Archive for About Counseling

Dec
19

Supplements to Therapy

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In addition to participating in therapy, there are many other things you could do to boost your mental and emotional wellness.  Not all these ideas are right for everybody, so pick those ideas that would help you most, and that are most relevant for you.  Can you think of more ideas?

1. Educating Yourself

There’s only so much that can be discussed in one therapy hour per week.  You might want to find more information, ideas, or insights.  Learning about the topic you’re struggling with will help you to stay focused on your therapy work between sessions, and provide helpful reminders about what’s effective and recommended versus ineffective and harmful.  To get information you could:

  • Read books and magazines
  • Find websites, online articles, blogs, discussion boards, forums or chat rooms (being careful about your sources)
  • Join FaceBook groups or become a fan of mental wellness pages on social networking sites like FaceBook
  • Follow mental health information sources on Twitter
  • Watch TV shows, documentaries and videos
  • Join list-serves that will automatically e-mail you newsletters or posts
  • Subscribe to websites using an RSS feed
  • Talk to others who have experienced similar difficulties

2. Medication

Although therapy has been shown to help in the vast majority of cases, some people want (or need) additional relief.  They may be too emotionally overwhelmed to fully engage in therapy.  If therapy feels too intense, or if therapy doesn’t seem to be helping enough, then you might consider also taking medication.  The combination of medication and counseling has a better chance of helping than just counseling or just medication alone.  Medication is probably the most common supplement to therapy (or you could also say that therapy can be a supplement to medication).  Let your therapist or your primary doctor know if you’d like to find out more about psychotropic medications, or if you’d like a referral to a psychiatrist.

3. Physical Self-Care

Use your time in therapy as a time to emphasize self-care in general.  By maximizing your physical wellness, you also enhance your mental wellness.  You could:

  • Exercise (This is a biggie!  Many great benefits.)
  • Improve your nutrition and/or take supplements
  • Rest by pacing yourself, taking breaks and getting adequate and regular sleep
  • Avoid substance abuse
  • See your primary doctor to rule out or address possible medical causes for your symptoms
  • See your primary doctor to address any physical ailments or pain that may be adding to your stress
  • Take medication as prescribed (don’t skip doses or take more than prescribed)

4. Supportive Relationships

Stay in touch with your natural support system during therapy.  Try to maintain at least three points of social support.  Talk to your support system about your challenges and your efforts to cope.  You may want to tell them that you are in therapy and how it is helping you.  Also nurture and deepen your relationships by helping others, by having fun together, and by making an effort to understand others.  People you may want to consider talking to include family, friends, a pastor or teacher, a support group, or online support.

5. Spiritual Community or Practice

Many people get meaningful inspiration and support through their spiritual community, or through personal spiritual practice.  You could:

  • Pray
  • Read religious or inspirational books or articles
  • Attend or participate in worship or other religious activities
  • Get to know friends from your spiritual community
  • Talk to a pastor or other religious leader
  • Listen to or play/sing spiritual music
  • Watch inspirational TV or listen to talk radio, podcasts, or audiobooks
  • Visit religious or spiritual places (or websites)

6. Journaling or Logging

Many people find it helpful to journal or to keep a log about their feelings, any behaviors they are trying to change, accomplishments, or about events in their lives.  It’s a great way to become more mindful, to check in with yourself, to vent, to challenge thinking errors, and to clarify your thoughts.

7. Creating Positive Experiences

Positive activities will enrich your life and counter-balance some of the pain or negative emotions life inevitably includes.  Here are some examples.

  • Engage in hobbies and learn about things that interest you
  • Work toward meaningful goals and life dreams
  • Develop enjoyable routines (like a cup of tea after work)
  • Seek out the beautiful (like music, a museum or a sunset)
  • Do recreational activities that are fun to you
  • Spend time in nature
  • Do something creative (photography, writing, music, etc.)
  • Volunteer (with animals, kids, the sick, the poor, etc.)
  • Spend time with people who care about you, and whom you care about

8. Light Therapy

For some types of depression, it may be helpful to try light therapy along with counseling.  Specific exposures to certain types of light can trigger changes in your body that could help you to feel better.  Ask your therapist or psychiatrist if you’d like to learn more about this.

