Doing Life Together
Doing Life Together
Counseling can take many different forms. In addition to mental illness, many people seek therapy because of circumstantial issues. Depending on the person, there are a wide variety of treatment options available.
Not everyone who receive mental health treatment are mentally ill. Life provides everyone with certain challenges that may feel overwhelming. Needing professional help to overcome life obstacles is separate from having a mental illness.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, a mental illness is a condition that is associated with distress or a problem functioning in social, work, or family environments. A mental illness is diagnosable and occurs when a significant change occurs in the foundation of emotions, communication, self-esteem, or realistic perception.
Examples of diagnosable mental illnesses include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, clinical depression, socialized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more. Although mental illness can be brought on by external factors such as trauma or life circumstance, mental illness can also be rooted in biology. For severe cases of mental illness involving schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, medication is often a necessity.
Mental health does not describe a class of people. Regardless of personal, relational, or mood functioning, everybody has mental health. Because we are an emotional species, understanding and coping with our thoughts and feelings is essential. Visiting a mental health professional can help an individual uncover subconscious thought patterns, change problematic behavior, process grief, and repair relationships.
If you are going through a hard time and thinking of seeking professional help, here are three steps you can take to get ready for this process.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
A great deal of energy can be spent avoiding unwanted feelings and emotions. Whether you’re experiencing marital problems, living through a death in the family, or experiencing a change in routine, it can be second nature to deny your feelings. By masking them through using substances like alcohol or drugs or by avoiding them through long hours at the office, you can actually prolong suffering. The first step to overcoming difficult obstacles is to acknowledge the feelings surrounding them. Once this is done, you can accept the need for help.
If you do not feel particularly hopeful about a situation, let alone the future as a whole, it will be hard to manage whatever it is you are dealing with. By assigning small goals that can be realistically accomplished, you can start to have hope for a better life. This is not an easy step. For those who are feeling depressed or extremely anxious, having hope in the future may involve finding outside help. A mental health professional can guide you through the process of overcoming painful emotions. Many people find comfort knowing they are not alone in their struggles.
Watch this Video
I'm Not Okay And That's Okay!
Most people find that they recover from mental health problems after seeking professional help. While the time frame for everyone is different, an increase in energy is common. Making plans that are designed around small, individual goals can help boost confidence and happiness. Set goals for yourself and be ready to discuss those during your counseling sessions.
Therapy can help with all kinds of life circumstances. Whether you’re adjusting to a new routine or grieving the loss of a loved one, talking through the issues can improve behavior and mood. During a crisis, it is easy to become cognitively overwhelmed and when life feels unmanageable, our coping skills can decline.
Visiting a mental health professional is one way to feel secure and confident in a variety of situations.
Are you feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed?
Therapy can help. It's not just for people with mental illnesses. It's for anyone who wants to feel better about themselves and their lives. Therapy is a process of talking through your thoughts and feelings in a safe space with someone who understands what you're going through. You'll learn how to cope with stressors in your life that are causing anxiety or depression so they don't control you anymore.
If therapy sounds like something that could benefit you,
click the box below and start feeling better about yourself right away!
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When as a society, we think of health, we typically think of physical aspects. We think of losing weight, gaining muscle, and looking athletic. What most of us fail to remember is that our mental health is just as important as our physical health.
Mental health disorders are "real," but often treatable. Mental health issues can be either minor and short-term or life-long. Some others are more severe and require help from a professional.
Today, amid a pandemic, political and civil turmoil, the mental health of millions of people is at risk.
According to Mental Health America, "as the number of cases of COVID-19 increases, so does the associated anxiety. For the general public, the mental health effects of COVID-19 are as essential to address as are the physical health effects. And for the one in five who already have mental health conditions – or the one in two who are at risk of developing them – we need to take personal, professional, and policy measures now to address them."
If you need the help of a mental health professional, here are some tips to follow.
Where To Find Help?
One of the best places to start would be your family physician, who can refer you to a specialist. Which type of specialist you go for help will depend on the nature of the problem and symptoms. Your family physician can do an assessment and determine where to refer you. A local health department, mental health facility, or a crisis center are also other available options.
Try getting a few contact names, so you can research about more than one facility before choosing a provider. Also, if you have health insurance, they may provide a list of mental health providers who are covered in your plan. Your local health department or community mental health center, however, may provide free or low-cost care.
One supplemental program is peer support groups. They can serve as an essential addition to the help you receive from professional mental health providers.
