Category: Depression and Anxiety

Moana – Is There a Monster Inside of You?

By Jeremy Bailey, LAMFT

In Disney’s “Moana”, Moana is the daughter of the chief who was chosen by the ocean to find Maui and return the heart of Te Fiti. On her journey to return the heart she has to face the angry, fiery, lava monster; Te Kā. It is later discovered that Te Ka was actually just a part of Te Fiti. I think we all have different parts of us that need to be heard and understood, but too often we spend our time labeling the scary and unacceptable parts as “bad” instead of listening to what they have to say.

If we didn’t know that Te Kā was just the protector of Te Fiti’s heart we might make the mistake of seeing her as the villain in this movie. She was furiously seeking to be healed and have her heart restored to her. Her pain was so big that it was frightening to everyone around her and people thought they had to fight against her to find a resolution.

It wasn’t until Moana could see her for what she was that she could soothe her and calm her by returning her heart to her and allowing for her to heal. If it wasn’t for Moana’s journey of accepting the part of herself that she had been suppressing for so much time I don’t think she would have seen Te Kā’s plea for healing and wholeness.

My favorite scene in the movie is Moana approaching the giant, terrifying, living volcano monster and singing:

“I have crossed the horizon to find you
I know your name
They have stolen the heart from inside you
But this does not define you
This is not who you are
I know who you are”

Moana’s journey is an excellent representation of what therapy can be like. I love those moments of acceptance of self and others as awareness is made, love conquers fears, and individuals, couples, and families take greater risks of being more congruent and whole.

Do you have a monster inside of you? Inside of your marriage, family, or other relationships? How does it make you feel? What do you want to do when it rears its head?

May I invite you to try something new next time it shows up? Take a pause and just notice it. Give it a name. Cross the horizon and appreciate what the monster is doing for you. Maybe your monster is protecting you from something—from being hurt or being lonely or scared? Maybe the monster is trapped by some rigid belief about life or about how things “should” be. Maybe the monster has forgotten why she showed up in the first place and just needs to know that it is safe to go home.

Whatever the case may be, try to see your monster as just another part of everything that makes you, you and love it just as much as the other parts of you that are easier to love. Instead of feeling hatred and anger, look at your monster more like your protector and defender and soothe it by giving your whole heart to your whole self.

Call today to schedule and appointment with Jeremy at 801.272.3420

Excitement vs. Anxiety

Rollercoaster RideBy Christopher D. Adams, AMFT

When looking at this picture, what happens to you? What story do you tell yourself? Do you find yourself imagining the death that awaits you or do you find yourself looking forward to the adventure that is within reach?

As a child, and let’s be honest I still today, enjoy what I would call a healthy fear of heights. I remember being terrified of the idea of strapping into a roller coaster that would then shoot me to my death. As a child my family rode the Star Wars ride at Disney Land and was so disturbed by the prospect that I was permitted to sit and watch them as they participated in the experience.

Now, a confession. I HATE missing out! I remember my family leaving the ride and laughing and talking about how cool it was and I had nothing to contribute. I stood on the sidelines. I was so bothered.

A few months later, I found myself again at a theme park. This time it was Lagoon and my enemy was the Fire Dragon Colossus! A huge drop that went immediately into two huge loops at top speed! My anxiety was through the roof and I was convinced that one of those loops would kill me if I happened to survive that first fall!
I stood there watching my family discuss who was going to forgo the experience so that I would not be left outside alone and something changed within me. Seemingly out of nowhere I announced! Come on guys! Let’s go! I ran onto the ride and low and behold was given the front seat on the roller coaster. My family’s excitement was infectious and pretty soon I was telling myself that this was going to be awesome and that I was so lucky to get the front seat! (My brother was jealous of my place and I admit that helped).

I rode that roller coaster 6 times that day. My anxiety did not change. Every time I stood in front of that (to me) monster roller coaster I felt the same tightening in my chest, swelling in my throat and nausea in my stomach but it was now accompanied by a new story. One that told me I was going to have a story to tell and an experience to remember. An adventure was born and I am proud to say that my wife has yet to go to a theme park with me without throwing up! I love rollercoaster’s and the anxiety that comes with me! They are my happy place. My adventure beat my anxiety. It is still there but now I am in charge!

So often we miss out on life’s experiences as a result of anxieties and fears that are well warranted. They are there to protect us and to keep us safe. At times however, those anxieties can forget their place and begin making our decisions for us. When this happens, it may take the care and help of a professional to help us to get on the rollercoaster and show us how to ensure our safety.

Anxiety is complex and invasive. Just jumping on a ride will probably not beat these feelings. However, there are techniques and processes, support and validations that can help you to take your life back from the debilitating reality that is anxiety! We would love to meet with you and help you to start living again on your terms. Let’s put you back in the front seat of your monster coaster!