9. Positive Thinking

One of the things you and your therapist may work on is challenging automatic negative thoughts and increasing positive thoughts.  You can also practice this on your own by regularly counting your blessings, noticing what is going well, acknowledging your strengths, using reminders to cue yourself to think positive, or repeating affirmations to yourself.  You could also find affirmations online, in books and in music.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC. If you are receiving my posts by e-mail, and have trouble viewing any videos, please click on the title of the post in order to view it on my website.

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Jul
24

10 Tips for Getting the Most out of Counseling

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If you’re spending precious time and money on counseling, you probably want to get as much out of it as possible.  These ten tips can help you get the most out of counseling services.

1. Be open and honest:

Be open and honest with your counselor.  Holding back information and avoiding painful issues would make it very difficult for your counselor to help you.  It may be scary at first to open up about certain things, or to admit to certain problems, but it will help you in the long run.  The fact that your counselor is not involved in other areas of your life, and that your communication is confidential by law, should make it easier to open up.

2. Take an active part in the therapy process:

It is important that you see therapy as a collaborative process, where you and your counselor work together.  The work that you do in therapy is an internal type of work that happens inside you… somewhere that only you have access (your thoughts, feelings, decisions, etc.).  Your counselor can help you understand what is going on inside you, why you feel what you feel, why you do what you do, and what your options are for coping and for improving things.  They can also offer emotional support while you work through these things.  But you are the only person who can actually decide how you will use those insights, principles, or ideas.  You are in charge of your life, and ultimately you need to make your own decisions and/or changes.  In other words, don’t just passively wait for the counselor to “fix” you.  One way to take an active part in the therapy process is to think ahead about what you’d like to focus on in your next session, or what you’d like to get out of it, and to tell your counselor.

3. Do your homework:

If you and your counselor set a specific goal for the week, or agree to have you do a specific exercise or worksheet, then do your best to follow through.  If you don’t, then make sure to discuss what got in the way.  With most skills, practice is essential.  For example, relaxation skills take many repetitions before they become effective.  Recognizing and challenging negative thinking takes a lot of practice, practice, practice.  Also, changing communication patterns doesn’t happen overnight.  Homework helps you apply what you discussed to your day-to-day life.

4. Work on yourself between sessions, even if it’s not assigned for homework:

Much of therapy work should happen between sessions.  Look for opportunities to implement new ideas, suggestions, techniques, and options.  Then you can use your sessions to process your efforts.  Also, when counseling helps you to reach insights about your life and where certain dynamics come from, watch for how those dynamics continue to play out in your day to day life.  Then you can use your sessions to process what you observed.  Don’t wait for your therapist to tell you what to do, take the initiative.

5. Don’t get too focused on the negative:

Working on your problems can cause you to focus more than usual on the difficulties in life… the things that are not going well.  Therefore it is important to intentionally remind yourself of the things that you do have, the things that you are doing well with, and the things that are going right.  You have strengths… don’t overlook those.  Recognizing your strengths can give you something to build on.

6. Stay brave:

Keep in mind that therapy is not just an easy “feel good” process.  It takes courage.  Sometimes you may experience painful emotions, remember painful memories, face painful truths, or even reconsider some of your previously held beliefs.  You might also choose to confront problematic circumstances or relationship dynamics while in therapy, which could be difficult (despite often being necessary).  Sometimes things get harder before they get easier.  Knowing that this is a normal part of therapy can help you to persevere through the rough parts.  Remember to let your therapist know if you ever feel overwhelmed by the work you are doing in counseling.  Find the right pace for yourself.

7. Give your counselor feedback:

Talk about it if you disagree with your counselor.  Let them know if you feel that therapy is not addressing what’s most important to you, or if you want to change anything about the counseling itself.  Sometimes people are hesitant to give their counselor feedback, because the counselor is “the expert.”  A counselor may indeed be an expert on psychology and coping, however, you are the expert on yourself.  If you don’t share your concerns or preferences about counseling, then the counselor won’t be aware of them.  Even if your counselor disagrees with you, it is important that you communicate about such things openly.