Support groups can be a valuable resource, for sure. A layperson usually leads these groups. They are designed to bring individuals together- those who have similar mental health or substance abuse illnesses. Other organized types of support groups are drop-in centers, warmlines, and training courses in mental health wellness and recovery.
Types of Mental Health Professional
How to Choose the Right Mental Health Professional?
Talk with the professional on the phone. Ask questions about their approach, philosophy, specialty, or concentration. Once you have selected and feel comfortable with a specific counselor or doctor, the next step is to schedule an office visit.
Your first visit will involve talking with the therapist or doctor to allow them to get to know you and your circumstances for a visit. They will ask you what you think the problem is. They will ask about your life, job, living arrangements, family, and friends. Even though you may feel this information is personal, it will help the professional assess your situation and develop a treatment plan.
As you start working through your treatment plan, you should begin to feel improvement. You should feel you trust your therapist and feel better about whatever circumstances you are there to face.
It would help if you start to be more comfortable in your relationships because your treatment plan may be painful and uncomfortable at times. The more you actively participate in the treatment plans, the better you will be able to cope with your feelings more effectively.
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Are you thinking about getting therapy?
If you’ve never been to a therapist before, you may be wondering what to expect and how exactly a stranger can help you with your problems. These are very common and fair concerns!
Good therapists offer you a large arsenal of therapeutic methods and research-based treatments. In fact, according to a study called Enduring Effects for Cognitive Behavior Therapy in the Treatment of Depression and Anxiety by Steven D. Hollon et al. “cognitive and behavioral interventions have enduring effects that reduce the risk for subsequent symptom return following treatment termination.”
In other words, therapy has shown to continue benefiting you even after you’ve stopped going! Finding a good therapist is often the first step in your mental health journey, besides deciding to seek help.
Read on for five ways a good therapist can help you resolve your issues.
Finding the Root of the Issue
Often, the issue you are dealing with has a much deeper root that you may not even be aware of. Sitting at home trying to find the source alone doesn’t work for many people. We don’t have an outside view of ourselves and our issues, but therapists do.
Upon talking to them about what is bothering you, they may catch onto something you've probably not noticed, at all. From there, you could attempt to fix the root of the problem rather than just struggling with its effects.
Deal With Depression
One of the most prevalent mental illnesses in our society is depression. Depression can wreak havoc on your life and greatly diminish your wellbeing. Because depression is so relevant, therapists have developed many different ways to help people deal with it. Sometimes a mindset change is all someone needs to begin the journey out of depression, and a qualified therapist is the first step to recovery.
Dismantle Your Fears
Fear is something many struggle with, and it can hold you back from living life to its full potential. A good therapist can help you deal with your fears and phobias in constructive ways.
Bringing Out Repressed Emotions
Yes, the thought of bringing up repressed memories and emotions is horrifying. Still, if you leave let them fester you; they will affect your wellbeing, quality of life, and relationships. Talk therapy provides an efficient venue for dealing with repressed emotions for a better and healthier you.
Life Skill Tools
While you and your therapist work through your issues, they will give you exercises and advice to get you through your problems and tough times, as well as help you build efficient life skills. All these will enrich your personal growth journey making you emotionally healthier, stronger, and better able to cope with life.
A Place Of Trust
The ultimate crux of therapy is your relationship with your therapist. Therapy is a place of trust, and the therapist is your best confidant. Remember that everything that takes place in therapy is 100% confidential (by law), and the therapist can not divulge anything you tell them (unless you disclose that you are planning to hurt someone).
In this place of trust, you can be yourself, and talk about the most personal issues, no matter how scary, shameful or difficult. The trust relationship facilitates your ability to be honest and therefore provide the best forum for dealing with and overcoming any issues you may have.
There are many assessment tests a therapist can employ to evaluate your mental health. If you think you may have a generalized anxiety disorder, for instance, your therapist can give you a test to diagnose it. Your therapist should also be able to draw upon their education and years of experience to test you for things you may have never thought to ask for. These tests are critical for forming a treatment plan.
In therapy, you get to enjoy sharing with a bright, neutral, and non-judgmental person. Maybe all you need are some resources and a push in the right direction. Your therapist can help you with struggles in personal relationships, painful issues, any defects you want to overcome and can even help you with your career concerns.
It is also fine if you need to vent. There are no wrong answers! Wanting to talk with a professional is a valid reason to go into therapy. You may even find that checking in every month or every other week is helpful.
Therapists have an arsenal of scientific knowledge and treatments at their disposal. They will first work with you to identify specific problems you want to address. You may walk in feeling a general dissatisfaction about your life. Your therapist will help you determine what, specifically, is making you less satisfied.
