Different factors divide society: money, race, culture, religion, values and education despite the advent of connectivity and campaigns on acceptance of diversity. Despite the emergence of progressive thinking, numerous people will always create an affinity to something familiar and closer to their characteristics and history, and this is completely fine. It is fundamental human right. Because diversity is a part of your culture, it is wise to be critical of one’s behaviors, which may seem harmless and innocent at first glance but would turn out disrespectful to others. One good example is the importance of coming to terms with your idea of class privilege and deconstruct your expectations about friends who come from poor and work-class backgrounds concerning financial wealth.
Suicide deaths and attempts are alarmingly increasing in number every year both in the youth and adult groups. In fact, research shows that it is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
Art has been defined by so many people in so many different ways. Some may adapt the dictionary definition of art and state that it is a creative skill. Others may get quite emotional and devotedly express “Art is life; without it, I am nothing.”
You might have heard of art therapy and how it’s lauded as one of the most effective tools for healing from mental disorders and emotional instability. But you might doubt if this form of therapy fits an inartistic you. Well, art therapy is more than just painting and drawing. Read on to find out more about it!
Group therapy doesn’t have to be discussions about feelings and personal experiences. There are several ways in which you can spice up your group therapy sessions. Read on to find out different exciting ideas on how to make the group therapy more fun and productive. Psychotherapist Ali Miller, MFT said, “[T]here is encouragement to both talk about your life outside the group and also to talk about the dynamics within the group.”
- Art Therapy
According to a study, art therapy was successful. This therapy has helped its participants in the areas of perception, personal integration, emotion regulation, behavior, and insight and comprehension. “Art Therapy gives voice to clients’ experience and stories, as well as provides empowerment for their lives,” says Elena Lamaak, MA, LMHC.
Holding a group art therapy is not as difficult as it might seem. You and your group may hold a painting session or a pottery class. Art has been a frequently used mode of expression for people. In art, participants can express their emotions and experiences that they couldn’t do so in words.
Centering on culture can be a great way to start your group therapy sessions. Discussing culture can promote tolerance, challenge perceptions, and learn more from each other. Interestingly, researchers found out that some cultures are more friendly to mental health and illnesses than others.
If you want to discuss different cultures in your group therapy, host an adult version of a show-and-tell. To do this, ask your participants to bring a token that represents their family culture or history. Then, have each one of the participants explain what these tokens mean. You can also give a portion of the time for the participants to ask questions to each other.
Music brings everyone together, so this is a good idea to start your group therapy session. Similar to art therapy, music therapy allows people to express their thoughts and feelings that couldn’t usually be expressed in words. Moreover, it is found that music actually reduces stress. Before, it is believed that music strengthens bonds, connects people spiritually, and fosters group cohesion. “Music has such a large impact on our lives! It crosses cultures, age groups and has an effect on everyone. It can make you smile, dance, sing, cry, instantly recall memories like they were yesterday and process emotion.” As explained by Abigail Saneholtz, Psy.D.
To start a music therapy, just bring a guitar and let the music do its thing. You may sing popular songs or make your own lyrics. Encourage your participants to bring an instrument of their own. Also, try to give compliments along the way. Some participants get shy because they think they’re not good at singing or playing the instruments. But, most of the time, that’s not true.
This is an activity from the Lesley University. Lifeline is an activity that lets participants review their life and see how far they have come. It is effortless to do and only requires a pen and a piece of paper.
To do the activity, a participant must make two points on the paper, labeled ‘birth’ and ‘now.’ They must be connected by a straight line. On that line, identify three high points and three low points of your life. Then, join these points with a zigzag line. After accomplishing this, have each of the participants explain what they drew and what it means to them.
This is a fun activity that allows each participant to reflect on what the right thing to do is. First, have your participants discuss Kohlberg’s six stages of morality. Then, make a book of laws regarding this discussion, including at least one page on these topics:
- World Laws
- School Laws
- Society Laws
- Romantic Relationship Laws
- Friendship Laws
- Self Laws
- Family Laws
There are several ways to make your group therapies more fun and effective. If you are looking for more ideas, then don’t hesitate to try one of these methods.