8. Ask for a referral if necessary:

If you feel that your current counselor is not a good match for you, or if you just don’t think you’re getting what you need, then it’s okay to ask for a referral.  We are trained professionals, we know we’re not going to click with everybody, and we should know not to take this personally.  Don’t stay in a counseling relationship that is not working for you just because you don’t want to hurt your counselor’s feelings.  What’s most important is that you get the help you need.  Don’t let a negative experience with counseling stop you from seeking help elsewhere.  Different counselors will approach things a little (sometimes very) differently.

9. Don’t get overly dependent:

It is important that you not become overly dependent on your therapist or on the counseling process.  For example, although sometimes you may want to discuss something in therapy before making a decision, don’t always put off dealing with things until your session.  Practice handling situations independently.  The idea is to work toward a time when you don’t need a counselor anymore.  Let your counselor know when you think you’re approaching that time, so that you can prepare together for you to cope once counseling ends.

10. Supplement Your Therapy:

In addition to the above, you can also supplement your therapy in a variety of ways.  Psychotropic medications can be particularly helpful, especially if you are so overwhelmed with symptoms that you can’t effectively implement ideas talked about in counseling.  Self-help reading is a great source of guidance.  Journaling can be a great way to reflect on things by yourself, or to release pent up emotions.  Logging about your efforts has been shown to improve the likelihood that you will succeed at making changes.  Other supportive relationships are important to maintain and develop.  And developing a healthy and balanced lifestyle can help you to improve emotional stability (e.g.: balanced nutrition, exercise, pacing, sleep, medical care, and avoidance of substance abuse).

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477); near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort. Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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Jan
24

Preferences and Concerns in Therapy

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Most therapists leave it up to the client to express any preferences or concerns they might have about therapy.  Usually these come out during the course of the intake evaluation.

Therapy is a Collaborative Process

I have decided to be more direct and proactive in asking about this.  I want clients to know that its okay to express their preferences, and that its normal to have some concerns about therapy.  I want my clients to know that therapy is a collaborative process, and that they should play an active role in the decisions we make about where to focus and how to work on things.

I would encourage any of my clients who didn’t receive the following questionnaire at the beginning of their services to look it over, and to bring up any preferences or concerns they feel are worth mentioning next time they see their therapist.

Preferences and Concerns Questionnaire

Your answers to the following questionnaire can help your therapist to be aware of your preferences in, and concerns about therapy, so that they may provide the most helpful services and address your concerns.

Current Preferences and Priorities

Please indicate how important each of the following preferences is to you by rating each statement according to this scale:

1 = I Don’t Want This
2 = Not Important
3 = Slightly Important
4 = Somewhat Important
5 = Very Important

1. What I want from therapy is for someone to listen to me, understand me, and be emotionally supportive.

2. What I want from therapy is for someone to give me specific advice and concrete ideas for how to deal with my situation.

3. What I want from therapy is to receive information about the problem I am dealing with, so that I can learn to understand and manage it better.

4. What I want from therapy is to focus on solving my problem and making things better for me in the present and future.

5. What I want from therapy is to focus on where my problems came from by exploring my childhood and/or other past experiences.

Concerns or Worries about Therapy

Please indicate how much of a concern each of the following is to you by rating each statement according to this scale:

1 = Not Concerning
2 = Slightly Concerning
3 = Somewhat Concerning
4 = Very Concerning

1. I’m concerned about my therapist’s competence, level of experience, age, and/or expertise.

2. I’m concerned about therapy stirring up painful feelings, memories, issues or conflicts.

3. I’m concerned about possible differences in culture, personality, politics or beliefs between myself and my therapist.

4. I’m concerned about whether therapy is really a helpful, legitimate, and/or useful thing to do.

5. I’m concerned that my therapist could have me hospitalized against my will (if I say I’m at risk of harming myself or others).

6. I’m concerned about logistical barriers to being able to attend therapy (affordability, time, transportation, mobility, technology, etc.)

