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What is Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy: A Game-Changing Mental Health Treatment

The word ketamine written on a white notepad on a blue background near a stethoscope, syringe, electronic thermometer and pills. Medical concept

Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is a relatively new form of treatment for mental health disorders that has gained popularity in recent years. It involves the use of the anesthetic drug ketamine, which is administered under controlled conditions while the patient is undergoing therapy with a trained mental health professional.

Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is gaining popularity as a treatment for mental health disorders due to its potential to provide rapid relief from symptoms such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction. 

Unlike traditional talk therapy, which can take months or even years to produce results, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy may produce improvements in mood and emotional resilience within hours or days of treatment.

In this article, we will explore what ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is, how it works, and the potential benefits and risks associated with this treatment. We will also discuss the current state of research on ketamine-assisted psychotherapy and provide a step-by-step guide to what patients can expect during a therapy session. 

By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of this innovative and potentially life-changing treatment for mental health disorders.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a powerful medication that was first developed in the 1960s as an anesthetic for use in surgery. It is a dissociative anesthetic, which means that it can produce feelings of detachment from reality and a loss of sensation in the body.

Ketamine has a long history of use in the medical field, and it is currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as an anesthetic and pain reliever. In addition to its use in surgery, it is also used as a sedative in intensive care units and emergency rooms.

Ketamine has gained attention in recent years as a potential treatment for mental health disorders, particularly depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

The use of ketamine for these purposes is sometimes referred to as ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, and it involves administering the drug in a controlled setting under the supervision of a trained medical professional.

Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy

Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP) is a type of treatment for mental health disorders that combines the use of the anesthetic drug ketamine with traditional talk therapy. 

Unlike traditional talk therapy, which relies on the verbal exchange between patient and therapist to explore emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, KAP includes a pharmacological component that can facilitate a deeper exploration of the patient’s inner world.

One of the key differences between traditional talk therapy and ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is the speed and intensity of the therapeutic process. 

Traditional talk therapy can take months or even years to produce meaningful change, while ketamine-assisted psychotherapy can produce rapid and significant improvements in mood and functioning after just a few sessions. 

Background of spiral of human silhouette face line and abstract elements on the subject of consciousness, the mind, artificial intelligence and technology

This is because ketamine has been shown to have powerful antidepressant and anxiolytic effects, which can help to quickly alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.

Another key difference between traditional talk therapy and ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is the way that the therapy is conducted. In traditional talk therapy, the therapist and patient sit in a room and engage in a dialogue that is meant to help the patient gain insight into their emotions and behaviors. 

In ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, the patient receives a low dose of ketamine, typically through an IV infusion, and is guided through a journey of self-exploration by the therapist. 

During this journey, the patient may experience altered states of consciousness that can help them to gain new insights into their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

The benefits of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy as a treatment for mental health disorders are many. One of the primary benefits is the rapid and significant improvement in mood and functioning that patients can experience after just a few sessions. 

This can be particularly important for patients who are experiencing severe symptoms of depression or anxiety and are struggling to function in their daily lives.

Another benefit of KAP is that it can provide a unique and powerful tool for exploring the patient’s inner world. The altered states of consciousness that ketamine can produce can help patients to gain new insights into their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, and to uncover the root causes of their mental health issues. 

This can be particularly helpful for patients who have been stuck in negative patterns of thinking and behavior for years and have been unable to make progress with traditional talk therapy.

How Does Ketamine-Assisted Therapy Work?

Ketamine works by blocking NMDA receptors in the brain, which in turn affects the release of the neurotransmitter glutamate. Glutamate is a key player in the brain’s ability to process information and form new connections, so by altering its release, ketamine can have a profound impact on a person’s mood, thoughts, and behaviors.

Specifically, ketamine’s ability to block NMDA receptors leads to an increase in the production of another neurotransmitter called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). 

BDNF is critical for the growth and survival of neurons in the brain, and it’s also involved in the formation of new synapses (the connections between neurons). 

Ketamine chemical compound illustrated in white marker on a blue background.
Hand with pen drawing the chemical formula of ketamine

By increasing BDNF levels, ketamine can help promote the growth of new neurons and synapses, which may help to counteract the negative effects of mental health disorders.

Additionally, ketamine has been shown to reduce inflammation in the brain, which is believed to play a role in the development and maintenance of mental health disorders. By reducing inflammation, ketamine may help to alleviate symptoms such as anxiety and depression.

It’s important to note that the exact mechanisms by which ketamine works to treat mental health disorders are still being studied, and researchers are working to better understand the complex interactions between neurotransmitters, receptors, and brain circuits. 

Nonetheless, the evidence so far suggests that ketamine can have a profound impact on a person’s mental health, particularly when used in combination with psychotherapy.

The Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy Process

Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy involves a unique process that differs from traditional talk therapy. Here’s a step-by-step guide to what patients can expect during a ketamine session:

  1. Pre-Treatment Preparation: Prior to the treatment session, patients typically meet with their therapist to discuss their mental health history and current symptoms. The therapist will also provide detailed instructions on how to prepare for the ketamine infusion, including dietary restrictions and medication adjustments.
  2. Administration of Ketamine: Ketamine is typically administered through an IV infusion that takes place in a comfortable and private setting. During the infusion, patients are carefully monitored by medical professionals to ensure their safety and comfort.
  3. Altered State of Consciousness: As the ketamine begins to take effect, patients may experience an altered state of consciousness that is different from traditional talk therapy. Some patients describe feeling a sense of detachment from their physical body or a heightened awareness of their thoughts and emotions.
  4. Therapeutic Exploration: During the altered state of consciousness, patients work with their therapist to explore their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. The therapist may use a variety of techniques to facilitate this process, including guided imagery, music therapy, and mindfulness practices.
  5. Integration: After the ketamine infusion is complete, patients typically spend some time resting and reflecting on their experience. The therapist then works with the patient to integrate insights gained during the session into their daily life and develop coping strategies for managing their symptoms.

Risks and Side Effects of Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy

Like any medical treatment, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy carries potential risks and side effects that patients should be aware of before undergoing the treatment.

One potential side effect of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is dissociation. Dissociation is a mental state in which a person feels disconnected from their surroundings, themselves, or reality. 

This can manifest as feelings of detachment, depersonalization, or derealization. While dissociation can be a therapeutic experience for some patients, it can also be distressing or uncomfortable for others.

During a ketamine-assisted therapy session, patients may experience dissociative symptoms as the drug takes effect. These symptoms typically last for a few minutes to an hour and can include altered perceptions of time and space, visual or auditory hallucinations, and feelings of detachment from the body or surroundings. 

While these symptoms can be alarming, they are usually temporary and will dissipate as the drug wears off.

Other potential side effects of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy may include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Increased heart rate or blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision or other visual disturbances
  • Fatigue or drowsiness

It’s important to note that not all patients will experience these side effects, and that they are usually mild and short-lived. However, patients should still be aware of the potential risks and discuss them with their healthcare provider before undergoing ketamine-assisted psychotherapy.

In conclusion, while ketamine-assisted psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for mental health disorders, it is not without potential side effects. 

Patients should be fully informed about these risks before deciding to undergo the treatment, and should discuss any concerns or questions with their healthcare provider.

Research and Evidence

Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is a relatively new treatment option for mental health disorders, but it has been gaining traction due to its potential benefits. As such, research studies have been conducted to evaluate its effectiveness and safety.

A number of clinical trials have shown promising results for the use of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy in treating depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction. 

For example, a study published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2018 found that ketamine-assisted psychotherapy was associated with significant improvements in depression symptoms compared to a control group that received a placebo treatment. 

Another study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in 2019 found that ketamine-assisted psychotherapy was effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD in military veterans.

Furthermore, a number of studies have investigated the long-term effects of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy. A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders in 2021 found that patients who received ketamine-assisted psychotherapy for depression experienced sustained improvements in mood and cognitive function up to three months after treatment. 

Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology in 2018 found that ketamine-assisted psychotherapy was associated with significant reductions in alcohol cravings and relapse rates in patients with alcohol use disorder.

Overall, the current state of research on ketamine-assisted psychotherapy suggests that it is a promising treatment option for a variety of mental health disorders. However, further research is needed to fully understand its long-term effects and potential risks.

 It is important for patients to discuss the risks and benefits of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy with their healthcare provider and to carefully weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before starting this treatment.

Is Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy Right for You?

Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is a relatively new treatment for mental health disorders, and as such, it is not yet widely available or typically covered by insurance. 

However, for those who are struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD, or addiction, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy may offer a promising alternative to traditional talk therapy or medication.

If you are considering ketamine-assisted psychotherapy as a treatment option, it’s important to speak with a qualified mental health professional who has experience administering this type of therapy. 

They can help you determine whether you are a good candidate for ketamine-assisted psychotherapy and guide you through the treatment process.

Some factors that may make ketamine-assisted psychotherapy a good option for you include:

  • A history of treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, or PTSD
  • A desire to try a new approach to therapy or medication
  • A willingness to undergo the potentially intense and transformative experience of a ketamine session
  • A lack of other viable treatment options

However, it’s important to note that ketamine-assisted psychotherapy may not be appropriate for everyone. Individuals with a history of substance abuse or addiction may not be good candidates for this treatment, as ketamine has the potential to be abused and can be habit-forming. 

Additionally, individuals with certain medical conditions or taking certain medications may not be able to safely undergo ketamine therapy.

Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy shows promise as a treatment option for individuals struggling with mental health disorders, particularly those who have not found relief through traditional forms of therapy or medication. 

As with any treatment, it’s important to carefully consider whether ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is right for you and to seek guidance from a qualified mental health professional. 

By working with a skilled therapist and keeping an open mind, you may find that ketamine-assisted psychotherapy can offer a path towards greater emotional wellness and resilience.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about our services relating to ketamine-assisted psychotherapy through the Calliope Health Clinic, you can contact us here or visit Calliope.Health.

