7845 Harwood Ave., Wauwatosa, WI 53213 262-492-1090

Teen Therapy

In the past decade or so, when working with adolescents or teens and mental health, ADD or ADHD, the focus has been on the individual child and specifically on the identification, diagnosisand treatment of their problem. However, in recent years the idea of teen therapy has been evolving into a more holistic and preventative mental health and wellness approach. There is a great deal of information via research from universities that has been peer reviewed as well as research that mental health care practitioners have collected that has shown this holistic approach to be much more effective than traditional talk therapy alone. The rate of effectiveness has been improved greatly when working with a holistic and preventative approach as well. In the past few decades, mental health has commonly been used in treating someone with mental illness, however, this term mental health is being used more as a positive phrase that encompasses a more holistic and preventative approach. A holistic approach typically means that we think of the entire body when focusing on health and not just one part of the body, as our bodies are connected and at one part of our body and external and internal forces impact other areas of our body. For example,your gut health directly affects your mental health, therefore, if you eat foods that cause inflammation or foods that have a lot of chemicals in them you might notice that you feel sluggish or fatigued or even sad. Manypeople have misdiagnosed this feeling with depression symptoms;however, they could potentially be easily eliminated if the individual cleans up their diet. A preventative approach is one where we look at what we can do every day for mental health and wellness, not just when we’re feeling anxious, stressed, or sad, but rather focusing more on a healthy mental health routine rather than focusing on coping skills for when anxiety gets high or when depression symptoms are really bad. And many practitioners now like to focus on mental health as a positive concept that encompasses social and personal resources as well as exercise and nutritional benefits.
This is a much more solution focused approach to mental health and wellness rather than a problem focused approach to mental health and wellness. I many practitioners over the last few years have been using positive and inclusive terms and have been trying to focus on people’spositive capacities rather than their perceived deficits. The most recent definitions of mental health and wellness have focused on positive characteristics such as: resilience and inner sense of coherence, the ability to manage the emotions successfully and appropriately, the capacity to have an accurate self-concept and high and the ability to be sensitive to one’s own emotions or others’ emotions.As mental health has become a more positive and more holistic approach practitioners look at patients environments rather than only at individuals as a way to understand their patience but alsoas a way to positively address the problems in their life. When working with adolescence using a positive and holistic approach to mental health, parents become an instrumental asset and a necessity for positive change. When children have the support and unconditional love and acceptance of their parents they will be much more at ease and willing to look within and make the changes necessary to feel better mentally and physically. However, if a child does not have the support and love and encouragement from their parents that they need to look within and make these changes for themselves, they might not see the importance and they might not think that they are worth it enough to strive to feel better. I’ve had several parents of teens that drop them off at the door and go to the coffee shop in the building while their child is in therapy. If a child feels like they are doing this all on their own,they might not see the point to continue. Also, if the child is going to make long lasting change that benefits their mental health and wellness, their parents have to make changes as well. For one person in the family to make a change, the rest of the people in the family have to make a change as well. One person in the cycle cannot make a change without affecting all of the other people in the family. Therefore, if parents are involved in the therapy process, the results are much more effective and have a greater chance of stability and long-term effectiveness.

