Category

Uncategorized

7 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health During COVID-19

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

The devastating physical effects of COVID-19 are obvious including job security, uncertainty in general, business closures, and much more. But have you considered the toll it takes on your mental health?

With stay-at-home orders, unemployment, and concerns about infection, is it any wonder that so many Americans have more depression and anxiety during this challenging time?

This period of heightened stress can dramatically affect your mental health. Thankfully, with technology such as Telehealth, you can stay in touch with your mental health counselors at all times and seek their advice and guidance.

Why Is Mental Health Important?

Mental health is important because it can affect every aspect of your life. This includes your job, your marriage, your relationship with your family and your general well-being. When you’re experiencing mental health issues, it may seem impossible to complete even basic work assignments or care for children.

Mental health can also impact your physical health. For example, chronic anxiety and stress can have a negative effect on your heart, particularly if you already have an illness like high blood pressure.

While everyone has periods of depression or anxiety, when these escalate to the point that it is difficult to function in day-to-day life, it is time to get help from a qualified mental health counselor.

How to Improve Your Mental Health

If you show signs of clinical depression or other mental health conditions you should schedule an appointment with a mental health professional to get the help you need.

Remember, if it is not possible to meet in person, Foundations Counseling also offers video meetings and treatment through telehealth.

Given the challenging times, we have outlined seven ways you can help improve your mental health during the coronavirus uncertainties.

7 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health During COVID-19

 

1. Limit the Amount of News You Watch

Of course, it’s important to stay informed, but sometimes the constant streaming news stories can be too much. After a while, they can be extremely upsetting, and watching the 24-hour news cycle can create a lot of anxiety.

Instead, schedule time to watch something fun. Maybe there’s a movie you’ve always wanted to see on Netflix. Maybe you want to revisit a funny movie or play board games.

The important thing is to make sure you don’t suffer from information overload. Give your mind a break and let it have a chance to “have fun” through more uplifting entertainment.

2. Take Care of Yourself Physically

Physical and mental health are closely intertwined. To help protect your mental health you should also safeguard your physical health. This includes:

  • Avoiding junk food
  • Eating healthy meals
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Exercising regularly
  • Avoiding excessive alcohol use
  • Taking medication as prescribed

3. Talk to Other People

Social distancing has transformed your social life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stay in touch with those important to you. Phone calls help, but sometimes you need to see a face. Utilize video chat programs such as What’s App, Skype and Zoom to keep the lines of communication open.

You may find it therapeutic to reconnect with old friends or relatives you may have lost touch with through the years.

4. Be Sure to Do What You Enjoy

Sometimes the anxiety of the unknown makes it easy to forget the things you love to do. Make a list and plan to participate in as many as possible.

Granted, you may need to adjust based upon current guidelines. For example, if you enjoy basketball with friends, you won’t be able to participate in this activity. However, perhaps you can join those same friends for a walk in the park.

Remember that there are often creative ways to still participate in the things you love. Here’s another example: If you enjoy meeting with your book club, organize a meeting through Zoom or another conferencing program.

5. Practice Meditation

Studies have shown that meditation relaxes both your body and mind. All you need is a quiet location, a comfortable position and an open mind. How does meditation help? Studies show that meditation:

  • Can help relieve stress
  • Gives you tools to manage stress
  • Reduces negative emotions or attitudes
  • Nourishes creativity
  • Helps you be more patient
  • Allows you to clearly focus on the present

Long-term research is still ongoing to see if meditation is a great complement to traditional treatment. Talk to your licensed counselor about whether or not this would be a good activity for you.

6. Use Social Media Carefully

Of course, what better way to stay in touch with people than through Facebook or Instagram? There are several great benefits of social media, but it also has some drawbacks.

Many well-meaning friends may spread information that is false or misleading. Just because you saw it on social media doesn’t mean it’s true.The last thing you need is stress caused by questionable information.

7. Talk to a Licensed Counselor

There are many qualified mental health counselors available to help you at Foundations Counseling. If you or we are unable for a visit in person during COVID-19, we also offer virtual appointments.

Remember that not everyone responds to stress in the same manner.This is why it will help to make a list of things you’d like to talk to the counselor about. This includes worries about yourself or others.

Foundations Counseling is Here for You

We understand the importance of keeping our community safe from COVID-19. We want you to know that we are safeguarding the health of our patients and the counselor team to help ensure that everyone is protected.

We believe that it is important to share facts and assist those in need with mental health issues due to COVID-19. Together, we will get through this challenging time.

We are always here to help the people residing in McKinney, Plano, Dallas, Denton, Allen, Garland, and the surrounding communities found throughout Texas. If you believe that you are struggling with mental health issues at this time, we highly recommend that you reach out to our professional counselor team at Foundations Counseling.

How to Help Seniors Dealing with Depression and Feelings of Isolation

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

It is a mistake to assume that depression is an inevitable side effect of our later years. It’s true that this phase of life comes with unique stressors and pressures, but with the right professional help and strategies, one can lead a fulfilling and empowered life. Dealing with your aging parent’s depression and feelings of isolation is a priority, and comprehensive therapy offer a well-rounded approach to an overall better quality of life.

While growing older is inevitable, disempowerment and depression are not. Why is it so common to assume that poor quality of life is a natural part of aging? It’s true that we cannot escape the transitions of purpose, ability, and lifestyle as the years go on, but we can embrace and adapt with the flow of change.

What this means for our aging parents is that we shouldn’t take anything for granted. We shouldn’t assume that suffering and isolation are unavoidable. We shouldn’t assume that they don’t need an active support system; after all, we need supportive connections at every single stage of life.

When you notice signs that your mother or father is depressed, you can help them to access a variety of therapy options with licensed counselors to revive their overall well-being. Compassionately dealing with aging parents’ depression and isolation is a necessary step toward their best health and quality of life. And generous help is never out of reach.

Common Stressors That Older Adults Experience

If it weren’t enough to prioritize an older adult’s mental health for its own sake, it’s important to also consider that one’s mental health can have an impact on physical health and well-being.

Depression and other mental illnesses can undermine the immune system’s resiliency, contributing to infections, cancers, autoimmune disorders, and other medical complications. These interconnected conditions can quickly compound for immeasurable distress, or a comprehensive approach to care can untangle the grip of illness and replace it with empowered therapies and tools for coping.

Aging is a challenging enough journey. In a lot of ways, the later years in life present unfamiliar territory as our parents transition and face these common disappointments and stressors:

  • Transitioning out of a long-time career and the related sense of purpose
  • Financial strain following retirement
  • Increasing medical concerns and expenses
  • Changing family roles and dynamics
  • Declining physical abilities as the body ages
  • Increasing dependence on others
  • Waning independence
  • Heavy responsibilities if caring for a spouse, an adult child, or grandchildren
  • Grief and loss of family and friends
  • Worries about one’s own illnesses and overall health
  • Chronic pain and weakness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Isolation and loneliness

Older adults may be at risk of depression due to genetic factors, co-occurring disorders, a history of depression, and other neurological factors. But this list of challenges can also influence the onset of depression, and these pressures can aggravate existing depressive symptoms.