IFS Therapy for Anxiety

Using IFS Therapy to treat anxiety is perhaps one of the best-use cases of this cutting-edge form of psychotherapy.

How IFS Therapy Works

IFS stands for Internal Family Systems.

IFS Therapy teaches that our inner life is composed of different parts (feelings, thoughts, beliefs, behavior patterns or somatic sensations), sometimes called subpersonalities. By learning to focus on and work with your “inner family” of parts, IFS helps you develop emotional intelligence and emotional regulation skills.

For instance, one part of you might be feeling anxious, while another part of you judges your anxiety and wants it to go away.

Normally the secondary reaction of self-criticism might lead to an escalation of anxiety. But when we are able to relate to parts of our inner system from a mindset of genuine curiosity—for example it’s ok that I’m feeling anxious right now…I wonder what could be causing this?—the parts tend to relax and give you more space to see the big picture.

A Mindfulness-Based Approach to Anxiety with IFS Therapy

This ability to separate from the thoughts, feelings and beliefs of our parts is what Internal Family Systems calls Self. IFS therapy for anxiety is therefore a “mindfulness-based” approach. Self is curious, compassionate, calm, centered, courageous, creative and connected.

By linking these Self-qualities to moments of anxiety, you may discover how to shift your focus into states of mind that will bring you peace and greater resourcefulness.

Working with an IFS therapist for anxiety, you’ll find more ease even with distressing or anxious thoughts. You’ll learn how those parts of you are working hard and deserve respect. Most other approaches to anxiety teach that you should confront and battle your anxiety to keep it from encroaching on your life, but this can be burdensome to an already hard-working nervous system.  

IFS therapy for anxiety is a novel and creative treatment that is increasingly evidence-based (meaning it is validated empirically in scientific studies of anxiety treatments).

Individual Therapy for Relationship Issues

Most people think of individual therapy as a way to deal with personal problems or issues. While this is certainly true, individual therapy can also be a powerful tool for improving your relationship with your partner. In fact, individual therapy can be one of the most effective ways to resolve conflicts and improve communication.

Sometimes people refuse to go to therapy with the person they love. There can be many reasons why they refuse. Everything from denial to embarrassment. Their refusal can also stem from a lack of trust or faith in therapy. They may feel that it won’t do any good or that their problems are too big to solve.

You can try forcing them to go to therapy against their will. Most of the time that will end with a healing outcome. 

You could just throw your hands up in the air and give up. Feeling hopeless is understandable, but it’s not a feeling we want driving the bus. .

Those are not your only two options.

Even if both partners refuse to go to therapy together, individual therapy can still help improve the relationship. In fact, individual therapy is often recommended for couples who are struggling to resolve conflicts.

One of the main benefits of individual therapy is that it can help you to explore your own personal issues and dynamics that might be affecting your relationship.

Here are a few of the ways individual therapy can help your relationship:

Better Communication Skills

One of the main problems in many relationships is poor communication. Individual therapy can help you to learn better communication skills.

Good communication skills do not involve only expressing your own thoughts and feelings, but also having good listening skills. Actively listening to your partner and trying to understand them can go a long way towards any conflict resolution.

You Will Fight Fair

In any relationship, there will be disagreements. How you handle those disagreements can go a long way in determining whether or not your relationship will last.

One of the things that individual therapy can help you with is learning how to fight fair. This means that you argue in a constructive way and do not resort to name-calling, blaming, or trying to coerce the other. .

You Are Happier

Individual therapy can also help to make you a happier person. When you are happier, your relationships are likely to benefit too.

Being happy does not mean that you will never have any problems in your relationship. However, it does mean that you will be more equipped to handle those problems in a constructive way.

You Become a Better Parent

If you are considering having children or already have them, individual therapy can help you to become a better parent.

Being a good parent is not only about providing for your child’s physical needs, but also their emotional needs. Individual therapy can help you to learn how to be a more emotionally present parent and how to deal with any emotional issues that might arise.

You Can Share Techniques With Your Spouse

If your partner is unwilling to go to therapy with you, you can still get a lot out of individual therapy. In fact, you might be able to share some of the techniques that you learned in therapy with them.

This can help to improve communication and resolve conflicts in a more constructive way.

Your Partner May Change Their Mind

There is no guarantee that your partner will change their mind about going to therapy, but it is possible.

If they see how much individual therapy has helped you and how it has made you a happier, more balanced person, they may be more willing to give it a try.

Focus on You

Individual therapy can be an extremely effective way to improve your relationship with your partner. Even if they are unwilling to go to therapy with you, individual therapy can still help. Therapy can help you to explore your own personal issues and dynamics that might be affecting your relationship. It can also provide a safe space for you and your partner to discuss any problems or concerns that you might have. 

Learn more about our individual therapy and couples counseling options.

Ways You Can Avoid Relapse Triggers

When we stop doing something, the thoughts and feelings of what used to happen usually get worse. When quitting an addiction such as drugs or alcohol, it’s important to avoid any triggers that remind us of the past so we don’t slip back into old habits. We can’t avoid everything in our lives, but there are some things we can do to help us stay on track and not relapse. 