Action steps


Often times when I have a patient who is middle school or high school age I will have the parents come in for the first 10 minutes or the last 10 minutes so that we are all on the same page regarding goals and action steps. One of the best tools that I have used it to get the parents to understand how their child feels within different situations is to have them put themselves in their child’s shoes and visualize the situation from their perspective so that they are able to get a feeling and possibly an emotional connection to what their child was feeling during that situation. From here, parents are able to adjust their behavior in various situations as well as their reaction to different behaviors and situations from their child, so that they get the response that they want versus an argument or a loss of connection with their child. This is the same type of technique that teachers use when thinking about how to convey the information that they want to convey to the children that they are working with that is age-appropriate regarding theiremotional maturityand cognitive ability. One of the best things to remember as a parent is that everything that you do and say should be modeled and done so in a way that your child can mimic this as an adult. Remember that you are raising and emotionally balanced, responsible adult and that what they do today whether it’s good or bad doesn’t necessarily affect their whole life so your response shouldn’t either. If you respond to various situations calmly and with love and in an attempt to understand your child and what they were thinking and where they were coming from, they will be able to cognitively process what happened and make the appropriate changes for next time they’re put in a similar situation. However, if you overreact your child’s brain will likely go into fight, flight, or freeze mode and will literally shut off in protection mode and your child will learn nothing other than they need to protect themselves from you when they do something that upsets you. So,your reaction to things can either be positive and help them or a negative and push them further away from you that’s losing the connection that you have. And if you lose that connection,they will likely not come to you when they are having issues. Several of my teen patients rely on their friends more so than their parents or family members because they are friends can relate and offer better advice and support because they are able to stay calm and try to understand them rather than trying to control the outcome. As parents, try to put yourself back to theage that your child is and think about how you felt at that time and how people responded to you. How would you have wanted people to respond and what was the most helpful responses that you got?
As far as nutrition and teen therapy, 99% of the teens that I work with do not take vitamins or supplements and they don’t check the ingredients in the foods that they are eating. In fact, the majority of my teen patients eat fast food several times per week whether it’s for subs, ice cream, or a greasy burger, they don’t know the ingredients or how much it can negatively impact their mood, their focus, their ability to handle stress and their ability to get a good night’ssleep. The chemicals in the foods that we eat not only affect our bodies physically,but they have a huge impact on our inflammatory system which directly affects our brain health and our mental health. Remember that we are what we eat, so if we eat like crap,we are going to feel like crap mentally and physically. And several of the chemicals that teens eat affect their hormone levels. So,they are already going through massive changes at this time and the food that they eat can either help stabilize their mood and their hormones or it can cause havoc on your child’s body either suppressing the hormones that are supposed to be released or releasing chew many whore moans, both impacting them negatively. And for example, if your child eats a lot of soy or preservatives or growth hormones found in foods, estrogen levels might be greatly affected. This is why as a culture we are seeing younger girls going through puberty and developing at much faster rates than several decades ago before we added so much to our foods.
Our teen online therapy program uses workbooks as a means to promote self reflectionand self awareness because this is a learned process for teens and the earlier they learn to take the time to slow down and reflect on their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, the more emotionally aware and stable they will be as young adults. And we use a wide variety of workbooks because it’s a holistic therapy program so one of the books is on mental health and nutrition, one of the boxes on self compassion, and the last two workbooks in the eight week program are for anxiety and depression. I think that workbooks are a necessity when working on maintaining mental health and wellness, whether it’s in a talk therapy regimen for on your own at home just for reflection and awareness or whether it’s in a therapy program like ours. Workbooks offer guidance and a path to learning about yourself in a way that promotes positive strength-based change where solutions and your strengths are the focus, and the problems are known but not focused on. Remember that what you focus on is how you’re going to feel, so if you focus too much on the problems you are going to feel awful. However, you have to reflect on the situation to know what the problem is or rather how you are responding to that problem so that you can turn your focus to a solutions-based approach. As a practitioner for over 10 years, I have routinely found myself using a variety of workbooks for either self compassion, self reflection, focusing on goals, or going through the grieving process.Workbooks are kind of like a guided journal except they are intentional in their action steps to take you on a journey of selfawareness, growth, and change. Workbooks are great for teens because often times they need that extra guidance to help them with reflecting and initiating the change that they want to happen within their lives. There are workbooks for families to do as well and this is a great way to connect with your child or children that is guided and with a purpose. The Nutrition book that we use in our program is wonderful because it specifically talks aboutdifferent foods and how it affects your mental health and wellness, certain foods promote fatigue and distress whereas other foods promote mental clarity and alertness, increased serotonin and dopamine, and more energy.


Exercise is a must for teens as it increases serotonin and dopamine.

But not just any exercise, sports program, or weightlifting regimen. Exercise that is good for mental health is one that gives you a sense of calm and peace mentally and emotionally. If you are in a sport and mentally youare pushing yourself, this is great for your physical health and to release good feeling or moans, however to practice being mentally calm and emotionally stable it is important to have a quiet time either walking and listening to call me music or walkingon trails or going hiking in the woods. In doing this type of activity you are training your brain to the calm and centered while you are connecting with nature and getting fresh air. The trick to this is focusing on what you are saying to yourself because what we say to ourselves over and over again becomes our affirmations, therefore, choose your affirmations intentionally so they provide you with a sense of peace and clarity and empowerment. For example, I am strong, I am calm, I am centered, I am present in the moment, etc.

