Yearly Mental Health Checkup

You are supposed to get a yearly physical, right? What about a yearly mental? 🙂 How many people check their mental health on a yearly basis–even if there does not seem to be a problem? Few people actually do this. However, I can think of at least one of my friends that does something like this.

Why go for a mental health exam if you do not need it? There are so many people that have stress creep up on them without seeing it. This is a great way to use the help of a professional to see if stress is becoming an issue. Also, it is a great time to look at what successes you have had the past year and what you need to accomplish.

Once you start a dialogue with a mental health professional, you will likely be surprised at the successes you have had and also those challenges that may benefit from a bit of consultation.

Marriage Counseling

People often come to me for marriage counseling. Actually, I prefer to call it couples counseling because I see all types of couples- many who do not fit into that marriage category.

I come from the perspective that both people in the relationship have some responsibility for the good things in the relationship, as well as the bad stuff. Often I get a partner in the relationship or marriage who states that it is all the other person’s fault. As we talk more, it becomes more and more apparent to both people that there is responsibility on each side.

In a typical marriage counseling or couples therapy session, I help the pair find their strengths in the relationship, as well as what they need to work on. Often, there is a focus on communication skills. Once the communication improves, the rest of of the relationship often follows. I also help to facilitate communication between the couple. Maybe there is a topic that is so touchy that it cannot be discussed without a huge fight. I can help by acting as the moderator. We’ll all handle it in a therapeutic way.

I offer extended sessions for marriage counseling and couples therapy. Often, the standard 45 minutes session is not enough. I have the option of a two hour session to help you get down to business.

Skype Therapy

Skype is a unique way to provide therapy services for many different reasons. Just think about the ease of having a therapy session without leaving the house. It also increases privacy because you know no one will see you in a waiting room or walking into a clinic. It is also important to mention that you save time and travel expenses.

Skype allows for both the client and therapist to see and hear one another via the internet. Although face to face therapy is usually the most beneficial, Skype is a great alternative due to its flexibility and (usually) high quality of voice and video. I prefer a skype call over a telephone call because it really does sound much more clear!

Many people are often leery of a Skype session and would rather make office visits. I invite you to talk with me for a free 15 minute mini-session to see how you like it.

Anger management, stress management, sexuality issues and even couples therapy are all great topics for Skype therapy.

Getting the Most out of Skype Therapy

When clients talk with me via phone or Skype, there are often things they can do to better their experience. I want you to get the most out of your session, so please look over these tips.

Tips for bettering your session:

  • Treat this session the same as you would if you were in my office.
  • Put the appointment on your calendar so it is not a surprise when I call you! (this happens a lot)
  • Make sure you are in a quiet place, which is free from distractions.
  • Don’t drive and talk!
  • Keep yourself focused during the discussion…don’t try to do housework or surf the web.
  • Give yourself 30 minutes before and after the session to think about our discussion.
  • If you disagree with something I say, speak your mind! The last thing I want is for you to just quit talking with me because you are upset. Who knows, maybe I misheard you, which caused my response to be wrong.
  • Remember that some body language is missed over Skype (and all of it on the phone), so please don’t be afraid to be more verbally expressive.

Am I Normal?

Given that people come to see me because there is something not quite right in their life (or so they think), I see a lot of people asking if they are “normal.” This is such an interesting question. Actually, I do not claim to know the definition of “normal” and I don’t think anyone does.

Most of us want to fit in. However, we all do things that are considered to be “abnormal.” So, I suppose that none of us are considered “normal,” for that matter. I certainly don’t consider myself “normal!”

Since everyone has his or her quirks, this is really a fantastic thing. Could you imagine if everyone was exactly the same? It would be a rather boring place and life’s goal post would be mighty crowded. For those who are really focused on trying to figure out if they are “normal” or how to be “normal,” I ask why this is so important to them. The answer to this question usually identifies the real struggle the person is having.

My take on human behavior is this: If your behavior is causing a problem, then it is a problem. If your behavior is different from many you know, but there is no obvious problem, then who cares? As a result of our society being so focused on fitting in, we often lose our individuality. This is a mighty sad thing. Just think how great diversity is. Dr. Alfred Kinsey, who many believe is the first person to scientifically study sex, emphasized how diversity is so important to every organism. He embraced the differences in human beings and did his best to encourage others to respect individual differences.

The next time you ask yourself if you are “normal” or if you should be “normal” or how you can be “normal,” Stop It! What good is “normal?” If you are enjoying yourself and not hurting anyone, then be who you are. Isn’t life much better when you are being yourself, instead of trying to just be like everyone else?

Am I Trying Too Hard?

Do this technique to stop depression. Do that technique to stop your panic attacks. Try this approach to calm your mind. Not only does there seem to be exercises to address all issues known to humanity, but there are several experts who write self help books to tell you what you are doing wrong.

Think about this. Maybe you are trying too hard. Maybe you are actually sabotaging yourself because you are trying so hard to “beat” the problem. The more you focus on that problem, the more you will experience it.

I urge my clients to “roll” with the problem they may be experiencing. Maybe say, “I have this problem and I’m going to live with it—its not the end of the world. Its not life threatening. What’s the worst that can happen.” No, you are not giving in. You are allowing the problem to have less weight. Now, it is more likely it will fade to the background because you are focused on better things in your life.

Here are a few things you can say to yourself to address anxiety. They are taken from REBT:

  • My anxiety is bad, but I’m not bad.
  • I don’t always have to feel comfortable, and it isn’t awful when I don’t.
  • I can bear—and bear with—anxiety: it won’t kill me.
  • It is not necessary to be in perfect control of my anxious moments. To demand that I be in control only multiplies my symptoms.
  • Others are not required to treat me with kid gloves when I feel uncomfortable.

Research ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) for more ideas.

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