Heritage provides a variety of therapy services including individual, group, and couples/family therapy across the life span. Each endeavor is rooted in the therapeutic alliance between therapist and client and guided by the agreement on goals. Adult therapy is tailored to each person’s needs, using research-based therapies that have shown effectiveness in addressing specific issues. Adult therapy is comprehensive; new skills are learned in each session and then exercised outside of therapy. Read below to learn more about the issues we address.
Anger management counseling helps those with excessive, uncontrollable or destructive anger. This counseling helps people with anger management issues understand what triggers their anger and provides them with an assortment of techniques and exercises to dissipate their anger in a more constructive fashion.
Our new Center for Values-Based Living Program at Heritage offers an array of potent therapy techniques to help with anger management. These include DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) as well as Mindfulness training.
To get started, call our main office number at (630) 325-5300 and ask to do an intake. Help is not far away…
Anxiety or Fears
Anxiety includes such experiences as worry, dread, the anticipation of something negative looming in the near future; it includes restlessness, distractibility, inattention and problems with immediate memory. Sometimes anxiety is tied to a specific person, event, or place. Mostly, anxiety is vague, ill-defined and its presence is not tied to anything specific; it is more free-floating. Anxiety is always accompanied by unwanted physical sensations such as ‘butterflies in the stomach,’ muscle tension, headaches, tightness in the chest, hot or cold sensations in the arms and feet, dizziness, and nausea. Treatment includes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and can include medication when the symptoms are severe and/or there is a significant family history of anxiety problems.
We may also use specialized tests such as the Beck Anxiety Inventory or the Revised Children’s Manifest Anxiety Scale to assist in diagnosis and treatment planning.
For more information visit our web-based mental health resources
Career counseling at Heritage looks as two different elements – patterns of interest, and areas of strength / apptitude.
Assessing Patterns of Interest
One of the best predictors of happiness in a job is the degree to which you have a lot in common with other people who are doing the same kind of work (and are happy with their jobs). So, we give a test (the Strong Interest Inventory) which looks at a variety of things such as what you like to do for fun, the kinds of people you like, whether you like to get up a move around or prefer to work in an office much of the time, as well as a host of specific job tasks and responsibilities. Then, all of this is compared to people in several hundred different occupations to tell you who are them most like.
We also look at personality patterns and how this influences job satisfaction. Tests such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Enneagram, or the 16PF are used to help fill in the picture.
There are a number of ways of assessing strengths and abilities. We use standardized intelligence tests, memory tests, achievement tests, measures of cognitive flexibility, and can also assess the executive functions of the brain (attention, concentration, working memory, organization, follow through, attention to detail).
Chronic Pain or Illness
There are few things more demoralizing and debilitating in life than chronic illnesses, including chronic pain. Often, when no definitive medical diagnosis can be made, the medical community may imply, directly or indirectly, that it’s psychosomatic pain, or the person must somehow be making the pain up, like it’s totally a psychological symptom.
But the more contemporary view is that stress and other personality factors can impact the experience of pain. Generally, stress makes pain worse. And certain personality factors can do this too. A tendency to be cynical, negative, to expect that things won’t work out, are personality factors which can enhance the experience of pain. Other personality factors such as resilience, optimism, and a search for the opportunity to grow in the midst of suffering can reduce the experience of physical pain.
Depression often accompanies chronic illness, including chronic pain. And this is pretty understandable. Most of us will feel depressed and demoralized when dealing with these chronic conditions. In fact, many medications used for the treatment of chronic pain are actually also used as antidepressant medication, so there is obviously a complex relationship between physical pain and depression.
A thorough work-up with a qualified physician should be used to determine if a medical cause for the illness / pain can be identified, and if so, treated. When, after a second or third opinion, the illness cannot be either identified or treated, then another specialist should be consulted. In the case of chronic pain, a pain specialist should be consulted. This is almost always a physician who specializes in pain management. Often, a mental health professional is associated with the chronic pain clinic. This recognizes the role of stress pain, relaxation exercises, mindfulness training and the like in reducing the chronic pain experience.