As teens learn about mental health and wellness and are perhaps struggling with anxiety or depression symptoms, it is extremely important that parents are involved and take a hands-on approach versus a hands off approach where they let their children come to them with what they need and when they need it. More often than not adolescents don’t know why they feel the way they do, what they need in the moment, or when they need the help that they need to move past what they are dealing with. This timeframe can be very confusing and challenging to adolescence and without the support in guidance from their parents, they can be left wondering and struggling on their own and not knowing what they need, what they want, or what to even ask for as far as help. It is far better for a parent to be over involved than under involved. In the worst-casescenario if a parent is over involved, their child might just get frustrated and communicate that with them, but they will know that they are loved, supported, and can come to you with most things. However, if a Parent is under involved, the child will likely not learn how to effectively communicate what they need or want from their parents because they have little to no experience in communicating important issues or feelings or emotions with their parents. Typically,when parents are over involved or correctly involved their child has effective communication skills because they are constantly communicating with their parents or siblings,and they have learned how to communicate but more importantly they feel comfortable communicating with those around them that can help them if and when needed. However, if a child has little to no experience communicating with parents because they are given too much freedom or their parents treat them as young adults far too early, they will not feel comfortable or confident in communicating with their parents, siblings, or extended family members enough to ask for help or enough to even know what they need or when they need it. Too often in the past two decades parents have used electronics as a babysitter for their kids, thus making communication a sidebar that is rarely used. There are fewer and fewer families that even eat dinner together every night and more and more people have their phones with them at the dinner table,so they communicate less and less with family. As this has happened, adolescence have stifled their need for communication and therefore don’t know what they need or how to ask for it and communicate with others.
Electronics, social media, video games, etc. take the attention away from us reflecting on our emotions, thoughts, feelings, wants, and needs, thus making it almost impossible to know how we feel in different situations. We need time to reflect on ourselves to know how we feel in different situations and in different settings with different people so that we know what affects us and in what ways and what boundaries to set and when and with who. Electronics are a huge distraction that negatively impacts our ability to reflect and become self-aware and connect with others. I’ve seen so many families out for dinner ware everyone in the family is on their phone as they wait to get a table and then when they are at the table,they are on their phone waiting for their food. People are communicating less and less than they did a decade ago and less and less than they did a decade before that. I have seen three and four-year-olds out with their parents at dinner where they are sitting at the table ontheir tablets and the parents might be having a conversation,but they are not interacting at all with their kids. Parents have taken this approach where they are lettingelectronics, teachers, professors, daycare workers, etc. raise and highly influencedtheir children when they need to be doing the work to support and guide and love their children so that their children know that they can come to them with not only issues but also good things that are happening in their lives. Within the therapy process,when working with adolescence it is imperative that parents are involved. I’ve seen how this has drastically changed relationships between parents and kids simply by having parents as a part of the therapy session either for the first 10 minutes or the last 10 minutes. This tells the child that their parents are interested in them and their life and how they’re feeling about different situations. This simple act can be life-changing for their child and their mental health moving forward.


The Importance of Saying Affirmations

Say specific affirmations for at least 30 days to ensure that they sink into your subconscious and have a chance at becoming your subconscious self talk. If you drive a car you can listen to affirmations from individuals on YouTube that have channels dedicated to affirmations to help with different topics in your life. It is a perfect time to let these affirmations sink in and let the ideas permeate your consciousness until they become a part of you. It is my hope that each and every person learn how to use affirmations to create self-love, peace, joy, prosperity, and a sense of well-being for themselves today and every day. Today is a great day to start creating a joyous and fulfilling life. Today is a great day to change your life for the better. You already have the tools within you to do this this. The tools are your thoughts and your beliefs. Affirmations can improve the quality of your life. For those of you who are not familiar with the benefits of positive affirmations, they are simply anything you say or think a lot. Much of what we normally say,and think is very negative and creates negative experiences for us. Therefore, we have to retrain our thinking and talking into positive patterns if we want to change our lives. When we say an affirmation,it is a beginning point of change within our world; we are literally speaking things into existence. In essence you are saying to your subconscious mind, “I am taking responsibility, I am aware that there is something I can do to change.” When doing affirmations,you must consciouslychoose words that will either help to eliminate somethingfrom your life or help to create something new in your life. Every thought you think and every word you speak is an affirmation. Our self-talk is a stream of affirmations. You are using affirmations every moment whether you know it or not throughout the day in everything you say to yourself out loud or in your thoughts. You are affirming and creating your life experiences with every word and every thought. Your beliefs are merely habitual thinking patterns that you learned as a child, many of them work very well for you, however, some beliefs may be limiting your ability to create the thingsyou say that you want. What you want and what you believe you deserve may be very different as well. You must pay attention to your thoughts so that you can begin to highlight the ones that are creating experiences that you do not want in your life. Please realize that every complaint is an affirmation of something you think you don’t want in your life. Every time you get angry you are affirming that you want more anger in your life. Every time you feel like a victim you are affirming that you want to continueto feel like a victim. If you feel that life does not give you what you want,then it is most certain that you will never have the goodness that life gives to others until you change the way you think and talk. Just because you may have never learned how to think and talk doesn’t mean that you can’t start now. Theworld has recently started to realize that our thoughts create our experiences. It is time for all of us to wake up and to begin to consciously create our lives in a way that pleases and supports us.