According to Marla W. Deibler, PsyD, “It’s ‘normal’ to experience some degree of anxiety when stressors are unfamiliar, unpredictable, or imminent.” Anxiety is very evident in young professionals. These young professionals are struggling to find contentment and happiness in their work in the era of social media.
Are you one of those people who was thrown into the cruel world after graduation, with no chance even to find your place? If you were struggling with finances as I was, you will find yourself lucky if you were able to find any work that would give even minimum salary.
Once you open your social media account, you instantly become envious of the posts of your friends who had it better financially. Your anxiety builds up when you see your friends chilling out at the beach and living the jet-setter life, while you’re still stuck in the office. Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist explains the scenario by stating, “Think about what our devices have done to the fabric of our society. When you go to a restaurant, you’ll see an entire family on their phones. While I’m sure [the rise in social anxiety] is a combination of many factors, I think all of us intuitively understand that it has something to do with technology.”
You’re working for five years already but you feel as if you’re already lost twenty years of your life. At the end of the day, even after giving your all, you feel that you’re still at the bottom of the food chain. You’re feeling burnt-out because of pressures from your boss and co-workers, and there’s a bleak chance at promotion.
How can you alleviate anxiety in a world that glorifies only the best? How can you be your personal best at your own pace? Read up and know how.
Maintain Work-Life Balance
You should be able to strike the right balance between work and your personal life. They say all work and no play makes a person dull.
- Enjoy Your Weekends!
Are you always the last one to leave the office? Are you accepting calls from your superior even after office hours? Scared that you will be laid off if you don’t receive work on the weekends?
Think of your personal welfare first. You should be the one to set limits. No one will be able to fight for you unless you do it yourself. Use your weekends to recharge and engage in activities that excite you. Working even on the weekends will increase your anxiety and make you susceptible to burnout. “A number of studies have shown that taking time away from the job can have physical and psychological health benefits. People who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve goals.” That is according to Shannon Torberg, PsyD, LP.
- Reconnect With Family And Friends
When was the last day you were out with your friends? Without really thinking about the pending work you have at the office?
Appreciate the time spent with friends and family. Live in the moment! Don’t spend too much time on social media and being anxious about taking the best pictures. Or thinking about the pending work at the office.
Seek Expert Advice
Upon starting this journey towards a better you, it is essential that a medical professional will be able to monitor your progress. If you know you’re feeling anxious all the time, a medical professional will be able to diagnose if you’re suffering from a specific condition.
Set a schedule with a medical professional. This will definitely help you in the long-run.
Live Life At Your Own Pace
Be happy for your friends who are enjoying their life now. You will also get to enjoy yours, sooner or later. You should be able to understand that people have their own timelines.
Think back of your struggles from three years ago. You will be able to realize that you have improved a lot. Using this method often will make you grateful for your journey. Remember that everyone has their own kind of struggle. Don’t worry if you’re struggling a lot now.
Art comes in innumerable forms. As explained by Douglas Mitchell, LMFT, “There are various uses for art therapy with regards to healing, but the benefits may surprise you if you’ve never heard of art as a form of therapy.” It has been long defined by so many different people, in so many different ways. Countless purposes have been enumerated. And today, one emerging purpose continuously being explored is to heal.
“Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act.” Catherine Cleveland M.S., LMHC-P said. Mental health is an aspect that is now being given attention and importance. It has been a very sensitive topic that has been avoided for so long. Further, mental health has been a deeply misunderstood condition, often, given a direct relation to mental hospitals and craziness.
Very similar to art, mental health gives rise to different meanings for different people. It may be as complicated as shaking and screaming at the sight of something that triggers a miserable memory. Or, it may be as familiar as not having the motivation to get out of bed in the morning. Mental Health is indeed a very complicated subject that cannot be easily interpreted.
And now, the question is, how can we heal it? How can we restore a healthy mental state? Is such thing possible? We must understand first that it is different for many people. As we’ve read in many BetterHelp articles, what may work for some may not work for others. That this is the way a person copes, while this utterly alien technique is how another person copes. And that it is fine.