Coaching is a process between a coach and a client that guides the client from where they are to greater competence and fulfillment. Coaching focuses on the future and helps people move forward. A key role of a coach is assisting the client to maintain the motivation and commitment needed to achieve their goals. They help their client commit to action and serve as a sounding-board to their experiences . The goals of coaching usually have to do with one’s external world and behavior and lend themselves more easily to being measured. Coaching tends to be more direct, challenging and with a focus on accountability. Compared to counseling, coaching is more focused on growing than healing and is less focused on overcoming weaknesses and more about building skills and strengths. Coaching can fall into the categories of life coach, relationship coach, parent coach, performance optimization coach or executive coach.
Coaching does not involve a psychiatric diagnoses and cannot be billed to insurance. Coaching can be delivered effectively over the phone or via email. Read our therapists’ bios to see which identify themselves as a coach.
Everyone’s personality, regardless of type, exists on a continuum somewhere between very healthy and very troubled. Signs of a healthy personality include: resilience, creative problem solving even under stress, flexible adaptation to change, resourcefulness, the ability to see opportunities for change and growth, a realistic assessment of one’s self worth, being open to new experiences, being truthful, regulating and controlling anger and other impulses, the capacity to expect realistic entitlements, and finally, having good, mutual relationships with non-family members over many years. Signs of an impaired / unhealthy personality include many of the opposite traits: a persistent defensiveness, inflexibility under stress, failure to learn from experience, persistent lying, a tendency to collapse and have trouble coping under stress, seeing oneself as a victim, blaming others for one’s misfortune, not being able to realistically assess one’s self worth (i.e., either feeling chronically low in self esteem or having an inflated sense of self worth), being close-minded, not properly regulating anger and other impulses, either allowing oneself to be treated like a doormat, or treating others in this way, and not having good, mutual, long-term relationships with non-family members.
One of the best things you can do when relating to difficult people, is to embody as many traits of a healthy personality than you can. Stay flexible and adaptive; don’t respond defensively; do a good job of looking after your own needs where you can so that you end up neither deprived nor as resentful. Seek feedback from those whom you trust to tell you the truth as they see it, and listen carefully to their perspectives. Remember that getting better at love is more important than being right. Set healthy boundaries and enforce them with loving detachment. Resolve that you’re not going to let difficult people bring out the worst in you. When all else fails, get some help – call it interpersonal coaching, therapy, or consultation. In the Chicago area, check out the conflict resolution services available at Heritage Professional Associates. We can help you cultivate the healthy aspects of your personality, learn about your blind spots, and become more resilient and capable in handling difficult people.
Coping With Physical Illness
Physical illness or chronic pain can affect every area of your life including self-esteem, relationships, work, the ability to socialize with others, and spiritual beliefs. It can trigger many complicated thoughts and feelings resulting in sadness, fear, worry, hopelessness, or anger. This may be because you feel that your body is out of control, your situation has become unbearable, you have to depend on others for help doing basic things, and there seems like nothing you can do to make your life better. Sometimes even the prescribed medical treatment for the illness can seem to intensify the problem. It can be difficult to talk about your physical and emotional experiences with those close to you because you don’t want to worry or upset them. This can leave you feeling lonely and isolated from family and friends. Anxiety and depression often result from all of this stress, and become concerns with which you have to cope in addition to the illness or pain itself.
How can we help?
Handling all these complicated emotional responses alone is often impossible and always more stressful than doing so with understanding and support. Even when there is compassion and care from family and friends, it is often easier to cope when talking with a psychotherapist is part of the treatment plan. A trusting relationship with a trained and skillful professional, the opportunity to talk freely and openly about your experiences and concerns, and help coping with worrisome thoughts, troubling feelings, and practical problems can make a difficult time more bearable.
If you or someone you love is struggling to cope with physical illness or chronic pain, call us today so that we can help with the challenges you are facing personally or in caring for someone significant in your life.
