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The Importance of Social Support and Positive Self-Talk

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(Photo Credit: Pavla Zakova)

By Nicolina Santoro, M.A., MFTI

A pivotal developmental theorist, Lev Vygotsky, placed heavy emphasis on the social learning environment of children, and how important speech stimulation is to cognitive development. Vygotsky used the environment as a chief influence on child speech, language and skill development.

The connection between external and internal communication is particularly powerful when we realize how much our internal dialogue can influence emotional states. It would make sense that, as children, the patterns of internal communication will evolve through time, affecting human interactions throughout life significantly. Vygotsky proposed that this self-talk is also used as a means of self-regulating our external communications and behaviors.

Vygotsky held the belief that language is a tool that humans developed to interact with the social environment, a way that sprang from children communicating not only to get their needs met, but as way to exercise their imaginations in play, and to form relationships with others in the environment.

This ever-evolving tool of human language is also a means by which the environment and those interacting with it can help each other grow new skill sets in what Vygotsky termed the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). In this paradigm, people act as “scaffolding” to one another as the levels of the skill become more complex, and varying levels of skill support are adjusted to provide the intrinsic motivation to learn and practice the new skill set. This is similar to how people call upon mentors to enlarge their arena of professional or personal expertise in any given platform.

Vygotsky hypothesized about psychological systems in constant states of cohesion, and individuation, guiding the human mind to make comparisons about objects in the environment based on intuitive messages from the internal dialogue that is constantly running. The concept that this activity in the mind begins before any event happens in terms of real experience is a testament to the extraordinary processing capabilities that the mind has and continues to develop through the internal dialoguing process common to the human condition.

Using the concept of mindful and positive self-talk as an internal moderator can help to minimize the destructive emotional aspects of many mental disorders leading to more meaningful, present and authentic interactions with those around us.


References and Further Reading:

Zavershneva, E. (2010). The Way to Freedom: On the Publication of Documents from the Family.

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Keeping Kids Humble Around The Holidays

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Holiday Kid

(Photo Credit: Sunny Studio)

By Melanie Ernould, Psy.D.

I have a friend who is divorced and raising a 7-year-old daughter. He and his ex-wife are immersed in a battle to see who can “out fun” the other. While the girl is lovely and sweet, I can’t help but wonder how much entitlement this is building in her. I am the parent of a 3-year-old girl, and I want to raise her to be a person who cares about others more than her own pursuit of fun or entertainment. But I look around my house and see the shear amount of toys she already owns, because she has two doting parents in two separate households, and also several sets of doting grandparents, and I feel a little nervous. My interactions with this friend and his daughter have me thinking about this topic a lot, particularly with the blast of commercialism that we face during the holidays.

I also had a friend who, for her son’s birthday party, requested that guests bring a book to donate rather than gifts. I thought this was a wonderful idea for many reasons, but at the same time, I remember the pure joy and excitement I felt on those few days each year that I got to open a pile of presents just for me. I’m not sure I feel a child should be completely deprived of that experience either. So how do we raise children who get to experience this joy, but also understand exactly how lucky they are to experience it? How do we raise little people who actually enjoy giving to others as much as they enjoy taking for themselves? I’m not sure I can answer that definitively, but it is a continuous dance to figure out the right balance for each individual child.

Here are 6 ways to help keep your child grounded in humility & empathy:

  1. Don’t overdo it with gifts over the holidays. Sometimes when grandparents are involved, this is hard to avoid. Do your best. Carefully evaluate what your child actually needs. Consider more experience-based gifts, such as museum passes or a trip. Check out this Huffington Post blog post for 18 non-toy gift ideas for children.
  2. Consider family activities that are less about manufactured entertainment (think Disneyland) and more about spending quality time bonding and connecting with nature. Go on a hike, bake and cook, or do an art project together. For an excellent resource on ideas that are arranged by season, see Amanda Blake Soule’s The Rhythm of Family: Discovering a Sense of Wonder Through the Seasons.
  3. Simplify your life in general. There are many, many things in our households that we don’t need. We think we need them, but we don’t. Re-evaluate your priorities and whittle down your stuff a bit. Clean out your closets and drawers and have your children help you donate items to charity. Start having a conversation about giving to others, and about the unnecessary possession of stuff. In addition, when you do need something, consider finding it used. I recently read this interesting blog entry about a family that happily simplified their lives.
  4. Model giving behaviors and humility. Apologize often, take responsibility and admit mistakes. As parents, we are our children’s first teachers. And the most effective lessons are through our own actions. Talk with your children about what you do for others such as volunteering and giving to charity. Additionally, when you express empathy to your children, they are more likely to grow up to be empathic individuals themselves. Research shows that parents who model empathic and caring behavior toward their children and others in front of their children are more likely to have children who demonstrate empathy and prosocial attitudes and behavior (Eisenberg-Berg, & Mussen, 1978; McDevitt, Lennon, & Kopriva, 1991; Zahn-Waxler, Radke-Yarrow, & King, 1979).
  5. Participate in volunteering activities with your family, and make them fun! Experience is also an incredibly effective teacher. We tend to isolate ourselves in our bubbles, ignorant to the plight of others. And in our society, it is easy to do so. Instead of turning a blind eye, expose your children to opportunities to give to those who are less fortunate. According to Wilson (2000), volunteering is associated with positive life-satisfaction, self-esteem, health, educational and occupational achievement, functional ability, and mortality. In addition, youth who volunteer are less likely to engage in problem behaviors such as school truancy and drug abuse.To make the lesson of giving stick, it is important to do this all together as a family and in a way that can be fun for your children. Check out CBS Local’s list of great family volunteer opportunities.
  6. Finally, have frequent conversations with your children about empathy and giving to others. When a conflict arises, help your child understand the position of the other person. In addition, read books together and ask them questions to get them thinking. Many books can be a starting point for a conversation involving perspective taking, but these books deal with the concept of empathy specifically:
  1. Hey, Little Ant (Hoose, Hoose, and Tilley, 1998)
  2. The Berenstain Bears Think of Those in Need (Berenstain & Berenstain, 1999)
  3. Those Shoes (Boelts & Jones, 2009)
  4. Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla (Applegate, 2014)
  5. The Invisible Boy (Ludwig, 2013)
  6. Charlotte’s Web (White, 2006)
  7. Prairie Evers (Airgood, 2012)
  8. Junonia (Henkes, 2011)
  9. Mockingbird (Erkine, 2010)
  10. Each Kindness (Woodson & Lewis, 2012)
  11. To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee, 2004)

References and Further Reading:

Eisenberg-Berg, N., and Mussen, P. (1978). Empathy and moral development in in adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 14(2), 185-186.

McDevitt, T. M.; Lennon, R.; and Kopriva, R. J. (1991). Adolescents’ perceptions of mothers’ and fathers’ prosocial actions and empathic responses. Youth and Society, 22(3), 387-409.

Wilson, J. (2000). Volunteering. Annual Review of Sociology, 26, 215-240.

Zahn-Waxler, C.; Radke-Yarrow, M.; and King, R. A. (1979). Child rearing and children’s prosocial initiations toward victims of distress. Child Development, 50(2), 319-330.

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Between Religion And Science, The Soul Gleefully Swings

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Soul Food...we all need it.

Soul Food: We All Need It! (Photo Credit: Dollar Photo Club)

By Nicolina Santoro, M.A., MFTI

Humans have contemplated the origins of the soul, and its connection to some sort of divine, omnipotent source for thousands of years. This post is not an advertisement for religion; it’s an exploration of the theme. Religion is a comforting, human way to personalize and categorize our universe. It is also the ghost in the machine, impossible to ascertain, or even quantify. The matter of divine connection as a collective species is the fire that forged worship, mysticism, philosophy, psychology, and eventually transpersonal psychology. Transpersonal Psychology is a school of thought inspired by the pioneering work of American psychologist, William James, one of the forefathers of modern psychology. It is the exploration of the highest potential of man, as defined by the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology.