Once problems are identified, your therapist can suggest treatments. However, unlike at your primary care doctor’s office, you will need to be an active participant in these treatments. You will need to be an active participant in finding what to treat as well! You will only get from therapy what you put into it.
Therapy is not a must for everyone, but it is not a bad idea. Therapists are trained to help others process their issues. Even if you need only to vent or gain self-awareness, therapy is worth the time.
Ultimately, the goal of personal growth can get a considerable boost when you find a partner in the person of your therapist to help you through that journey.
It's so easy to let life and everything happening around us, bring us down. But don't see the full picture and don't know the full story. Acknowledging that not only brings peace but also hope.
By Holly Miller
Mrs. Miller, will you be here after school for a while?” In my third year of teaching, one of my tougher students poked her head into my classroom at dismissal. “Yes Maria, what can I do for you?” I said smiling, hiding my own hesitation. Maria and I had a rocky start to the school year. She was defiant, cut class, and often didn’t have her work done. But I tried my best to give her a clean slate every day and be as patient as possible. She asked if she could get some help on the assignment we were working on in class earlier that day and I was pleased to see her actually putting in some effort so I happily obliged. She actually didn’t need a whole lot of help and it seemed like she just needed a place to work and have someone hold her accountable. Maria started coming by after school once a week for extra math help. After a while, she asked if she could come work on any work in my classroom, even if it wasn’t for my class. I had plenty of grading and lesson planning to do, so she came by a few times every week after school and we often chatted and worked, each accomplishing what we needed to do.
After these impromptu work sessions became the norm for us, Maria started to try in class, had her work done, dropped her ‘tough girl’ exterior with me, and stopping missing class. One afternoon, she shared with me that she couldn’t get work done at home. Her mom worked late hours and she was responsible for picking up her younger siblings, making dinner, and ensuring they did their homework. She couldn’t complete homework unless she found a quiet place to work directly after school for the one hour she had to wait for the elementary school to dismiss. After she completed her work in my room, she would walk to the elementary school and basically start a ‘second shift’ taking care of her siblings. Maria shared with me that she felt like no one really cared about her success and well-being and she was too busy helping with her family to worry about herself. But coming to my class after school focused her one hour into time to complete school work and decompress from her day. I saw Maria go from almost failing to an exemplary student. She went from being angry, combative, and evasive to focused, goal-oriented, and even polite. While I heard the old adage “students don't care how much you know until they know how much you care”, Maria was my first encounter with how much truth there is in that saying. I tried my best to give her a place where she felt safe, supported, and loved.
I am a firm believer in the words of Rita Pierson, “Every child needs a champion.” If you have never heard her TED Talk, do yourself a favor and watch it here: https://www.ted.com/talks/rita_pierson_every_kid_needs_a_champion?language=en
While I haven’t put in the 40 years into education that Rita has, I can affirm that in my 12 years in education and 4 years previous to that in early childhood education, this is true. I have seen first-hand students who are loved, supported, and have safe environments succeed while others who don’t have consistent support, have hard home lives, or simply feel like no one is looking out for them fail. The number one reason students succeed is love. Behind every successful student is at least one person who told them they could do it; one person who consistently was there for them. I have had the pleasure of being one of those people to many students, but I have also lost sleep and cried over students who I couldn’t reach. While I can’t be a champion for every child, I wake up every day trying to do so for as many as possible.
We all have young people in our lives. Our own children, nieces, nephews, friends’ children, or little ones at church or in our community. It is imperative that children know they are seen, that they are important to someone, that they are loved. You can be a champion for any child. There are studies done on non-parent mentors and the positive effects on children. (There is an excellent article about it in Psychology Today, found here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-moment-youth/201301/mentoring-youth-matters). As adults, whether you are formally responsible for children or not, we need to be there for the children in our lives and cheer them on. Have conversations. Check in with them. Get to know them. Ask what made them smile today. Ask what their favorite class is this school year. Ask who they sit with at lunch. Find out what makes them laugh. Do anything you can to show that you care. So many students slip through the cracks. I have mourned the suicides of too many of my students. I have felt the blow of students dropping out of school or being arrested and sent to alternative education. Raising successful young people is not a one-person job. All adults need to step up and champion children in their lives. Eventually, if there are enough people who do not give up on them, students will realize someone believes in them. There will be at least one person they can connect with and be inspired by. While many things go into student success, the greatest of these is love.
