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These are the FAQs I most get from those seeking mental health treatment:

1. What can I expect when I see a counselor?

2. How does normal differ from clinical anxiety or depression?

3. What are some basic things you recommend for treating anxiety or depression?

4. Why do you emphasize “wellness” as a psychotherapist?

5. What is your position on prescription medication?

6. Will I be judged for not doing all of the things I’m “supposed to” do for my health?

7. If I only did one thing to improve my mood, what would you recommend?

8. What if I don’t consider myself religious?

9. What if I don’t have other healthcare providers that I want you to integrate with?

10. What is the difference between “psychotherapy”, “counseling”, and “coaching”?

11. My illness has been diagnosed as terminal. How can you help me?

12. Do you believe it was my negative thinking that caused my disease?

13. Can you recommend a home biofeedback program?

14. Tell me what you mean by bioenergetic or energy work.

Answers:

1. What can I expect when I see a counselor?

When you first go in to see any sort of psychotherapist, expect to tell your counselor briefly about the nature of your problem or symptoms, and discuss options for treatment. They may have you complete a questionnaire or other paperwork. Ask them questions so that you can decide which therapist is right for you. Therapy itself is your time to talk about what is going on for you, release feelings, gain insights, and decide upon some new coping skills. The therapeutic techniques counselors use vary according to what they believe causes the problem. Since western psychology believes mostly in a mechanistic system and body, they see emotional issues as largely biochemical in nature, and therefore will tend to prescribe medication. The more thorough practitioners will also help you practice constructive thinking habits, and help you see how your thoughts, emotions and behaviors influence one another. Eastern practitioners tend to see issues in terms of the energy system that underlies and serves as a blueprint for the construction/repair of the physical body. Their energy psychology tools will be aimed at shifting the energy system (e.g. meridians, acupressure points, vortices/chakras) so that the physical can shift as well. Holistic practitioners, like me, tend to integrate eastern and western psychology. I help you work at every dimension of your being – physical, emotional, mental, and energetic/spiritual. That may include the above methods, as well as a look at nutrition, your soul work and more.

2. How does normal differ from clinical anxiety or depression? 

Everyone experiences fear, anxiety and depression at some time. When you notice that it is disrupting your health or life, and perhaps causing you to lose jobs and relationships, that is of clinical significance. Please seek help as soon as possible since early treatment is best.

3. What are some basic things you recommend for treating anxiety or depression? 

Getting regular exercise, drinking enough water, and eating plenty of water-based nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables is essential for everyone, but particularly if you are feeling depressed or anxious. Check out my anxiety and depression toolkit articles to learn more. Since each person is unique, please seek individualized treatment for your particular issue.

4. Why do you emphasize “wellness” as a psychotherapist?
To me, it does not make sense to stop at simply helping a client manage his/her symptoms. People seek help to feel better, but most really want to feel good again. If I can help you get to the root of the issue, so that you have a renewed sense of self-empowerment, vibrancy and inspiration about your life, then I have truly helped you.

5. What is your position on prescription medication?
First of all, I encourage everyone who is considering prescription medication to treat emotional health concerns to first get a thorough medical screening. There are many medical conditions that mimic anxiety, depression, bipolar and other mental health disorders. Secondly, there are some people who will need medication initially to stabilize their emotions enough to begin therapy. I encourage them to take advantage of those medications. As their emotions become more steady, they will then feel equipped to go further in therapy to address the mental and emotional issues that cause stress and biochemical imbalance. As their therapy progresses, they can decide if they want to gradually go off of their medication under the supervision of their physician. Lastly, for those who feel they can begin therapy without medication, there are many alternative treatments for mental and emotional concerns that do not have such negative side effects. Furthermore, they will be able to better assess the extent to which they feel improved moods as a result of their therapeutic work since their moods will not be masked underneath the medication. Do what you feel is best for you.

6. Will I be judged for not doing all of the things I’m “supposed to” do for my health?
Not by me! I don’t know of anyone, including me, who is perfect at doing all things possible for their health at all times. Especially in our western fast-paced culture. The key is first knowing what is optimal so you can make better choices more often, particularly important when you are struggling with mood issues like depression, anxiety or mood swings.

7. If I only did one thing to improve my mood, what would you recommend?
Of course it depends on your particular circumstances, but for most people, I would say to start moving.

