by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJuly 8, 2019 meaning of rituals, rituals for self care, rituals for tranformation, rituals to reduce stress0 comments
Rituals, reducing stress and adding joyful meaning to life
5 Rituals You Should Try For transformation and wellness
Ever wonder why Michael Jordan wore his North Carolina shorts under his Chicago Bulls shorts every game? Rituals have enormous power to sooth and inspire as well as bring back balance to mental health by reducing anxiety and increasing confidence. According to the National Institute of Health, there are 3 primary functions of rituals, to manage emotions, to work towards goals, and to connect with others. From an evolutionary perspective we are creatures who have evolved to perform rituals including those of meditation or contemplation and group rituals. Have you ever knocked over a salt shaker and thrown some over your back? Do you attend church on Sunday? Do you pray? Have feast for the Easter holiday? These are all rituals. Flashback to the biblical era everything from attending Sunday worship, to praying for rain and lighting candles for the deceased, its clear that having a close relationship to spiritual rituals is very much a part of our cultural history. Still, whether we are referring to managing the emotional impact of times of stress, to ignite our faith, or to enhance wellness, many successful and happy people rely on rituals. The science behind why rituals work is compelling according to Scientific America. With some many different kinds of rituals we should really define that there is a difference in the Sunday beer drinking ritual, an obsessive hand washing ritual, versus a morning meditation ritual or a communication ritual with our partner. A ritual should be one that we complete with full attention and the deliberate effort to set an intention, reduce stress, or experience a divine aspect to ourselves, or foster our relationship to the spiritual realm.
Rituals can become a reliable tool for manifesting of our goal’s and enhancing our wonder, rituals have deeper embedded meaning. A beneficial ritual should be life sustaining and it is also true that the repetitive behavior of addiction and psychiatric obsessive-compulsive disorder both have the component of rituals built into them. When performing a ritual we are completing an act that becomes instinctive, our brains go into a flow state that doesn’t require higher order processing, the automatic nature of this state which can reduce our anxiety and promote calm. When we examine singing a hymn in a church, this is group ritual that can promote a sense of unity or connection among group members and with a deeper feeling of connection, these emotional components have clinically been show to reduced expression of aggression.
With so much to gain from incorporating rituals into your life, we are brought to the great burning questions, how do we incorporate more of them into our life? Start small and incrementally by adding a ritual component to something you already do, if you have never prayed or meditated it might be a large leap to attempt that everyday. A more manageable step might is to create a weekly goal. Some couples have a weekly ritual around problem solving and talking through emotional issues at the end of the week. Even meal-time can be a ritual when we bless our food or offer a moment of gratitude for the abundance on our plate. Others find that monthly rituals that set an intention with the full or new moon are the perfect time and space to set a goal for the month. Ultimately, we need to create rituals that are meaningful and manageable for you as an individual.
Meditation Ritual- whether daily, weekly, or monthly, meditation has a massive impact on wellbeing, stress reduction, and positive mood. Even 5 to 10 minutes daily makes a difference.
Love Ritual- Happy Couples have ways to celebrate the passage of time, they have yearly traditions that allow them to connect with the growth and change of their relationship over the years. It is also recommended that couples have a weekly communication ritual to release any residual emotional reactions and better connect.
Meal time ritual- Nourishing our bodies with life sustaining foods in a quiet and comfortable distraction free zone is a great way to enjoy eating. Eating has historically been an activity that is a part of ritual, think of the foods that surround every major holiday. It is also a time where families can connect to each other.
Self Care ritual- Whether it is journaling, fitness, using essential oils, or gardening, doing small things daily is important for your vitality and stress management.
Full Moon ritual- The full moon is the perfect time to release negative thought patterns and the new moon is a time for us to create new goals. Making time for a meditation under the moon light syncs us in to time and space and the greater cosmos. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, there is something sacred that we experience when we cast out focus on something as grand and magical as the world around us.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJanuary 25, 2019 best counselor for me, what is an lpc vs lmhc vs lcsw, what is lcsw, what is lpc0 comments
If you are trying to find a counselor or therapist, you might start to become overwhelmed with options and confused by all of the abbreviations for credentials. Or maybe you are considering furthering your education in the mental health field but are not sure which degree is the best for you. Allow this helpful guide to take you through the various meanings which make up those abbreviations and this helpful guide will unveil what they all mean.
ACA The American Counseling Association, this is the governing board, they over see the education and the field of counseling on the national level.
APA American Psychological Association oversees the field of psychology and ensures quality and consistency in learning and licensing requirements.