7. I’m concerned about my privacy and what others might think if they knew I was in therapy.

8. I’m concerned about whether my therapist will be judgmental of me or reject me.

9. I’m concerned about possible consequences of being in therapy (impact on employment, ability to own a firearm, etc.)

Expressing Preferences, Concerns and Feedback to Your Therapist

When you share your thoughts about the above items with your therapist, they can be more effective in respecting your preferences, and in addressing your concerns.  The above items are just a starting point.  If you feel strongly about any of the above items, then you need to talk with your therapist about it, explore what it means to you, and what it means in the context of your therapy.  If your therapist doesn’t have your input about these preferences or concerns, then they can’t know to be specifically considerate of them.

One way that therapy is helpful, is as a microcosm of your relationships in general.  If you have difficulty with giving people feedback or expressing concerns in general, then it will probably be difficult for you to do so in therapy as well.  However, this creates the perfect opportunity for you to practice doing so effectively, in a safe environment, with a supportive and understanding professional.

If you’re afraid how your therapist might react, then start by saying so, and then express your thoughts.  This will give your therapist a chance to prepare themselves for whatever you might say next.  Chances are that talking about your preferences or concerns will improve your therapy experience in the long run.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park, IL (60477);  near Orland Park, Oak Forest, Orland Hills, Palos Heights, Mokena, and Frankfort.  Click here for more about Anda Jines MS LCPC.

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May
07

What to Expect In Counseling

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Anda Jines MS LCPC

Anda Jines MS LCPC

the treatment I provide may vary from client to client, based on your unique needs. I would be happy to address any questions you might have about the evaluation process or about therapy.

Mental Health Evaluation:

My evaluation consists of three or four, weekly, one-hour interview sessions, including discussion of your responses to intake questionnaires:

In the first session, I will ask you to talk about what brings you in, such as difficulties, concerns, stressors, symptoms, needs, and relevant history. This is a relatively unstructured discussion, in which you can get some things off your chest. At the end of the first session you will receive a questionnaire packet to fill out and bring back. If you are seeking couples therapy, I would like to meet with both of you for the first session.

In the second session, we will discuss your answers on the intake questionnaires and examine various factors that relate to mental health. If you are seeking couples therapy, then I would like to meet with each of you individually for the second and third sessions. If you are seeking help for medical stress, I may ask you to complete a half-hour, written assessment of your medical stress and coping methods.

In the next session, I will offer my feedback and recommendations, and we will discuss your mental-health-related goals. If we both decide to continue working together, we’ll specify a plan for working on your goals. (See treatment planning below.)

You may find it very relieving and meaningful to just tell your story, and to share what you’ve been struggling with. You may have been waiting to get things off your chest for quite a while. However, it is also possible that you may feel uncomfortable or awkward at first, especially until you get to know me better. Talking about things, even if painful, is useful in the long run, and will help you to address the problems that are troubling you.

Helping you to feel comfortable with my services:

To help you feel comfortable, I ask that you let me know about any preferences or concerns that you have about counseling, so that we can address them. It is important for you to tell me if you are ever uncomfortable with any aspect of counseling, or if what we’re doing isn’t helpful. I invite you to give me feedback throughout the counseling process. That way we can try to adjust things to better fit your needs. Counseling is a collaborative partnership between us, and I value your input. If I ever disagree about what would be most helpful, you can trust me to honestly and respectfully discuss this with you. There is no guarantee that we would always agree on the best way to approach your issues, but it is useful to openly discuss options, preferences and boundaries.

I want to assure you that all my services are voluntary. You can stop counseling at any time. Also, what we discuss will remain confidential. I follow all clinical and legal guidelines for confidentiality. You have received an explanation of privacy laws, including information about legally required exceptions to confidentiality. Please let me know if you have any questions about confidentiality.

I respect your right to choose:

After a few sessions you can decide whether I feel like a good match for you as a therapist. Finding the right therapist is an important decision, and sometimes it takes some shopping around. If you don’t think we “click,” then let me know. I will not take offense, and I will do my best to help you find another provider. What’s most important is that you get the help you need. I too will use the first few sessions to assess whether I am a good match for you as a therapist. If I conclude that I can’t help you, then I will do my best to offer you referrals to other providers.

Regardless of how long you’ve been seeing me, you may at some point want to try another therapist, or another type of help. This is fine, just let me know if you want to do this, so that we can process your transition and I can make appropriate referrals. Keep in mind though, that you should not see two different therapists at the same time, unless it’s for two very different services (such as individual vs. group vs. marital therapy).