We’ll discuss two common types of relapse triggers: physical cues and emotional cues. These will be followed by a list of tips for avoiding these triggers during recovery from substance use disorder including both general tips and specific examples related to each type of trigger.  

List of Common Relapse Triggers

  • Being around people who are drinking or using drugs
  • Being around places where people use or drink, e.g. bars or clubs.
  • Smells that remind us of alcohol or drugs, e.g. hand sanitizer, chemical detergent (which can smell like cocaine), etc…
  • Feeling alone and isolated – boredom/lack of structure in life
  • Family problems, including relationship with spouse, family members, parents.
  • Stress at work or school and other important relationships
  • Trouble sleeping; may increase using alcohol or drugs as a way to sleep. Also may stress us out which makes it hard to sleep without the use of substances.
  • Untreated mental health issues like depression, anxiety, etc…

Ways You Can Avoid Relapse Triggers

Involve family members at every level of the recovery process

In order to avoid relapse, it’s important to have support from your loved ones throughout all stages of the recovery process. If they’re involved, they can understand what you’re going through and provide a lifeline when needed, while also helping you stay on track during tough times.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), around 70 percent of people relapse when they try to quit by themselves, but this number is significantly lower with recovery support – only 10-20 percent of those who have others involved in their recovery tend to relapse.

Having a routine

People are more likely to stay on track with their recovery when they have a routine. If you have a specific time of day that you use or drink, then try to follow this schedule as much as possible after you stop using.

For example, if you used to wake up and drink before work every day, then try waking up at a similar time even if you don’t need to be at work. If you drank right after work, then try going for a walk or doing something different instead.

If possible, avoid spending time with people who use substances as it can lead to relapse

It’s pretty common for those trying to stop substance abuse believe that they’re not vulnerable to relapse if they’re only around family and friends that don’t use. However, close friends or those who are important in our life can lead us back into the habits we’ve been trying to avoid because of their influence.

Even if you feel like you can handle it, try to take a break from people who still use as much as you can. If you can’t avoid them for some reason, at least try to avoid social situations where substance use may increase such as bars.

Treat mental health problems if they exist

If you have a mental illness and don’t receive treatment for it, your relapse rate is much higher than if you do manage to treat the disorder first. Instead of using substances to cope with problems, get a therapist and a psychiatrist if needed to treat any mental health conditions that may exist.

Avoid drug-related cues

Cues can be anything from triggers like smells or people, places or times of day when you used addictive substances. If you tried to quit by yourself in the past and failed, take note of what may have led you back to using so that you can avoid these cues in the future.

Plan Ahead

Take notice of common relapse triggers and do your best to plan ahead, especially if it’s a place or time when you used substances before. For example, if it’s the holidays, then try to find things to keep busy – don’t just spend time at home alone where there won’t be any distractions.

Reach out for additional help if needed

Relapse triggers are something you should be aware of and avoid. If possible, try to stay away from people who use substances as it can lead to relapse. You may also want to check out some additional resources for help if needed- there’s no shame in reaching out for assistance!

We can help you to take back control of your life. For help in dealing with an addiction for you or a loved one, reach out to our addiction counselors today.

I Need to Find an Addiction Counselor, But Where Should I Start?

Addiction is a complicated and pervasive issue that can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion or occupation. It doesn’t matter if you are old or young: addiction knows no bounds. Addiction is also an inescapable disease which has been with us for centuries and will be with us in the future. A person who suffers from addiction needs help to get better and live a healthy life again; they need somebody on their side to fight alongside them during this challenging time.

Different Types of Addiction

When people think of addiction, many different images come to mind.  Some people might think about abuse of illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine. Others may think about the effects of drinking too much alcohol or smoking too many cigarettes. People often relate addiction to homelessness and prostitution because they are likely to see these people on the streets.

Sometimes, people might not even think about addiction as an actual disease because of the common stereotypes associated with addicts. However, the truth is that there are a number of different types of addictions and each one has a specific group of symptoms and behaviors which make it unique in its own way.

Signs and Symptoms

People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol will often develop a tolerance for the substance they are abusing. Over time, they have to keep taking more of the drug in order to get high. They may also suffer from withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking it suddenly.

Sometimes, people turn into addicts because they are suffering from an untreated mental illness. In this case, the addiction is a way for them to self-medicate and deal with depression or anxiety.

In other cases, people may have an issue with gambling which becomes so severe over time that it begins to take over their life. They neglect family and friends in favor of spending all their time and money on putting bets down.

Behaviors

Addicts tend to be secretive about their actions and will often hide the addiction from loved ones. They may also try to justify or rationalize their behavior when they are challenged by others about it. Addicts may even display aggression in order to get what they want when they are unable to acquire drugs or alcohol on their own.

Addicts often engage in risky behaviors when they are intoxicated or withdrawing from drugs and alcohol. They may drive drunk, engage in prostitution, rob someone of their money to buy more substances or partake in any number of other harmful activities.