LPC Licensed professional counselor, this person has a masters degree in professional counseling which covers behavioral psychology and the theories of behavioral change as well as many other theoretical approaches. After completing their universities course work, a counselor has completed thousands of hours of supervised counseling, rigorous screening processes and background checks by licensing boards to become licensed. An LPC is often considered a general practitioner who can take up further study to specialize in a variety of topics from addiction, to trauma, anxiety, depression, and relationships to name just a few.
MSPC This is a master of science in professional counseling. This is a person who has graduated with a degree in professional counseling but has not yet completed their supervision hours to become licensed. A person can practice in a variety of settings with a master’s degree, some people do not pursue a license and continue their career with their masters degree. A MS or MA can be used somewhat interchangeably and the difference is only in the amount of math and statistics that are required for the particular program they studied.
LMFT Licensed marriage and family therapist specialized in relationships and family dynamics and typically offers marriage counseling. This is a particular track which focuses on interactions between people and the theories which allow the therapist to help those people in the relationship to become well.
LCSW Licensed clinical social worker, is a person who has graduated with a masters degree in clinical social work and then went on to do supervised hours which gain them a professional license. A licensed clinical social worker is able to manage a variety of mental health issues from anxiety and depression to relationship issues.
MSW This person holds a master’s degree in social work and they may or may not have done any clinical supervision hours. They have graduated from a university after studying a variety of clinical theories on counseling. Social work also provides a comprehensive study of social systems which can offer support and assistance for a variety of issues.
LMHC This describes a person who has a masters degree in counseling and is also licensed, this degree does not exist in Pennsylvania but is the equivalent of an LPC.
PsyD This person holds a doctoral level of study in a given field, for our purposes that will be psychology, this person has studied a university program which emphasized clinical experience instead of research experience. A psychologist can provide therapy or a number of assessments. They also might be active in teaching at the university level or doing research.
PhD This person holds a doctoral level degree, for our purposes we will focus on a person with a PhD in psychology who is refereed to a psychologist, this person has defended a thesis, psychologists have a strong background in research on any number of topics. They may provide therapy and any number of mental health assessments, they can be found working in many kinds of places from hospitals, to clinics, universities, as well as private practice settings.
Psychiatrist This person is generally involved in medication management, they may work in inpatient settings or out patient settings. Other specialized roles might involve sub-specialties such as neuroanatomy and traumatic brain injury recovery.
Other Helpful Terms
LGBTQIA- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Ally refers to this entire of cluster of people who may identify as one of the above and most newly, identify as an ally with promoting the rights and awareness of equality.
AASECT-American Association of Sexual Educators, Counselors, and Therapists. An certifying institution which educates counselors and therapists on sex therapy and sex positive practices.
CAADC–Certified advanced drug and alcohol counselor has achieved a higher level or educational and clinical learning that allows them to offer clinical treatment for substance abuse disorder.
In good health and wellness,
Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghLearn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 26, 2018 anger, anger counseling, anger managment0 comments
Anger, 5 Ways To Tell That You or Loved One Has a Problem
Anger is a primary emotion that all humans and even animals exhibit in some forms, anger is an activating response and it can often even signal to us some valuable information if we are open to hearing it. When we are practicing mindfulness and have developed our capacity to respond well to infuriating situations, we can become aware of our feelings, then respond in a way that keeps our goals and values in mind. There are several mental health disorders which can present with anger, such as depression in the elderly and men, and impulse control disorder and more.
Uncontrolled anger can lead to multiple problems, internally, it can also lead to stress related diseases including cardiac problems. Anger leads to a state of hyper-arousal where our heart beats faster and our pulmonary functions become heightened, this is often referred to fight or flight. Anger gets a bad wrap and we too often see the destructive potential that it has when a person responds to their anger in a way that is not productive. In Hawaiian culture there is a goddess worshiped, her name is Pele, Pele has the ability to wreak havoc onto the people of the island by causing the volcano’s to erupt their fiery magma around. Pele has it right, when we bubble beneath our crust and wrath comes to their surface, its effects can be destructive. Read on if you think that you or someone you know has a problem with anger; here are 4 ways to tell if you may need counseling, therapy, or even anger management.
- Doing things that you later regret- There are many ways to respond to the feeling of anger, some of the ones that can lead to problems in children and adults are acting out with verbal or physical behaviors that cause damage to the self or others. Most people can relate to not responding well when they are in the midst of a disagreement and thinking back with regret. This is different from what is experienced by the individual who struggles with anger or even may hold a diagnosis such as Intermittent Explosive Disorder.