Once you learn how to use affirmations, then you can apply the principles in all situations. Some people say that affirmations don’t work which is an affirmation in and of itself. What they mean is they don’t know how to use them correctly. They may say my prosperity is growing but think, “this is stupid I know it won’t work.” The negative affirmation will win out the positive one because it is part of a long-standing habitual way of looking at life. Sometimes people say their affirmations once per day and then complain the rest of the time. It will take a long time for

affirmations to work if it is done this way. The negative/complaining affirmations will always win because they are more of them and they are usually said with great feeling or emotion. Saying affirmations is only part of the procedure, what wedo for the rest of the day and night is even more important. The secret to having your affirmations work quickly and consistently is to prepare the world around them for growth. Affirmations are like seeds planted in soil. For seeds to grow, they need rich soil where abundant growth can happen. The more you can choose to think thoughts that make you feel good the quicker the affirmations work. Thinking happy thoughts is not always simple but it is doable. The way you choose to think right now is just a choice. You may not realize it because you have felt this way for so long,but it really is a choice. This very moment you can choose to change your thinking, it won’t turn everything around overnight but if you are consistent and make the choice every day to think thoughts that make you feel good, you will definitely make positive changes in every area of your life. I choose to wake up each morning with thinking of blessings and gratitude for the wonderful life I have and I make the choice to think happy thoughts no matter what others are doing. I don’t do it 100% of the time but I am up to about 75% now and it’s made a big difference in how much I enjoy life and how much good just seems to flow into my every day. The only moment you ever live is this very moment. It is the only moment you have any control over and if you don’t choose to feel good in this moment how can we create future moments that are abundant and fun? How do you feel right now? Do you feel good? Do you feel bad? What are your current emotions? What is your gut feeling? Would you like to feel better and reach for a better feeling thought? If you feel bad in anyway, sad, irritable, bitter, resentful, angry, fearful, shameful, depressed, anxious, stressed, etc., then you have temporarily lost your connection to the flow of good experiences God has waiting for you. Don’t waste your thoughts on blame. There isn’t a person, place or thing that has any control over your feelings because they do not think in your mind. This is also why you really only have control over yourself,and you have no control over others, because you cannot control their thoughts. The only thing you will ever have total control of is what you choose to think and this directly correlates to what you will get in life. Remembering joyful experiences and thinking of good things you would like to have happen in the future are just like affirmations and will have the same affect. Looking forward to tomorrow and thinking these kinds of thoughts is an act of loving yourself and loving yourself creates miracles in your life. Now let’s get to the affirmations. Doing affirmations is consciously choosing to sync certain thoughts that will create positive results in the future. It is a focal point to begin changing your thinking. Affirmative statements are going beyond the reality of the present to the creation of future simply by the words you use in the present. When you choose to say, “I am very prosperous,” you may have very little money in the bank at the moment. What you were doing isplanting seeds for future prosperity. Each time you repeat it you are affirming the seeds you have planted in the atmosphere of your mind. That is why you want it to be a happy atmosphere as things grow much quicker in fertile rich soil. It is important for you to always say your affirmations in present tense, “I have,” or “I am.” If you say, “I am going to,” or “I will have,” it stays out there in the future. The universe takes your thoughts and words very literally and gives you what you say you want. This is another reason to keep your mental atmosphere happy.