Finding a Counselor

An addiction can’t simply be turned off like a switch; it is an illness which requires professional help.

An addiction counselor is a professional who, through experience and education, can help an addict find sobriety and stay clean. There are many different types of addiction counselors: some specialize in group counseling, others in family counseling or prevention, and yet others in intervention services or behavioral therapies.

There are many resources available to help addicts get the assistance they need, even if they don’t have insurance or access to health care. Many churches and community centers offer support groups for addicts and their families. You can also try contacting your insurance company or health care provider to find out about addiction counseling support in your area.

You can also check your local hospital or medical center for resources related to addiction treatment.

When you’re looking for an addiction counselor, it’s important that you find somebody who is qualified and experienced in treating your type of addiction. Different types of counselors have different specialties they focus on. For example, some may specialize in drug or alcohol abuse while others may focus on other types of addictions like gambling or sex addiction. In this way, it’s important that you find somebody who specializes in your particular issue so that they can provide the most effective treatment for you.

Is It Time to Seek Out Couples Counseling?

Couples counseling can be a helpful tool in any relationship, but it is especially useful for couples who are experiencing difficulty. Whether you’re trying to fix the problem or just looking for ways to enhance your connection, there are many benefits of working with a trained professional. Here are some reasons why couples should consider seeking out sessions with an expert:

-To learn how to improve communication and turn arguments into meaningful discussions

-To help resolve conflict that may have been affecting your sex life

-To explore possible differences in values and lifestyle choices

-To get support when one partner has experienced trauma such as abuse or addiction

-For guidance on what steps to take if you want to end the relationship

What is couples counseling and how does it work?

Couples counseling is a type of psychotherapy – not unlike individual counseling – designed to help partners in a romantic relationship to be happier and more fulfilled, both as individuals and as a team. In couples counseling, the two people in a couple are treated together so they can focus on their partnership rather than individually. Couples counseling may also involve family members or friends if they are causing problems in a relationship.

Another name for couples counseling is marriage therapy . However, it’s not necessary to be married in order to have a successful therapeutic experience in the presence of your significant other.

Why should you seek out sessions with an expert?

Couples counseling is for anyone with a serious concern about their romantic relationship. This could include relationships in which either: Both partners are experiencing emotional suffering, or one partner has difficulty adjusting to a long term relationship and the other partner is having problems handling what’s going on. 

When is the right time to start going to couples counseling?

The answer to this question depends on the issue you are dealing with. In all my years of counseling couples, I have found that there are three distinct reasons that people seek out couples therapy.

1) The first type of couple is what I consider to be “The Perfect Couple.” They have been married for a number of years and have no major issues. They are happy with their marriage and enjoy going out on dates, cooking together, sharing hobbies, etc. Their kids are grown and they share in the responsibilities that come with them. There is a lot of intimacy between them, but just not enough passion. They are often wondering if there is something wrong with them as a couple because the flames of passionate love seem to have gone out.

2) The second type of couples that seek counseling are those that deal with recurring emotional or verbal abuse in their relationship. These relationships escalate from small disagreements into a major argument where excessive nagging or yelling of hurtful things (often true) occurs. These couples will fight over minor issues and end up talking to each other in ways they would never talk to anybody else. They both feel the love for one another is gone. Sometimes, they have been dealing with this kind of behavior for years and wonder if there is any hope for them to have a loving marriage.

3) The third type of couple are the ones that say, “I just don’t love you anymore.” These couples have either been married for a short amount of time or have been together for 10 years and are dealing with some of the common problems that every committed relationship encounters in order to grow, (e.g., sexual problems, financial difficulties, moving into a new phase of life issues). These couples usually have been to see a clergy person and/or attended marital retreats; however, they just don’t seem to be able to get their love for one another back.

In my opinion, it really doesn’t matter which type of couple you are dealing with, there is hope for all of you. 

Couples counseling offers both partners tools and techniques that allow everyone to understand the things they are doing to cause tension in their relationship. It also gives couples an opportunity to learn how to repair relationships when conflict occurs so that it doesn’t escalate into more severe problems. 

In general, the goal of couples therapy is to ensure that both partners in a relationship feel valued, respected, and loved for the person they are. This is accomplished through honest communication between both partners about what they need to be happy and fulfilled in life.

How can you tell if your relationship needs help from a professional?

Many people want to know if what they are going through is a common problem and one that requires professional help. All couples have disagreements from time-to-time; however, if there is an ongoing pattern of arguing about the same things over and over again, then it may be worth getting some feedback to see where you stand as a couple.

What are some of the benefits of working with a trained professional in this area?

There are numerous benefits of seeking out couple’s counseling. 

The primary benefit that is always mentioned is the professional allows couples to “air dirty laundry.” That’s one way to put it, but I prefer to think of it as a safe and neutral space where you can talk about things that you might not otherwise feel comfortable talking about with anyone else in your life. 