According to James, the religious experience has four key components:

  1. It is short in duration
  2. It is hard to describe in words and very emotional
  3. It leaves the subject feeling as though they have learned something significant
  4. It happens to the subject usually without conscious manipulation, though the environment has shown to play a role.

Imagine a feeling that at once dissolves the individual into a place of complete connectedness and love. The religious experience is so moving that it can affect an individual for the rest of his or her life. The memory of the experience is so charged, it seems it can be recalled at will for years. A normal physiological occurrence that feels similar, albeit usually shorter, is the human orgasm.

There is nothing modern about this experience or this longing. Ancient cultures all have their unique brand of religious experience. Deep trances, speaking in tongues, dancing frenzies, and altered states of consciousness, in various forms, were common to indigenous people of almost every continent. Their purpose was to bring whole tribes of people into communion with the divine force. As time went on, this unseen force acquired many names, was worshiped in many languages, but the only constant in the matter seemed to be this shared drive to find, and have a communion with this force.

The religious experience has been known to have long-term effects on the subjects who have had them. Modern science has become increasingly interested in studying these effects, which include a new appreciation for life, better moods, inspired creative activity, increased levels of tolerance, patience, and empathy. The subject feels a part of something special, like a divine force took a moment out of infinity to validate them. We all know how good validation feels. Validation is like high performance fuel in the gas tank. The engine of the car is going to run better.

Science has some very interesting conclusions to bear on what is happening to the subject of a religious experience on a neurological level. In The Neuroscience of Religious ExperiencePatrick McNamara and collaborators describe how the neurotransmitter dopamine, when produced excessively, has been correlated with increases in religious inclination, hallucinations, and dramatic shifts in the subject’s perception.

Positive correlations between religion and health have also been noted in the research on dopaminergic neurons, and their managerial properties in relation to the autonomic nervous system. A subject in the throes of a religious experience shows high activity in the frontal and pre-frontal cortex of the brain, suggesting that higher order functions are at work, rather than the evolutionary biological reaction that would reside mostly in the limbic system. Some of the noted positive health effects on the subject include reduced anxiety, blood pressure, and pain symptoms. Subjects reported more positive mental well-being, and confidence. The lasting effects of regular spiritual practice are positively correlated to improved mental and physical health.


At Healing Pathways Psychological Services, we work with people of all faiths, backgrounds and cultures. We all have the same goal: to live a happy and purposeful life! Call us if you’d like to meet one of our talented therapists.

 

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Learning From The Loss Of Robin Williams

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Ron Henry/Flickr/Creative Commons

By Leona Kashersky, Psy.D.

When I learned of the tragic death of Robin Williams two weeks ago, tears came to my eyes.

I valued his mind and contribution to the arts and humanity, as did so many in the world who share in the loss of this beloved comedian, who took his own life on August 11, 2014.

Not only did I feel an emptiness at the thought of never seeing another new Williams’ masterpiece, but knowing that so many looked up to him, I feared that his end could inspire those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts to follow his example.

Recent studies have shown that when a mentor, parent, loved one, or admired celebrity commits suicide, communities can become vulnerable to more tragic loss of the same kind.

As such, I’d like to speak to Williams’ specific situation, and address some general suicide risk factors in hopes that education could help us to grieve and prevent further harm.

O’ Captain, My Captain: Robin Williams’ Struggle

It is well documented that Williams had a long battle with substance use, and mental health professionals have hypothesized that he also suffered from bipolar disorder.

In early July, he checked himself into rehab, though news reports stated that he did not technically relapse. This readmission into rehab was right after his new sitcom The Crazy Ones was canceled after only one season. Whether or not Williams actually relapsed or was preventing a relapse, it is important to recognize that he was proactive in addressing his need for help.

