Entries categorized "Psychology & Counseling" Feed

Addressing the Healthcare Burnout Epidemic

Healthcare and psychology practitioners are facing increasing burnout rates in record numbers, so much so that the American Psychiatric Association focused their 2017 annual conference on the “burnout epidemic.” It has only continued to escalate. The 1,710,000 psychology professionals and 12 million+ healthcare workers in the United States provide an essential service to the population. They heal. They listen. More often than not, they genuinely care. If a chain is only as strong as its weakest link then a community might be similarly threatened by its weaker and more vulnerable members. That's why it helps to remember the importance healers have in our communities.

While I urge healers to take their own medicine and practice self-care (get balance in other areas of life, find support, take breaks, take care of your body, take care of your mind—and spirit), I suspect another contributing factor is the attitude a community has about its healers. Are healers supported, valued and appreciated? Or are they the target of criticism and contempt because insurance plans don't cover something someone needs? Are healers discounted because they are part of a "Western Medicine" and "Big Pharma" giant that is taking money from innocent people and making them sicker?

Is the dominant narrative around medicine consumed with fear, mistrust and resentment?

I observe frightened and angered people every day. People don't know what to trust or who they can count on. Instead, people tend to flock to the Internet and diagnose themselves at an almost compulsive level. Armed with reams of online results and haughty know-it-all and defensive attitudes, more and more people jadedly tell their medical professionals what is wrong with them and what to do. Hopefully, a good practitioner can listen without defense and seek to inform, help and heal in a way that earns trust.

Sometimes, the burden of endlessly soothing defensive people can take a toll. In addition, healthcare workers get exposed to repeated traumas and run the risk of suffering re-traumatization of personal wounds along with vicarious suffering. Long hours and back-to-back one-way relationships add to the burnout. The career is strife for burnout. Greeting disgruntled patients just makes it worse.

If I could wave a magic wand, I would make sure that every person in the community was safe and that the relationship between healer and community member could be restored to one of mutual safety, mutual care, genuine connection, and positive healing outcomes. That both people would leave the interaction feeling lighter, freer, happier, healthier--and grateful. 

Joseph Campbell said, "One of our problems today is that we are not acquainted with the literature of the spirit. We're interested in the news of the day and the problems of the hour."

I think he taps into this grander issue. The real healing comes from each person's inner spirit. It is in connecting to the spirit (the heart) that forgiveness and healing emanate. It is where loving and grateful discourse is born. We can do this one person at a time. One heart hug from one person to another. One moment of listening. One moment of respect. One moment of forgiveness.

To my almost 2 million psychology colleagues and 12+ million healthcare workers (and all those around the world) and to every other person around the planet who makes up our Earth community, I send you these Spirit-filled wishes of healing, love, peace, forgiveness, and more. May we each seek to become acquainted with the literature of our—and our bothers' and sisters'—SPIRITS. Perhaps when burnout, illness and discord arise, it can serve as a wake-up call to get re-centered into Spirit and cultivate a spirit-focused interaction.

The Dangerous Cost of People-Pleasing

UnhappyWhere do you fit on the scale of people pleasing? How does it impact what you do in your career and your relationships?

Belonging is fundamental need, so doing anything to disrupt one’s state of belonging can be frightening. People want to be liked and often adopt manners and behaviors to fit in. It's normal and how cultural mores are born. However, seeking to make others happy at the expense of your deeper convictions can only lead to resentment and grief. This can often be seen when trying to fulfill a parent’s wishes over one’s real desires.

As CG Jung said, "Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment, and especially on their children, than the unlived life of a parent.”

Like all things, there is a continuum to pursuing one’s own interests and serving others. Ironically, it can be just as selfish to sacrifice and make others happy because you want them to like or approve of you.

The key is to check in with your motives and seek behaviors and goals that align with your vision, values and enhance your self-respect. If you're not sure, try writing a list of your parents' values and wishes (or your boss' or a loved one's) and then write your personal list and see how they compare. 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May mental health monthWorld Health Organization defines mental health as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.

Deterioration of mental health is caused by as many external factors as internal ones... it takes a community solution where we embrace each other with tolerance, love, dignity, respect and where we help each other - in spite of our differences.

Bullying, discrimination and oppression create self-abuse as much as self-abuse can lead to outward abusive behavior. Err on the side of love....that's where healing, resilience and hope grow.

See if you can use this month to do at least one loving thing for yourself and for someone else and the community where you reside. Then let's see what flowers bloom.

Rebooting Psychology & Health Blog

I started this blog almost a decade ago to provide information to clients that reinforced some of the things we were working on in therapy and to give general guidance on many of life's topics. As a natural health practitioner, I have shared some posts on natural rememdies. Of course, my research and thoughts continue to evolve in this area. As a professional blogger for Psychology Today, I have seriously neglected my own blog and would like to rectify that...especially in today's turbulent poltical times. Please know this is a place for healing - for all people from all walks of life. 