While Holly Miller has eclectic passions, interests, and hobbies, she is easily summed up as a high school mathematics teacher who found a way to thrive despite her anxiety and depression. Her goal is to spread awareness about mental health, inspire those who struggle to see that they are not alone and show them that they can find light in even the darkest of places. She enjoys spending time with her husband Luke, their two dogs, two cats, and Russian tortoise. While she may not have many impressive credentials, Holly believes there is magic in the ordinary every day and that a simple life is a good life.
Holly can be reached email@example.com
By Donna Lund
The human brain fascinates me. The information stored in our memory bank is quite remarkable and the triggers that cause memories to be retrieved with such accuracy is even more amazing. I experienced one of those triggers the other day as I read in school news that kindergarten registration is coming up. I felt this uncomfortable feeling in my stomach and my heart started to race a little. Kindergarten registration was an exciting time for my 2 girls thankfully. My boys on the other hand, not at all. The memories surrounding my boys starting kindergarten bring back to life the most traumatic school transitions we ever faced. Memories that still are as vivid as the actual events. Honestly, I'd give anything for them to just fade away.
When Donny was set to start kindergarten we did not know he was on the spectrum. We knew something was different certainly, but not exactly what. Nikki was thriving in a Catholic School but we knew Donny needed the resources of our public school district so we decided to uproot her and start both kids in our neighborhood elementary school. Family is everything to us and our kids needed to be in the same school. So during the spring of 2002, a few weeks after Cathy died, I enrolled our children in a new school for the upcoming school year. I remember so well entering the office of Baker Elementary School. I asked to talk to the principal who was retiring that year and I told him something was different about my son and he directed me to the guidance counselor. There I sat in her office. Exhausted, grief stricken and terrified. The tears began to flow as I told her about Donny, Nikki and the cancer ordeal that we had just lived through. I was so fragile during this time I felt like I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. As I left the building I saw moms talking and laughing and I thought to myself that this school truly is the beginning of a brand new life for me. I was now sister-less and in a few months I would learn I am an autism mom. I felt like I was being tormented and was yearning for inner peace. Everything I knew was gone.
Donny's orientation to kindergarten was even more fun! Not. As the new students were filling into the school with their moms Donny would not get out of the car. There were a few moms who I was friends with that saw me struggling and they tried to coax him out of he car, even the principal came out to our car but Donny was too stressed and overwhelmed to pull it together. These were the kinds of things Donny would do that made people misunderstand him. I'm not sure how it happened but finally we made it into the building. That's where the details get blurry.
What I do know and will never forget is how remarkable and special those years were for Donny and I. His teacher was so gifted and confident and seemed to make everything ok. She was responsible for Donny's encouraging development and for giving me a game plan for how to deal autism. Donny and I were both learning and adjusting and the fog that felt suffocating was beginning to lift. In many ways I was her student too. I never knew how much a teacher could mean to our family and how that special little school would become a cornerstone in my life. At the most fragile time in my life the staff at that school was exactly what I needed as I began a new life.
Brian's kindergarten registration was completely different than Donny's in that he was already diagnosed and he had attended a special needs preschool. His needs were much different but I was eager, actually excited for him to have the same excellent teacher Donny had. I wasn't adjusting to being a special needs mom anymore and I already knew the players. It was round 2 and I was much more prepared. Of course I was heartbroken, that goes without saying, but I was used to it by now. An autism mom was who I was and probably what defines me in our community. Amazing how times change. In 2002 I could hardly say the word autism without breaking down. 15 years later I'm writing about it and own an autism mom t-shirt! I guess we are all capable of adapting even when we think we can't reinforcing why our brains are so fascinating and powerful.
Sadly, Brian going to Baker for kindergarten was not in the cards. We were informed that he would not be attending the elementary school his siblings attended. We were crestfallen that Brian would not attend the school that felt like family to us and have the wonderful teacher Donny was blessed with. I definitely was not wanting to start over and put down roots in another school. Just as I was gaining some confidence the rug was pulled out from under me and I was back to square one. It was a devastating time but we were determined to adjust and put our best foot forward. Again, as it was when Donny started kindergarten, everything I knew was gone. I have absolutely no recollection of Brian's orientation day. I'm not even sure we went.
Moments are fleeting but memories are permanent. They are a very powerful thing. Some are joyous while others are very painful. I think we share our favorite memories so they do not fade away. That notion is probably why I mention my sister a lot. They keep us connected to the past whether we want to be connected or not. The memories that are stored in our brain; the good, the bad and the ugly create our story and are a reflection of our short time on this earth. They are reminders of what we have lived through and who touched our lives both positively and negatively. I'm grateful for all of them because it means I've had an array of experiences. No one ever said life was supposed to be easy or is promised anything and I'm happy and thankful for each day.