Further, Williams had just started a new medication to treat his newly diagnosed Parkinson’s disease; his medication did come with warnings related to depression and suicidal ideation.

Risk Factors, Warning Signs & Intervention

Though we don’t know the complete details of Williams’ personal life, there were risk factors present in Williams’ history and current life situation that indicate that he was vulnerable to suicide.

Most suicides occur within three months following the treatment of a major depression, as the patient’s energy increases and before negative and destructive thoughts decrease. This leaves individuals in the initial phases of treatment at risk to follow through on suicidal thoughts. Moreover, even individuals who have a drug, alcohol, or eating disorder in full remission can be 10 percent more likely to complete suicide and are at higher risk. Professional monitoring is needed in the form of regularly scheduled counseling to teach healthy coping skills for managing stress.

In addition, patients starting some new medications that are not related to mental health treatment can be at risk of developing depressed and self-destructive thoughts. When patients are warned of the side effects, they don’t always remember the warning was given when the thoughts start to intrude. Often, patients are caught off guard and can be at greater risk of harmful behaviors.

Most people who contemplate suicide do not want to die, but rather feel disconnected from others and are likely experiencing difficulty thinking creatively about how to solve life’s challenges.

Here are some more general risk factors and warning signs that can help you identify and help those considering suicide:

Risk Factors

  • Mood changes or depression
  • Peer and/or family conflict
  • Perfectionism/overachievement
  • Poor coping skills
  • School or work failure
  • Drug or alcohol use


Warning Signs

  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Recent break up
  • Running away
  • Talking about suicide (even if it sounds like a joke)
  • Dramatic changes (for the worse) in personality and/or appearance


9 Initial Interventions for First Responders to Suicide: 

  • Be patient and nonjudgmental
  • Treat the problem seriously
  • Do not try to talk the person out of it
  • Do not be afraid to ask direct questions about suicide
  • Communicate your concern and support
  • Offer yourself as a caring listener until professional help can be arranged
  • Try to evaluate the seriousness of the risk presented in order to make the appropriate referrals to mental health professionals and emergency services (i.e. 911)
  • Do not swear to secrecy. Contact someone who can help if the individual will not get help personally
  • Do not leave the person alone if you feel the threat of self-harm is immediate


Ted Eytan / Flickr / Creative Commons

At the “Mrs. Doubtfire” House, 2640 Steiner Street, San Francisco, CA, USA. Ted Eytan / Flickr / Creative Commons

 

Community’s Role in Suicide Prevention

As community members interested in preventing suicide, we must work together to identify, reach out, show compassion, and educate people who are or who know someone that may be at risk.

As a larger community, we can support individuals in developing a spiritual practice that fosters community inclusion and engages individuals in altruistic projects that inspire them to help others or the environment. Programs that build a sense of mastery and inspire a sense of community inclusion rather than alienation are known to be effective in preventing suicide.

In addition, community can support centers that provide organized outings for cultural enrichment, specialized training, education, sexual counseling, crisis intervention, and health care.

We can find a Healing Pathway!

Healing Pathways offers its condolences to everyone who loved Robin Williams dearly. We hope that we can all grieve together as a community and teach each other how to move through pain and sadness with compassion for each other and ourselves.

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The Compassion Door: 5 Steps to more LOVE!

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love-lines

By Leona Kashersky, Psy.D.

For the last year I have deepened my study and practice of compassion, using embodiment practices to integrate  “Lovingkindness” or “Metta” into my daily life and physical being.  My personal experience mirrors what research in the fields of transpersonal and mindfulness psychology is saying about the overall health benefits of the practice. This practice actually enhances immune  function, cardiovascular health, glucose regulation, and even improves social skills!

