Archive for About Counseling


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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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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Three Videos on Anxiety

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I just found “The Answered Patient” which is a series of educational videos from AnswersTV.  I picked three videos on anxiety to share with you.

This first video is an overview of anxiety:

This next video is about how psychotherapy can help with anxiety:

The third video is about how anxiety affects the body:

I hope you found these videos helpful.

If the embedded videos in this post did not come through on your e-mail subscription, please click the title of the post to view the videos on my website blog.

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.

Categories : Stress and Anxiety
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Giving psychology away, one podcast at a time

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The Monitor had an interesting article in February, complete with links to ten psychology podcast sources.  If you prefer to hear about psychology rather than reading, you might find them pretty interesting.

By Sadie F. Dingfelder

Monitor on Psychology

February 2010, Vol 41, No. 2

What has television networks and radio executives running scared? Podcasting, the relatively new way to broadcast audio and video through iPods and other portable music players.

Since 2006, when Apple incorporated podcasts into iTunes, these easy-to-download audio and music files have grown rapidly in popularity, leading many media experts to predict they will eventually eclipse cable television and radio waves.

Part of podcasts’ allure is their portability — people can watch television programs while commuting or play their favorite National Public Radio program on a walk. “You can listen or watch when it’s convenient for you,” says Dani McKinney, PhD, a psychology professor at SUNY Fredonia, who studies podcasts and other forms of educational technology.

While people are mostly downloading music and television shows, educational podcasts are also gaining popularity, McKinney says. By recording their talks as podcasts, professors are lecturing to broader audiences than they ever imagined. Taking it a step further, some psychologists are producing shows with interviews, transition music and even advertising. One such program,

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.

Categories : Mental Health
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“Therapy helped my mind and my work”

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From BBC News:

Three years ago Mark Young was under severe pressure.

His father had been seriously ill, he and his wife were sleep deprived with two small children and he had a demanding job, which necessitated him making 500 cold-calls a week.

As the relentless pressure built the cracks started to show and Mark, 39, started having debilitating panic attacks. (continue reading about how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helped Mr. Young.

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.

Categories : Stress and Anxiety
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Benefits of Support Groups

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What is a Support Group?

Support groups are groups of people who share a common condition or difficulty, such as medical conditions, grief, or substance abuse.  Members of a support group share their personal journey, comfort, support and advice based on their own experiences.  Such groups are often run by nonprofit organizations, hospitals, clinics or other established organizations.

Support groups are different from therapy groups in that they are not necessarily run by a licensed mental health professional.  They are often member run and organized, but some do invite a mental health professional to facilitate the group or to consult about how to make it most helpful.

Support groups do not focus on “group process” and therefore are not meant to uncover or treat the psychological or pathological dynamics of the members.  They are simply an opportunity to meat with a supportive and understanding group of people who have had similar experiences.

When Should I Consider a Support Group?

Support groups are especially helpful in the first few months of an illness or disability, as the reality of the situation begins to set in. This is when people tend to feel alone, overwhelmed, and may not know where to turn for information.

Support groups can also be very important to people with long lasting or chronic illness, because the ongoing difficulties can otherwise wear on a person’s emotions, motivation and relationships.

What Are Some Benefits of Participating in a Support Group?

Support groups offer a variety of benefits, from the emotional to the practical.  Some benefits of support groups include:

  • Emotional connection and support: Sharing your honest feelings with a group of people with similar concerns can help you to feel more emotionally connected and less alone, especially if you’re feeling isolated from friends and family. A safe and welcoming environment, filled with compassion, reassurance and understanding, can also reduce any stigma you may feel over your condition.  Support group members often realize how their experiences in the group have created a special bond and identity between group members. By sharing feelings, accomplishments, losses, and humor, members can develop strong emotional ties to one another.  Participants sometimes form friendships that can continue beyond the support group.
  • Understanding and shared experiences: It helps to know you’re not alone and to talk to others who have been through similar experiences.  Hearing others’ stories can be very validating and can help you to see that your reactions, struggles or feelings are not “crazy.”   A support group can offer acceptance, and can appreciate you for who you are.  It is often a relief and reassuring to find others with the same illness and understand what you are going through.
  • Exchange of useful information: A group can provide and share information about the issue that the group focuses on, whether it is community resources, medical information, treatment developments, or related community events.  People involved often say this exchange of information is one of the most valuable elements of participating in a support group.
  • Coping skills: Group members share ideas for coping.  Support groups offer the chance to draw on collective experiences. Others who have “been there” may have tips or advice about coping with your condition that hasn’t occurred to you. Brainstorming with others may inspire even more ideas. For instance, swapping information about medications can help you see how others handle side effects.  By learning how others have coped with similar problems, and witnessing the coping styles of others, members can improve their own problem-solving abilities. Furthermore, groups can offer members realistic feedback as they consider or try out new coping strategies.
  • Emotional release: Support groups offer people the opportunity to appropriately release powerful emotions you may otherwise keep to yourself. It is an opportunity for you to share your feelings, fears, and concerns.  Members who already have a highly supportive network of family and friends can find that a group provides a place to continue to share feelings without overburdening their loved ones. A safe, non-judgmental environment enables participants to acknowledge and verbalize their feelings.
  • Emotional and psychological boost: Support groups can improve your mood and decrease anxiety and stress. Sharing experiences and making connections can make you feel better about life in general. Seeing others making progress in coping with their illness may give you hope and optimism about your own future.  Also, your self-esteem will increase as you improve your coping abilities and as you get a sense of perspective that comes from facing difficult life challenges.  Facing your challenges together as a group can make it easier to achieve personal growth through your struggles.
  • Motivation: An environment of positive reinforcement, emotional support and hopefulness can encourage you to take good care of yourself. Meeting with a group of understanding individuals on a regular basis can help you to feel motivated to follow through on goals.  With encouragement from a support group, you may find it easier to take a more active role in your treatment, to seek out more information, or to follow through on your doctor’s recommendations.
  • Contributing: A support group is also a place to contribute, so that you might reach out to help others, and in so doing you might lift yourself up as well.  Contributing is a good way to increase your sense of meaning and purpose in life, and to make use of all that you have learned on your journey through a difficult experience.  At support groups you can hear about opportunities to participate in events that educate the larger community about your condition, or that support research efforts.

You may be nervous about sharing personal issues with people you don’t know.  So at first, you may benefit from a support group simply by listening. Over time, though, contributing your own ideas and experiences can help you get more out of a support group.

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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Willpower and Stress as Key Obstacles to Meeting Health-Related Resolutions

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From the American Psychological Association:

…According to the APA poll conducted online by Harris Interactive in early March, fewer than one in five adults (16 percent) reported being very successful at making health-related improvements such as losing weight (20 percent), starting a regular exercise program (15 percent), eating a healthier diet (10 percent), and reducing stress (7 percent)1 so far this year, although about nine in 10 adults (88 percent) who resolved to make a health-related change say they have been at least somewhat successful at achieving it since January. Despite these efforts, about three-quarters (78 percent) of those who made a health-related resolution say significant obstacles block them from making progress, such as willpower (33 percent), making changes alone (24 percent), and experiencing too much stress (20 percent).

“Lasting lifestyle and behavior changes don’t happen overnight. Willpower is a learned skill, not an inherent trait.  (continue reading about willpower, stress and health related changes)

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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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.

Categories : About Counseling
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Depression is One of the Most Common Mental Health Problems I Have Seen

Whether on college campus, in a community mental health center, or in private practice, depression has been one of the most common mental health problems I have encountered in my work.  It is often combined with other mental health problems like anxiety, with substance abuse, or with difficulties in one’s past or current circumstances.

Counseling is Important in Overcoming Depression

Treatments for depression include medications and talk therapy.  Both have been shown to be effective, but the most powerful is a combination of both.  Medication can reduce the severity of the symptoms, and get you to a place where you have the motivation to deal with day-to-day life, and the ability to fully engage in counseling.

Counseling can help you to examine your thinking, behaviors, past experiences, circumstances and relationship patterns which may be contributing to, and perpetuating, your depression.  Through counseling I help people identify specific patterns that are causing problems, and I give people the emotional and strategic support needed to change these patterns.