The more you can understand your parent’s sources of stress, the more you can empathize and think in the direction of solutions. By turning away from or minimizing their pain, we isolate them further. But, by believing that there are accessible ways to improve their quality of life and their mental health, we inspire hope, connection, and feelings of empowerment.

Help for Dealing with an Aging Parent’s Depression

Depression in the elderly is not simply incidental. Depression at any age is a serious psychological disorder that requires early and comprehensive care to reverse an individual’s suffering and to prevent further mental and emotional decline. While it’s very normal to feel sadness and even despair when enduring certain situations, such as the loss of a loved one, when these low emotions persist, it could be the result of a serious underlying problem.

If your parent experiences a fairly constant low mood for two weeks or more, they may be suffering from major depression. And it is unlikely that their condition will resolve with time alone. In fact, it’s more likely that their condition will get even worse. In addition to their overall distress, they may be at risk of self-harm, suicide, substance abuse, more serious isolation, physical decline, and a deteriorating lifestyle.

The best course of care and recovery for seniors addresses more than just their depressive symptoms. A comprehensive therapy treatment program also considers the stressors and challenges they face. Professional, licensed counselors can design a treatment plan that incorporates:

  • Therapies for processing complex thoughts and feelings, the development of positive coping skills, and empowered relaxation.
  • A dynamic support system composed of knowledgeable therapists, experts, family, friends, and peers enduring similar phase-of-life challenges.
  • Home and lifestyle support to mitigate some of the inherent stressors in your parent’s life.

The dangerous trend of isolation is reversed in a therapy treatment environment where the focus is on individual as well as cooperative care. Elderly patients can be assured of careful monitoring as they adjust throughout the therapeutic process. And, while working with a therapist, they’ll be able to face the changes and challenges before them with compassionate acceptance.

They can learn to cope with the stressors of daily life and feel empowered by their reliable sources of support. And, in the meantime, you can learn how to care for your aging parent in ways that support their long-term recovery and their opportunities to thrive.

The good news is that depression and feelings of isolation in the elderly are treatable and manageable. With quality treatment by professional therapists and with good follow up care, lifestyle changes to reduce stress, and care for mental illnesses, full recovery is possible.

We are always here to help the people residing in McKinney, Plano, Dallas, Denton, Allen, Garland, and the surrounding communities found throughout Texas. If you believe that your parent may be in the midst of experiencing depression or has feelings of isolation, please contact our certified therapist team at Foundations Counseling today.

What Triggers A Nervous Breakdown?

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Many misconceptions surround the term “nervous breakdown.” While a nervous breakdown is often used to describe periods when normal functioning is disrupted by extreme stress, the term is not considered an actual medical diagnosis by licensed professional therapists.

Instead, a nervous breakdown is a colloquial phrase that describes symptoms that may represent a number of different psychiatric conditions. The critical characteristic is that these symptoms are intense and make it very difficult for the individual to function normally.

A nervous breakdown is a serious mental health issue that requires prompt, professional treatment. It is triggered by excess stress and a lack of healthy coping mechanisms to manage that stress. The amount of stress that causes a breakdown varies by individual, with some being able to cope longer than others.

The stress causing a nervous breakdown may come from any source and may build up slowly over time or occur all at once. One of the most common triggers for a nervous breakdown is work-related stress.

What is a Nervous Breakdown?

A nervous breakdown occurs when a person is no longer able to function normally, even doing small things like chores or personal hygiene. Although the condition is not an official mental health diagnosis, it can have a serious and negative impact on someone’s life. Going through a nervous breakdown, a person may not be able to work, go to school, take care of family, or do any of their usual activities.

While a nervous breakdown is temporary, it is serious and should be treated as a mental health crisis. An evaluation by a mental health professional can help determine if there is an underlying mental illness contributing to the breakdown that needs to be diagnosed and treated. The evaluation can lead to treatment, often including a short residential stay in a treatment facility followed by ongoing therapy, medication if needed, lifestyle changes, and the regular use of stress coping strategies and relaxation techniques.

Excessive Stress Causes Breakdowns

There may be any number of different factors that trigger a nervous breakdown in an individual, but generally what leads to a breakdown is a buildup of stress, pressure, and anxiety. One person might experience a slow building of stress that over months causes the eventual breakdown, while another experiences one big stressful situation that triggers a crisis.

The commonality is stress and a feeling of being pressured to keep up and to continue to function normally.

Some examples of stress and situations that may lead to a nervous breakdown include:

  • Feeling pressure and stress at work, and having a lot of work responsibilities.
  • Academic pressure and responsibilities.
  • Family duties that become stressful and overwhelming, such as caring for an aging parent or special needs children.
  • Taking on too many responsibilities.
  • A divorce or loss of children in a custody trial.
  • A death in the family.
  • The loss of a job or some form of financial hardship
  • A traumatic experience.

Poor Stress Coping Skills Lead to Breakdowns

Many people experience high levels of stress, but not everyone will have a nervous breakdown. What leads to a nervous breakdown during the experience of all that stress is an inability or poor ability to cope with and manage stress. Experiencing a lot of stress, in combination with being unable to cope with it in healthy ways, is what really causes nervous breakdowns.

It is important to remember, though, that even people who are generally good at coping with stress can reach a breaking point. It simply may take more stress for these people to have a breakdown.

Managing and coping with stress is something that everyone does, but not always in healthy ways. Some people may react to stress in negative ways, such as withdrawing from friends and family, turning to drugs or alcohol, yelling at other people, binge eating, or other unhealthy responses.

These do not help to mitigate stress or manage it, and ultimately without good, positive coping strategies, a person under a lot of stress is likely to have a breakdown.

Nervous Breakdown Risk Factors

Stress and an inability to cope with it is the general cause of having a nervous breakdown. This can be highly individualized, though, with different types and amounts of stress affecting people differently.

There are certain risk factors that make some people more vulnerable to ultimately having a nervous breakdown, including:

  • Taking on a lot of responsibilities at home and elsewhere.
  • Being a perfectionist and having a high-achieving personality.
  • Feeling a need to be in control and struggling to give responsibilities to others.
  • Having a pessimistic outlook on life, in general.
  • Working long hours.
  • Not sleeping enough.
  • Lacking a good social support system and close relationships.
  • Lacking healthy coping mechanisms or engaging in unhealthy ones.
  • Having an untreated mental illness.

Making lifestyle changes is one of the most important things a person can do to recover from a nervous breakdown and to prevent a future breakdown. Making these changes involves looking at the risk factors that led up to the breakdown and finding ways to change them. For instance, a person may decide to work fewer hours, go to bed earlier, and make more time for socializing with friends and family.

Work Stress is a Common Trigger for Nervous Breakdowns

Stress caused by one’s job is a common cause, or at least a factor, in many nervous breakdowns. A nervous breakdown triggered by work stress may also be called burnout syndrome. It is characterized by exhaustion and fatigue, reduced performance at work, feeling depersonalized or detached from work, and other symptoms of nervous breakdown.

