We can’t hate ourselves into a version of ourselves we love.
I was honored to be able to present my thesis research at OHSU’s Department of Psychiatry Grand Rounds
RETAIN THE PUBLIC INTEREST LOAN FORGIVENESS PROGRAM IN ITS CURRENT FORM BY FORGIVING ALL QUALIFYING STUDENT LOAN DEBT | We the People: Your Voice in Our Government
Please repost as we still need almost 70K signatures by April 5th! Tell the President not to cap loan forgiveness! So many student are counting on these programs to help them pay off their mounting student loan debt!
Tattoos can be added to ones body for a myriad of reasons, but I fully support tattoos as personal, therapeutic reminders. Check out the link above for several other examples of ways you can give yourself a permanent and loving therapeutic reminder.
Only go as fast as the slowest part of you.
By Megan Hale
February 18, 2014
SOURCE: Mind Body Green
Being a therapist can be an amazing profession full of challenges, heartaches, and celebration. We see you at your worst and see you at your best, but there is no better reward to see you succeed. Here are 10 aspects of the therapeutic relationship that are either unknowns or common misconceptions. I hope this clarifies what you can expect from working with a therapist.
1. I don’t think you’re crazy.
I think you are amazingly unique trying to find your way in the world. None of us is perfect and I surely don’t expect you to be anywhere close to mastery when you’re learning new skills to change your life. Effective change usually requires trial and lots of errors. It means you’re trying! Plus, if I think you’re being irrational, I’ll tell you.
2. Trust is everything.
Your ability to connect with me will be the number one factor determining how well we work together. If you don’t feel like you click with me after a few sessions, it’s OK to let me know and seek out a different therapist. We all need different things and my main priority is for you to achieve your goals.
3. My job is not to psychoanalyze you.
My job is to be curious and to help you gain more understanding. A good therapist doesn’t claim to have all the answers for why you are the way you are although we may have some ideas that we will willingly share with you. When it comes to getting answers and more understanding, we will form hypotheses together and you will come to your own conclusions. A therapist facilitates that process. They don’t tell you how to think/believe/act.
4. I’m not here to give you advice.
I’m here to share my knowledge with you and help you make your own decisions that are balanced, rational, and well-explored. Strengthening your own reasoning and decision-making skills will increase your independence and self-esteem. Win-win!
5. Work through your emotions with me instead of quitting, anger included.
Therapy is the perfect place to learn how to express your feelings. That’s what I’m here for, to give you a space to try out new ways of being, thinking, and feeling. Take advantage of this. When we learn how to work through our negative emotions with others, it increases our relationship skills and makes us more comfortable with voicing our hurts. This is a necessary component to maintaining relationships and managing your emotions in a healthy way.
6. I expect you to slide backward to old behavior patterns and I’m not here to judge you.
Most people judge themselves enough for at least two people. I encourage my clients to come clean. It’s only through acknowledging our steps backward that we can figure out what’s standing in the way so that you can catapult forward. Relapse is VERY common and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
7. You deserve to be happy.
Happiness is not reserved for special people. Everyone has regrets, things we wish we never would have done, people we’ve hurt along the way, people who have hurt us either intentionally or unintentionally. I’m a firm believer that we can heal our wounds and step into happiness. You deserve it just as much as the next person.
8. I can’t “fix” your life or your problems. Only you can.
I can help you gain more clarity, more understanding, and form a plan of action, but therapy is not a magic pill that erases all issues. It takes work, but if you’re up for the challenge, I’ll be there every step of the way!
9. The quickest way from point A to point B is action.
If you continue to come to therapy without putting any new behaviors or thoughts into action, progress will be a slow process for you. The path to action is different for everyone, but if you never do anything different, you’ll never get a different result. You’re the only one who can decide to take action. You hold all the power.
10. I want you to have the life you want.
I know your struggles, your dreams, your insecurities. There is nothing I want more for you than for you to bring your dreams into reality, push through your fears, and have the life you want. Your success is the ultimate gift to a therapist!
People come to therapy for all kinds of reasons. Usually people are experiencing a moderate level of discomfort in their lives and have noticed a toll on their work/school performance and in their relationships. Beginning therapy can be scary for some as they are showing a willingness to face tough topics, but for others, it’s a huge relief to finally be taking action to move in a different direction.
Therapy isn’t always easy, but I think it’s the most worthwhile gift you can give yourself. Find someone you trust and who puts you at ease. The relationship you build with your therapist is the most important aspect of all.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
By Brandon W. Peach
February 20, 2014
Depression and anxiety tend to be some of those touchy subjects that are tough to tackle from a Christian perspective.
It’s not complicated just because the illnesses themselves are so complex, manifesting themselves in myriad ways, but also because perspectives about mental disorders vary greatly throughout the Church.
This isn’t to paint the Church with broad strokes. Incorrect beliefs about mental illness are pervasive throughout our culture. However, some of the “church-y” misconceptions about clinical depression and anxiety spring from a genuine desire to understand them scripturally. It’s necessary to generalize a bit to understand these attitudes: there are things well-meaning Christians tend to get wrong.