Metta can be loosely defined as love and compassion for the self and others. Researchers are learning that practicing lovingkindness or metta has objective and observable emotional, physical, social benefits. Donald Rothberg, whose work spans over 30 years as a leading teacher and writer on transpersonal psychology, meditation, and socially engaged spiritual practice, wrote “The Engaged Spiritual Life: A Buddhist Approach to Transforming Ourselves and the World.” Both Donald Rothberg and Barbra Fredrickson have been influential in conducting and participating in research to establish evidence for the health benefits of meditation, self-love, and compassion in modern society.  Fredrickson teaches what she calls “micro-moments of love” or  “positivity resonance” in scientific lingo and in everyday language. As Fredrickson points out, compassion generates loveand love feels good! Start with yourself, and it will naturally radiate out to others near and far.

In my most recent experiences with meditation on love, compassion, and kindness I have used Metta mantras such as “rest in an awakened heart”, “safe and free from harm”, “the body supports the practice”, “surrounded by love and kindness”, in combination with movement. The pairing of movement, breath, mantra, and human connection help to assist in the integration of the compassion practice into the entire mind, body, and spirit.  Movement can include yoga, walking, and dance, including 5 Rhythms; Included are a couple of links to local favorites! The practice of movement meditation has assisted in my personal journey to embody the practice of loving kindness.

The following  techniques reduce burnout and increases positive emotion and LOVE on many different levels in the lives’ of individual people, families, and communities.  A brief and concise description of how the mantras are used are outlined below:

for HP Blog

Step 1:

Cultivate self-compassion: First, focus on the easiest person to grow compassion towards, the self. This is done by not merely reciting words or phrases, but by allowing one’s self to feel the meaning of the phrase or words during the meditation.

  1. I rest with an awakened heart
  2. May I be safe and free from harm
  3. May my body support my practice
  4. May I be surrounded by love and kindness

Step 2:

Cultivate compassion for a ‘dear one’, someone you love dearly. This may be your child, your parent, or a romantic partner, or even a pet!  This is the second easiest form of compassion to grow. As you concentrate on the meaning or feelings of phrases or words, picture the face of the dear one; allow yourself to really experience the face of this dear one. Then slowly use  following mantras. One meditation session may only focus on one of the phrases for each of these steps.

  1. May you rest with an awakened heart
  2. May you be safe and free from harm
  3. May your body support your practice
  4. May you be surrounded by love and kindness

Step 3:

Cultivate compassion for a ‘neutral person’. This neutral person can be someone you see at Starbucks every weekday morning; however you don’t really know them. You don’t usually talk or say hello, you may just see each other in passing. You have no strong feelings towards them, neither positive or negative. Allow yourself to really imagine them in your presence, see their face in your mind’s eye. Begin the following mantras for them.

  1. May you rest with an awakened heart
  2. May you be safe and free from harm
  3. May your body support your practice
  4. May you be surrounded by love and kindness

Step 4:

Cultivate compassion for a ‘difficult person’, someone you find challenging to feel compassion for at the moment.  The difficult person can be someone  close to you, or a someone you’ve never met, such as a political leader. Sometimes the ‘difficult person’ and the ‘dear one’ can be the same person depending on how you feel at the time. Really allow yourself to feel the presence of the difficult person before using the following mantras.

  1. May you rest with an awakened heart
  2. May you be safe and free from harm
  3. May your body support your practice
  4. May you be surrounded by love and kindness

Step 5:

Cultivating compassion for all beings is a meditation focusing on humans, plants, animals, and the entire living planet. We continue to use the four focused mantras or phrases to do this with the following.

  1. May all beings rest with an awakened heart
  2. May all beings be safe and free from harm
  3. May all beings be free from pain and suffering
  4. May all beings be surrounded by love and kindness

 

References: 

Cultivating self-care and compassion in psychological therapists in training: the experience of practicing loving-kindness meditation. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, Vol 7(4), Nov 2013, 267-277 Boellinghaus, Inga; Jones, FergalW.; Hutton, Jane
Effect of Kindness-Based Meditation on Health and well-Being: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Galante, Julieta; Galante, Ignacio; Bekkers, Marie-jet; Gallacher, John Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Jun 30, 2014, No Pagination Specified.