Call today to schedule and appointment with Chris at 801.272.3420

Behind the Curtain

by JR Patterson, MFT Intern

It’s a natural desire for us to want to present our best selves to others. In most of our interactions with others, there seems to be a performance aspect to what we do. We want to prove to be competent in our jobs, to leave a good first impression with those we come in contact with. We want our houses to be neat and tidy when guests come over. We want to post the best and most exciting photos of us on social media.hqdefault

Although we look nice and clean when we present our “best selves”, sometimes we may feel messy on the inside. Everyone sees the life we live when we are on stage, but very rarely do they get to see the life behind the curtain. The sad thing is that everyone has their hidden messes, and I mean EVERYONE. Just as with the great Wizard of Oz, when you take away the filters and magic tricks, we are all just people trying to do our best.

I believe that a great deal of our depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem comes from trying to hide our life behind the curtain. We tend to say things to ourselves such as, “If people knew who I really am, they wouldn’t love me”, or “I’m not as good as people think I am”. “I act like I’m happy all the time, but on the inside I feel broken”.

At times I wish that I could have known the truth about people’s lives behind the curtain when I was growing up. I would have seen my shortcomings and weaknesses with a lot more acceptance and compassion. My first experience with sharing my life behind the curtain was in therapy. Therapy is a safe and sacred place to start unveiling your authentic self because your vulnerability and openness will be held with no judgment. As you start to open yourself, something crazy will happen, you will begin to find value in the mess that you think you’ve made, you may even begin to love that mess. There is a saying in the world of recovery: “turn your mess into a message”.

landscape-1440525088-wizard-of-oz-main-fourWe all want to be loved, seen, and heard; but how can someone truly love you if they have only seen a part of you. The parts of you that others can’t see are the parts that need the most attention because they are the parts that need the most healing. As you engage in the healing process you will able to find that every part of you is worth loving. Your healed heart can become a gift that you can share with the world.

EMDR: Therapy for Trauma

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a type of therapy that enables people to heal from the distress and ongoing symptoms that can result after experiencing trauma. Repeated studies show that by using EMDR clients can streamline the therapy process; EMDR therapy enables individuals to experience the benefits of years of psychotherapy in a much shorter amount of time.

One study*, focused on sexual assault victims, found that 90% of PTSD sufferers exhibited eliminated symptoms after only 3 sessions of EMDR.

The American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization, the Department of Veteran Affairs, and the Department of Defense all recognize EMDR as one of the most effective treatment for trauma and other disturbing events.

Read more about EMDR Psychotherapy: What is EMDR?

Kayla Burningham, AMFT is an EMDR certified therapist, and specializes in helping clients overcome the trauma from their past.

Contact our office to speak with Kayla and learn more.


 

*Rothbaum, B. (1997). A controlled study of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disordered sexual assault victims. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 61, 317-334.

What is Mindfulness?

By Kayla Burningham, AMFT

Mindfulness has become a popular term lately. It is also a very common intervention used in therapy for a variety of presenting problems. In 2010 an analysis of all previous studies of the effects mindfulness on anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders was conducted. The results? Mindfulness significantly decreased symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. While that is great news, what clients really want is an intervention that will help them in the long run–that will help create lasting change and lead to healing. With that in mind, what else did this analysis find? At follow-up appointments clients still reported significant decreases in symptoms! Mindfulness can be a powerful intervention in the treatment of mood disorders. Here are some other great benefits studies have attributed to mindfulness:

  • Improve well-being
  • Strengthen relationships
  • Increase focus and attention
  • Boost immune systems

Wow! Three cheers for mindfulness!

So, what is mindfulness? Psychology Today defines mindfulness as:

“A state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.”

In therapy, your therapist will guide you in becoming aware of your thoughts and encourage you to stay in the present moment. When thoughts drift, the therapist will gently pull you back to the present to an observable state. For example, focusing on your thoughts as if they are clouds slowly moving by in the sky. Eventually mindfulness allows a client to observe their thoughts without reacting to them or judging themselves. This ability to be aware of what we are thinking without reacting puts us back in the driver seat in our own lives and allows us to make more educated decisions about what actions to take, what behaviors to change, and, perhaps most importantly, what to let go.

Mindfulness can be incorporated in couple or family therapy as well. I have oftentimes used it in my own practice to help family members take a deep breath, reach a state of calm, observe their thoughts, and mindfully practice what they want to say. This helps clients to then communicate with their loved ones more effectively.

All this goes to say that mindfulness has broad applications. A skilled therapist can utilize mindfulness in a variety of ways to assist clients in understanding their thoughts, emotions, and the physical sensations associated with those emotions. When mindfulness is regularly used and practiced, it has the potential to create lasting change, boost the healing process, and help a client lead a proactive life.

Sources:

Hofman, S.G., Sawyer, A.T., Witt, A.A., & Oh, D.The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review. 2010. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 78(2).

http://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/mindfulness-based-interventions#Techniques

https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/mindfulness


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Kayla is a Licensed Therapist 
working with individuals,
families, couples, as well as groups.

Choosing the Best Therapist for You

by Kyle M. Reid, LMFT

Choosing the best therapist for you can be difficult. This is the person you hope to share your deepest darkest secrets with!!!   You might ask, “How can I know if I will be able to trust him or her!” “How do I know if this person is right for me?” “How can I know they can help me?” or “Can they really understand what I am going through?”