Treatment Planning:

When we’re done with the mental health evaluation, we will create a treatment plan by writing down a few specific goals you want to work on, and we’ll discuss how we could work on them. We will decide how often we want to meet. Usually people start out meeting once or twice a week, depending on the severity of their issues. We don’t have to decide the exact length of treatment at the beginning, but it helps to discuss your expectations, preferences or limitations.

Treatment:

Usually counseling consists of weekly meetings, lasting 1 hour each. During these meetings, we will talk about your difficulties, thoughts and feelings. We will talk about whatever is troubling you each week, including stressors, relationship issues, symptoms, etc. and your efforts to manage and overcome your difficulties, with special emphasis on the goals that you have set for yourself. We may also talk about your past, and try to uncover the sources of deep-rooted problems.

I will try to help you to find ways to cope effectively, feel better, and be more satisfied and successful in life. I will strive to be a trustworthy and caring confidante, and to provide a supportive environment in which you can explore and express your thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment. I will give you feedback, emotional support, and encouragement. I will help you notice your strengths and accomplishments, reinforce positive thinking and effective coping, and share useful information with you. I may use handouts, assign “homework”, or recommend reading. Counseling is an opportunity for learning, growth, and an opportunity to try out new ideas and skills.

Because each person (or couple, or family) is unique, the treatment provided will be individually tailored. I draw on a variety of psychological theories and research, and use a variety of techniques, depending on what I believe is most appropriate and effective in each case. For couples, my approach is heavily influenced by Dr. John Gottman’s research. Your therapy may incorporate:

  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • supportive exploration
  • insight oriented therapy
  • interpersonal psychotherapy
  • emotion focused therapy
  • solution focused therapy
  • relationship work
  • developmental work
  • motivational interviewing
  • positive psychology
  • bio-psycho-social principles
  • therapeutic lifestyle change
  • psychoeducation and/or biblio-therapy
  • collaboration with other providers
  • and/or other approaches as relevant

As you start to work on your issues, you might find some relief right away, or you may find that things get more emotional or more difficult for a while before they get better. This may be because you are now actively addressing the problem. Making changes, acknowledging your emotions, and coming to realizations can be difficult work in the short run, but it is helpful in the long run. Emotional experiencing can be therapeutic in and of itself, even when the emotions are painful. However, if you feel overwhelmed with emotions, tell me so that I can help you learn to calm yourself. You may also want to give yourself some time to transition and soothe yourself after your sessions, before moving on to other tasks.

Integrative Care for Mental Health:

I believe in treating the whole person. It helps for me to collaborate with other medical providers, in order to recognize and address any physical problems that may be contributing to your mental health symptoms. Conversely, I can supplement the care you receive from other providers. This is especially important if you are receiving medication for mental health symptoms, or if you are seeing me because of medical stress.

If I have your permission, I will consult with your other provider(s) by sending them a copy of the mental health evaluation summary, including recommendations. If you elect to continue with psychotherapy, then I will send quarterly updates as well. I may also consult with your other provider(s) by phone at times, and ask for their input. Mental health topics can be sensitive, and I am mindful of that in the wording of my reports, and in my consultations with other providers. Working as a team will help us to help you feel your best!

Additionally, if you are comfortable with doing so and if it seems relevant, it may be helpful to involve family, friends, school personnel, or others in your treatment.  You may have family or friends join you in a session, you may want me to consult with school personnel, and/or we may talk about how to most effectively involve others in your treatment.

Treatment Plan Reviews:

I like to check in every three months to discuss how counseling is going, what progress you’ve made, your needs, whether to continue counseling, and if continuing – any adjustments we want to make to your goals, our approach to, or the frequency of counseling.

If you have been in counseling for a long time, and feel that you want to continue but need a break, you can also arrange a “therapy vacation” for a week, month, or season.