The nondiscriminating heart: Lovingkindness meditation training decreases implicit intergroup bias. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, Vol 143(3), Jun 2014, 1306-1313 Kang, Yoona; Gray, Jeremy R.; Dovidio, John F.

Self-compassion: Conceptualizations, correlations, and interventions. Barnard, Laura K.; Curry, John F. Review of General Psychology, Vol 15(4), Dec 2011, 289-303.

Effects of intranasal oxytocin on ‘compassion focused imagery’.  Rockliff, Helen; Karl Anke; McEwan, Kirsten; Gilbert, Jean; Matos, Marcela; Gilbert, Paul Emotion, Vol 66(8), Nov 2011, 1388-1396

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Tonglen: A Buddhist Meditation Practice

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photo by Emily Roesly

Positive visualizing creates the reality you want!                                                (Photo by Emily Roesly, via morguefile)

by Nicolina M. Cahouette, M.A., M.F.T.I #77972

The Meditative Breath Practice of Tonglen involves visualizing a person who you believe is in pain or has caused you pain.  Contrary to our habit of avoiding pain, Tonglen invites us to breath in the pain we are perceiving.  Our bodies become “conversion machines”, and we use our out breath to release the pain, extending a frequency of love toward the person we are trying to help or forgive.

Pema Chodron explains how this simple act, rooted in awareness, broadens our understanding connectedness and human suffering, because we reinforce the reality of an empathetic connection as we visualize while breathing in.

According to The Tibetan Book of the Dead by Sogyal Rinpoche, Tonglen is effective in negating the restricting and sometimes detrimental influence of our ego because it  opens our hearts to those around us and encourages us to help others  without losing ourselves in their personal dramas. We are compassionate observers, and teachers who are also learning how the people around us are effected by their own suffering (1993, p.195).

Visualization is a powerful part of this practice, and it has a number of cognitive benefits. Continually visualizing scenes which evoke positive emotional states reinforces the production of neurotransmitters in the brain associated with positive emotional states. Further, it encourages the pruning of synaptic relationships that are counterproductive.

Tonglen Breathing Exercise SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

It is important to be in a quiet comfortable place where you can assume a comfortable posture.  Remember, comfortable for your body! You can sit on a cushion, on the floor, or on a chair.  Choose what is best for you. As this is a breath awareness exercise, it can be helpful to place your hand on your stomach to increase awareness of your diaphragm moving in and out with each breath.

While inhaling, visualize the pain associated with what you are trying to release around a specific person. Any confrontations or experiences that were especially salient to you will be a good fit for this exercise.

While exhaling, visualize having a positive healing experience with this person, that love is flowing from you, to the subject of your practice. This practice is a process of thought transmutation that encourages emotional healing around a person or experience.

A good rule of thumb when adopting any meditation practice is to accept that you may find it difficult to focus while you are experiencing the miscellaneous thought traffic that will drift in and out of your meditation time. Also, if you are a novice meditator, keep it brief at first. Start with 10 minute increments once daily until you can sit with ease, then increase the time in 5 or 10 minute intervals until you find what amount of time gives you the maximum ease and benefit.  Want some help?  Try this guided version with Dr. Miles Neale 

Rinpoche, S. (1993). The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. (p. 195).

NY:Harper Collins.

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Coming Home: Grief Healing through Art

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Transformation by Fire: Each year the Burning Man Festival culminates with the burning of a temple which participants have filled with symbols of love, life and loss that they are ready to let the fire transform. (Photo (c) Tristan Savatier – www.loupiote.com -used by permission)

by Nicolina Cahouette, M.A., MFTI

Human relationships are profoundly changing experiences. They are euphoric in their infancy, and can take us to the darkest lows when they fall apart. Remember the Daryll Hall song “Every time you go away, you take a piece of me with you” popularized by Paul Young?   When an important relationship ends or changes, we experience a loss that can be emotionally akin to the death of a love one.   Therapists often hear that people feel lost or incomplete when a relationship transforms or ends.  This is a normal stage of the grief process and the duration of this stage can vary from person to person.