8. What if I don’t consider myself religious?
Belonging to a particular religion is not necessary in order to get in touch with your essential nature that is spirit. The former I would call religious practice, while the latter might be described as spiritual. If you are not interested in such topics, you will not bring them up and it will not be part of your therapy experience. For those that do raise the issue, I can help them make more sense of their spiritual inquiry within the context of their faith, and become more aware of how it affects their life choices. Our faith or religious practice is simply the way we choose to express spirit as we experience it. As we do reconnect to our essential spiritual nature, new avenues of awareness open to us.

9. What if I don’t have other healthcare providers that I want you to integrate with?
Integrating with other healthcare providers is more typically a part of therapy for someone dealing with physical illness or serious psychological problems. In those cases, it is in my client’s best interest if his/her treatment team members coordinate. It helps verify that they are on the same page and are not doing anything that is contraindicated from another’s therapeutic perspective. This type of coordination would only be done with your written permission.

10. What is the difference between “psychotherapy”, “counseling”, and “coaching”?
I would say that counseling is the more general umbrella term for helping others in this way. It can also involve helping you gain new insights and awareness through the use of introspection. While coaching refers to a style of help more focused on personal/spiritual growth, the external building and mastering of new skills and ways of being, psychotherapy is a legal/technical term for the treatment of mental health disorders, and requires a specifically-trained professional.

11. My illness has been diagnosed as terminal. How can you help me?
Facing the end of this life is a unique experience for each of us. Only you will know if you need to talk about what you are going through, about how your caregivers are frustrating you, about how scary it is to face death of the physical body, about the questions it raises concerning an afterlife, about the grief you are feeling for what you have left undone or for how you wish you had lived differently. Perhaps you feel that conventional medicine may not be able to help you, but you are considering your other options. Sometimes you may wonder if you should waste your time on treatment period. Well, in this moment, you are living. And this is the life experience you are going through. If you do need to talk and explore these questions, I would be honored to be there for you.

12. Do you believe it was my negative thinking that caused my disease?
I believe disease happens only after many factors come together to overwhelm life processes. We are living in an age of electromagnetic, environmental and chemical pollution that appears to be unprecedented. Our culture promotes stressful ways of living, and chronic stress weakens the body and makes it easier for us to become ill. From assessing the research to date, I believe that most people’s thoughts in general are so erratic that they lack the coherence needed to have real power. The research on positive thoughts, prayer and intention seems to indicate that it is our coherent and in-sync (think of the tops, bottoms, and lengths of two waves matched up perfectly) thought-waves that have tremendous power and action at a distance, with the combined heartfelt energy of love and gratitude apparently at the root of all healing. This is the value of learning how to meditate, to focus your thoughts and make them more coherent, and to get in touch with loving and compassionate energies of the heart. The heart in coherence with the brain creates a state of unmatched harmony and power within the body. These higher frequency states are said to be those in which mind can transform matter, and seem to be behind energy and spiritual healings, in which the client’s body begins to resonate and use the energy of the healer.

13. Can you recommend a home biofeedback program?
Check out these home systems to see if they might be right for you. The HeartMath products emphasize heart-brain coherence. Using the Wild Divine products feels like a spiritual journey. Both offer you feedback on your ability to regulate your body consciously.
See http://www.heartmathstore.com< and http://www.wilddivine.com .

14. Tell me what you mean by bioenergetic or energy work.
Scientific research has revealed that energetic fields provide the framework upon which all other biochemical, neurological, and structural systems are built. The term “bioenergetic” is used to refer to the energy systems of biological entities such as human beings, including electronic, electrical, magnetic, electromagnetic and beyond. It also refers to the energy systems of the body called acupuncture meridians, chakras, and reflexology points. Energy work is a general term I use to refer to any treatment that specifically targets these energy systems of the body in order to facilitate emotional, mental, physical or spiritual healing. It can include conventional diagnostic equipment or pulsed electromagnetic field devices commonly used to trigger bone healing. Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine utilize acupuncture, qigong exercises, and yoga positions to rebalance the body’s energy flow as part of their whole body medical systems. Energy healing methods can be learned and employ heart-brain coherence, directed breathing, and vivid imagery to rebalance energy in a client’s body as described in Quantum-Touch, Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, Qigong healing, and other techniques. Medical intuitives have developed their perceptual senses to “see” or “feel” which areas of the body are energetically imbalanced and causing physical disease. Natural spiritual healers seem to have the gift of being in touch with spiritual realms, which they may access and channel in order to promote healing in a client. They usually have clairvoyant abilities to see the body’s energy meridians (energy “highways”), chakras (colorful whirling energy “intersections”) and aura (the overall resulting colorful electromagnetic field emanating out from the body). Such spiritual healers will generally use energy healing techniques and guidance from higher realms in their healing sessions.