General factors that may occur in any kind of work and that contribute to burnout of a nervous breakdown include:

  • Being overworked and working long hours.
  • Feeling unappreciated at work.
  • Doing work that is not meaningful or that is repetitive and not challenging.
  • Having a poor understanding of job expectations and duties.
  • Having expectations that are overly demanding.
  • Lacking control over work.
  • Being a poor fit for a particular job or duties.
  • Having different values from the company or employer.
  • Difficult relationships with co-workers.
  • Harassment from a boss or other person in a position of power.

Work is a major contributor of stress for most people and therefore a common cause of nervous breakdowns. Many people are increasingly vulnerable. According to surveys, the average work week for U.S. workers has increased from 40 to 47 hours in recent years. Vacation time, on the other hand, is down, with American workers using fewer of their vacation days than ever before.

Not everyone who feels stress at work will ultimately have a breakdown, but there are many factors that make a breakdown likely. Changing and minimizing work stress is an important way to prevent mental health crises.

Underlying Mental Illness

Stress may be the main trigger for a nervous breakdown, but having a mental illness can make a person more vulnerable to stress and its negative consequences. In many cases of nervous breakdown, an individual has a mental illness that has gone undiagnosed and untreated. Trying to live with that mental illness along with the stresses of daily life can come together to ultimately lead to a breakdown.

There are two common mental illnesses that often underlie nervous breakdowns:

  1. Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses. There are different types of anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety and social anxiety, but all are characterized by feeling worried, nervous, anxious, and stressed to an unusual degree. Someone with this condition feels anxious, often to the extreme and for extended periods of time. These negative feelings interfere with normal daily activities. Untreated and combined with a lot of stress, this can trigger a nervous breakdown.
  2. Major Depression. Depression is another common mental illness and amood disorder that makes a person feel sad, hopeless, and fatigued persistently and often for weeks at a time. It is a depressed mood that cannot be easily overcome. Without getting diagnosed and treated, depression can easily be a triggering factor in a nervous breakdown and an inability to function normally.

 

Being evaluated, diagnosed, and then treated for any mental illness is crucial for overall good health, but in the case of a nervous breakdown it can be preventative. Many of the symptoms of these two mental illnesses mirror those of a nervous breakdown and often occur together. Anyone who experiences a nervous breakdown should be evaluated to determine if there is an underlying condition that needs to be addressed as part of ongoing treatment and recovery.

A nervous breakdown is ultimately caused by an inability to cope with large amounts of stress, but how that manifests exactly varies by individual. Work stress, mental illness, family responsibilities, and poor coping strategies are all things that can lead to a nervous breakdown and the inability to function normally.

The good news is that nervous breakdowns are treatable and manageable. With quality treatment by professional therapists and with good follow up care, lifestyle changes to reduce stress, and care for mental illnesses, full recovery is possible.

We are always here to help the people residing in McKinney, Plano, Dallas, Denton, Allen, Garland, and the surrounding communities found throughout Texas. If you believe that you are in the midst of experiencing a nervous breakdown, or you know someone who may be, please contact our certified therapist team at Foundations Counseling today.

Types of Anxiety that Can Affect Children

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Childhood itself is quite an anxious process. Kids are tasked with learning new skills, meeting new challenges, overcoming fears, and navigating a world that doesn’t always make sense. But sometimes these fears or stressors prove too much to handle, and the normal comforts that adults can provide don’t quite seem to be enough. In these cases, a child may have a diagnosable anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are the most commonly experienced mental illnesses in the United States, and kids are no exception. Roughly one in eight children may have an anxiety disorder, but a majority of children who would qualify for a diagnosis are not getting the treatment they need.

Young people are also being exposed to the online world earlier, with social networking sites having the potential to become a negative environment for young, impressionable minds. Social media has also been linked to cyber-bullying, low self-esteem and poor body image, all of which can increase feelings of anxiety.

Children and young people can find it difficult to express their concerns and may bottle up emotions. If these feelings are not addressed they can affect mental health, leading to anxiety disorders and sudden panic attacks. Not treating anxiety leaves a child at risk of decreasing performance in school, poor social skills, and harmful behaviors like substance abuse.

Understanding the Warning Signs

Anxiety affects everyone differently. However, there are some common symptoms to look out for in your child:

  • They are struggling to concentrate.
  • They are having difficulties sleeping.
  • Their eating habits have changed.
  • They quickly become angry or irritable.
  • They appear tense, fidgety or need to use the toilet often.
  • They cry more than usual for no apparent reason.
  • They are clingy and reluctant to leave you.
  • They complain of feeling unwell or having tummy aches.

Of course, whenever you spot a change in your child’s behavior or health it’s recommended that you make an appointment with a therapist as soon as possible.

How to Help a Child Having a Panic Attack

Panic attacks are an incredibly frightening symptom of anxiety. They can last anywhere between five and 20 minutes, and have very real physical effects such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, or trembling.

Children may not be as capable of articulating their feelings as adults, so it can be hard to know if they need help. Below are some tips about how you can help your child if you suspect they are having a panic attack:

  1. Remain in control. Remember, a child in the midst of a panic attack has lost their sense of control, which in itself is frightening and overwhelming.
  2. Stay calm and mindful while using a firm but gentle tone of voice to communicate that you are present and there for them and that you understand how anxious they feel.
  3. Use age-appropriate words to describe anxiousness, such as “nervous” or “scared.” By doing this you will communicate a sense of safety, confidence, and containment for the child who is in the middle of an emotional storm.
  4. Ensure the child feels increasingly safe. Use soothing words. Use their name. Say things like, “I know you don’t feel okay but you will be okay,” “I will help you get through this and it will end soon,” and “Take some deep breaths.”
  5. Remind them that panic attacks always end and that they will get through them. This can offer hope. However, try not to give excessive reassurance. You want your child to find their own coping strategies.
  6. Pay attention to the physical symptoms of panic attacks. Convey to the child that the fast heartbeat, dizziness or shaking will pass in a few minutes. Tell them these are signs of their fear, not of illness.
  7. Give them time to calm down. Don’t rush the child. They will need time to help them regain their sense of self and composure.

Finally, always remember that if you can remain calm during their emotional storm they will regain their resilience and the attack will pass more quickly.

If you are struggling with your mental health due to your child’s panic attacks and need to talk, or if you are worried about your child, always seek out professional support sooner rather than later.

Types of Childhood Anxiety Disorders

There are many types of anxiety disorders, but here are the disorders most common anxiety disorders experienced by children.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

If your child experiences excessive anxiety or worry that results in fatigue, irritability, muscle tension, difficulty concentrating, or sleep disturbances, then they may receive a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder. This worry may be about school performance, friendships, family relationships, or other activities or concerns.

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Some separation anxiety is developmentally appropriate, especially for children between 1-3 years old. But for older children, if they have excessive fear or anxiety about being separated from caregivers, then they may qualify for a diagnosis of separation anxiety disorder.

Children with the disorder may frequently worry about parents dying or becoming separated from them. They may refuse to go out or go to school, have nightmares about separation, or experience physical symptoms like headaches or nausea due to this anxiety.