For more information visit our web-based mental health resources
Depression affects millions of people each year. There are some 21 symptoms of depression; only one of the symptoms is sadness. Depression can also include changes in sleep, appetite, sex drive (.libido), as well as loss of attention, concentration and memory. Things which used to be fun or pleasurable no longer are. There can be increased irritability, sensitivity to criticism, and a general sense that things will never get better. Suicidal thoughts and behaviors can be part of the picture as well. The type of treatment for depression depends upon its type and severity. It may include cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), insight-oriented therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and often we work with qualified physicians who provide medication for the treatment of depression.
We may recommend the use of specialized psychological measures of depression such as the Beck Depression Inventory, the Reynolds Child Depression Scale or the Reynolds Adolescent Depression Scale to assist in formulating the best treatment plan for you.
For more information visit our web-based mental health resources
Eating disorders occur when people take concerns over weight and body image to an extreme, developing abnormal eating habits and/or excessive distress over body weight or shape. They often lead to numerous physical and emotional problems.
There’s a saying that goes something like this: “change is inevitable; growth is optional.” To this we could add “….and some change is really, really hard!.” Some of the more challenging life transitions that we work with include:
- moving to a new area
- death of a loved one
- birth of a child
- a child moving away / leaving for college
- getting a new job or a job promotion
- losing a job
- dealing with a prolonged illness or disability in yourself or a loved one
Often, life transitions are difficult in and of themselves. However, they are often made more challenging because they cause us to questions ourselves – our self confidence, our values, our beliefs in human nature or to ask bigger questions about why we are here. In every big life transition, there is an opportunity for change and growth which might not have been available to us otherwise.
If you’re struggling with a major life transition, talk to a qualified mental health professional. In the Chicago area, come see one of our staff at Heritage Professional Associates.
Loss or Grief
Grief is the physical, emotional and mental condition that we experience when we lose something dear to us. Although the loss that prompts a grief response usually refers to a person in our life, it can also be in response to losing a pet, a job,a marriage, our health,a role we fill, a way of thinking about ourselves or our sense of the world being a certain way. Grieving is a normal and natural part of being human. Although grieving may tend to have some general characteristics, your grief and what you need to do to move through your grief is unique to you.
What are some of the symptoms of grief?
Symptoms include but are not limited to shock, numbness, mental rumination and preoccupation with death. problems focusing, remembering or getting things done, fatigue, insomnia, weight gain or loss, a sense of vulnerability, a desire to isolate, intense sadness, anxiety, anger, loneliness, confusion, helplessness, guilt, and feeling the weight of the world on ones shoulders. Everybody’s response is different.
When can counseling help?
Because grief is a normal human reaction, Counseling is not always indicated when one has experienced a loss. The counseling relationship can be a place where the one feels safe to explore the impact and meaning of the loss on their lives. This may be more important if someone does not have an adequate support system. Grieving often involves a lot of second guessing of one’s self with questions about whether one should be farther along,or whether one is feeling too much or too little. If these questions persist, it can be helpful to get a consultation with a counselor to determine if ones grieving is proceeding in a healthy manner. Some losses are particularly difficult and more often require some assistance from a counselor. Losing a child is considered to be one of the most difficult loses to bear. Losing a loved one to a violent death like murder or suicide is also extremely difficult. All of our counselors are trained to help their clients grieve in a healthy way.
Memory problems need to be considered in light of several factors. Age is a primary consideration. Many aspects of memory reach their peak when an individual is between the ages of 25 and 29. Then after that, memory is less sharp. Remembering a phone number, someone’s name, or remembering a task can be more of a challenge as we age. What is normal memory for someone who is 70 years old would be considered impaired memory is one were 45. Other factors can also impact memory such as attention and concentration problem (ADHD/ADD), depression, anxiety, psychotic disorders, and motivational problems.