- Being unable to remember parts of an angry incident. If you are having some angry episodes and when your partner tries to talk about it you don’t remember much, this could indicate a problem. Certain psychological diagnosis such as borderline personality disorder can go into a full disassociative rage.
- Denying having angry feelings. Anger is a primary emotion, we all experience it sometimes, it is a red flag if someone says that they never get angry. Here we know that this person likely has a passive or a passive aggressive personality style that can also lead to troubles in their relationships and other psychological problems.
- Losing a relationship, breaking the law by hurting someone or their property while angry. Even if we feel that our anger is justified we know that we are treading on thin ice when anger triggers us to violate others or their property which in turns endangers others and our freedom.
Remember that anger can be productive and motivational when we respond to it rationally, yet our goal is always to live a life of awareness and greater peace and happiness and if the answer was yes to any of the above questions you are likely suffering and struggling to find ways of expressing yourself and achieving your interpersonal goals.
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by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 2, 2018 anxiety, anxiety therapy pittsburgh0 comments
Acute Stress Disorder
Acute stress disorder is a form of anxiety disorder which develops shortly or immediately after exposure to a traumatic event in which real or threatened harm or injury was experienced or threatened to the self or other. Acute Stress Disorder differs from Post-Traumatic Stress disorder in the time from in which the associated symptoms are exhibited. To reach the diagnosis of Acute Stress disorder symptoms should be exhibited less than one month after exposure to a traumatic event. Similarly to PTSD, symptoms involve flash backs, re-imagining, dreams, distress or anxiety at exposure to visual stimuli related to the traumatic situation or event, including hyper-vigilance, and anxiety about the possibility of the event or danger happening again. The duration of the traumatic event and time of exposure or repetitiveness of the exposure effect the likelihood that the person will experience Acute Stress disorder as there are certain internal risk factors which may affect resilience to the development of the trauma. Treatment for Acute Stress Disorder often involves trauma focused therapy, EMDR, short term psychotherapy, mindfulness based therapy approaches even including meditation, acupuncture, all therapy and counseling services should be performed with a licensed professional counselor or mental health specialist.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 2, 2018 anxiety, anxiety therapy pittsburgh, cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, counseling for anxiety, counseling pittsburgh, licensed therapist monroeville, licensed therapist pittsburgh, social anxiety, social anxiety therapy, therapist0 comments
Social Anxiety or Social Phobia
Social and anxiety or social phobia is a kind of anxiety disorder in which the person experiencing the anxiety is fearful of experiencing embarrassment in social situations. According to epidemiological statistics this disorder has a lifetime prevalence rate of as much as 3-13%. Researchers have also noticed a strong family component to this disorder meaning that social anxiety or social phobia occurs with more frequency in first degree relatives. The onset of this particular kind of anxiety disorder is often in the teen years and can sometimes result after having experienced humiliation an embarrassing social situation.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV, this fear is very marked and when a person thinks about performing, speaking, or interacting in a social situation they may notice the fear response and or anxiety onset immediately in the form of sweating, heightened heart rate, increased respiration as well as cognitive responses such as worry and fearful thoughts. The symptoms of social phobia are marked and the person experiencing them recognize that they are excessive fears. An example of social phobia or anxiety is that person is terrified that if they speak up in class that they may blush and others will then see it and laugh at them. As you can imagine this can cause impairment in academic functioning and in many instances the person will avoid the possibility of enduring such a response and could skip class or even drop out of school. Some individuals with a social anxiety may be able to face the feared situation with distress.
Treatment for Social Phobia often involves therapy with a licensed professional counselor or licensed therapist. Counseling has many clinically verified treatment methods which are scientifically validated to reduce the anxiety related to this disorder and help individuals experiencing social anxiety to live normal healthy lives. Mindfulness based stress and anxiety reduction techniques including integrative medicine, medication therapy, meditation, acupuncture, diet, and exercise may also be helpful in treating this anxiety disorder. Please talk to your medical or licensed mental health professional to see which of these would be the best option for you.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 16, 2018 anxiety, anxiety therapy pittsburgh, cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, counseling for anxiety, counseling pittsburgh, generalized anxiety disorder therapy pittsburgh, licensed therapist monroeville, licensed therapist pittsburgh, searching for a therapist in monroeville, searching for a therapist pittsburgh, therapist, therapy, therapy for anxiety, therapy pittsburgh, wellness, wellness center monroeville, wellness pittsburgh0 comments
Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder
As many as 4.7% of people will experience a panic attack at some point in their lives, panic disorder is a form of anxiety disorder which can be extremely intense, many times individuals who have a panic attack end up going to the emergency room imagining that the rapid heart beat and dizziness are a heart attack. Symptoms and features of anxiety disorder according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV, laid forth by the American Psychiatric Association are as follows: To have experienced at least 4 of the following 13 symptoms;
A feeling of smothering
Feeling of Choking
Discomfort or Pain in the chest
Abdominal distress including a heightened need to urinate or defecate
Dizziness or Lightheadedness
Derealization or Depersonalization
Fear of losing control or a feeling that you are “going crazy”
Sweating, Chills or Hot Flashes
The symptoms of a panic attack are hallmarked by their sudden onset and intensity, unusually a panic attack has an onset in as little as 10 minutes. In example a person who has experienced a panic attack may say “I was sitting on the bus when all of the sudden I felt like I couldn’t breathe, it was like my throat closed up and I was choking but there was nothing in my mouth. I became dizzy and my heart felt like it was beating out of my chest, I started looking around and was going to cry for help. My fingers and toes felt numb and tingling, in a few minutes my heart slowed down a little bit but my stomach was really tight for hours after.”