Happy 2020 my friends...….it's time to create some new memories and I wish you all the very best!!
Donna is a wife, mother of four, and loving advocate from Pittsburgh, PA. Both of her sons have ASD. Her contribution to the autism community in her early years focused on fundraising both at the national and local level. In 2011, the Lund family was featured in a documentary, The Family Next Door. The film’s mission was to illustrate the emotional impact of autism on families, and its influence has led to speaking engagements that focus on Donna’s message of compassion. She has been invited to speak at local universities with special education teachers as well as at high schools (including annually at Mt. Lebanon School District as part of their curriculum) to promote professional development. Donna was a speaker at the Robert Morris University Educational Conference and a guest panelist for Representative Dan Miller’s Disability Summit. In 2018, she launched her blog, Labeled to Lunderful. Most recently she was a coauthor for the book collaboration You Are Not Alone. Find out more at http://www.labeledtolunderful.com/
We need to create a safe place for men to share their feelings and seek help for mental health when needed. Our physical health affects our mental health. We need to seek help for all of us, not just part of us. We need to do a better job at supporting caregivers. If you are a caregiver, we are here for you. Reach out to us today!
Here are the websites I mentioned:
Chou Hallegra, Founder of Grace & Hope Consulting, LLC is now a Certified AutPlay Therapy Provider!
AutPlay Therapy was created by Dr. Robert Jason Grant and is a play therapy and behavioral therapy approach to working with children and parents affected by Autism and other developmental disabilities. It combines the therapeutic powers of play therapy, behavioral therapy, and relationship development approaches together in a collaborative model to assist children and adolescents in gaining needed skills and abilities.
Contact us today to find out more firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-216-0230
T’was the day before Thanksgiving…Perhaps a day to prepare for all the festivities: Making the last trip to the grocery store, cleaning the house for guests, planning recreational activities for the long weekend…But I was preparing for something totally different.
I had a scheduled surgery that morning. I ran a few errands in preparation for the surgery, drove back home to park my car since I wouldn’t be able to drive after the procedure. I then requested an Uber ride to the hospital.
All the people I talked to who either had this surgery or knew someone who had it, had wonderful things to say about the procedure… “You’ll be so glad you had it …You won’t have to deal with all this pain anymore… You’ll feel like a new person”. I looked forward to the procedure. It promised a new beginning. A new beginning, I had. Just not exactly the one I expected.
My scheduled procedure went well, just as expected. Once in the recovery room, I started complaining of excruciating headaches that felt very different than my regular migraines. I was taken to the observation room and given pain medication, but the headache persisted.
Then a couple hours after the procedure, I was eating a Popsicle and tried to tell a family member that my head was feeling weird, but no words were coming out. My lips were moving but no words were coming out. I could see the worried look on everyone’s faces and knew something was wrong. Within a few minutes, my room was full of people. I suppose they all came to help. Rapid response was called.
By the time the medical staff were in the room, the symptoms had progressed. I couldn’t answer questions like “who’s the president of the United States?” I knew the answer but couldn’t get the words out. I couldn’t move the left side of my body. The left side of my face was numb. My left eye was drooping. I was presenting all the typical signs of a stroke.
I was then rushed to a different hospital by helicopter. The initial plan was to remove the blood clot as soon as possible; we all assumed that I had a blood clot from the surgery. Once in the new hospital, the CT scan and MRI could not find any blood clot, yet I still had all the stroke symptoms. I was put on stroke protocol and treated as such.
I was in that hospital for a week, three days were spent in the Intensive Care Unit. My entire body was out of order during that time. I had developed medical problems I didn’t have before. My entire being had changed, internally and externally.
While the changes were debilitating, I was not ashamed of them, but I slowly became aware of other people’s discomfort with my “new disabilities”. One person who had known me my entire life said, “you can’t afford to be a disabled woman with three kids” and by that comment I was reminded of society’s view of disability.
Ten years ago, I was legally declared “disabled” due to debilitating medical conditions. Those conditions were however invisible and apparently did not bother anyone. I have worked since, I have been a mom, a business owner, and so many other things while living with the same challenging conditions.
Somehow, as long as they were invisible, nobody cared. There were my problems, not society’s. I spent some days in bed, some days I had to call for help, other days I canceled work assignments and prior commitments. Somehow, nobody ever told me I couldn’t afford to be a “disabled woman with three kids”.
This time my disability is visible, and it seems to bother people more than it bothers me. I’m in a wheelchair. I’m having difficulty communicating. I can’t take care of my personal care needs. It’s obvious that I’m not “independent” according to society’s standards.