A trained professional will listen to you without judgment and offer feedback in a respectful way that can help you reach your own answers. Many people don’t feel comfortable talking about sexual difficulties, financial struggles, or parenting issues with anyone including their friends or family members. In cases like these, couple’s counseling is where the process begins so that couples can be on their way to a more harmonious relationship.

If this sounds like something you could benefit from, reach out and make a consultation appointment with one of our team members today!

Signs You Made Need Counseling for Anger Management

Anger is a normal human emotion that can be healthy when expressed appropriately.

However, many people struggle with inappropriate anger or chronic rage. Counseling may offer you the opportunity to regain control of your emotions and to find peace in your life.

This article discusses signs and symptoms of anger problems. If any of these signs sound familiar, it might be time to consider anger management counseling for yourself or a loved one.

The first step in dealing with an unhealthy level of anger is identifying what’s going on inside you which leads to such feelings. Understanding can help you to better understand how to deal with these feelings. The following are some indicators that someone may need to seek the help of a professional:

1) You feel chronically angry to the point of being explosive or you suffer from uncontrollable outbursts.

2) Anger often follows you into your sleep and it keeps you awake at night.

3) You have a short fuse and get easily agitated over the smallest things.  People often tell you that you’re too sensitive about certain matters, but when they do, you get even angrier.

4) Your anger causes trouble in your relationships and makes people around you feel uncomfortable.

5) You’ve been arrested at least once for domestic violence or assault under the influence of extreme emotion/anger (i.e., road rage).

6) You are quick to criticize, condemn, or ridicule (usually upon hearing the first piece of negative information about someone).

7) You feel guilty all the time for verbalizing anger or you feel ashamed of something that happened in the past and you’ve never been able to forgive yourself. Sometimes talking about past regrets is a healthy way to release guilt, but if it occurs too often, especially when discussing something that happened a long time ago, you may be holding on to anger rather than releasing it.

8) You feel like you are in control of your anger, but other people tell you that sometimes you go too far and they become afraid of your behavior. They say things to calm you down or avoid doing things with you when they know you’re angry.

9) You have an intense need to be heard and understood, but when people try to help you they fail. You ask people to listen more often, but they don’t know what to say. They don’t tell you what to do, they just listen as if it’s enough. This makes you even angrier, and brings about a vicious cycle where you demand to be heard more, but no one is able to hear what you’re saying because it’s all coming from a place of rage.  When people try to help this way, nothing changes and you feel worse instead of better.

10) You don’t notice the impact your anger has on the people around you and when they do tell you something is wrong, you don’t believe them. Sometimes knowing that someone else sees how you act helps to put things in perspective, but if you’re too caught up in your own misery or have lost touch with reality, it just makes things worse.

11) You want to get help, but can’t find the time or resources. Many people feel guilty about seeking professional help because they don’t think they can afford it or there is no time in their schedule for counseling appointments. However, therapists will usually work with you on scheduling around your work and school schedule and often health insurance will reimburse members for a portion of their counseling costs.

In many cases, people experience short bouts of anger from time to time, but when someone enters into an unhealthy cycle of being angry all the time and it interferes with their personal and professional lives, it’s time to reach out for help.

Being overly angry can be painful, both physically and psychologically. If you are worried that your anger is hurting you or someone else, it might be time to contact an accredited mental health professional for advice on how to cope with the symptoms of anger where they originate as well as how to recognize what’s going wrong so that the problem can be addressed. In essence, you are asking a professional to help you assess whether or not the anger is a symptom of an underlying mental health issue or if there is another reason for it.

Approaching the Holidays During a Pandemic and Political Divisiveness

Samantha Mitchell of ABC7 News had a chance to connect with Keith Miller and Dr. Maria Zimmitti to talk about how to approach the holidays in the midst of a pandemic and the current political divisiveness in our country.

Many people are struggling with what to do over the holidays. Should we have gatherings in the midst of this pandemic? Should we postpone them? Some people are already planning “SpringGivings” as an alternative to a family gathering this week.

The other thing that people are really having some apprehension about leading into the holidays is where some conversations may go with family certain family members. The election may be over, but our political divides still run deep.

In the interview, Keith suggested thinking of going into a potentially conflicting situation with someone who thinks differently like going skiing or surfing – if you go with a wave and go the direction, you end up ok.

“Go with the person who’s pushing you, pushing your buttons,” Miller said. “Go with it until you find the opportunity to steer out of it. Stay relaxed – when you’re dealing with a current or undertow – you don’t have a choice sometimes, you react to other humans, we care about how other people feel about us. We sometimes have to go with it, and be empathetic.”

He also said you can “tread water,” and reflect on them, asking them to tell you about the world the person lives in and hurts them. Eventually, they run out of gas and there might be something you can relate to.

“You already have what you need to get through this pandemic,” Miller said. “I don’t think we need anything more, so I would ask people to reflect on what they have and appreciate what they have, at least ten percent more.