It’s important to ask yourself these questions and find someone that you feel understands your needs and that you can trust to help you. Many people seeking help can go through several therapists until they find the one they are comfortable with. A good therapist understands this and will respect your choice to find safety. As a practicing therapist, I have functioned in both the capacity of someone’s first therapist as well as someone’s last.

Research has shown that the best outcomes in therapy come from two very general dynamics (Cooper & Lesser, 2011, p.33; (Teyber & McClure, 2011):

  1. The client’s comfort and connection with the therapist and
  2. The therapists sense of hope in the client’s progress.

In practical terms, this means to attend one or two initial sessions and trust your instincts on whether there is a good connection. You may need to explore different therapists – but it is worth it.

Here are some other thoughts to consider:

  • We Don’t Sell!
    • Be aware that a good therapist will be inviting, but will not try to sell you on their treatment….you may feel motivated to continue with a therapist after the first session(s), but you won’t feel pressure.
  • We are All Unique!
    • Every therapist has a different personality and a different style of practice. For example some may be skilled at listening and letting you come up with solutions, some are more directive. Choose the person that you feel will suit your needs and personality. Ask your therapist what his/her process of change looks like in dealing with your issues. Understand your treatment plan.
  • We Don’t Give You Fish….We Teach You to Fish!
    • Both the therapist and the client need to be working together towards the issues that the client feel are important towards him and her. A therapist doesn’t force the client to change or make a habit of telling the client a specific course of action to resolve a dilemma. They should however, help you develop skills and perspectives that allow you to own and solve your own issues effectively. In this way you continue to grow long after therapy is over. Assignments and opening your heart and mind to new perspectives are important in this regard, not necessarily advice giving. Over time, you will learn to both trust yourself and work with others in getting answers.
  • There is No “Right” Way!
    • There are many different theories of practice out there (e.g. cognitive-behavioral therapy, emotional focused therapy, etc.) and many different types of therapists (LMFT, LCSW, CMHC or LPC, Psychologists, Psychiatrists). Ask your therapist what theories they practice and how they view change and progress with individuals and families. Ask them to give you a basic outline of these theories.
  • Be Committed to the Process!
    • Most therapists will do a 15-30 minute consultation for free to find out all of these questions and get to know them more; here at Connections, we offer a 30 minute consultation. Don’t be afraid to shop around. But when you do choose a therapist, spend more than a few sessions with them. Therapy can take time. If you find yourself not progressing or feeling uneasy in your session, or if you are concerned with how your therapist is handling certain issues, talk to them about it! A good therapist will be open and helpful with this information. They will be respectful of your issues and seek to come to an understanding of your needs if you feel they don’t already.
  • We Don’t Need our Ego Brushed. Be Honest with Your Feelings!
    • There have been many times clients have been concerned with how I say something or do a certain therapeutic process, but will be afraid to speak up. If I don’t catch it right away, the client will not receive the amazing benefits that come from working through relationship concerns with someone skilled in this process. When a client opens up about some of his/her concerns, these can be some of the most uplifting, growth inducing processes in a session. It is necessary to have a safe and open dialogue with your therapist. If you feel that you can’t, you need to be direct and honest with them.
    • If you feel that you aren’t understood or heard when this happens, be honest and seek to find a therapist you feel that you can be honest with and that you feel will validate your concerns. Often times this isn’t about the therapist or you as the client nearly as much as it is about the therapeutic style, personality compatibility, and your current motivations for change and growth. Don’t be afraid to be honest with your feelings towards your therapist. A good therapist will be able to emotionally handle any feedback they are given. You are paying them to help you. They understand this. Don’t waste your money on unsaid and unspoken language.
  • Not all Therapists Are Trained the Same!
    • There are different types of therapists that are best suited for specific issues. Ask your counselor what they are trained in. Therapists have been trained on most client issues but their training and approach is particularly suited to some issues more than others. Ask your therapist about their experience in the areas that are of interest to you. As an MFT (marriage and family therapist), people will often assume that I only specialize in family and couple counseling but not individual counseling. This is a mistaken assumption. Most MFTs work mostly with individuals with a variety of issues. They are just trained to view many problems in the context of the relationship and family system. Psychiatrists and psychologists are often misunderstood as well. Psychiatrists attend medical school and most of their work consist of diagnosing and prescribing medication. Psychologists don’t prescribe medication but can diagnose and test. Most therapists have the training to diagnose, but might send you to a psychiatrist or psychologist for further testing or medication.

A Few Final Points…

Recognize your expectations with the therapy process and open up to your therapist about them. Clients will often expect their therapists to lead the counseling sessions. Meier and Davis discuss a few important factors to consider when starting counseling:

  • The pain can get worse before it gets better, so consider with your therapist if the pain you are experiencing in therapy is legitimate pain of growth, or if it is making things worse.
  • Therapists take confidentiality very seriously but you should talk to your counselor about the exceptions to confidentiality.
  • People who go to counseling are those with the courage and capacity to seek and consider input in helping them function more happily and effectively in their every day lives. Getting help is not a weakness….

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Kyle Reid Therapist Utah

 

Kyle is a Marriage and Family
Therapist, specializing in individual,
relationship, and family work.