If memory problems are suspected, a thorough evaluation is in order. This consists of a diagnostic interview including what is called a mental status exam. Simple tests of memory are conducted, and other factors are ruled out such as depression, anxiety, etc. If true memory problems appear to be present, then a memory evaluation is recommended. This involves more formal assessment of memory functioning. Auditory memory, visual memory, and working memory are measured using special memory tests which compare the person against others of the same age.
If memory problems are identified, a thorough medical work-up is recommended. There are several medical conditions that cause memory problems. These can include vitamin deficiencies, thyroid problems, excessive metals in the brain and other problems which can be reversed with proper medical treatment. Other memory problems such as Alzheimer’s can be identified through medical tests of the cerebral spinal fluid. Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can be lessened to some degree with the use of medication and behavioral management of the person’s environment.
Working memory, which is like human RAM memory, will decline with age, or can be impacted by conditions such as ADHD/ADD. Working memory can be treated with medication, but it also can be trained to improve through training methods such as Cogmed Working Memory Training.
Menopause is the transition in a woman’s life when the ovaries stop releasing eggs, menstrual activity decreases and eventually ceases, and the body decreases the production of estrogen and progesterone. It is a natural event that normally occurs in women age 45 to 55.
What are some common symptoms that I might experience with Menopause?
Physical manifestations may include a pounding or racing heart, hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, sleeping problems, and decreased interest in or responsiveness to sexual stimulation. Psychological symptoms may include irritability, feelings of sadness, lack of motivation, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, fatigue, tension, and mood changes.
How can we help?
Many of these symptoms can be observed in conditions other than Menopause. In addition to seeing a physician for testing that can determine hormone levels and assess one’s overall health, consulting a mental health professional can help a woman identify factors other than Menopause that could be contributing to the symptom picture. One of our therapists can assist you in discovering the correct diagnosis of the difficulties you might be experiencing. Additionally, our culture often negatively stereotypes menopausal women, making it difficult for them to talk about what they are experiencing. Discussing these concerns with a therapist can help relieve your worry and stress, normalize your experiences, strategize about managing the symptoms, and support desired lifestyle changes that may be helpful. Although Menopause signals the end of the childbearing years, it ushers in a time of possibility and opportunity for sharing one’s life and gifts in other than physical ways. Talking with a therapist can help you uncover new ways to bring life into the world around you.
If you find yourself to be in the midst of this life transition, call us today so that you do not have to go through this process alone. We can and want to help!
All personality characteristics lie on a continuum from very healthy features to unhealthy / maladaptive ones. Narcissism is no exception. On the health end of the spectrum, one can take legitimate pride and pleasure in doing something well. The two year old who exclaims “I did it all by myself” is experiencing the pleasure that comes from accomplishment and mastery. This is healthy narcissism. Or consider the example from the movie, Chariots of Fire when a main character remarks “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”
Unhealthy narcissism exists when one uses the sense of superiority to compare oneself to others. In the process, others are devalued, put down, or in the more severe instances of narcissism, shamed and humiliated. The full blown narcissistic personality disorder contains such elements as a grandiose sense of self importance, exaggerating one’s accomplishments and achievements, believing oneself to be superior, special or unique, and he/she requires excessive admiration from others. Their needs for praise seems unquenchable. They are entitled, lack empathy and appears arrogant, and off-putting. They lack empathy and simply are unable to consider how things might look or feel to someone else.
In between this full blown personality disorder and health narcissism, is the narcissistic personality style. This is a more muted presentation from the full blown disorder. A person is self centered, rigid, need things done his/her way, and they react to stress by pumping themselves up while putting others down.
It is generally understood that the cause of narcissism has its roots in the early years of life. Some children are showered with attention and praise due to some superlative trait: uncommon attractiveness, brilliance, physical prowess are examples. The child with superlative features is used to attention, admiration, and ultimately, self esteem being based on their superlative traits rather than it being based on something more fundamental to who they are on the inside. The problem becomes that the narcissist can only feel good from being praised and admired. When this is withheld, or when they are reprimanded, scolded, or admonished, it can trigger narcissistic rage to have their flaws and vulnerabilities exposed.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder involves the presence of both obsessions (repetitive, unwanted thoughts) and compulsions (repetitive behaviors that seem nonsensical). As this condition develops, a person can spend much of the day engaged in these obsessive-compulsive ‘loops.’ Treatment involves behavioral therapy and may also involve the use of medication.