You can read the full story and see the video interviews at:

https://wjla.com/news/local/holidays-2020-experts-talk-through-best-ways-families-approach

Handling Stress Over the Election

hand dropping ballot into ballot box

I think it is probably safe to say that many of us thought that the general unrest and divisiveness the country experienced during the last Presidential election cycle in 2016 could not possibly get any worse. That was a once in a lifetime event. Then 2020 came along and said, “Hold my beer.” 

Take the COVID-19 pandemic, racial unrest, perhaps the worst economic hardship we have seen since The Great Depression, natural disasters from coast to coast, and blend all of that together with an election year like none before it, and the result is many Americans are feeling uneasy right now. Some are even experiencing severe onsets of stress in regards to the election.

Various polls in 2016 found that around half of American adults felt that the 2016 Presidential election was a “somewhat” or “very significant” source of stress for them. With everything going on around us, it is hard to imagine that those figures would be any lower in regards to the 2020 election.

Stress can affect our mental and physical health. Because many people on either side of the political spectrum see this election as the most significant one in their lifetime, that stress is even higher.

People are worried not just about the results, but also what comes after. Will there be peace and acceptance of the results or will there be protests, violence, and rioting in the streets?

How stress impacts our mental health

When stress is introduced our body activates its “fight or flight” response. This response will initially help a person cope with the situation, but over the long run if the stressor is introduced frequently or continues to linger it can impact one’s mental and physical health.

Stress and anxiety can cause you to feel overwhelmed, sad, irritable, and confused. It can cause people to withdraw socially to avoid situations that introduce that stress.

Untreated, stress and anxiety will hamper our immune systems, leading to more frequent illnesses. It can also lead to depression.

How to cope with stress

Beyond right versus left, conservative versus liberal, and Republican versus Democrat this year, there are a lot of other factors that are contributing to higher stress levels this year. The most obvious, of course, is that The United States is still in the midst of a global pandemic with little certainty of when that might end.

As a result of the pandemic, more people than ever are going to cast their vote by mail-in ballot this year. Due to the extra time it is going to take to count mail-in ballots, we are likely not going to know who won on election day, or the day after… or the day after that. 

We could be looking at something like what we saw in the 2000 Presidential election where we were waiting for weeks for multiple recounts in Florida and for officials to figure out what to do about “hanging chads”. 

The waiting and uncertainty is going to be a major source of stress for many of us.

It is best to start preparing yourself mentally for that now. Understand that the most you can do is to vote. Once you have done that, you have done everything you can do. Worrying about the result will not change anything.

It is also important that you talk about your feelings. Talk to friends. Talk to family. Share the tensions and negative emotions you are feeling, but also be sure to focus on positive emotions. Despite what may feel like a whirlwind of negative story after negative story, there are a lot of amazing things going on in the world today, both nationally and right in front of you. Take time to appreciate and celebrate those things.

If you find that political discussions are causing increased levels of stress, avoid them or set boundaries with friends, family members, and co-workers. There is nothing wrong with saying, “I am not going to change your mind on this topic. You are not going to change my mind. It is becoming a source of constant disagreement between us. Let’s just agree to not discuss it anymore.”

Many of our political disagreements in 2020 can be found on social media. Few of us have connections that are only from one side of the political spectrum, and that can cause some heated, and sometimes toxic, disagreements on both sides. Take a break from social media if you need to do so. You do not necessarily need to leave social media completely until the upcoming election. Staying off of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram even for just a few days can often have a great calming effect.

In addition, make sure that you are taking care of yourself physically. Ensure that you are eating healthy, drinking adequate amounts of water, getting enough sleep each day, and adding some physical activity to your weekly routines. 

All of these things have been proven to help reduce levels of stress, and can help you get through what are sure to be a chaotic few weeks coming up.

If you find that you are feeling overwhelmed regularly and that feelings of stress and anxiety are impacting you on a daily basis, it may be time to reach out for professional help. You can contact us to schedule an appointment. We are scheduling both in-person and online appointments to conveniently work around your schedule.

Call to Courageous Communication

Black Lives Matter - Unite Against Racism art piece

“May we decompose violence in ourselves before we ask it in the world.” 

  • Brontë Velez

Black Lives Matter. Black Mental Health Matters.

We hope you are finding care and support during these trying times in our world. It is a time of grief and mourning as well as a call to awareness, change, and action. 

As an organization that responds to the impact of trauma, we must acknowledge the reality of racism and the trauma that racism inflicts on people and communities of color. 

Last week was the Minneapolis burial for George Floyd.

The brutality experienced by George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and many other individuals, as well as their loved ones and communities of color across the country is unconscionable. These are painful realities we must face, together. 

Our counselors stand in solidarity with people collectively raising their voices to assert that Black lives matter.

Racism is a public health crisis. Not only does it cause ongoing racial trauma, but it is a driving force in other health disparities and severely restricts access to competent and affordable health care, including therapy. Psychotherapy and mental health care may have the potential to help heal trauma—but individual therapy does not treat institutionalized racism. 

The fields of psychology, counseling and healthcare must commit to creating equitable access to care. We want to be a part of this conversation. Healing is intertwined with justice.

