counselor, (C.A.C.) may have a I, II, or III added to their degree signifying the level of training in counseling (CAC-I, for example). A C.A.C. Counselor may or may not have a master's degree. Counselors are trained for supportive therapy. C.A.C's work within the field of alcoholism and substance abuse, providing education, consultation, counseling, aftercare, recovery and advocacy.
These are counselors who are clergy, pastors or who have a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree, or a Doctorate in Theology (Th.D.) from a seminary or rabbinical school, with additional training in therapy. These spiritual counselors are trained in both psychology and theology and thus can address psychological, religious and spiritual issues.
Psychiatric Nurses and Nurse Practitioners comprise a growing segment of mental health treatment professionals. They display the credentials R.N. (Registered Nurse), R.N.P. (Registered Nurse Practitioner) or M.S.N. (Masters of Science in Nursing). A Psychiatric Nurse is a registered nurse with a master's degree who has been trained in individual, group, and/or family psychotherapy. The Psychiatric Nurse and the Nurse Practitioner view individuals from a holistic perspective, taking into account both physical and mental health needs while focusing on human behavior.
From Word of Mouth To Yellow Pages
Now that you know the kind of therapists with which you wish to work, how do you choose one?Here are a few ways that can provide leads to a good therapist.
Word of mouth: Asking a friend or relative that you trust can be a great way of finding a reliable therapist. When a clinician is highly regarded, there is usually a buzz in the community about him or her.
Professional Referrals: Contacting your general physician, or inquiring with school guidance and special service staff if you are looking for someone to work with your child are good ideas. Contacting local psychological, psychiatric or counseling organizations can be very helpful in pointing you in a direction as well.
Online Resources: Many professional organizations and grassroots organizations offer referral resources. There are also mental health websites like Psychology Today's Therapist Directory that can help you narrow down a search.
Insurance Company: If you have an insurance company, another suggestion is to call them directly and ask them to give you a few names of therapists in your area, and ones that specialize in the disorders or issues with which you are experiencing.
Religious Organizations: Many churches and temples have outreach programs where the person in charge can help you find a therapist.
Yellow Pages: Many times I get calls from people who look me up in the Yellow Pages. With nowhere else to turn, people cold-call with the hopes of finding a good therapist. This experience can be frustrating and may lead you down a bumpy road of contacting therapists who do not specialize in what you need. If possible, try one of the other strategies listed above to help you find a good therapist.
The Initial Phone Call
Once you have a few names, find the time to call each one and talk on the phone with him or her. You can get a great feel for a professional during this informal chat. If you make a connection on the phone, arrange for an appointment to consult with the therapist. I call this "the meet and greet" consult where I get to meet the potential patient, assess the symptoms and issues and make sure that my training and expertise are appropriate for the necessary treatment. This is a time where the potential patient gets to know me as well, how I will work and also learns about my approach to treatment and the parameters of therapy. Though comfort and connection are necessary factors, so too are making sure that the therapist of your choice is educated, seasoned and a specialist in what you are seeking.
Questions to Ask: Most therapists will welcome the opportunity to answer any questions that you may have. Here are some of the most important ones to consider:
1. What is your professional training and degree?
2. How much specialized training and experience have you had with what I am seeking help for?
3. What theoretical school of thought do you follow?
4. How long are the sessions?
5. What is the cost of each session?
5. How does insurance work with mental health therapy?
6. What is your policy on cancelled appointments?
7. Have you been in therapy yourself? If so, how long?
8. Is it possible to reach you after hours in the event of an emergency or crisis? If so, how?
9. Do you receive regular supervision on your cases or belong to a peer supervision group?
10. What professional organizations do you belong to?
Once these bases are all covered, and you settle into treatment, you should slowly begin to feel an expansion within yourself. Your awareness will widen, your feelings may swell, and you may find yourself thinking in new ways about your situations and life experiences.
Therapy may be tough on occasions, but in time, you should start learning techniques to help change, shift or remedy symptoms. That's how the arc of good therapy progresses. Last, but not least, always, ALWAYS, be sure that the professional you choose to work with is a licensed mental health practitioner.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
May is Mental Health Month. Through media, local and national events, the hope is to reduce stigma about mental illness and promote well-being for children and adults.
This year's theme is "Pathways to Wellness" — and calls attention to strategies and approaches that help achieve wellness and good mental and physical healthTake a look at what wellness really is about:
- Wellness is essential to living a full and productive life. It’s about keeping healthy as well as getting healthy.
- Wellness involves a set of skills and strategies that prevent the onset or shorten the duration of illness and promote recovery and well-being.
- Wellness is more than an absence of disease. It involves complete general, mental and social well-being.
- Steps that build and maintain well-being and help us all achieve wellness involve a balanced diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, a sense of self-worth, development of coping skills that promote resiliency, emotional awareness, and connections to family, friends and community.
- Just as we check our blood pressure and get cancer screenings, it’s a good idea to take a periodic reading of our emotional well-being.
- Fully embracing the concept of wellness not only improves health in the mind, body and spirit, but also maximizes one’s potential to lead a full and productive life.
- Using strategies that promote resiliency and strengthen mental health and prevent mental health and substance use conditions lead to improved general health and a healthier society: greater academic achievement by our children, a more productive economy, and families that stay together.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Monday, April 01, 2013
Sexual Assault Awareness Month is observed in April in the United States, and is dedicated to making a concerted effort to raise awareness about and prevent sexual violence. In the time it takes to read this paragraph, three individuals somewhere in the United States will have become a victim of sexual violence.
The first observation of Sexual Assault Awareness Month occurred in 2001, where the National Sexual Violence Resource Center provided resources to advocates nationwide to help get the word out about sexual assault. This awareness day has gained momentum over the years, especially on high school and college campuses.
Research states that prevention programs and awareness days help educate the public about sexual assault and sexual violence. For those who want more information, link here.
Monday, March 04, 2013
Reading self-help books and browsing internet sites could be just what the doctor ordered to help with symptoms of severe depression, according to a new study published today in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
An international team of researchers seeking treatment options for depression – a debilitating condition that affects at least 14.8 million in the U.S. – conducted a meta-analysis of multiple studies involving 2,470 people with varying levels of depression and found that ‘low intensity’ treatment had significant effects on severely depressed people.
Treatment through websites and self-help books (also known as bibliotherapy) worked for both severely and less severely depressed patients, said the researchers, and they recommended these "low intensity" therapies as a first step and initial treatment for depression.
Psychologist Dr. Deborah Serani, author of Living With Depression, has researched bibliotherapy and the use of books and websites in treating depression and says this can help patients in several very important ways.
- “They help with psychoeducation, which is a hallmark first step in understanding illness,” she says. “Books and websites explain information in easy to understand terms and can be accessed at any time, helping to make people feel less alone in their struggle.”
- “They aid in reducing stigma by addressing the myths of mental illness, thereby allowing a depressed person to not feel shame about having this illness. It also invites readers to find global, local or online resources and support should they want to be part of a self-help community.”
- “They also provide hope, especially when self-help books and websites detail personal stories of children or adults, and even high profile celebrities, who've moved through their depression successfully."