For more information visit our web-based mental health resources
Panic Attacks are a particular sub-type of anxiety problems. They involve the sudden eruption of severe anxiety symptoms such as pounding heart, perspiration, dizziness, nausea, and the overwhelming urge to get out of the situation. This often occurs when in crowds (such as churches, airplanes, the left lane of an expressway, elevators, etc.). Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is used to help re-interpret the experience from dangerous to discomfort. Behvaior Therapy is then used to re-expose the person to the dreaded situations with panic. A referral for medication is made when the symptoms are more persistent and/or severe.
Some people are more social than others, but there’s a difference between having healthy peer relationships and having a full social calendar. The depth and intimacy of your relationships is of far more importance than the number of your friends, acquaintances, or contacts on your speed dial. Strong and healthy relationships with peers actually enhances physical and mental health, while isolation and a sense of disconnectedness can lead to depression, anxiety, and physical manifestations of stress. In this fast-paced, social-media infused world, finding and maintaining meaningful connections is a challenge.
Signs that you may benefit from enhancing relational skills
- You have a sense of isolation, even when surrounded by others
- You feel like no one knows the true you
- You desire close friends but are unable to find any
- You feel unsure of how to risk closeness with others
- You keep highly rigid boundaries in your present relationships
- You have been told that you “overshare” with others
How Heritage Can Support You
Therapy provides the opportunity to learn and hone relational skills. Your therapist can help you grow in awareness of both your strengths and your areas for growth. Our relationships offer insight into how we view ourselves. Our self-image undergirds much of our relational abilities. Through an empathetic and redemptive relationship, you may find healing for a self-image that may be limiting you in your relational scope.
If you desire more fulfilling relationships, contact Heritage today!
Phobias involve the presence of an intense, unrealistic fear often in response to a specific identifiable ‘trigger’ or situation. Some of the most common phobias include germs, flying, closed in spaces (elevators, airplanes, trains), heights, speaking in public, storms, and crowds. Phobias a very treatable often with behavioral therapy (BT) alone. In more pronounced cases, medication may also be recommended.
Self esteem has been defined as both a confidence in, and a satisfaction with oneself. Healthy self esteem is seen in the person who is neither mousey nor boastful. They are neither cowering nor arrogant. In the world in-between is the person who seems comfortable in his or her own ‘skin.’ The best source of self esteem is the routine and predictable experience of feeling the love, support, nurture and attention from one’s care givers based upon the child’s needs and not the parents’. When this happens routinely, the child feels his or her own worth simply for being who they are and not because they have had to do something extraordinary to receive these things.
Self esteem problems generally take two forms. The more commonly recognized one is seen in people who lacks self confidence. They put themselves down, expect themselves to fail and be a disappointment to themselves as well as others. The other form is merely the flip sign of the proverbial ‘coin.’ The person who is arrogant, boastful, exaggerating his/her accomplishments, who is craving admiration and attention, actually has low self esteem too. It just may not be consciously experienced this way by the boastful person.
Treatment for self esteem typically involves some form of psychotherapy. This can be individual, couples, family or group psychotherapy. The essence of the therapy experience is for the person to come to feel their value and acceptance by others in the room based on who they are fundamentally and not based upon how well they perform at something. Other therapy techniques such as Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT), a branch of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) teach people to react differently to the negative triggering thoughts that commonly result in negative attitudes and feeling directed against the self.
Self harm behaviors such as cutting are maladaptive ways people use to relieve tension and stress. Sometimes such behaviors are hidden from others, with less visible sites on the body chosen for cutting. At other times, the cutting is quite visible to others and also becomes a mean of communicating pesonal distress. One of the most potent ways to change this behavior is through Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).