Society will heal and transform—as the great Civil Rights leader John Lewis said yesterday “not from our bitterness”—but by our being steadfast to understand our fears and decompose violence that has seeped into our minds and bodies. Oppressive ideologies, policies, and systems will not be moved by our hatred of them, but by the re-moving of hatred and fear in our minds, bodies, and actions.   

The end…and a new beginning

As counselors we’re working every day to integrate actions that work to heal the legacy of racism inside of and between individuals and within families. But I believe that today is the day we are ready to end one aspect of this work—sharing ourselves only with those that can afford our fees.  

Today is the day of something new that transcends our usual, highly selective focus on individuals and families through counseling or psychiatry. Today we move beyond this singular focus of our work and develop clear actions that bring together voices in our communities to enact healthy changes in group behavior, rules, laws, and the fabric of our shared culture. 

We will still be counselors and we’re still here to support you with therapy. 

We have a long way to go and there are many fronts that this integrative work is already happening. But today we are going to start to make this happen in a new way. I believe it starts with us. 

  
A call-in to connection, courage, and change

Rather than simply calling-out injustice, which we support and believe has a vital place in healthy families and healthy societies, we also believe that calling-out without an equally vigorous calling-in-to connection and belonging while emotionally cathartic—is unproductive, and breeds further disconnection and pain. 

We thrive, create, innovate, and find joy when we know that we belong. 

The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and others, along with the story of Amy Cooper’s attempt to frame Christian Cooper, have shined a light on the ways in which Black people live with fear of violence, abuse, or discrimination in this country in profound physical and emotional ways. For far too long and for far too many, people of color in this country still sometimes feel they do not belong.  

Speaking the names

Speaking the names of those involved in highly public tragedies fueled by hatred, fear, or racism is not being done here to advance judgment, but rather, to advance our collective memory of what is really happening. These recent events reflect an ongoing, centuries-long pattern of violence involving state-directed brutality, murder, false accusations, disenfranchisement, criminalization, and disproportionate punishment of Black people. 

We are choosing to ask you to help us re-member—to literally embody the energy of oppression in our living bodies so that we are agitated enough to move through our doubts and face the parts of us that block us from knowing more fully our own pain, and the pain of others.     

Speaking the names, reading the stories of victims of racial hatred, and taking the risk of sharing with others important to you how these stories move you is a therapeutic response to violence and trauma. When we are able to feel safe talking about confusing or terrifying things, the mind is more rapidly able to process confusing binaries, and come up with creative modes of connecting the dots to form a coherent whole.

Mindful inquiry and courageous communication

We are going to bring together foundations of inquiry principles like “beginner’s mind” (mindfulness) and neurobiological principles of trauma-informed care to help others find wholeness and purpose in the mist of rapidly fragmenting events.     

We believe that building strong relationships requires courageous communication—saying the truth about ourselves to call the other to be with us in our vulnerability. We’re sharing how we have been moved by recent events to ask you to also pay close attention to how you are being moved by these events. 

What vulnerabilities do these events put you more in touch with? We’d like to hear from you. 

Healing begins with us

In the weeks and months ahead we plan to be engaging in a new ormat to achieve healing results in a way that’s new to us—and frankly, is a work-in-progress. This experimentation comes out of our own journeys of growth and healing.  

Normally, we counselors only offer our licensed professional skills (governed by a board of health license) in the form of paid counseling. The license-health-provider model of practice guides our standard of care while protecting consumers from many problems. This is good.  

We are still offering our normal professional counseling services and will continue to do so (services remain 100% online until further notice). However, we would also like to facilitate healing conversations in a community/group online format, with more transparency and connection to who we are, not just what we do.   

This would allow us to: 

  1. Bring more creative parts of ourselves into healing dialogues
  2. Focus more in-depth on core topics that are require significant repetition to gain results
  3. Distribute access to mindbody (emotional/psychological/physical) health care more broadly and for free or very low cost
  4. Nurture community growth between people who can help each other learn, encourage, focus, and share struggles more efficiently than in the isolation of private counseling
  5. Practice courageous communication and innovate together to show up more powerfully in the world where it needs us most        

We invite you to join us in our collective learning about the legacy of trauma (fear, violence, shame and disconnection) that racism triggers in ourselves, and find actionable ways in which our learning will touch the lives of others around us to move us forward toward a safer and more healthy society. 

Sign Up to Join the Discussion

“…and that visibility which makes us most vulnerable is that which also is the source of our greatest strength.”
― Audre Lorde
 
Resources for further learning on this subject

During these times it’s ever more important to take care, of ourselves and each other, and to stay connected. 

Here are just a few resources for taking care and being aware so that we can remain present and engaged in the search for truth, growth and purposeful action!

  
Shared with respect and gratitude for all belief systems and perspectives.
 
Be well, be safe, take care, stay connected.

Keith Miller
Social Worker

Our fees are between $200-$400 for 50 minutes, depending on your counselor. We do not accept insurance, meaning we are not "in-network" with any health plans.
However, many of our clients submit claims to their out-of-network health insurance and receive 40-60% reimbursement.