Does society view people with visible disability as a burden? Now that they can see my limitations, is it a constant reminder to them of their lack of support? Perhaps my invisible disabilities made me look “normal” for ten years and now all the sudden I’m no longer “normal”? Sadly, the answer to all these questions is a loud “YES” and I have read many research papers on this topic during my post-graduate studies, but I will not bore you with that.
If my visible disabilities do not bother me, does that mean that I will not apply myself to regain the functions I’ve lost? Not at all! I’m doing physical, occupational, speech, and vision therapies and I have already seen major improvements. What I’m trying to say is that I do not fear limitations. Even if I do not regain all the functional abilities I had before the stroke, I believe and KNOW that with support and accommodations, I can still have a meaningful life. Maybe my life will be even more meaningful than it’s ever been because I now have a deeper sense of gratitude, appreciation, and empathy.
I will not apologize for having disabilities, visible or invisible. I’m a beautiful human being inside and out. What you see or do not see does not define who I truly am. Get to know me and other people that society calls “disabled”, then you will realize that we are all able and disabled in our unique ways. Every human being has both strengths and weaknesses.
Now, look at the title of this article again, but only read the words in capital letters. You should read I CAN BE ABLED. Yes, people can be "abled" by the respect they receive from society and that respect starts by assuming that they can have meaningful lives.
If we assume that people can have meaningful lives, regardless of their functional limitations, then we start supporting people in achieving lives of purpose, and therefore, there will be no room for statements like “you can’t afford to be a disabled woman with three children”. In fact, I will joyfully be a "disabled" mother of three "disabled" children because our family has embraced disability as part of our human experience. It’s time the rest of society gets with the program!
Self-Advocate & Ally to the differently ABLE
Founder of Grace & Hope Consulting, LLC
P.S. Hallegra is my middle name. It comes from the Italian “allegria”, which translates into “allegresse” in French or “glee” in English. Therefore, Hallegra means lively joy or gaiety, which I want to identify with even more in this season of my life.
I like that Grace & Hope Consulting, LLC....
- Changes lives
- Helps others integrate their faith into their emotional wellness and other services they receive
- Was inspired by life experiences and continues to keep it real
Hi everyone, this is Chou Gabikiny again. For those who do not know me, I'll reintroduce myself again. I'm Chou Gabikiny, the founder of Grace and Hope Consulting, and my organization provides training, consultations, and counseling to help people achieve emotional wellness, reach their full potential, and live fulfilling lives.
Today I want to talk about person-centered practices in the home. Those of you who are familiar with what I do know that I'm a certified trainer for person-centered thinking. Often when people think about person-centered practices, they think about person-centered planning and how we use it to plan for services for people, but it's actually a way of thinking that looks at the individual, what's important to them and for them and being able to make the distinction and actually incorporating that into everyday life. So I'm just going to share a little bit about how I use person-centered practices in my home.
I have three children, they're all very unique, just as your children are, and they're all very different, just like any of the children out there...but knowing what's important to each of my children helps me parent them in a way that is more supportive to them. So I'll talk about my daughter for example.
My daughter does not like to be rushed, this can be true for all three of my kids, and it goes beyond just the feeling of being rushed. When she's rushed she gets very overwhelmed and then it becomes hard for her to actually plan her next step. Since I know that…that's who she is, that's something that she needs, then the way I parent her I give her extra time to complete tasks. That's just one way I use person-centered practicing in my home.
I have my son, Gabriel, the middle child, he does not like to be bossed around (to put it bluntly). He likes to have control over things, he likes to have control over what impacts him. So knowing that...again I'm the parent but I can power struggles with him forever or I can find a way to respect what's important to him and incorporate that into my parenting style.
So what does that look like? Instead of me telling Gabriel, "I need you to do this right now." I could do that, there are times where I get to a point where I say that, but what works best for my son is when I explain what's going on: "This is what we need to do...this is why we need to do it...and this is how you can help us do it." By doing that I just gave him the power to actually be part of this end goal that the family has, and he feels empowered to contribute. When I’m asking him to do something I'm not just bossing him because
I'm the mom, but I am actually helping him to make those decisions, make those choices so he can be part of something bigger and do something to help the entire family. He loves that, and it works!
My younger one, he has sensory issues. In another video I did, I talked a little bit about it. Because I know he has sensory issues, then I address those needs because it's important to him that things are done a certain way. Instead of just doing whatever I want, whatever will work for me as a parent, what will make my life easier, I kind of turn it around and do what will make life easier for my child. And that doesn't mean I'm going to enable every behavior out there, no; but it actually helps me prevent behavior by including what's important to him.