Selective Mutism

Children with selective mutism may refuse to speak in certain social situations, even though they are very talkative at home or wherever they feel comfortable. They may refuse to speak at school and withdraw from others or avoid eye contact. Children around the age of 5 are most commonly diagnosed with this disorder.

Specific Phobia

Some children may exhibit fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation. If this fear lasts a long time and is out of proportion to the actual danger posed, this fear may be classified as a phobia. Children will cry, freeze up, or cling to an adult when their fear is present. Children can have phobias that include but are not limited to insects, animals, storms, needles, loud sounds, and enclosed spaces. 

Panic Disorder

Children who experience recurring panic attacks and worry about having more may have panic disorder. A child having a panic attack may complain of symptoms that can include shortness of breath, chest pain, sensation of choking, nausea, dizziness, chill or heat sensations, fear of “going crazy,” and fear of dying.

Social Anxiety Disorder

If your child has an intense fear of having to participate in class or interaction with their peers, then they may have social anxiety disorder. Children may exhibit this fear through throwing tantrums, crying, clinging to adults, freezing up, or refusing to speak. They may also attempt to avoid social situations that provoke this fear.

Kids ad Parents Learning to Cope with Anxiety

Never hesitate to consult with licensed professionals about your child’s anxiety, as they can guide you towards the right resources and conduct a proper assessment. Children with anxiety disorders are typically treated with talk therapy, medication, or a combination of the two.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help a child test out what thoughts they have are realistic or unrealistic. Play therapy may work best for young children to work through anxieties.

Parents often can feel helpless when they see their child experiencing intense fear or worry. There may be a temptation to simply remove the child from all situations that prompt this anxiety or to over accommodate for their child’s fear.

These actions only make a child more sensitive to these environments. Parents can validate the child’s feelings but also model calmness and confidence that their child is going to be okay and can master scary situations like school or meeting new people. Also, because children are most anxious leading up to a challenging situation, it’s important for parents not to ask too many questions about the anxiety.

Remember, as a parent, it’s not your goal to eliminate all anxiety from your child’s life. Your job is to help your child learn to manage anxiety effectively so that they can deal with life’s challenges long into adulthood.

Anxiety is inevitable in life, but no child should have to feel stuck with it. What steps can you take today to help your child learn to manage anxiety successfully?

We are always here to help families residing in McKinney, Plano, Dallas, Denton, Allen, Garland, and the surrounding communities throughout Texas. If your child is experiencing panic attacks or anxiety, please contact our therapist team today at Foundations Counseling.

 

The Benefits of Mental Health “Telehealth Counseling” During Challenging Times

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

In a given year, approximately one in five adults in Texas is diagnosed with a mental health disorder. And more than half of those affected adults with a mental health condition do not receive proper treatment or supervision by a certified, licensed counselor. While there are multiple reasons and issues keeping people from receiving proper treatment today, one variable leading to this statistic is access to quality care.

Consider, for example, the entire United States:

  • More than 35 million American adults self-reported needing treatment for alcohol or illicit drug use, and needing mental health treatment.
  • There have been nearly 10,000 designated mental health shortage areas across the country, leaving over 100 million people without adequate access to mental health services.
  • Therefore, thousands of people in McKinney, Dallas, Plano, Denton, Allen, Dallas Fort Worth, and Garland Texas or additional surrounding communities need mental health therapists to one extent or another.
  • With the recent Coronavirus, it has been reported that an astonishing 50% of people are suffering anxiety and depression.

Offering Telehealth as a Temporary Solution

Improving mental health in Texas is not a simple, one-time fix. It requires a re-thinking of how we define healthcare to include behavioral health, moving beyond the stigma so people feel comfortable seeking care, and the coming together of multiple stakeholders and experts to develop new ways to deliver that care.

While the industry works to address the issues that prevent widespread and comprehensive behavioral health services, many providers are looking to improve access to quality mental health care through telemedicine, in general terms.

However, our counseling model is absolute. We firmly believe in person-to-person therapy sessions whether they be short-term or over the longer-term. In order to adapt to the current situation and challenging times that our patients are having to endure, we are offering “Telehealth” video conferencing.

The telehealth method allows our patients to continue a face-to-face therapy session, albeit digital nonetheless, but it reassures every individual that we are only a quick-click away from a chat.

The Benefits of Virtual Mental Health Programs

Data does show virtual mental health counseling is at least as effective — and in some cases, more than — treating anxiety, depression and other disorders compared to traditional face-to-face.

A four-year Johns Hopkins study that included close to 100,000 military veterans found the number of days patients were hospitalized dropped by 25 percent if they chose online counseling. This is slightly higher than the number of hospital visits experienced by patients who used face-to-face counseling.

For Foundations Counseling and patients alike, in addition to the positive health effects, there are numerous benefits to our temporary virtual mental health programs.

  1. Ease and convenience: patientssimply need a computer, webcam, and broadband internet access.
  2. Increased access: patients who live in remote areas, who are housebound, who have trouble lining up childcare, or just have too much going on in their lives to make room for regular therapy sessions, now have a connection to mental healthcare.
  3. Fewer missed appointments: patients are less likely to run into problems when they can meet from wherever they are located in Texas.
  4. Reach new clients: counselors who offer services virtually can expand their reach to new clients across Texas and reach into some new communities in the surrounding areas.
  5. Customize care: leveraging a virtual platform, Foundations Counseling is able to turn our focus to how care is delivered through appropriately-timed assessments and tracking trends and progress over time.

Benefits From The Patient Perspective

For patients in Texas, access to a mental health services provider can be life-changing especially given the challenging times. While benefits of virtual mental health services differ from patient to patient, they can include: ease, convenience, privacy, access and increased choice and options.

Our temporary Telehealth services allow patients the ability to fit sessions into their current lifestyle, rather than the other way around.

For example, a patient who needs continued therapy and is seeing a Foundations Counseling therapist using the Telehealth methodology is now able to get the support needed, from an individual who is understanding, non-judgmental and knows how to talk to the patient — since the patient is basically homebound. Having consistent access to this kind of professional support has reduced a patient’s stress and anxiety levels, and given them a sense of calm.

While Telehealth alone cannot fix all the challenges that exist today when it comes to comprehensive access to quality mental health services, it does give us a temporary solution in getting to one step closer. By bridging the gap between a Foundations Counseling therapists and patients — and removing barriers to things like location, transportation and convenience — we can focus on addressing the obstacles that continue to stand in the way of achieving treatment during challenging times related to the Coronavirus.

Foundations Counseling Telehealth Services Saves Times and Increases Access

Our temporary solution using Telehealth puts the Foundations Counseling teams mental health services within reach of men, women, and children who live in rural or remote areas. We continue to serve all patients located in McKinney, Dallas, Plano, Denton, Allen, Dallas Fort Worth, and Garland Texas.

Lastly, with clinical mental health counselors now serving clients over long distances through videoconferencing, travel time can involve just the seconds it takes to walk to one’s laptop. Our innovative counseling model eliminates a client’s need for transportation, and any travel-related costs.