Ending Treatment:

How long treatment will last is hard to predict. Keep in mind that all services are voluntary, and you can stop at any time. However it is usually necessary to attend at least six to eight sessions to see any meaningful results. Often, more time is helpful. Someone who is coping with a difficult transition, trying to change a specific behavior (like smoking), or just wanting to learn some specific skills (like relaxation skills) might only come in for eight or twelve sessions. But someone who is dealing with lifelong issues or chronic and severe symptoms may continue in therapy for years, have multiple rounds of therapy through life, or stay in therapy indefinitely for “maintenance” treatment. Most people fall somewhere in-between. Financial considerations may also influence the length of counseling.

My goal in most cases is to help you get to a point when you don’t need therapy. But I’m also available if you need ongoing care for chronic issues. As you start to feel better, get control over your life, and need less support, we will gradually reduce the frequency of sessions. Usually people start out meeting once or twice a week, eventually switch to every other week, possibly come in for a while once per month, or switch to “as needed,” and then stop treatment.

Whether you take this gradual approach, or decide to stop treatment more abruptly, it is usually a good idea to meet one last time for a closing session, to talk about your reasons for stopping, what you’ve gotten out of counseling so far, what other support systems you have available, and how you plan to manage your issues independently. Of course, some people simply “drop out” of therapy, but I would prefer it if you could let me know when you want to cut back on therapy, to stop therapy, or to take a break.

It is also possible, but rare, that I may at some point conclude that I am not the right therapist for you. For example, I may realize that there is a conflict of interest if I treat you, I may realize that you need help for a condition that I don’t feel qualified to treat, I may realize that you need a different kind of service, or a system of more comprehensive wrap-around services, or I may conclude that you are not benefiting from my services. If this happens, I will do my best to help you find another provider who can better help you.

Also rare is the possibility that your insurance coverage may change or end, and make my therapy unaffordable for you. If this happens, we can problem-solve about the length or frequency of sessions, or I can help you find another provider who is more affordable.

Returning to Therapy:

My goal is that you will be able to cope effectively without my support once we’re done. However, after finishing therapy, you may at some point run into a tough situation, or need a little extra support, and feel the need for a “booster session” or a few, to help get (or keep) yourself on track.

Also, some people find it helpful to have several “rounds” of therapy throughout their lives, when new challenges arise, when symptoms return, or when they’re ready to “take another stab at it.” Different issues may come up in different circumstances, or you may see things from a new perspective as you grow and learn throughout life. It may be helpful to see the same therapist again, even years after your initial treatment, simply because they already know you. But then again, a new therapist might help you to approach your issues from a new angle. Regardless whom you choose to see, knowing that it is not unusual to receive more than one round of therapy can make it easier to seek it out again, if you need it.

I hope this gives anyone new to counseling an idea of what to expect.  If you have any further questions, or to make an appointment, feel free to call me at 708-429-6999.

 

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May
02

How I can help:

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How I can help:

In therapy, I strive to provide a supportive, safe environment, where you can explore your thoughts, feelings, life events and options.  This creates the opportunity for you to

  • learn to increase positive feelings
  • improve your relationships
  • understand yourself and others better
  • come to terms with painful events and find peace
  • make necessary decisions or changes
  • learn new and effective coping strategies
  • and get control of your life!

I draw on my training, clinical experience and empathy, to help you work through difficult issues, and to help you change problematic patterns.  You can feel better, and be more satisfied with life.  I can help.

If you have any questions about how counseling can help, I’d be happy to answer them for you. Feel free to call me with questions at 708-429-6999.

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Apr
28

Approaches to Therapy: Theories, Principles and Techniques

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Theoretical Approaches

I believe that most theoretical approaches to understanding people have something to offer.  Each theory adds another piece to the puzzle by offering useful insights, principles and techniques.  Integrating various theories gives me the flexibility to address a wide variety of concerns.  Each unique case calls for a unique combination of psychological theories, principles and techniques.

Here is a list of a few fundamental theories and approaches to therapy which I incorporate into treatment.

1. Cognitive: Cognitive theories focus on thinking, perception and understanding.  Our thoughts, interpretations, assumptions and beliefs often determine how we feel and react to situations.  I have often seen my clients struggle with issues which had their roots in mis-interpretations, mis-understandings, and tendencies to automatically interpret things in one way or another.  Through therapy, I hope to give you the opportunity to examine your thinking, check your assumptions and conclusions, challenge negative or distorted thinking patterns, and increase accurate and balanced thoughts, feelings and behaviors in your life.

