Friday, August 14, 2015

Communicating with Infants

Mom always treated children like tiny people, because they are. With your infant, when in doubt, do the following, according to my Mom.

My Mom loves babies, both my parents do. Mom always said, babies can't talk, but they want to, so they cry. And when they cry, do the following, in this order:

  1. Pick them up.
  2. Alter their view (laying/sitting, direction).
  3. Offer them attention.
  4. Offer them food.
  5. Change their diaper.
  6. Take all their clothes off.
  7. Submerge them in water.

I always thought it was a bit of a strange list until I asked one day and she explained.

Pick them up because maybe their clothes are folded under them in an uncomfortable way, or their sock is crooked. Think of the hundreds of tiny adjustments you make to your hair, your clothes, your glasses every day. Babies are incapable of brushing a stray hair from their forehead that is annoying them.

Alter their view from sitting to laying down, from laying down to sitting, from sitting to standing. Face them a different direction. Maybe the sun is in their eyes or they're getting hot, or they just want to fidget. Adults do this all the time through greater motor control by tapping a foot or twirling a pencil.

Off them attention because they're bored or anxious or curious about what you're saying or doing and want to participate. Allow them to participate, at least through proximity. Offer some mental stimulation and a smile, even if you don't feel like it.

Off them food because maybe that cry means "I could go for a snack right now."

Change their diaper, and this should be an obvious reason. Even if a diaper was not soiled, Mom never skipped this step because "if the thigh is creased from the diaper or the genitals are folded in an uncomfortable position, wouldn't you want that fixed right away, and not just when there was a mess?" If you're thinking of the expense (and cost the the environment) of throwing away "perfectly good" disposable diapers, Mom never used them, and with my son, I rarely used them. You can absolutely reuse cloth diapers that are not soiled. [I won't get on any soap box about cloth diapers, but they're a great idea, not only for the environment, but also you'll change the baby more often and there is less rash and other problems as a result.]

Take all their clothes off because something may be pinching, twisted, or in some way uncomfortable. Or maybe they're hot or sweaty. Or maybe they'll just enjoy the breeze. My parents were naturalists, and I am almost surprised this didn't come higher on the list. It does have to feel strange for babies, used to the nude floating in the womb to come into contact with so many textures so close to their skin.

Submerge them in water because it's what they know and it's good for each of us to connect with the elements. This can be a quick sink-bath or a dip in the ocean, but she said a person in water was a content person. After all, why do so many vacations take place on a beach?

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on TwitterFacebook, and Google+. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Worst Thing About Being a Therapist

For me, the worst thing about being a therapist is seeing people in pain who are not  yet willing or ready to make a change. This includes people who resonate with the following statements:

  • I don't think change is possible.
  • I've had these symptoms so long, they must be permanent.
  • Therapy can only take me so far.
  • Therapy hasn't fixed it before, so it can't.
  • I am my diagnosis.
  • If I'm not sick/mentally ill/in pain, who am I?

These statements are all arguable because GOOD therapy, the right techniques and therapist for an individual can overcome all of that.

I love proving these statements false! I love when a client comes in who has tried several different types of therapy with a variety of therapists and then discovers me, we're a good fit, and we work together to clear up the issue. They get better and they are both delighted and surprised. This is my favorite feeling.
And when I see people in pain, living with their symptoms, managing, getting by, doing what they have to, and still experiencing the symptoms, it breaks my heart. I came across the Lasting Impact Photo Campaign recently and it made me sad, not because there is a prevalence of sexual abuse, which is a thing we know, but because these persons have not overcome their trauma yet and are still experiencing the pain of that trauma. This is what breaks my heart. These persons are still victims, still living with, managing, trying, and hurting. I want to sit with them and say "There is a good fit for you. There is a right technique, right therapist, who you will connect with and overcome this. You can be rid of your symptoms forever. You can live again. You can be triumphant over that abuse that you suffered."

Trauma is an inappropriately strong association is built between the activating stimulus and the body's response. Good therapy breaks that association, permanently, without reliving the experience.

  • Every time I ____, I then ____. 
  • Every time I sleep, I have nightmares. 
  • Every time I go to that location, I have a panic attack. 
  • Every time I see bearded men, I get nauseous.
  • Every time it thunders, I cower.

For trauma, I recommend Rapid Resolution Therapy. You can see me for that service, or find a referral in your area HERE. Call me to schedule an appointment and start getting rid of your symptoms at 954-612-9553.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on TwitterFacebook, and Google+. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Pre-Contemplation in Addiction

A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to the concept of Self Concept Model of Substance Abuse Treatment. In the article, I assert that you an use this model as early as the pre-contemplation stage of change. I want to speak in more depth more on that topic here.

The stages of change begins with pre-contemplation. During pre-contemplation, the person who would benefit from change is either actively avoidant of change, or is not sure if they want/need to make a change. Using the example of substance abuse addiction, the person will have exhibited behaviors that others find problematic, and generally have confronted the person about these behaviors. Maybe there have been interactions with law enforcement, borrowing of money, missing work, changes in mood or physical health, or relationship issues. The person is aware of these actions and is likely experiencing some negative feelings about the actions.

This is where other models fall short by citing the difficulty in moving a person from pre-contemplation (I can't change. I don't have a problem. It's hopeless.) to contemplation (I want to change. I don't know how. Please help me.)

This model bridges the gap between pre-contemplation and contemplation by taking a one-down position to allow everyone to be on the same level and the person to be the expert on their own life. So often, in pre-contemplation, the person can feel judged by their recent behaviors as if everyone else is "above" them, instead of equal to them. This leads to further isolation, decreased bonds, and often increased negative feelings of guilt, shame, and resentment. These negative feelings also impact existing mental health issues such as trauma, anxiety, and depression, and will often increase the desire to utilize substance abuse in order to decrease negative feelings, pushing the person further into their addiction - the opposite of the desired effect.

Utilizing the Self Concept Model, a friend, family member, or treatment staff member can meet the person where they are by asking neutral questions. Neutral questions ask about distinctions between recent life/behavior and how the client sees him/herself. Neutral questions are devoid of judgement. This is not possible for everybody in the person's life, but can be maintained by treatment staff. Ask about length of substance use and how they supported their habit in the same way you would ask their height and weight. It is merely information. At this stage, the information is not even for the treatment team, but for the person in order to see a time before those behaviors and the difference between those times.

Cognitive dissonance will appear as the person generally does not see themselves as an addict, despite addictive behavior. This is where change can be made. There needs be no "rock bottom" before change begins. Change begins with "I don't want to do this, because this is not me." (If a person has food addiction, they don't need to gain 800 pounds before they change their eating habits. Rock bottom is just that silly of a concept.)

This is the time for supportive conversation. Show the person that change is possible. Talk about success, about what life was like before, about how they see themselves after the changes have taken place. Enlist the support of anyone in the person's life who would like to be a part of that change. Educate them on a different way of engaging, positive about the future, neutral about the addictive behaviors, and connected.

A person who is connected, feels those behaviors are merely part of their history, and is positive about the future is less likely to relapse, or to want to engage in more of those addictive/negative behaviors.

Autumn Hahn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist practicing at Clear Mind Group in Weston, Florida. Call 954-612-9553 for a consultation. Follow Autumn on TwitterFacebook, and Google+. Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.