As you can imagine someone who is experiencing a panic attack is suffering greatly. There are several different types of Panic disorder according to whether they are caused by a specific cue, such as public speaking or encountering an enclosed space such as the panic that can happen with claustrophobia. In other instances, panic attacks can be un-cued or non-specifically cued, this means that sometimes a person who has a panic attack may not understand what the trigger for their panic is until they seek treatment for the panic and uncover the deeper fears and how to manage the panic with their therapist. A panic attack is differentiated from having a panic disorder which is to have had recurrent and unexpected panic attacks for a period of one month or more. Treatment for panic disorder are therapy, often most effectively Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, with a licensed professional counselor and also medication is sometimes the best treatment. Usually it is a combination of these two treatments which best helps to manage panic disorder. Untreated panic disorder can greatly reduce quality of life, leading to long standing feelings of guilt and shame and even agoraphobia.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 16, 2018 anxiety, anxiety therapy pittsburgh, counseling, counseling pittsburgh, educational, generalized anxiety disorder therapy pittsburgh, licensed therapist monroeville, licensed therapist pittsburgh, psychology, psychotherapy, therapist, therapist in murrysville, therapists, therapy, therapy for anxiety, therapy pittsburgh, wellness, wellness center monroeville, wellness pittsburgh0 comments
A phobia is a fear or anxiety response of heighted arousal, ie rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, and thoughts of intense worry and this most likely leads to avoidance of the situation or object. Some examples of typical phobias are fear of public speaking, fear of choking or vomiting, fear of spiders (arachnophobia), fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia), fear of bridges, fear of tunnels, fear of large crowds, fear of blushing, fear of water or other natural environments, fear of contamination or germs. Phobia is distinct and much more severe than a natural aversion, for instance in the example of arachnophobia, many people do not like spiders and insects but wouldn’t qualify for a disorder because this doesn’t interfere with their functioning and enjoyment of life. A person who simply doesn’t like spiders may sheik if they encounter one and quickly try to remove it from their environment. A person who has a phobia of spiders may feel anxiety if they think about a spider, they may never go into a forest or stay away from other natural environments, they may start to take precautions like spraying repellant everywhere and have continual intrusive thoughts about the possibility of encountering spiders and even stop leaving home or developing agoraphobia because their wish to avoid the spider is so powerful.
The Diagnostic Criteria for A Specific Phobia are;
- A continual, persistent, and excessive fear caused by the presence or anticipation of the situation and or object, examples may be choking, bridges, tunnel, flying, insects, fainting, speaking, blushing.
- When exposed to the object or situation an anxiety or hyperarousal response is invoked. This is also a different response in children.
- In panic disorder the persona experiencing the disorder does recognize that the fear is unreasonable and the response is excessive.
- The situation or object may be faced or endured but only with very visible and tangible fear, anxiety and distress.
- This fear and anxiety interferes with the enjoyment and participation of life, limiting professional, occupational, social, relational, and academic performance and functioning.
- This can be diagnosed only in individuals who are over the age of 18 and it must be experienced for longer than 6 months.
The best way to treat a phobia disorder is with psychotherapy, your licensed counselor can help you by using a very specific kind of therapy called Exposure Therapy. This is a behavioral therapy which a licensed therapist who specializes in treating anxiety disorders will be able to guide you through. In other instances, medication including anxiolytic medication, anti-anxiety and SSRI’s are best used medication therapy to treat and manage panic disorder. Other forms of therapy which may help to manage specific phobias including meditation, mindfulness, exercise and other integrative options like nutrition counseling and acupuncture.Learn More