2. Developmental: Developmental theories focus on growth, development and learning.  Freud started us off with his stages of psychosexual development, which were central in his development of psychoanalysis as a method for helping people.  Psychologists have continued to expand and deepen our understanding of development ever sine then.  We have examined development in numerous areas including: cognitive, social, personality, learning, career, and moral development.  I have found developmental theories very useful in helping me understand what motivates my clients’ behaviors and thoughts, and how their past experiences (especially childhood experiences) may be influencing the issues they are working on now.  Also, developmental psychology sheds light on parenting, life transitions, aging, relationship dynamics, career issues, and more.

3. Behavioral: Behaviorism focuses on how behavior is affected by conditioning and reinforcement.  Behavioral theories dominated psychology in the first half of the twentieth century.  I have found behavioral techniques especially helpful when trying to change unhealthy behavior patterns (quitting tobacco or other substances, increasing exercise, improving nutrition), and for parenting (reducing temper tantrums, regaining control of children, increasing children’s positive behaviors).  I almost always use behavioral theories in conjunction with cognitive theories, as in “cognitive behavioral therapy” or CBT.

4. Humanistic: The psychological theory of humanism developed in response to psychoanalysis and behaviorism, and emphasizes the positive and healthy aspects of human psychology.  It acknowledges that there is something unique about human beings that sets us apart from animals.  Contrary to philosophical humanism, it does not reject spirituality or theism, but rather breaks ranks with previous theories in acknowledging spirituality as significant in human life.  Humanism focuses less on pathology and abnormal behavior, and puts more of an emphasis on wellness and human potential.  It focuses on questions of meaning, purpose, values, and intentions.  I incorporate principles of humanism when I work with spiritual concerns, death and dying, grief, self-actualization, issues of dignity, self-esteem, self-worth, depression, life goals, wellness, change, and growth, among others.  A few specific approaches to therapy related to humanism are solution focused therapy, strength based therapy, and person centered therapy.

5. Social Learning: Social learning theories focus on learning that occurs within a social context.  Key ideas here are observation, attention, imitation, modeling (as in role models), expectations and consequences.  Social learning theory incorporates principles of behaviorism and cognitive therapy, and adds to them by emphasizing the fundamental role of relationships in human learning, decisions, morals, behaviors, etc.  It is also a type of developmental theory, in that it describes factors and processes involved in learning and growing.  The principles of social learning have been useful to me in understanding cultural differences, family patterns, lifestyles, coping styles, communication patterns, and the types of roles that a person assumes in their relationships.

In summary

As you might imagine, there are almost an infinite number of specific theories in psychology… almost as many as there are researchers and theorists.  The above theories give you a sampling of some of the most fundamental theories that I incorporate into my work.

Anda Jines offers therapy services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago including therapy services in Tinley Park, therapy services in Oak Forest, therapy services in Orland Park and the surrounding area.

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Apr
28

Four Factors Essential to Therapy

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Four Factors Essential to Therapy

Psychological & Counseling Services
Individuals – Couples – Families

Anda Jines, EzineArticles.com Basic Author

Philosophy

I would never claim to have all the answers to your problems, or to be able to fix them all. However, I do believe in the power of talk therapy to make a profound and positive difference in people’s lives, and to help them move towards their goals.  There are four key factors that make therapy helpful:

1. Therapeutic Relationship: First, having a supportive and trusting relationship with a counselor can be therapeutic in and of itself. Knowing that I won’t be judgmental, and that I accept you as you are, even while helping you work towards your goals, can be a new experience for people. This can be especially important for people who have been hurt in the past, who have difficulty trusting or feeling safe, and who have relationship issues.

2. Emotional Experiencing: Second, therapy offers an opportunity for emotional experiencing and processing. Research has shown this to be a powerful and useful experience. For some this comes naturally, and it’s comforting to have a place where they can safely process their emotions. But it is especially useful for people who tend to avoid their emotions (and therefore avoid dealing with their issues). Fear of emotions is an important obstacle to overcome, and learning to manage them is an important skill to learn.