The focus of Person-Centered Thinking is finding that balance between what's important to someone versus what's important for someone. When we think about what's important for someone, we're focusing on health and safety: people taking their medication, people living in a safe environment, people being somewhere where they're not abused, so we think about those things. Health and safety are the main components of what's important “for” someone.
By the way, the best for people is going beyond that. I can be safe and healthy but be miserable. I can be safe and healthy and be bored, that's not fun for anybody. So person-centered thinking actually incorporates this added value to people's lives that is what's important “to” someone, what makes them tick in a good way, what are the things that make them smile, what are the things that bring joy to them, what are the things that actually make a whole lot of difference in their life, like the things that they like to do. It can be that they like their coffee cold, maybe they like it with two cups of sugar, might not be healthy, but again, it's finding that balance. Supporting people in a way that incorporates what's important to them help them have meaningful lives.
If you're just providing health and safety, people will be miserable and then you get more behavior, now you might get more attention. Then you're not meeting your outcome goals. You're not meeting your goals because people are just not happy. All of us want to live a life that's free from constraints whatever that be, we don’t like somebody to have control over us.
When we incorporate what's important to someone it actually helps to give people power, instead of serving people or supporting them in a way where we have power over them. When we use person-centered practices, we're actually having power with them because we're incorporating what's important to them so they can have meaningful lives. We’re showing them that we value what's important to them, we value what they want, and we do our best to make that happen. And that doesn't mean that we have to fake it. No, if we cannot do it right, find someone who can do it right, but it is important for all of us to do it.
This thing is just not for people with disabilities, it's not just for people who need extra help per se, this goes for all of us. Person-Centered Thinking practices are for all people regardless of age, regardless of gender, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of your background or your ability level, your function level, it doesn't matter. We all want better lives, we all want meaningful lives, we all want lives that make us happy so that's why we must practice Person-Centered thinking.
If your agency can benefit from this strategy if you can benefit from it… Honestly as a parent, my goodness, just learning about those tools myself made a lot of difference in how I parent my children. It made a lot of difference in how I even treat myself.
The Person-Centered Thinking training is usually two full days. I can break it down into four half days. Through this training, you learn to gather information about the person and find meaningful information that you can use to help them have better lives.
We look at tools like important to and important for. In trying to make that distinction and incorporating that throughout all the other tools that you learn for the training. We also look at other tools like the morning routine...what are those things that make for a good day for someone. We do what's working, what's not working, so looking at certain situations and it becomes a good decision-making tool.
This one, for example, I just had to use it recently when I needed extra care for my child and we tried a setting and we had all these little things that just did not work and made it more stressful for me and more overwhelming for my child. I had to sit down and use that tool (the What’s working and What’s not working).
Once you get comfortable with these tools and you actually get to the point where you're not using it like on paper all the time, it becomes this thinking process; cause before you plan you have to think. And if you start thinking in a way that's person-centered, then your planning, your actions, your treatment plans, become person-centered. So again, that training is really useful for all of us.
I just shared a few examples, of how I changed the way I parent to be a more person-centered parent... but you can use this for an agency. You can use that at home, in society. All of us can benefit from Person-Centered Thinking training. So if you need it, want to find out more about it, please contact me. I'll be glad to share information and set time to talk with you.
Alright, thank you. Remember everybody's meaningful, everybody's important and everybody wants a better life. Be the person that allows others to have the best life that they want for themselves. And that's why I teach person-centered thinking.
The US Social Security Administration provides benefits for people with disabilities and those who are retired. The disability benefits that the Social Security Administration offers are Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The two are quite different and the chart below highlights some of the nuances between the two. To find out more or to apply, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or check out https://www.ssa.gov/.
Birthdays are usually times of celebration. We celebrate the fact that one more year was added to a person’s life. For parents of kids with special healthcare needs, birthdays take on a deeper meaning. Each new day is a blessing. Every milestone, even the smallest one, is a HUGE deal. A birthday is not just a birthday. It’s a time we reflect on how far we’ve come and how much we have grown, and that’s not just in days and numbers. For special needs children, birthdays are not about adding one more year to life but adding more life to their years.
Perhaps you are sitting in the ICU or in another hospital room on your child’s birthday. Maybe your child is experiencing a setback. No matter the circumstances, I encourage you to find at least one thing to CELEBRATE. Celebrate even the smallest achievement. Celebrate the one medication that was discontinued. Celebrate that you found a doctor or therapist who is meeting your child’s needs. Celebrate the fact you are reading this right now and being inspired to celebrate.