There is no one universal definition of sexual abuse and definitions vary from a legal and clinical perspective. Clnically, sexual abuse is often defined as any sort of non-consensual sexual contact, but it can also include noncontact abuse, such as unwanted exposure to voyeurism or pornography. Most often it involves a power differential, usually physical and/or psychological, between the abuser and the victim. Sexual abuse can happen to men or women of any age. For children, sexual contact and/or inappropriate sexual behavior by an adult or older child (usually defined as 5 years or older) is considered abuse. If abuse is suspected, it is important to consult with an appropriately trained health professional as soon as possible.
It is difficult to obtain accurate statistics on the prevalence of sexual abuse, but most mental health and child protection professionals agree that sexual abuse is not uncommon and is a prevalent and serious problem. The impact of sexual abuse can vary widely and there is no one typical set of symptoms. There are many variables that effect the degree of impact of the abuse. Examples include the relationship between the abuser and victim, type of abuse, duration and frequency of the abuse, level of aggressiveness and intrusiveness; and age of the victim. Many victims experience physical, psychological, and/or behavioral effects as a result of being abused. For example, symptoms of experiencing this type of trauma might include: fear of physical contact, difficulty trusting and getting close to people, sexual behavior and/or knowledge that is not age-appropriate, acting out behaviors (sexual or otherwise), and mood problems. Some victims develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Victims of abuse report that in addition to psychotherapy, social support, education about abuse through attending workshops and reading about abuse, and spirituality are helpful in recovering from sexual abuse. At Heritage, we have a number of caring clinicians who work with victims of sexual abuse as well as caregivers and family members of victims. We welcome the opportunity to be a part of the healing process.
Sleep or Insomnia
The Center for Disease Control estimates that about 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems. Most would assume that sleep deprivation causes some obvious problems such as fatigue, loss of focus and concentration. But sleep problems are also associated with a higher incidents of accidents / injuries, chronic diseases, mental illnesses, poor quality of life and well-being, increased health care costs, and lost work productivity. Sleep problems are also associated with obesity and depression. If you can fall asleep quickly during your non-sleep hours when given an opportunity to do so, you are probably sleep deprived.
If you believe that you are having sleep problems, the first step is to see your primary care doctor. This is to rule out common medical problems which can interfere with sleep (an over-active thyroid, asthma, ulcers, blood pressure to name a few. Many medications can affect sleep as well). If no obvious medical problems are identified, another step is to see a behavioral health specialist, such as a psychologist, social worker or counselor. Anxiety is often implicated in difficulties falling asleep. Depression often causes awakening during the night, or early morning awakening and not being able to get back to sleep. Excessive alcohol consumption can also negatively affect sleep.
If medical problems, anxiety and depression have been ruled out, a sleep study can often identify the nature of the sleep difficulties. People who snore, mouth breathe, and / or who are obese have a higher incidence of sleep disorders.
Another factor affecting sleep is regular exercise. The more regular exercise one gets, the better the sleep. Of course, check with your physician to make sure that regular aerobic exercise is safe for you to do.
Techniques such as mindfulness training, mindfulness based stress reduction, and other forms of relaxation training can be helpful tools to assist in better sleep. There are also many medications to assist in sleep that may be appropriate as well.
Spiritual Direction / Issues of Faith
Stopping at a gas station or consulting MapQuest or GPS is often sufficient to keep us, quite literally, on the right road as we travel from place to place these days. For the “inner journey,” assistance may also be needed in recognizing and understanding the signposts that guide us to our most authentic selves and to God’s presence within us and our life experiences. It is for this reason that the ministry of Spiritual Direction developed centuries ago.
What is Spiritual Direction?
Spiritual Direction is an ongoing conversation between a trained director/companion and a person seeking self-knowledge and an understanding of what the Spirit invites that person to do with his/her life. Through regular private meetings, the seeker is invited to relate, integrate, and embrace his/her inner and outer life experiences and attend to elements of both the conscious and unconscious. The seeker is invited to do this in order to recognize the movement of God in these events; and to respond in a way that leads to greater compassion, freedom and mission. The ultimate goal for the individual is to gain a conscious awareness of and participation in the ongoing dialogue with God that gives meaning to life.