Of course, there is way more information about anxiety and depression than what can be summed up in one article, so it’s certainly worth doing more research on the subject. But if we as the Church are going to start talking about these issues, here are a few things we should know:
1. Depression isn’t what the Church sometimes makes it out to be.
It’s not a character defect, a spiritual disorder or an emotional dysfunction. And chief of all, it’s not a choice. Asking someone to “try” not being depressed is tantamount to asking someone who’s been shot to try and stop bleeding. Such an attitude can dangerously appear in the Church as, “if only you had enough faith.”
[DEPRESSION] IS NOT A CHARACTER DEFECT, A SPIRITUAL DISORDER OR AN EMOTIONAL DYSFUNCTION. AND CHIEF OF ALL, IT’S NOT A CHOICE.
Cue the record scratch for any Christian regarding matters of healing. Having faith in God’s ability to heal is hugely important, and personal faith can help ease depression. But to deny medical or psychiatric treatment to someone suffering from mental illness is really no different than denying them to someone with a physical illness. The difference between the two is that the former is invisible.
Speaking of the invisible, some faith traditions are quick to suggest demonic attack as the cause for depression. While I’m convinced that there’s definitely a spiritual element—the enemy will exploit any weakness—medical science holds that major depressive disorder is real and the causes are manifold.
2. Mental illness is not a sin.
Yes, sins in the past like physical abuse, substance abuse and neglect may contribute to depression, and these sins often continue as coping mechanisms to those suffering from mental illnesses. Yet this doesn’t make the sufferer of depression and anxiety a sinner simply for experiencing the crushing effects of their condition.
What happens when mental illness is treated as an unconfessed, unaddressed sin is alienation. Viewing depression as a sin in and of itself prevents individuals from seeking treatment. It also ignores the fact that many Christians may respond to depression in unhealthy ways if the root cause is ignored or misunderstood.
3. The Bible doesn’t provide “easy answers.”
The Word is full of wisdom and encouragement for those suffering from depression and anxiety disorders, but it doesn’t come in one-verse doses. “Be anxious for nothing” and “do not worry about your life” can easily be taken out of context, which is problematic. First (and importantly), doing so fails to appropriately handle Scripture, carelessly misconstruing the larger intent of the passages.
Another really scary thing this does is it can convince a person in the worst throes of their illness that they’re not obeying God. Add that to what feels like the inability just to be – every shaky breath hurts and getting out of bed is impossible – and you’ve thrown gasoline onto the fire.
A true examination of depression and anxiety in the Bible shows the existential dread that accompanies the illnesses instead of an easy out, one-and-done antidote. God’s hand isn’t always apparent. As Dan Blazer pointed out in Christianity Today, “most of us have no idea what David meant when he further lamented, ‘I am forgotten by them as though I were dead.’ Severe depression is often beyond description.”
Rather than prescribing a bit of a verse divorced from its context, a better strategy is to look at those instances of mental suffering along with the Church body and to offer comfort in the fact that even the saints struggled.
4. Anxiety and depression don’t look how we often think.
When I’ve opened up to Christian friends about my own depression and anxiety disorders, they’re often surprised. “You seem so happy all the time!” Depressed people become really good at hiding their symptoms, even from doctors, because of the stigma attached to the illness. Churches often don’t address mental illness, which gives the worship team guitarist or the elder even more incentive to keep it hidden away. Furthermore, the symptoms of depression often tend to contradict each other, which makes it really difficult for a person suffering from depression to recognize it for what it is—let alone for the Church to recognize it.
“Learning to recognize the signs” then is often a failing strategy. If churches begin responding to mental disorders as a community willing to offer encouragement and support, people suffering from those illnesses may just be able to accept the help. It may just be people you never expected.
5. Strong churches don’t “fix” depression.
CHRIST, THE GREAT PHYSICIAN, CAME TO HEAL THE SICK. AS HIS BODY, IT’S TIME THE CHURCH LEADS SOCIETY IN HELPING TO DO THE SAME.
Given all of the above, it’s easy to understand how the stigma related to depression, even in the Church, will prevent people from seeking Christian guidance and support. The most Christ-loving and helpful community might not have the appropriate framework for dealing with such clinical disorders, and many churches don’t have licensed psychologists on the staff. Pastoral staff can be ill-equipped to deal with depression and err toward a spiritual solution rather than psychological or medical treatment.
Even churches that seek to provide a safe haven for those suffering in their midst might not have a judgment-free place to discuss their struggles. Programs like Celebrate Recovery can provide an invaluable forum for people to interact with others who experience “hurts, habits, and hangups,” and can help deal with some of the self-medication many people with depression and anxiety use to numb themselves. Without a carefully planned strategy to deal with mental illness, though, “all are welcome” might not be enough. Healing comes from a prayerful, loving community that seeks to truly understand major depressive disorder and related conditions, and one that develops a positive response.
Most churches probably have the very best intentions when dealing with issues of mental illness. Like the rest of society, however, the Church may misinterpret these clinical conditions and respond to them in ways that exacerbate them—and as a result, demoralize those suffering. Christ, the Great Physician, came to heal the sick. As His body, it’s time the Church leads society in helping to do the same.