Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Get Better Today!

You may have heard me say that I use RRT or Rapid Resolution Treatment(R). But what the heck is that? And why do I use it? The short answer: because it works, is painless, and gives immediate relief. Immediate!?! You heard me.

(That's me in a session in my office in Weston, FL)

A little background: At this point, I've been practicing in this field for almost a decade. I started in case management and moved up the ranks through community mental health and into private practice. I have been studying psychology for my entire education after high school, some seven years of college. Point is: I've been at this awhile and am trained in making people well; but, now I'm trained in making people well, whole, happy, and doing it FAST!

I'm a Certified Practitioner in Rapid Resolution Treatment (RRT), through this amazing agency called the Institute for Survivors of Sexual Violence (ISSV), which means that I have conference calls every few weeks, am always brushing up my skills and learning new techniques, and twice a year I attend an intensive training to get even more polished. Although I have only been using it for a year, what a year it's been! I took the training and experience I already had in working with trauma (my specialty) and turned it from warm to burning hot. RRT allows me to have a client talk about horribly painful events with no tears, no retraumatization, and be talking, laughing, and healing all the while. In a single visit, you feel better. Not just a little better like "oh, now that I talked about it, I kinda feel better." That's crap. Better like "I feel like all my problems are solvable and I can go live my happy life." That's the goal, and it's easy - and fun!

Let me get on my ego trip for a second and tell you that seeing a client's problems resolved in a session or two is good for me. What used to take 6-9 months of weekly visits, or pouring through pain, of talking about it until it doesn't hurt anymore, is done in about 3 hours, about 2 visits. Sometimes even less. And that's just the trauma part. RRT is great for grief over a death or ended relationship, for anxiety and panic attack, depression, weight loss, changing bad habits, addiction (including smoking), motivation, and damned near anything you come in with. And if it's that good for me, imagine how good that is for you! You come less often, feel like yourself faster, and we bankrupt the tissue industry that traditional therapy has been supporting.

I hear you thinking, "oh, but surely you're blowing this out of proportion. People don't get 'cured' by this, do they? They don't stay well?" Oh, yeah, Kool Aid. Lasting results from a visit or two. People are getting better through RRT and staying well. They're coming back and saying "you know, I have this friend..." and referring people they love. That's my hope for the future, that everyone will feel good, be well, and if they know someone who needs to get better, they'll say "you know what worked for me? No, it's good. Come do it!" And we'll all be talking and laughing together. Isn't that the whole point of this crazy life, anyhow?

For further proof, check out a testimonial of mine that was featured at ISofSV this month.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Medicated

 Westerners (that's us in the US) are quick to take a pill. Headache? Have an aspirin. Sore muscles? Advil. Hearing voices? We've got anti-psychotics. A little down? How about some anti-depressants? We even make cute cartoon commercials to personify your feelings and show how they hang around. Did you ever notice that the bad feelings in the commercials never quite go away? They're always lingering nearby. But is that reality? Do life's bad feelings go away?

Have you ever been sad? Sure you have. Would you describe yourself as "sad" right now? If not, could you search and think until you found something to make you sad? Sure. Does that mean you're secretly sad? Of course not! Sadness goes away. That's called happiness, or contentment. And you've had that, too, right? Right. So isn't the goal of psychiatry to make people well enough to where they resume daily contentment; as least as much as anyone without chemical imbalance? Theoretically, yes, but that is not generally what we're seeing. 

The majority of folks are being prescribed a pill for one thing or another, asked to check back in a month for symptom monitoring, which takes about 15 minutes, and given a refill or a new prescription. Some pills are prescribed just to offset the symptoms of other pills. Cogentin, for example (a Parkinson's disease medication), is prescribed to prevent possible seizures from medications like Abilify (an anti-psychotic). You don't have to have every had a history of seizure disorder or any actual seizures to get this additional medication, and the possible side effects of Cogentin are equally as numerous as any other medication, of course. Psychotic symptoms? Here's two prescriptions! What does this do to our bodies, our minds, our wallets, and our insurance system? With good insurance you're a cash pinata.

Interestingly, the US is very different from other countries in how it handles mental illness in relation to medication. In Europe, it is generally suggested, but is up to the patient to decide their treatment. In the US, land of the free, we tend to dictate. Lexicographers, think of the meaning of the word "prescribe", (scribe) to lay down as a rule (pre) before something happens.

So if medication is not the first step, what's a person to do? I'm a therapist - and when you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail - so I believe you should seek therapy. There are plenty of good therapists all over the world, though you do have to find one that fits your personality. Together with your therapist, you should be seeking the roots of the problem: What caused the symptom? And tackling it from that end. Stress causes you to hear voices? How can you manage your stress - exercise, diet, Tai Chi, breathing exercises, meditation, music, structuring your day to include relaxation? Anger issues? I run groups to teach appropriate anger management for teens and adults. Depression caused by grief or other issues? Hypnotherapy is great for grief, depression, anxiety, and so many things. 

Your problems are solvable!  Whatever the issue, there is a cause and there is a fix. Be slow to medicate and quick to look for the source. Like a weed, life's dilemmas can be pulled up and dealt with. Like weeds, they'll come back eventually, but you can handle that, too. And once you have found strength in overcoming a problem, you can rely on that strength next time. When is the last time a pill ever taught you that?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Plugged In

"Kids these days!" Am I right?

Seems you can't look 10 feet without seeing a wire sticking out of a teenager, be it from his iPod, laptop, or keyboard. But technology is reaching younger and younger children at an alarming rate. Sure, my kid was allowed to listen to music we approved, and watch movies and Sesame Street starting at a pretty young age, and we even used the cartoon sleuth Sly Fox to help him gain math skills on the computer as a sneaky way of getting him to learn through play, but how much is too much?

Have you seen this video of the one-year-old who can't operate a magazine? The parents of the girl posted the video and, presumably, they think it's cute or is social commentary. I agree that it's social commentary, but think it's plain sad. This is a child who must not be read bedtime stories, or books on a regular basis, but will be online shopping like Suri Cruise in elementary school.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of technology; a huge fan! I grew up in an age where we learned the Dewey Decimal System in school and researched in books and periodicals for papers in high school. I'm thankful that I had the internet in graduate school and no longer had to go to the library. I have a kid who, in high school, asked me why we didn't just use the internet to do our research and had to explain that we did not yet have access to the internet. I also have several email accounts that I check on my smartphone, love my iPod, and spent far more time than I'd like to admit on Facebook. I appreciate technology and all it does for us and was born at just the right time to do so.

But I'm also a fan of play, of learning, of organic experiences. I think toddlers should be banging on pans to learn about rhythm and cause-and-effect. I think looking at clouds and determining what they look like shapes our brain development and ability to think creatively. I think we need blocks to learn spatial skills and an abacus to learn faster number grouping. I think both genders need to be exposed to dolls and trucks because people and transportation are part of our everyday lives and playing is a microcosm of living. Certainly, as a therapist, I know that you can learn much about how a child interprets his world through watching him play. What do you learn about a child using technology? Some years ago, you'd say she was smart for figuring it out, but it's all so interactive now, that it doesn't say a thing about the kid. What does it say about the parent? There's the rub.

Yes, finger paint is messy, but if you don't make a mess, you don't learn how to properly wash your hands. You also don't learn about mixing colors, how paint feels, what "wet" means, about your fingerprints, about how to care for your art while it dries, or a number of other subtle life lessons. So put down the virtual paint program on the iPad and allow your kid real life skills. After all, we don't see virtual masterpieces in galleries; and, although someday we might, isn't that just a little bit sad?