You have been struggling through stress, anxiety, sadness or depression. You are ready for help. You have noticed some patterns that seem to happen over and over, and you want to break the cycle that you are on. You are ready to get off of the ride, you want help. You have made your way to this blog site, but are worried about what you can expect from your first therapy appointment. What can happens in counseling anyway? In this article, we will explore what you can expect as you embark on your change journey.
Your counseling experience should be caring and safe
Your counselor should create a caring and safe environment that enables you to open up and process some of your challenges. They should validate you and your perspective while offering help to support you to move from habits or behaviors where you are stuck. You can expect to form a bond with your therapist, known as the therapeutic alliance, where you feel accepted and unconditionally regarded by them. Your counselor will help you explore your childhood and raise awareness of patterns of thought that occur for you. They will help you identify areas that you are stuck in and challenge you to change and grow.
Your counselor should offer a new perspective
Your therapist will create a non-judgmental space for you to explore yourself. Through this process, they will be fully attentive to you and will reflect back what they learn, both verbally and non-verbally. The should offer you a different perspective than yours and even gently point out any areas that you are unable to see.
Get ready for change
You are searching for counseling because you are ready to get help and begin your change journey. You counselor will begin to notice things that maybe you do not even know about yourself. They will use this knowledge to caringly challenge you when appropriate to help you achieve the change that you desire.
Do you live in Austin and are you ready to move forward?
We are compassionate licensed counselors ready to create the environment for you that we just listed above. Call us at 512-676-5813 for a free phone consultation to see if we are a fit, or fill out our online form located here.
If you are reading this post and this question of "how do I find a therapist near me?" resonates with you, you are likely ready to start therapy. Congratulations! This is a huge step in your change journey to better mental health. The therapist / client relationship can be the most important part of your therapy journey, so taking care in finding a therapist near you that is the right fit is critical and should not be rushed. In this article, we will consider the questions that you should answer for yourself on your therapy search to be able to answer the question "how do I find a counselor near me?"
Where to Start
Before you begin your search, take some time to reflect on what is taking you to therapy. What types of mental health challenges are you facing? Are you experiencing extra stress at work or are you anxious about an upcoming transition? Will you be working on these challenges as an individual or will you be working on family or couple's issues? Maybe you are looking for coping skills to get you through an anxious season in your life, or you are seeking help with communication skills to apply in your relationship.
The first step is determining the right type of therapy for you. If your concerns center more around yourself, individual counseling is where to begin. If you as well as your family is at the center of your challenges, finding a family therapist might be best. If you are a parent with a struggling teen, finding a therapist who specializes in adolescent and teen counseling will be your starting point. Finally, if you are struggling in your relationship and you want to work on that relationship with your significant other, couples counseling might be the right fit for you.
Choosing the setting you prefer
Today's counseling landscape is not limited to the traditional office setting. Many clinicians offer online counseling through secure video platforms. Online counseling can be very convenient, it can allow you to stay at home while you meet with your therapist; however, online counseling is not for everyone. Here are some questions to think of when making the decision to see your counselor online or in person:
Choosing the right clinician
As we covered in a previous post, there are many clinicians under the mental health umbrella. Read our post from January 15, 2020 "What is the difference between a psychologist and therapist?" for more information on the different types of mental health clinicians.
Putting all of the pieces together
Once you have a solid sense of your initial concerns, who needs to be a part of the process, and the type of clinician you want start searching and making calls. The right therapist is different for everyone and it is extremely important that they be the right fit for you. Ask a potential therapist if you can connect via phone to see if they have experience with your challenges and to get a feel if a connection could blossom. Do not be afraid to ask questions about their background and approaches. If it does not feel right, keep searching for the right fit until you find it!
If you live in Austin or Texas and are ready to start counseling, we would consider it an honor to come along side you. We are licensed therapists who are compassionate helpers ready to take this change journey with you. Call us for a free counseling phone consultation at 512-676-5813 or visit our scheduling page to schedule your 15 minute consultation.
You have heard it a million times when you are feeling anxious. "Focus on taking some deep breaths." It sounds so basic, so the question is, does it really work? In this article, we will review what affect deep breathing has on anxiety and if it really works.
Breathing is something that we rarely think about but just happens. On average, most people take between 17,280 and 23,040. That is a lot of breaths that happen without us paying attention! How could something that happens so often and automatically help our anxiety?
Not all breathing is created equal!
When we are stressed or anxious, our breathing becomes shallow and irregular. Our breath during these times also becomes more focused in our chest rather than our stomachs and the chest cavity can only expand so far. What our bodies and minds really need during times of anxiety and stress is deep breathing (or diaphragmatic breathing). This type of breathing moves more air flow into the body and actually helps calm nerves.