If you are a current patient or know someone who is having a challenging time during the current situation, please contact our highly skilled and professional team of therapists at Foundations Counseling today!

Learning to Structure Your Children’s Time During School Closures

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

It is known that professional therapists and counselors express considerable worry over risks with families locked up 24/7 together for an indefinite period. Parents may be joking on social media about their childcare experiences as more and more states go into lockdown with the Coronavirus. Learning to structure your children’s time is essential during school closures.

Being locked down gives us the chance to spend lots and lots of time with our children which can be a wonderful thing. But when we have to work from home and we are all stuck together in a small space, tensions can escalate.

Your child’s school has canceled in-person classes due to the Coronavirus outbreak, and you are worried about an academic freefall or a home-schooling free-for-all where you end up playing the homework police all day, every day — while also working from home?

Regardless of the situation, this is a great opportunity for parents to learn how to structure their children’s time when school is out. For example, wearing pajamas signals to children that their day hasn’t started or that they are on vacation.

Structuring a Routine While at Home

Kids of all ages, and adults too for that matter, perform best with structure. When they know what to expect, they can adjust better and more successfully moderate their mood and behavior.

Maintain a consistent bedtime.

When kids say, “But there’s no school tomorrow!” reply with “Yes, but your brain and body are still growing, and tomorrow you will learn something new.”

Maintain a consistent wake-up time.

While you may not need to drag your teen out of bed to look bleary-eyed at a geometry workbook at 6am, and studies have shown that teenagers do not perform best early in the morning, continue to create and maintain a daily routine. Have your child get dressed, eat breakfast, brush their teeth, and do any typical “before school” chores or activities.

Maintain consistent meal times.

Your school-aged child can likely tell you exactly when lunch is, and their body and brain will function best if they’re kept on that schedule.

Set a reasonable schedule that mimics the school day.

Many schools are providing materials or Internet resources for children. Structure your child’s day to include focused time on subjects, such as scheduling math from 9–9:40am. Model good behavior by focusing on your own quiet tasks at the same time. Separate work times depending on their age, as if they were at school such as a “recess.”

Each day does not have to be identical.

Learning to structure your children’s time usually requires remembering that your child is used to special days like gym, art or music. Gym can mean playing leap frog. Art can mean building a fort for action figures out of a cereal box. Music can be playing a favorite song with a soup pot and spoon for“accompaniment.”

Sample Schedule:

  • By 9 am: Out of bed, eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth/hair, make bed, complete other routine “before school” chores
  • 9–9:45am: Set out expectations for day. Morning physical activity such as walk outside, stretching or dance party inside.
  • 9:45–10:45am: Focused academic time
  • 10:45–11am: Transition break: Quick game of tag, Simon Says, Frisbee, walk the dog
  • 11am–12pm: Creative time: Build, draw, paint, create
  • 12–12:30pm: Lunch time
  • 12:30–1:30pm: Quiet fun time (no electronics). Look at books, color, build with Legos, dress up dolls, paint toenails.
  • 1:30–2:30pm: Focused academic time
  • 2:30–2:45pm: Break
  • 2:45–3:45pm: Focused academic time
  • 3:45–4:15pm: Clean up all activities
  • 4:15–5:15pm: Outdoor play time: Bike ride, climb a tree, walk around the block.
  • 5:15–6:15pm: Dinner preparation, eating, and clean up
  • 6:15–9pm: TV time, baths or showers, plan for next day
  • 9pm: Bedtime

Alternative Activities Should be Fun!

The best breaks involve movement and exercise! Get up, move around, go outside, have a snack, toss a ball, make a paper airplane, fold the laundry, have a pillow fight. Remember that your child is used to structured activity at school with social interaction.

Learning to structure your children’s time may not be the time to tell your child “go play outside” without providing some suggested activity. Plant seeds (indoors or out) and mark the progress daily in a journal. Take the break with your child; you will find that your focused work time is more productive, too. Make sure “break” isn’t your child trading one screen on a tablet, computer, or iPad for another.

Be sure to limit “screen time” and technology to reasonable sessions. If you are unsure about age vs. screen time, make sure to discuss this theme with a counselor.

Create celebrations or events to look forward to!

All of us are disappointed by the cancellation of fun upcoming events, from school band concerts to birthday parties to major vacations. Yes, many children love to attend school and would “opt in” to weekend classes.

So, create excitement and anticipation by planning fun events at home. The planning of and preparation for an event is often more fun than the actual event. These events need not be elaborate or cost a lot of money.

For example, have a costume party.Get out old Halloween costumes or other dress-up supplies and have a fashion show. You can even invite another family over FaceTime or similar platforms.

Another fun example may be to declare next Friday “polite night” and get out your best entertaining supplies, wear your fanciest clothes and use excellent manners. The next week, have Pirate Night or ‘80s Night and dress accordingly.

When you have a good idea, share with other friends and family so they can try it at their own home.

Parents! Remind yourself to take a time out.

If you feel overwhelmed, stressed, tired, hungry, or are reaching your limit in some way, remove yourself from the situation. Assure that your child is safe, then take a few moments to yourself to calm down. Take a shower. Walk outside. Vacuum. Lie on your bed in the dark. Call a friend. Watch a silly video. Recharge, forgive yourself, wash your hands and start again.

The sense of complete chaos is more anxiety-provoking for kids than having a schedule.

Support tips and suggestions from a counselor will be enlightening.

Learning to structure your children’s time requires a plan and a schedule that can help reduce conflict for school-age kids who might have academic work to do during school closures. It’s easier to get buy-in from kids to do a worksheet or reading or writing time if they know what to expect, rather than surprising them with a request to do homework when they were settling in with a video game or TV.

If you are a parent and need additional support, someone to speak with for suggestions, or feel overwhelmed, please contact Foundations Counseling today! We are here to help parents throughout a myriad of communities in Texas!

How Isolation Can Affect Mental Health

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

How Isolation Can Affect Mental Health

As countries across the globe hunker down, long-term isolation can have profound physical and psychological effects. In Texas alone, as with the United States in whole, isolation will affect about half of the population with cases of anxiety and even depression, or both.

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues, millions of people are coming to terms with being increasingly cut off from society. Loneliness is a feeling of sadness or distress about being by yourself or feeling disconnected from the world around you. It may be felt moreover a long period of time. It is also possible to feel lonely, even when surrounded by people.

Isolation is being separated from other people and your environment. Sometimes this occurs through decisions we make ourselves, or because of circumstance like doing a job that requires travel, relocation, or currently, it may be due to the Coronavirus.

Beyond the inconvenience of working from home, or not being able to go to bars, restaurants or movie theaters, however, therapists have found that social isolation can have a profound effect on people’s physical, as well as mental health.

Long-term, isolation even increases the risk of premature death. By some, we can also label this phenomenon as a social recession to match any economic downturn also caused by the growing pandemic and it can have profound physical and psychological effects.

People who are more socially connected show less inflammation, conversely people who are more isolated and lonely show increased chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation has been implicated in a variety of chronic diseases such as prolonged anxiety and depression.

What do Statistics Tell Us about Isolation?