Rising to quick judgments about this will not truly help the person. In fact, it may just discourage that person. We must understand that we have been endowed with different minds, that we all think in our own unique ways–in our personal capacities and speeds. And that there is nothing we can do about it but to embrace it–to develop it.
Art And Mental Health: Connected
Now, how can we connect art and mental health? In 2004, “creativity in counseling” was finally formalized within the American Counseling Association (ACA) as its 19th Division. This formalization gave birth to the Association for Creativity in Counseling (ACC). But long before this event, creative approaches to treatment have been applied by so many psychiatrists and counselors. And this exploration has led to improved communication, authentic self-expression and helped establish human potential.
In addition to this, group therapy is emerging as an efficient way for people to heal. The addition of several fresh perspectives from people with similar experiences helps patients cope. This method acts as a support group–a network of people with similar experiences yet dissimilar opinions.
Further, the support network helped generate relief for people and gave assurance that you are not alone in fighting for mental health. Often, people are afraid to open up and think that they are “weird” or “different,” when in fact, there are people out there who undergo the same experiences. And this kind of therapy helps foster a mutual connection between patients and result in rewarding experiences.
Now that we have established that, what course of action should we take? Explore. Let us take this opportunity to explore this method to help contribute to a better, healthy state of mind. “Negative thoughts are just a part of life, but they don’t have to consume you. Instead of trying to ignore those thoughts altogether, try countering them with positive statements.” Licensed clinical psychologist John Mayer, Ph.D. said.
Yes, it is an endless chain of possibilities. Yes, different people think differently and cope differently. But these dissimilarities are what makes us similar. This is a proof that we are all unique–in our own special way. And that each and every uniqueness possessed by each and every one of us are equally important.
When the going gets tough, and the tough gets going, we often find ourselves lost. With just barely existing, barely breathing, the bitter agony hits us hard- we have no one to talk to. Instead, we fear that we have no one to talk to so we shut ourselves out. We lock our rooms. We put on our headphones and sulk into the abyss of despair and overthinking.
One of the oft-cited reasons why people don’t seek therapy is money. Treatment costs a lot, especially when looking at therapists’ hourly rates which can range from as high as $100 to $250 per hour. Immediately, people assume they cannot afford to get professional help, so they stop making efforts for their mental health altogether.
However, there are still many ways you can take care of your mental health even if a therapist might not be an option for you now.
Build Your Support Network
It is highly beneficial for anyone struggling with their mental health to have their trusted circle. Caring for your mental health in total isolation is not only extremely difficult but can also cause you to spiral down even more. Even if you find yourself to be introverted, you will still need support from other people. For this, make sure a nurturing support network surrounds you. These people can also offer you some good advice or provide companionship during a difficult time. Even without a therapist, you will reap the same benefits from your support system. “While many therapists are qualified to treat common challenges such as anxiety or depression, if you are interested in working with a specialist to address a specific challenge, you should consider looking out-of-network.” Stacy Donn Cristo, LMHC emphasizes.
For some, exercising keeps them sane much more than trimming their body in shape. Therapists even recommend exercise or any sort of physical activity since they release endorphins. Endorphins act as happy hormones for your brain, reducing the feeling of pain and triggering positivity in your body. By exercising, you will lower stress hormones and help your mind by working your body. “For starters, exercise releases endorphins, the body’s “feel-good hormones,” that can calm the mind and relax the body.” Clinical psychologist Jenny C. Yip, PsyD said. The better you feel outside, the better you will feel inside.
Eat Healthy Food
The importance of a balanced diet goes beyond nutrition; it is also essential for our mental health. Eating healthy food is vital for self-care as it allows you to feel better physically and even emotionally. Eating foods that are rich in fiber and protein will help keep sugar levels stable and will thus help stabilize anxiety too. In the same manner, complex carbohydrates promote serotonin in the brain, which can regulate your mood, sleep, and appetite. “Eating healthfully, exercising regularly and getting a good night’s sleep are all important elements in a mentally and physically healthy life.” A reminder from Staci Lee Schnell, MS, CS, LMFT.