As Barbara Ganim discusses in her work, artistic expression is another experience that profoundly alters the human landscape.  Art connects us experientially through our senses, which is similar to what occurs in important relationships. Art has the power to emotionally transport us through the past. All of our senses are engaged through artistic expression. When we lose time in a project, performance, or exhibit, we are actively connected with our emotional system, experiencing a sort of time travel that takes us through the many sensory levels of processing and integrating the experience in different ways. This process allows us to see beyond the primary filter of pain we may use to describe an event and understand that many emotional components are part of the equation, thereby releasing the ideology that the event or a relationship ending was “only painful”.

The value of losing one’s self in time creatively is eloquently outlined in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book on Flow Psychology. Csikszentmihalyi describes how creative process or Flow increases human happiness. The following exercise is an artistic journey that calls back that piece of you that went with the other person when the relationship ended.

The Coming Home Exercise

This activity is inspired by Gestalt therapy, an experiential approach “fathered” by Fritz Perls.  You’re going to make a collage of the relationship experience.  This powerful piece will culminate with a representation of you taking back your energy. The materials are entirely up to you: The only requirement is that the elements of the project should be powerful reminders of the relationship’s emotional impact on you. The elements could be a picture of your favorite place, food, or unique mannerisms that you shared only with that person. The  piece should include a representation of you calling that lost piece of yourself back to you. Let that image or description resonate with you on an emotional level. For example, a strong calling back image could be hands reaching out and pulling towards you. How you decide to visually represent the act is up to your creative discretion.

Once the project is finished, display it prominently where you will see it during the grieving process. As time goes on, you may notice it less and less. When you feel you are ready, you may choose to do a letting go exercise where you burn the piece, bury it, or let it flow down a river. You may also choose to put it away or if positive feelings are experienced by looking at it, leave it where it is. The power of this exercise opens the mind’s experience to the fact that more than one emotion can exist in the same space when recalling an experience. This expands our ability to assimilate information from the experiences and primary relationships in our lives.

Healing Pathways offers our condolences to those affected by the Isla Vista tragedy this week in Santa Barbara.

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Teens and Depression: What You Should Know.

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Depression is on the rise amongst teens and effective treatment options remain daunting. Depression affects approximately 6% of female teenagers and about 4.6% of male teens. Young people who suffer from depression also suffer from functional impairment (poor academic performance or poor self-care), higher suicide (or suicide attempt) rates, and higher rates of depression in their adulthood. A new study dampens expectations of successful depression treatment for teenagers — finding that depression returns in most teens that undergo treatment.

John Curry, Ph.D. of the Duke University Medical Center and colleagues found that 46.6% of teenagers treated for depression using three different (short-term) treatment interventions including medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, and a combination of the two are expected to experience a recurrence of depression.

Dr. Curry and his colleagues also discovered that teens who experienced a combination of depression with anxiety disorder were 61.9% more likely to have clinical levels of symptom recurrence. These teens also had higher rates of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, alerting all of us that anxiously depressed young people are at greater suicide risk.

The study also found that teens who received no treatment or short-term treatment were more likely to have a relapse of depression after a two year period. The results of this research impress upon parents and practitioners, a need to include recurrence prevention in the discharge planning for these young people. Prevention efforts would include symptom/medication monitoring and cognitive behavioral booster sessions beyond an 18-week maintenance period.

If you are a teenager suffering from depression, talk to your parents or a trusted adult. They can help you find the help you need to get through this difficult time. If you are a parent concerned about your child, seek professional help if symptoms persist beyond two weeks or if you have any reason to believe your child is considering suicide.

If you live in the Sacramento area you can contact Dr. Leona Kashersky at (916) 595-7233 or email her at lkashersky@live.com

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