Loneliness increases earlier death by 26%, social isolation by 29% and living alone by 32%. With that being said, a period of a few weeks in isolation should not lead to the inflammation of severe mental health issues. Yet, many people will still see an impact on their health, however.

One of the reasons people can suffer in social isolation is because personal relationships can help us cope with stress.

The ongoing uncertainty of what’s going on right now in the world, your body’s response to that may differ. Depending on the extent to which you feel like you have the resources you need to cope with that. And that in large part may be dependent on whether or not you feel like you have others in your life you can rely on; that you’ve got someone who has your back or you can count on, or you can get through it together.

The fact is that short periods of isolation can cause increase anxiety or depression within only days.

Traditional Reasons that You may Feel Lonely or Isolated include:

  • Losing a loved one or friend through death or relocation
  • Lack of close family ties
  • Living alone
  • Difficulties in meeting new people due to access issues, having an introverted personality, or feeling like you don’t belong
  • Feelings of loss or grief
  • Poor physical health, frailty, mobility issues
  • A mental health condition such as depression or anxiety
  • Fear of rejection from others or feelings of being “different” or stigmatized by society
  • Inability to participate in activities due to access issues, mobility, illness, transport
  • Retirement from work, home relocation, starting out in a new role or community
  • Lack of purpose or meaning in life
  • Language or cultural barriers, or reduced connection with your culture of origin
  • Geographic isolation
  • Feeling lost in the crowd

Texas is a Community-Driven State

We have evolved to be social creatures. For all the history of humanity, people have been in family structures, people have been in groups, we’re evolved to kind of crave and rely on that interaction with other human beings. Most therapists realize and understand the importance of socializing.

The paradox is that yes, the quarantines and isolation may help our physical exposure to the Coronavirus. While on the other hand, Texas is one of the most social states where people love to gather, watch sports, go on family outings, and places of worship.

So, when we don’t have that it’s a huge void in the way that we go about being human. This is something that has been kind of hard-wired into who we are as beings.

Texting, video calling, or even the phone could potentially help avert the sense of isolation or loneliness but it isn’t the same.

Tech isn’t a perfect substitute but it is a temporary solution, in the short-term. Physical contact, being face-to-face with people, there’s all sorts of subtle social cues that we pick up on that we rely on, that are ingrained in us over generations in Texas.

We do think you can get part of the way there by engaging with others digitally. We think the richer the format, probably the better – so a phone call is better than a text, a video conference is probably better than a phone call.

What did our team decide to do given the health crisis? We immediately integrated a “telehealth methodology” consisting of video conferencing to meet our patients, see their faces, and interact as much as humanly possible during this challenging period. As well all know, this too, will eventually pass.

How Does Loneliness and Isolation Affect Your Mental Health?

Everyone feels lonely from time to time, but long periods of loneliness or social isolation can have a negative impact on your physical, mental and social health. Some signs include:

  • Physical symptoms: aches and pains, headaches, illness or worsening of medical conditions
  • Mental health conditions: increased risk of depression, anxiety, paranoia or panic attacks
  • Low energy: tiredness or lack of motivation
  • Sleep problems: difficulty getting to sleep, waking frequently or sleeping too much
  • Diet problems: loss of appetite, sudden weight gain or loss
  • Substance abuse: Increased consumption of alcohol, smoking, medications, drugs
  • Negative feelings: feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or thoughts about suicide

The Most Vulnerable to Isolation?

Over time, almost anyone and everyone can be vulnerable to loneliness and isolation. Oftentimes, and for a variety of reasons, older people tend to be the most vulnerable in these situations.

Older people, who are more at risk of the Coronavirus, may be less technologically savvy, and may have fewer connections to begin with. They might not be able to video conference or even send a text message. Family members and friends must remain diligent by reassuring them that help is just about everywhere.

We truly want to make sure that all of us our reaching out to the older generations around Texas, the elderly, and ensure that they’re doing OK. It is important that they know there are still people looking out for them, that they’re bonded with, and that they’re connected with.

How to Seek Professional Help and Support?

If loneliness and social isolation are causing you, a loved one, a family member or a friend distress during these challenging times, please contact one of our professionally licensed counselors today, at Foundations Counseling.

Shopping Addiction TX

Tell-Tale Signs that You Have a Shopping Addiction

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

It’s one thing to surrender to the occasional impulse buy a watch gleaming from behind the display case, or a pair of black shoes that will add the perfect dash of sophistication to your favorite business suit. But when your purchases shift from impulsive to compulsive, it’s the first sign that you might be grappling with a more serious condition: a shopping addiction.

Researchers estimate that up to 6 percent of Americans are so-called “shopaholics”. And with retailers ramping up their promotions on television and even more intensely online, this number is constantly on the rise over the last five years. In our society, the phrase “shop till you drop” translates as frivolous and fun, but when spending presents a real problem, the glamor fades rapidly.

Professional counselors and therapists are seeing it all-too-often and call it “Compulsive Buying Disorder”, which is characterized as an impulse-control issue, just like gambling or binge eating, and has the potential to create a whirlwind of emotional and financial distress.

Are you or a loved one a shopaholic and addicted to spending?

The following seven signs represent a potential shopping addiction problem. Of course, there are more signs to watch out for but if a few from the list below stands out, we highly encourage people to contact a professional therapist.

1. You have many unopened or tagged items in your closet.

We’re not talking about the sweater your aunt gave you last holiday season, but about items you selected on your own that sit unopened or with their tags still attached. You likely even forgot about some of these possessions. These may include boxes of shoes lining the bottom of your closet or jackets that have never seen the light of day. Any unopened item, or stacks of products stowed away in closets or around your house represent a potential problem.

2. You often purchase things you don’t need or didn’t plan to buy.

You’re easily tempted by items that you can do without. A fifth candle for your bedroom dresser, a new iPod case, even though yours is fine. You get the idea. You’re particularly vulnerable if you’ve admitted to having an “obsession,” like shoes or designer handbags. Just because your splurges tend to stick to one category doesn’t make them any more rational.

3. An argument or frustration sparks an urge to shop.

Compulsive shopping is an attempt to fill an emotional void, like loneliness, lack of control, or lack of self-confidence. Shopaholics also tend to suffer from mood disorders, eating disorders, or substance abuse problems. So, if you tend to binge on comfort food after a bad day, professional therapists will probably suggest that you may be more likely to indulge in a shopping spree too.

4. You experience a rush of excitement when you buy.

Shopaholics experience a “high” or an adrenaline rush, not from owning something, but from the act of purchasing it. Therapists say dopamine, a brain chemical associated with pleasure, is often released in waves as shoppers see a desirable item and consider buying it. This burst of excitement can become addictive. This action is repeated in order to induce the adrenaline, over and over again.

5. Purchases are followed by feelings of remorse.

This guilt doesn’t have to be limited to big purchases, either; compulsive shoppers are just as often attracted to deals and bargain hunting. Despite any remorse that follows, though, shopaholics are adept at rationalizing just about any purchase if challenged.