Additionally, avoiding food that can trigger negative emotions can also be beneficial for you. Foods containing caffeine and sugar mimic the processes of anxiety, so avoiding these might help. To test these pieces of advice, try observing how you feel after eating certain foods as it might surprise how it affects you.
Utilize Online Resources
Even if you can’t afford a therapist, there are online materials you are free to access to help you maintain your mental health. Admittedly, it might not be the complete replacement for a therapist, but it can immensely help you when you need to clear your mind.
Therapist blogs exist online, and actual therapists talk about topics that can serve as guide for their clients. You can easily research these and find therapists who are experts in the kind of issue you’re dealing with. You may opt to subscribe to their newsletter, keep track of their posts, or follow their social media for advice.
Aside from blogs, there are now also additional options like podcasts or YouTube channels ran by clinicians themselves. Try subscribing in these; this way; you can somehow enjoy the benefits of a therapist without the costly rate.
A therapist can certainly help you face your problems, but that’s not the only option. There are various options that don’t require you to spend money you might not have. Take the suggestions above into consideration and see what works best for you. Remember, taking care of your mental health doesn’t have to cost so much.
“Addiction develops over time, as a person continues to use a substance and grows more dependent on it.” says Hailey Shafir, LPCS, LCAS, CCS-I. Getting over an addiction is quite difficult, especially when there is a high possibility that you could experience relapse after trying to quit. It is as if you have no way out once you start to become addicted to drinking alcoholic beverages, smoking cigarettes, or using illegal substances. However, this does not imply that there is nothing you could do to fight the occurrence of relapse in your sober life. Fortunately, there is still a chance that you could continue to live a happy and healthy life through relapse prevention therapy.
What Is Relapse?
Relapse refers to the urge to go back to something that you have been addicted to after saying “no” to it. It occurs when you encounter experiences or recall memories that will make you want to resort to becoming an addict again. Individuals who have gone through rehabilitation programs usually experience this urge. Even if they have already enjoyed sobriety, it is possible that they will go back to their old ways such as substance abuse or alcohol addiction. However, it is significant to point out that the longer a person has remained sober, the lower he experiences a relapse. “Admitting you have a problem is the first step in treating your addiction.” That is according to Dr. Howard Samuels, PsyD.
What Is Relapse Prevention Therapy?
There are several forms of cognitive behavior therapy, one of which is relapse prevention therapy. “Cognitive behavioral therapy, often shortened to CBT, focuses on recognizing negative thought patterns and changing thoughts and behaviors and feelings through concrete skills.” explains Hannah Goodman, LMHC. This kind of treatment has been designed to help people work on maintaining a sober and healthy lifestyle after overcoming addiction. Therapists use this to encourage their clients to completely let go of the bad habits that they are addicted to. At the same time, these professionals also help the clients get a full understanding of the adverse effects of addiction and how they could fight possible relapses in the future.
What Are The Techniques Used?
Take note that the approach used by a therapist varies from one case to another. No exact two clients go through the same programs designed by their chosen therapist. Addiction comes in different forms or types. For this reason, each case contains unique circumstances, symptoms or effects. As such, an excellent therapist works hard in creating personalized approach or technique for each client. Here are some of the common approaches:
- Determine the possible causes for the condition of the client
- Look into the available factors that could lead to relapse
- Identify the pattern of relapse and the interval of the occurrences
- Encouraging the client to think of the positive effects of successfully quitting from addiction
- Reminding the client of the adverse effects of addiction
- Helping a client understand the situation and why relapse takes place
- Checking into the reasons why previous cases of relapse occurred
- Creating a treatment plan that will continually motivate the client to fight relapse.
Trying to prevent relapse is challenging, especially when there are temptations everywhere. Do not feel bad in case you experience one because it is only typical once you quit on the item that resulted in your addiction. Luckily, you can try relapse prevention therapy. Be sure to find a therapist whom you can be comfortable with. Let him help you complete overcome addiction.