I believe that chemical imbalances are an aspect of depression, and that by treating the chemical imbalance, symptoms can be reduced.  However, I also believe that life experiences, thinking and behaviors can affect the brain’s chemistry.  In other words, the root cause of depression is not necessarily just chemical.  It is my job to help people identify their personal root causes of their depression, and to help them address these core issues.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Is a Great Resource for Information about Depression

One important part of healing your depression is to educate yourself about it.  The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is a great resource for information about depression, anxiety, and many other topics related to mental health.  They have many pages on each topic, including discussions of types of depression, symptoms and treatment, as well as videos.

Depression is a serious medical illness; it’s not something that you have made up in your head. It’s more than just feeling “down in the dumps” or “blue” for a few days. It’s feeling “down” and “low” and “hopeless” for weeks at a time… (click here to continue reading about depression and to see a video about depression)

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

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Lack of Specialists in Geropsychology

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Workshop on Helping Older Adults

Anda Jines MS LCPC and Lynda Behrendt PsyD, IPA Director of Professional Affairs and coordinator of the recent series of workshops on geropsychology

Anda Jines MS LCPC and Lynda Behrendt PsyD, IPA Director of Professional Affairs and coordinator of the recent series of workshops on geropsychology

I once more had the pleasure of attending a workshop on geropsychology (psychology of aging) in downtown Chicago.  This was the last of six workshops aimed at training psychologists and counselors like me to effectively help older adults.

Mental Health Medications for Seniors

This time we focused on the very important issue of psychopharmacology with the older adult population.  In other words, we got information about the use of mental health medications for seniors.  As complicated as medication issues can be for the general population; drug interactions, changing metabolism, memory problems, sleep problems, pain, and age related illnesses can make it even more complicated for older adults.

We also discussed delirium, dementia, and psychological (rather than medication) approaches to helping individuals who face these issues;  We discussed Medicare rules, as well as stereotyping of older adults.

Lack of Specialists in Geropsychology

Through the course of these six workshops, one point was made over and over again.  There is a lack of specialists in geropsychology!  Most young psychologists and counselors entering the field are simply not interested in it.  Therefore there are few graduate programs which offer it as a specialty.  Those of us who are interested in helping older adults therefore need to seek out training opportunities like this series of workshops, or seek out the few post graduate training programs available.

This has become a great concern, especially because the baby boomers, who make up about a third of our population, are entering their senior years.  Not only that, but people are living longer than ever before.  For example, the average life expectancy in 1900 was 47 years.  Today it is approximately 77 years in the US.  Big difference! Additionally, today’s young seniors are much more familiar with and receptive to psychological services.

Currently there are various efforts in the psychological community, to prepare us for the increased demand for older adult services.  That is why this workshop series was organized.

The Basics of Geropsychology

Counselors can be effective with most older adults even without specialized training.  But to ensure quality care, it is important for therapists to be familiar with the following areas of information:

  • Adult Development and the Aging Process
  • Neuropsychological Considerations in Geriatric Mental Health
  • The Aging Body
  • Assessment of Older Adults
  • Promoting Self Care Behavior in Older Adults
  • Community Resources for Older Adults
  • Home, Residential and Office Based Practice Models for Working with Older Adults
  • Ethical and Legal Issues Related to Providing Services to Older Adults (e.g.:  health care agents, powers of attorney, guardianship, incapacity)
  • Dementia and Delirium
  • Substance Abuse and Dependence in Later Life
  • Mental Disorders in Later Life
  • Psychotherapy Issues and Interventions with Older Adults
  • Billing and Medicare
  • Loss and Grief
  • Caregiving
  • Psychopharmacology for Older Adults
  • Stereotyping and Cultural Issues

These are the areas that we covered in this six workshop series.  Clearly this is a lot of information, much of which overlaps with previous training that I have had.  Admittedly, there are some areas (of those listed above) that I do not consider myself an expert in.  However, I am now more aware of many factors related to counseling older adults.  And I know when to screen specific problems, and when to refer out for specific testing or treatment.

If you are an older adult, are concerned about an older adult, or if you are a caregiver; and you are in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, feel free to give me a call to set up an appointment or ask about services.  If I cannot help you personnaly, I will help you find someone who can.

Anda Jines MS LCPC offers mental health counseling services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, in Tinley Park (60477); near Oak Forest, Orland Park, Mokena, and Frankfort.

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