How does deep breathing work?
The key to understanding how deep breathing works lies in the nervous system. Let's take a quick anatomy tour. Your autonomic nervous system (which controls involuntary actions like your heart rate and digestion) is made up of two parts. The first part is the sympathetic nervous system, this system controls your fight or flight response (hello anxiety!). The second part is the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for your rest and relax response. These two systems cannot be activated at the same time meaning that if your fight or flight response is lighting up like a Christmas tree your rest and relax response is no where to be found.
Breathing deeply delivers more carbon dioxide to your blood which calms parts of the brain that handle your anxiety response such as the amygdala.
So it turns out that not all breathing works to calm your anxiety, only deep breathing can calm you down. Breathe in... Breathe out...
If you need help with your anxiety and would like to explore counseling, please call us at 512-676-5813 for a free therapy phone consultation today to see if we might be a fit.
A question that I hear often from clients is whether they are nervous or if they are struggling with anxiety. In this article, we will explore nerves and anxiety in more depth.
What is the difference between anxiety and nervousness?
Nervousness can be described as a worry about a specific event that usually passes. On the other hand, anxiety is a constant state of excessive worry or fear which often affects work, school, and relationships.
How do you handle it when you are anxious?
There are several techniques that you can try when you feel like you are drowning in anxiety. Here are 3 techniques to choose that can help calm your anxiety.
Anxiety can usually be traced back to an underlying issue, even if you cannot put your finger on it yourself. Counseling is great for exploring these underlying issues. I see plenty of clients who are going through a difficult transition in life, have experienced trauma, or have additional stress that need a place to process and gain insights which reduce the intensity of anxiety. I always tell clients that the relationship with the counselor is the most important part of the counseling process, so make sure that you feel comfortable with your therapist. Do not be afraid to try another counselor if it does not feel like a good fit.
Anxiety and stress from our day to day work and activities hits us all at some point. Celebrities and clinicians alike tout the benefits of yoga and meditation for stress and anxiety, but does it really work and how does it work? This article will delve into your brain when it is stressed or anxious and whether yoga and meditation can help.
How does stress affect the brain?
Stress silently affects our bodies and our brains. Stress is all around us, it hits us from work, our families, the news, and school commitments just to name a few. Stress can pose as a threat to our minds and bodies, sending our minds into fight (confront the issue) or flight (avoid the issue) mode. There are times where stress can seem to sharpen the mind, many who experience this share that they "perform best under tight deadlines." However, chronic stress can have negative effects on the brain. Extreme, chronic, and unmanaged stress can change the physical structure of the brain. Chronic stress would be considered "bad" stress and doctors and researchers have noted that exposure to chronic stress and those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder have brain abnormalities including imbalances in gray and white matter.
This does not mean that good stress, the kind that we described above that can sharpen the mind has the same negative effect, good stress helps wire the brain in a positive way, setting it up to be resilient.
How to Manage Stress
Now that we have established that stress can affect the brain, it is clear how important it is to manage it. There are two times to manage stress, reactively as it arises and proactively before it happens. Examples of reactive stress management include coping mechanisms to use in the moment like deep breathing, mindfulness, or visualization and imagery. Proactive measures are ones that you employ on a regular basis in order to decrease the baseline stress and anxiety that you might feel as a result. Proactive stress management techniques include practices like yoga and meditation.
How Yoga and Meditation Help Stress
Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines controlled breathing and physical poses. Yoga combines these physical and mental practices that may help you obtain more peace and manage stress in your life.
Yoga has many different styles, but there is not one that is better for stress reduction than another, research and try the best styles that work for you. Most styles incorporate poses, breathing, and meditation and relaxation.
Yoga works to reduce stress through controlled breathing, clearing the mind, and relaxation. All of these areas can have a positive impact and have you feeling less stress and anxiety.
Mindful meditation has been studied and shown effective to help calm anxious thoughts. Mindful meditation involves sitting comfortably, breathing focus, and bringing your mind's attention to the here and now without allowing it to drift into worries of the future or the past.
What to do now?
You are ready to start some yoga and mediation to proactively manage your stress and anxiety, wonderful! You are asking, where do I go from here? Here are a couple of resources to help you get started. Enjoy!
https://www.yogabasics.com/practice/yoga-for-beginners/free-beginning-yoga-videos/ - Free Yoga videos for beginners
https://mindfulness-solution.com/ - Free mindful meditation resource