6. You try to conceal your shopping habits.

If you’re hiding shopping bags in your daughter’s or son’s closet or constantly looking over your shoulder for passing co-workers as you shop online, this is a possible sign that you’re spending money at the expense of your family, your loved ones, or even your job.

7. You feel anxious on the days you don’t shop.

It’s one thing to feel anxious if you haven’t had your morning cup of coffee, but if you’re feeling on edge because you haven’t swiped your debit card all day, you should be concerned. Shopaholics have reported feeling “out of sorts” if they haven’t had their shopping fix, and will typically admit to their therapists that they go shopping online if not able to physically pull away from their day’s responsibilities.

If the characteristics above sound a lot like you or someone you know, consider speaking to a professional prior to a shopping addiction getting even more severe. And if you’re on the fence about whether you really have a problem, trying to figure out on your own why you’re always shopping and how you can change could be a big relief – for both your well-being and your budget, definitely consider contacting a licensed therapist immediately.

Some recommendations to help you kick a shopping habit in conjunction with professional therapy may be:

Find a new activity.

 Jogging, exercising, listening to music, and possibly watching more TV to entice your brain with different stimulation. Any of these activities could potentially substitute for shopping and would be a much lighter burden on your wallet.

Identifying triggers. 

Take note of what’s likely to send you off to the nearest department store; whether it’s an argument with your significant other or frustration after a business meeting. When these feelings overcome you, resist shopping at all costs and find a healthier way to work it out.

Remove temptation. 

It’s no secret that you shouldn’t walk through your favorite boutique if you’re trying to curb your spending. Try to limit your shopping trips and go only when absolutely necessary. If online shopping is your weakness, resist the urge to surf your favorite stores’ sites and even consider keeping your laptop out of reach.

Carry only enough cash to buy what you went for.

Leave your debit and credit cards at home. Create a shopping list with estimated costs, and stick to it when you’re at the store.

Ask for help. 

If you’re still struggling with compulsive spending, don’t be afraid to ask a professional therapist for help. You can start with self-help books or by asking a friend or family member to help keep you in check, but it is always most cost-effective and wiser to enlist professional help. A therapist can help you nip this problem in the bud, efficiently and with positive decision-making techniques.

If you or a loved-one are experiencing patterns of a shopping-related addiction, please contact our highly experienced team of professionals today, at Foundations Counseling.

Teenager Mental Health

Your Teenager’s Tech Use in Texas Should Be Monitored for Best Mental Health Outcomes

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Teenager mental health is a must to focus on given the world we live in and society today. As the most prominent therapists counseling group in McKinney, Texas, there are things that we know and still discovering when it comes to a teenager’s use of technology. For the last few years, our expert therapists have seen a spike in situations with parents concerned about their teen’s tech use. We work with pre-teens and teenagers, including the parents, on how to monitor “too much tech.” From McKinney to Allen to Plano to Melissa to Princeton, Texas the subject comes up more often than anyone communicates, openly.

Anxiety and Mental Health Issues in Youth

With anxiety and teenager mental health issues on the rise over the last few years in McKinney, Texas and the surrounding communities within Texas at large, parents and educators have scrambled to find the culprit. A likely issue is a combination of an abundance of new technology and smartphones.

The rise in the ubiquity of smartphones or tablets has coincided with the rise in psychological distress among teens, and there are more than a few intuitive reasons to believe the two trends are connected. Smartphones and social media have given teenagers in Texas, who are in the process of developing a sense of self, an unbridled ability to compare themselves and new mediums through which to be bullied by “angsty” peers.

Throw in the ability to escape from the world and its problems anywhere they go through games, movies, and other forms of media, and it is easy to see why parents in Texas are concerned that smartphones may be destroying a generation.

Correlations Between Teenagers in Texas Using Too Much Tech

Our team of certified and licensed therapists at Foundations Counseling in McKinney, Texas, understand the validity of these concerns and related worries. With a topic such as mental health that has so many determinants, it is important to be cautious about assuming that a correlation confirms our hypotheses and look instead to what the research says about the importance of a particular variable.

Thus far, the research has been mixed: many studies have confirmed the correlation, but none have found a causal link that can confirm technology or social media are leading to an increase in teen mental health issues.

The association between increased digital technology use and psychological distress is well documented. Psychological distress in general has increased in the United States over the last 10 years.At the same time, smartphone consumerism and ownership has also increased from 35% to 81%.

This increase has been especially pronounced for Generation Z, the generation that has grown up with smartphones. Individual-level survey data show similar correlations, with data from multiple surveys across different locations in Texas and years showing that increased digital technology use is associated with increased psychological distress for individuals.

It could be that increased screen time is causing mood disorders, but it could also be that teens with mood disorders are more likely to spend time in front of screens. Published research in psychology has not yet produced a study that clarifies this relationship and confirms that it is indeed increased digital technology use that leads to mental distress, and not vice versa. Yet, we are told confidentially by teens and parents alike in Texas, that anxiety begins to develop usually with the use of social media, video games, and constant texting even during school.

Texan Teens Use the Term Digital Technology

Digital technology can take on many forms and mediums, each with different effects on the human psyche. Using technology to webcam a long-distance relative, for example, will likely alleviate feelings of loneliness, whereas spending hours scrolling through Instagram may exacerbate one’s social anxiety.

Mental health is similarly broad, with technology affecting different aspects asymmetrically. It is documented that some teens may turn to Netflix to help boost their happiness through TV shows and providing a cultural connection to others. We may never know what the effects of digital technology on mental health are, because it may be too broad of a question with different implications for different people. Whether the teenager is from Allen, Texas or Houston, Texas or even Austin, Texas, digital technology in abundance definitely takes it’s toll on the younger generation.

Negative Effect on Teens’ Sleeping Habits

One major finding is the negative effect technology has had on teens’ sleeping habits. A survey report by Common Sense Media revealed that 68% of all teens throughout the United States actually take their devices into the bedroom at night and 29% sleep with their devices in their beds.

Many studies have shown the deleterious effects of technology use before bed, as the blue light emitted by smartphones disrupts the production of sleep hormones and thus decreases sleep quality. Even more alarming for parents, 36% of teenagers wake up and check their devices at least once per night.

The survey confirms what parents may see themselves: that increased smartphone use in the bedroom, especially right before sleeping, has the potential to decrease both the quantity and quality of children’s sleep. And a lack of sleep creates a major determinant of mental stability.

Conclusion: Mental Health for Teens in Texas

Technology and mental health are complicated, and it is difficult to fully understand the relationship between the two. Some aspects of technology may have negative effects on mental health, while other aspects may have positive ones.

Part of the reason we don’t fully understand the relationship between the two is that we have not asked enough specific, targeted questions. A question about how technology is affecting sleep is one example of a good one, and there are countless others that parents can ask and observe for answers that may be unique for their child.

Whether it be wondering how technology affects their child’s ability to focus or how it affects their patience, parents should continue to closely watch for positive and negative patterns in behavior or attitude and experiment with media rules to find what fits their family’s needs.

We are here to help and specialize in working with younger generations who will usually be willing to learn how to adjust their tech habits. If you are concerned about your teenager’s use of technology, teenager mental health, and live in McKinney, Allen, Plano, Melissa, or Princeton, Texas, please contact our distinguished expert therapist team today.