If you want to read any posts on Psychology Today, you can visit www.psychologytoday.com/blog/counseling-keys. Post there include the First Amendment, Women in Leadership, Nine Types of Love, and Child Abuse to name a few. More will be posted here, so thank you for reading and checking back.

What is the Difference Between Counseling and Psychology…and Where in the World Does the Term “Shrink” Come From?

For a discipline that’s only around 130 years old, psychology has a lot of practitioners sporting a number of different titles (and I’m not talking about the local bartender down the street, although they can sometimes be quite excellent listeners). I’m talking about psychotherapists, therapists, psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, marriage and family therapists, and counselors. What’s the difference and why so many titles?  

This post aims to provide a little more clarity about the differing psychological services among practitioners and describes how one discipline grew to focus on mental health while the other focuses on mental illness. In addition, there are answers to some of the common questions about the people who have taken on psychology.

While many think of Sigmund Freud as the first psychology practitioner, it was Wilhelm Wundt who opened the first psychology lab in 1879. Wundt sought to examine human consciousness using an experimental method he called introspection (for interested researchers, he did not use the scientific method as experiments weren’t able to be duplicated). Like its shaky scientific beginnings, the field grew to have a varied background –some of it contains a solid scientific background and others are a bit more airy-fairy, so to speak. 

Perhaps the ethereal aspect of airy-fairy isn’t so far off as psychology literally means “study of the soul” (psychē means “soul, spirit or breath” while logia means “to study”).  A more modern definition means to study human behavior and thought, but we’re going to come back to that definition in a bit. A blessing of psychology’s birth as a discipline was how mentally ill (or perceived mentally ill) people were treated. Just prior to the late 1800s in Western culture—long after people with ‘visions’ had been treated as oracles or shamans—it was believed that people suffered from mental illness because God had cursed them. Consequently, mentally ill people were punished with severe beatings, chainings and/or ostracism. Psychology helped change such views and a more holistic (and humane) approach to treatment was adopted.

Many of the first practitioners in the field were Medical Doctors (M.D.s). A medical doctor has attended medical school. Today’s M.D.s in the field are called psychiatrists and they can provide therapy services while prescribing medications. Psychologists are practitioners that have received their Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.).  A number of other mental health fields offer graduate and Ph.D. degrees in social work, marriage and family therapy, various forms of counseling and counseling psychology—which brings me to the title of this post. What is the difference between counseling and psychology?

Going back to a bit of history, World War II put a big spotlight on mental health as the war had serious mental health impacts on soldiers (war impacts EVERYONE and it has a trickle down effect through the generations). The National Mental Health Act was first passed in 1946 and the U.S. government began funding research and programs related to mental illness and health. In the 1950s, prevention and early detection of mental health problems became a focus. Slowly, a shift in perceptions occurred where people could safely seek treatment for adjustment, transitions, and relational issues without feeling stigmatized. (Clearly, we are still working on shifting those perceptions – in addition to war, old belief systems also trickle down through the generations).

As part of the shift, psychology has generally been defined as treating mental illness and counseling psychology was born to address mental health issues. 

Some of the fundamental tenets of counseling are:

  • People should be treated with respect
  • If given the opportunity, normal growth will occur
  • The goal of treatment is to promote healthy growth
  • Counseling is an educational process where the client is part of the process and actively participates
  • Counseling builds on strengths as opposed to attacking weaknesses
  • Counseling uses empirically validated procedures (scientifically proven via research using scientific method) 

I hope this helps illustrate a little of the history and explains some of the differences in the professional titles and orientations. I could write so much more and may follow up with later posts that address length and duration time of various therapies. For now, let me switch to a few of the common questions I hear.


Answers to Some Common Questions

Are you really going to shrink my head? 

No.  Shrink comes from shrinking the issue. Notice how we can sometimes get so overwhelmed by everything that it feels like the sky is falling, so we throw it all out there. Often times a good therapist/counselor can help you SHRINK the issues down to a single root cause. (But now I want a shrunken head for Christmas just to tease folks. ;))


Are you analyzing me? (when just meeting me at a social occasion)

No. Well, maybe. Seriously, the therapeutic process follows a particular process of information gathering and analysis. Unless you’re in the office and experiencing that process, you’re probably not getting analyzed. Therapists/counselors cannot see through you or read your mind. :)


Have you ever been through therapy?

Yes. Good training requires that you do. Plus, I believe in it. I confess there are some not great folks out there and I’ve seen and paid for their services. Like all fields, there are good people and not so good people. Don’t let the rotten apples deter you from seeking good service.


Did you go into the field to work through your problems?

There isn’t a person alive that hasn’t taken a job to work through a problem (e.g. I have bills to pay ;)). I also don’t know anyone who hasn’t been wounded in some way by life. For me, yes, I would call myself a wounded healer. I’ve experienced a number of things in life that I believe ultimately helps me to be more empathetic and understanding of my clients.


Do you date your clients? 

No. It’s not like the movies or TV shows. All therapy professionals are prohibited from having dual relationships. If you have had your therapist ask you out or make you uncomfortable with inappropriate flirting, stop seeing them and report them. It’s an abuse of power and your vulnerability.