YOUR CHILD’S BIRTHDAY IS ALSO YOUR CELEBRATION. You have labored all these years. The sleepless nights, the hospital visits, the hundreds of miles driven, all the therapy hours, and all the other sacrifices you made were all worth it. Your child celebrates another birthday because there was a mighty parent standing beside him or her each step of the way. So, don’t just pat yourself on the back but truly celebrate all that YOU have done to make this birthday possible. YOU ROCK, dear warrior parent!
It can be both therapeutic and memorable to make a birthday keepsake. Maybe it’s a poem you write, or a picture you draw, or an item you save that remind you of all that you and your child overcame that year. You never know when that keepsake will become your saving grace.
I usually write a Facebook post on my children’s birthdays to praise God for helping us through another year and to celebrate a milestone we reached that year. Below is my post from yesterday morning…
Happy 3rd birthday to my miracle child! 3 years ago today, unto me a son was born. He didn't have dominion on his shoulders and didn't carry healing on his wings but his amazing life quickly pointed us all to the One who does and did. He who is sovereign proved every day that my son's life is in His hands and that He rules over any sickness. He brought healing to my son in so many ways. My son still has many diagnoses and lot of medical appointments, but the gift of life is evidence enough of how he's been healed. Thank you, Jesus, for making more birthdays possible!
My dear Daniel, every year I cry on your birthday. I cry because I'm happy. I cry because I'm thankful. I cry because you're proof that miracles happen every day! Today we celebrate the fact that you were not admitted in the hospital at all this year and that you haven't been in the ER in the past 6 months!!! (You've come a long way baby). Although we added 2 new diagnoses to the list, this year was still your healthiest. As new doctors, nurses, therapists and other providers entered our circle of support, we are reminded that God is always with us and sends help in times of need. Thank you, Daniel, for pointing us to Emmanuel!
My dear friend, on your child’s next birthday, celebrate all that your child has accomplished that year AND your efforts in helping your child grow.
Happy birthday to all our December babies and kudos to their devoted parents for the amazing job they do!
A one-page profile/description is a Person-Centered Thinking (PCT) tool used to provide succint yet very useful informatin about someone. It can be used for many purposes such as helping a child transition to a new class or while hiring a new caregiver or service provider. You can even use it in your organization to boost collaboration between staff members. I use it in my counseling sessions to help me know my clients better and to help them start digging deeper into who they are as a person.
Below is a copy of my trainer's profile that I use to introdude myself to other trainers and trainees. I'm also including more information about one-page profiles provided by The Learning Community for person-centered practices, including links to a video and useful templates.
Where have they come from?
Laura had the first one-page profile in 2005 in the UK. She was 7 years old, and had moved into a new class, and her teacher was finding it difficult to get to know her. Her family did a shortened version of an Essential Lifestyle Plan on one page, because they did not think that the teacher would have time to read anything longer.
What are they?
One-page profiles are one page of person-centered information around three headings – an appreciation (for example – great things about me); what is important to me and how to support me (what you need to know or do to support me).
As we said at the beginning there are many ways to share person-centered information on a page, but if you want to call it a ‘one-page profile’ it will have these three headings and will not include:
What is the purpose of a one-page profile? How are they used?
A one-page profile can be used in three main ways:
What is core, and where you can use your judgment?
The three headings are core expectations of one-page profiles. You can call the Appreciation section whatever makes sense to the person (for example, like and admire, great things about me). The Board decided that using a heading about ‘introduction’ does not sufficiently convey appreciation.
You can add a further heading if that is useful in achieving the purpose of the one-page profile, if it is one of the headings that are used within Essential Lifestyle Planning, and person-centered planning for example:
People have got very creative in how one-page profiles are presented. This is down to your creativity and judgement based on what works for the person (as long as it does not compromise the readability of the profile)
Templates: Think and Plan.com - http://www.thinkandplan.com/
Using them with teams and in organisations: ‘Using person-centered practices with team and organisations by Helen Sanderson, Mary Beth Lepkowsky with Michelle Livesley and Ruth Gorman. http://www.helensandersonassociates.co.uk/media/72399/usingpersoncentredapproacheswithinorganisationsandteams-2.pdf
Video: One page profiles- personalisation http://youtu.be/fnaKnVWFh44
Chou is a best-selling Author, a Transformational Speaker, Certified Life Coach, Counselor and Consultant on a mission to inspire people to rise above their circumstances. She is passionate about helping others achieve emotional wellness, reach their full potential, and live fulfilling lives. You can contact Chou at email@example.com