Our Foundations Counseling offices are easily accessible from surrounding communities and located in McKinney, Texas.

Successful Alcohol Rehab TX

Quitting Alcohol Isn’t Easy but Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Plays a Huge Role in A Successful Recovery

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Alcoholism treatment combined with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and plays a huge role in a successful recovery. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was developed as a way to implement cognitive and behavioral changes to identify and correct problematic behaviors. Typical goals of CBT are to be able to anticipate, and identify, behavioral and cognitive problems, increasing clients’ self-control by developing effective coping strategies, and educate the client on maladaptive thinking and behaviors and promote positive change.

Understanding Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Techniques are utilized to exploring positive and negative consequences of problematic behaviors such as the negative consequences of continued alcohol use and abuse. Self-monitoring for alcoholism treatment is also utilized in CBT to recognize cravings early, and identifying trigger situations that might increase the addicts’ risk for use, and developing positive strategies for coping with urges and triggers, as well as managing high-risk behaviors.

Develop Better Habits with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a form of psychotherapy. The idea is that your thinking patterns can affect your emotions and your behavior. To treat substance use disorders, you’ll need to change the way that you think and behave. This form of therapy was created by a psychiatrist named Aaron Beck in the 1960s. However, the therapy that is practiced today incorporates other techniques practiced by certified counselors who specialize in addiction disorders.

CBT helps patients during alcoholism treatment, understanding and even deal with the emotions behind their thoughts. This treatment combines both cognitive therapy and behavioral techniques. Patients become more self-aware of their emotions and their actions. They are then able to modify their behavior. With constant practice, their behaviors and reactions to stimuli become a habit. They then use this habit to recover from an addiction.

CBT will usually incorporate both a “multimodal therapy” and a rational-emotive behavioral therapy. It’s also very client-recovery centered for those dealing with alcohol and other addiction challenges. This is one of the many therapeutic approaches that are the most hands-on. Licensed therapists work with alcohol and drug abusers to change their way of thinking. This addiction recovery process will typically take many therapy sessions and is mid to longer term.

Some Crucial CBT Techniques and Tools for Alcoholics

This type of alcoholism treatment relies on several different techniques. Each patient and therapist may prefer one technique over another. It may take some time for patients to master different alcohol recovery tools. Some of the most popular tools include:

  • Journaling. Writing down one’s emotions and thoughts can prove to very useful. Many patients use journaling to analyze their behaviors. They can then identify harmful behaviors and think of positive solutions for them.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation. One of the main reasons why most addicts struggle to get sober is because they can’t calm down their emotions. They often give in to cravings and urges. They also look for escapes when faced with stressful situations. CBT teaches patients how to relax by de-escalating situations. One of the easiest ways to relax is to relax one muscle group at a time. When drug and alcohol abusers are relaxed, they tend to make more logical decisions.
  • Interoceptive Exposure. Many alcoholics are afraid of certain situations. Fear can drive abuse. To get over their fear, CBT may expose patients to certain stimuli when they are in a safe environment. This teaches patients that there’s actually nothing to be afraid of. This CBT technique is a powerful coping strategy.

The unique tools in CBT can help those with a co-occurring disorder. Those struggling with a mental illness or a mental health disorder may benefit from this treatment as well. They learn how to modulate and regulate their own thinking to treat depression and anxiety disorders.

Use of CBT For Alcoholism Treatment

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in recovery as an alcoholism treatment includes various interventions, which can be used individually or in group settings, especially in alcohol abuse recovery programs.

One of the interventions is Motivational Interventions. This is where the counselor will address the motivational barriers, or treatment interfering behaviors, to change and recovery. It targets client’s ambivalence toward behavior change in regards to alcohol abuse and recovery. The motivation to overcome alcohol abuse by helping the person to live in the now and focusing on how they want to live.

This therapy involves structured conversations with therapists, which help clients increase CBT skills and tools. When the addict is in engaging their addiction, unhealthy, high-risk behaviors can be all consuming. Homework assignments and constant attention to the therapy process of learning sober behaviors are integral to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

CBT Treatment for Relapse Prevention

Relapse Prevention is a variant of CBT alcoholism treatment. This therapy focuses on the identification and prevention of high-risk situations the alcoholics might encounter. This could be a favorite drinking establishment, or friends and acquaintances who have been long-term “drinking buddies”.

This therapy includes challenge the client’s expectation of their perceived positive effects of alcohol will have coupled with psychoeducation to help the client make an educated choice in a high-risk situation.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy includes learning and unlearning behaviors within the addiction. CBT is an all-immersive program that works on changing belief systems and behaviorally working to change responses to triggers both internally and externally.

These behavioral therapies and treatments can be particularly effective when coupled with pharmaceutical treatments to help reduce the effects of withdrawal. Pharmaceutical treatment can help the client get a few weeks of sobriety and take the ‘edge off’ of the initial recovery processes.

Effectiveness of CBT in recovery from alcoholism focuses on studying the thought patterns to help introspection of self, both negative and positive, the world, and future planning. Individuals involved in CBT will learn to identify cognitive distortions which cloud a person’s world view. Some distortions include all or nothing thinking where the person sees situation or event in either “black or white.”

Integrating CBT in Alcoholism Treatment

In CBT and alcoholism, the focus is on specific, attainable goals. Each session has a specific objective. The goal is to help the individual formulate a goal and a way to obtain that goal with healthy tools and skills. CBT also works on educating the individual on life skills to create their own toolbelt for success.

Rational thinking is also a part of this process where thoughts and actions are based on real, functional ideas, and to question what is happening in the person’s environment to make appropriate and rational decisions. This is extremely useful in triggering situations where oftentimes during the addiction, the addict was acting on highly emotional states, rather than rationality.

Overgeneralization or viewing a recent event as negative or a never-ending pattern of defeat. A “mental filter” is when a person only thinks about the negatives. Disqualifying the positive where only believing that “positives don’t count” because of another force. Jumping to conclusions where individuals tend to “mind read” or assume something will happen or has happened and it is true, whether or not it is. Within Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the belief is that changing your thoughts will lead to more positive thinking and improved emotions which in turn change addictive behaviors.

Effectiveness of CBT in recovery from alcoholism includes various components which utilize cognitive and behavioral changes, incentives and rewards, motivational drives, as well as beliefs for future recovery. CBT provides a support network for the recovering alcoholic to help navigate through triggering situations.

And lastly, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy provided specifically by licensed professionals helps the individual with positive thinking which can in turn foster increased levels of self-confidence and hope. CBT aids the individual in withstanding peer pressure and recognizing stressors, the therapy is also relatively cost effective, and can also aid in keeping to more normalized activities of daily living and routine.

In conclusion, CBT can benefit the recovering addict significantly as it address the emotions and thoughts of destructive alcohol addiction.

If you are an alcoholic, a recovering alcoholic, or know someone who has challenges with alcohol addictions, please do not wait. For more information and appointments, please contact the highly experienced team of professionals at Foundation Counseling today.