Who are Spiritual Directors?
Spiritual Directors are trained and experienced in listening deeply. By attending to a person’s story, they are often able to point to significant issues or moments in a particular life that open the seeker to the leading and healing power of the Holy Spirit.
- Rabbi Ruth Durchslag, Psy.D.
- Susan Schemper, Certified Spiritual Director, M.Ed.
What can I expect?
Meetings are normally 50 minutes once a month, though initially you may want to meet twice a month. There is a fee (sliding scale fee schedule based on need is available). The director provides a safe and confidential space for you to share your story. In your first meeting, information will be sought as to what you desire in spiritual direction. Spiritual direction is not counseling, therapy, pastoral counseling, coaching, or mentoring. It may, at times, seem to overlap with some of what takes place in these other “helping professions,” but each of them has a different focus and unique purpose. Spiritual Direction does not involve telling one how to act or pray in a particular way and is inherently respectful of the uniqueness of each individual and various faith traditions. Spiritual direction will focus on your relationship with God, yourself, and others, prayer, reflection, discernment, spiritual growth, obstacles and resistance.
Stress is the amount of ‘stuff’ coming at you that needs to be managed. Even positive events are stressful such as the birth of a child, graduation, or a job promotion. Strain is the negative effect that stress can take on us. Strain is the proverbial ‘weight on the shoulders’ which comes from prolonged exposure to stress. Symptoms can affect nearly every site in the body from tension headaches, shoulder and neck pain, back pain, general body weakness, gastrointestinal distress, fatigue, depression, anxiety, irritability, angry outbursts, etc. Effective stress management involves attitude change, behavior change, as well as learning effective exercises to reduce the harmful effects of stress.
Behaviors which trigger concerns about self harm generally fall into two categories: inflicted self harm to reduce tension while not causing serious physical injury, and self harm with the intention to end one’s life.
Many self harm behaviors are done to reduce some immediate tension state, but are not intended to cause serious self injury. These include cutting behaviors such as multiple lacerations on the arms and legs. Most often these cuts do not require sutures and the individual is not trying to penetrate an artery or vein with the intention of ending his / her life. This category of behavior can also include self-inflicted burns with cigarettes or candle flames. People who do this report that inflicting physical pain in these ways reduces emotional or psychic pain. People with these symptoms need to learn more effective ways of managing the tensions and demands of life without resorting to self harm behaviors to relieve these tensions. Specialized treatment techniques taught through our Center for Values Based Living can be very helpful here.
The second category of self harm behaviors is that of people who contemplate, plan, and attempt to end their lives. Most often, these behaviors occur in the context of major depression along with other risk factors. In fact, even those with terminal medical illnesses are likely to seriously consider suicide only when a major depression is also present. Suicide risk is difficult to predict accurately for a given individual. There are too many variables that conspire together to give rise to an actual act of someone trying to take his/her life. But, according to the Center for Disease Control, a combination of individual, relational, community, and societal factors contribute to the risk of suicide. Risk factors are those characteristics associated with suicide—they may or may not be direct causes.
Trauma / Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that some people develop after seeing or living through a dangerous event. The event may involve the threat to oneself or someone else of death or loss of physical, sexual or psychological safety. Such an event may result in psychological trauma and impaired ability to cope and function. Anyone can get PTSD. War veterans as well as survivors of physical or sexual abuse, accidents, natural disasters, or other serious events are vulnerable to it.
The struggle with weight management can be isolating and overwhelming. A therapist is able to come alongside you in your journey towards health. You will gain insight about the emotional and mental stumbling blocks that are impeding your path. Through identifying positive steps towards a healthier lifestyle, you and your therapist can set realistic goals and find motivation to achieve those milestones. Physical and mental health are directly linked; as you experience success in weight management, you will find your emotional, relational, and physical health improve.