Monday, August 31, 2015

Trust--A Path to Freedom from Fear

Anxiety is more than "jitters", nervousness and worry. For many sufferers, anxiety ultimately is rooted in a sense of being unsafe, out of control or mired in unpredictability.  If we peel back the worries, examine the distorted thoughts that fuel anxiety and panic, we find that people struggle with trusting that things will work out. They fear the worst, predicting horrible outcomes and creating potential responses to negative situations that haven't yet happened. When clients slow the internal maelstrom to look critically at their mental scripts, we can work together to develop a plan to help clients recreate a sense of trust in the world. Through tools like thought stopping, mindfulness, addressing mistaken beliefs and exploring their spirituality, clients can begin to learn that the Universe will provide for them, that risks are worth taking, and that the outcomes that await them are filled with possibilities.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Medical Collaboration in Therapy

At the initial therapy appointment, your counselor may ask you to sign a physician collaboration form. This consent allows your therapist to contact your internist, family practitioner or medical specialist to ensure you receive the most consistent, comprehensive care throughout your therapy experience.

A Team Approach
More often than not, clients initially question the need to have their primary care physician involved in their counseling. "Why does my doctor need to know I'm seeking therapy?" clients may wonder. Issues of confidentiality may also arise; I've had clients express concern that the information they share in counseling will be automatically communicated to their physician. The therapist should educate and reassure the client that only information pertinent to the client's physical health will be shared, and even     then, only with the client's knowledge and complete agreement. Perhaps even more importantly, therapists need accurate information about a client's current and past medications and dosages, illnesses that may affect emotional health (i.e., thyroid disorders, diabetes) and previous or planned medical procedures that may impact a client's mood or functioning. Creating an effective, individualized treatment plan for each client requires a thorough understanding of the individual's physical and emotional health. Collaborating with your physician helps ensure that all treating providers are fully informed of how to help support you through the therapy process, providing the best chances of an efficient and effective therapy experience. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Lessons from the Desert

The Arizona desert seemed like an odd vacation destination in the beginning of August. My family was sure they would melt in the heat, and I had to cajole them with promises of daily ice cream outings and a hotel room next to the pool. But in the midst of the stark, dry landscape, we discovered these timeless lessons:

A change of scenery creates a new inner perspective. Our three-hour flight from Chicago brought us from a humid, muggy, and flat landscape to a terrain of cactus-pocked mountains, arid rolling desert and hiking paths framed by red dirt. Arizona is as different from Illinois in topography as an elephant is from a shark. A two-hour time difference showed us how vastly disparate reality can be; no ONE perspective or viewpoint is the absolute truth.  All we know and feel is influenced by our surroundings.

Beauty, danger and sustenance co-exist naturally. During our tour to the Grand Canyon, we learned that certain cactus bloom with vibrant, gorgeous flowers that dot the desert with fiery color. Other succulents contain a toxin that can create illness and even death in other creatures. And others contain enough moisture to keep a lost hiker alive for days. Those things that scare or amaze us can be our savior as easily as they can be our ruin. 

Risk can bring reward. Hiking the trails of the Grand Canyon is arduous and even frightening at times. I considered turning back when the temperature rose above 110 degrees, and the path narrowed to a foot-wide ledge dipping dangerously into a steep decline. But when the guide urged me to continue through a low-hanging arch, I was gifted by eons-old pictographs etched into the canyon's face, images of animals, fish, human handprints left by our ancestors. Pushing past my fear and fatigue brought me a sense of connection to generations past that I could have easily missed.