3. Learning: Another crucial element of therapy is the opportunity it creates for learning. This may be the kind of learning that naturally comes out of reflecting on your life events, and gradually seeing things more clearly. Or it may be more didactic, as in the case of coping skills, communication skills or any set of skills. It is especially important to learn about yourself by observing your emotions, thoughts and behavior patterns, or by reviewing past events that affect you to this day. Learning psychological principles about what is healthy versus unhealthy can also be helpful when applied to your specific situation.

4. Practicing New Behaviors: Lastly, therapy gives you the opportunity to practice new behaviors. Whether you practice them in session or between sessions, new behaviors are how you translate what you’ve learned into action. It’s easier said than done, and takes time and patience, but practicing healthy new behaviors can have a lasting influence on your life, emotions, and relationships. Of course, it’s up to you to decide what behaviors you want to change and how. Ultimately you are in charge of your own life, and only you can steer it in the direction where you want to go. Each time you practice a new behavior, you are taking a step towards your goal.


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Apr
28

Counseling versus Therapy

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Counseling versus Therapy

The words “counseling” and “therapy” and “talk therapy” can be used interchangeably, as synonyms.  The term counseling, however, is most concise and least confusing; because there are many very different kinds of therapy, such as physical therapy, massage therapy, occupational therapy and others.  If I say that I am a therapist, this is more likely to be misunderstood than if I say that I am a counselor.

Counseling Psychology versus Clinical Psychology

A counselor (or “counseling psychologist”) is a specific type of psychologist.  Counseling theory is psychological theory, and counselors utilize the same clinical techniques as clinical psychologists.  However, counseling psychology is unique in its attention both to normal developmental issues and to problems associated with physical, emotional, and mental disorders.  In other words, rather than primarily focusing on pathology, counseling psychology looks at the whole picture, including people who may be struggling with life circumstances or transitions, but who are not mentally ill.  Counselors are trained to deal with emotional, social, vocational, educational, health-related, developmental, and organizational concerns.  They can help both healthy and mentally ill people to set and achieve their life goals, and to function personally and socially across the life span.

If you’re looking for counseling and mental health services in Tinley Park, Oak Forest, Orland Park, and the surrounding area, please call 708-429-6999 to set up an appointment or to ask questions. Tinley Park counseling service, Oak Forest counseling service, Orland Park counseling service. Call today.

Anda Jines MS, LCPC, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
Offering counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago

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Apr
28

Why Talk To a Counselor?

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Although it is important to have a natural support system to turn to in difficult times, some issues are difficult to handle with just the help of family or friends. Your problems may be personal, complicated, vague, or deeply rooted; or you may want the input of an objective third party. Sometimes family and friends might not be available as much as you need, or they might not know how to help.

A counselor can:

  • help you to feel heard and understood; and to express your thoughts and emotions in a safe, supportive environment.
  • help you pinpoint problems, problem-solve, gain insight into what is causing your difficulties, come up with ideas about how to feel better, and help you make decisions.
  • teach you specific life skills; like parenting skills, stress management skills, relationship skills, communication skills, organization skills, emotion management skills, how to change your unhealthy habits, and more.
  • help you make a plan that includes certain activities, techniques, or skills.  Also, having a counselor to check in with can help you to fine tune and follow through with your plan.
  • help you to motivate yourself to pursue your interests, do things that are meaningful to you, and cultivate a sense of purpose in your life
  • give you honest feedback, and help you learn how to give and receive feedback with others.
  • recommend literature and provide you with handouts relevant to your issues.
  • help you recognize and challenge problematic thinking patterns that contribute to feelings such as hopelessness or helplessness, and to develop a more positive outlook.
  • help you discover your strengths and how to use them to grow stronger in other areas; and help you regain a sense of control and pleasure in life.
  • help you explore things about your past, your family, and your life patterns, to get at the deeper causes of your discomfort.

If you feel stuck, counseling can help you look beyond the obvious.  It is a process that can help you identify your specific obstacles to change, happiness, or satisfying relationships; and then gradually work on overcoming these obstacles.

Anda Jines MS, LCPC, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
Offering counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago

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