It is easier to think of positive affirmations when you feel good. Think of it this way, every thought you think counts so don’t waste your ever so important thoughts. Every positive thought brings good into your life and every negative thought pushes the good away. It keeps what you want just out of your reach. How many times in your life have you almost gotten something good, and it seems to be just taken away at the last moment? If you could remember your mental atmosphere at those times,you would have the answer to why some things are not happening for you. Negative thoughts create the barrier against positive affirmations working. If you say, “I don’t want to be sick anymore,” this is not an affirmation. For good health you have to say, “I am grateful for my good health.” Clearly state what you do want, “I am abundant and happy every day.” If you say, “I wish I didn’t feel terrible. I wish I wasn’t depressed,” you will not see positive change because the more you talk about the problem the more you are anchored in place. Don’t blame others for your problems, it’s just another waste of time as we are all in control of our own consciousness, our own thoughts and we attract specific experiences to us by the way we think. When you change your thinking process, everything in your life will also change. You will be happy and surprised to see how people, places, things, and circumstances can change. Blame is just another negative affirmation and you do not want to waste your influential thoughts on. Instead learn to turn your negative affirmations around into positive ones. For example, I hate my body should become, “I love and appreciate my body.” “I’m tired of being sick,” should be, “I allow my body toreturn to its natural vibrant health.” “I’m too fat,” should be, “I honor my body and take good care of it.” “Nobody loves me,” should be, “I radiate love and love fills my life.” “I’m not creative,” should be, “I’m always discovering talents I did not know I had.” “I’m stuck in a job that I hate,” should be, “I look forward to going to work every day.” These affirmations are powerful and positive changes will happen because of them. Really pay attention to your thoughts so that you can start to make positive changes to your self-talk. Start with some self-esteem affirmations and see how many of the self-esteem affirmations you can memorize or write down on post it notes and display around your home or car, and then repeat them off and on. It will help change that worthless feeling you might be carrying around to one of self-esteem and self-worth. Then watch your positive affirmations materialize your desires. Affirmations are solutions that will replace whatever problem you might have. Whenever you have a problem repeat that all is well and everything is working out for my highest good over and over again. Say to yourself, “Only good will come of this situation and I am safe.” This simple affirmation will work miracles in your life. I highly suggest that younot share your affirmations with others who may put these ideas down. When you are just getting started it is best to keep your thinking to yourself until you have achieved your desired results. Then when friends see your life has changed a lot and that you’re so different then you can explain what you havebeen doing. Remember to make up affirmations on your own first. Affirmations for you to use right now: “I feel good about myself,” “I make positive changes in my life,” “I am grateful for today,” “I am confident,” “I am strong,” etc. When talking about your health, one thing to note is that you cannot get angry at your body for any reason. Anger is another affirmation,and it is telling your body that you hate it or hate parts of it. Your cells are veryaware of every thought you have. Think of your body is a servant that is working as hard as it can to keep you in perfect health no matter how you treat it. Your body knows how to heal itself. If you feed it healthy foods and beverages, give it exercise and sufficient sleep and think happy thoughts, the cells are working in a happy healthy atmosphere, however, if you feed it chemicals and ingredients that cause inflammation, then the cells in your body are working at a disadvantage and in a disagreeable atmosphere and your body will not be as healthy as you would like it to be. You will never create good health by talking or thinking about your illness. Good health comes from love and appreciation. You want to put good thoughts, feelings, and self-talk into your body as much as you possibly can.
Talk to your body in loving ways. Is there is a part of your body that is a sick or riddled with disease? Then you want to treat it with compassion and loving self-talk. Tell it how much you love it and that you are doing everything you can to help it get well quickly. Talk with a health practitionerif needed to create a healthy happy mental atmosphere and to be a willing participant in your own health. Every cell within your body responds to every single thought you think and every word you speak. Our ways of thinking and speaking produces body behaviors and postures and either eases or diseases the person. Someone who has a scowling face was not produced by having joyous loving thoughts. Our faces and bodies show so clearly a lifetime of thinking patterns. To customize your own life cycle starts with changing your thinking right now. You can create thoughts to create a mental atmosphere that contributes to illness,or you can choose to think thoughts that creates ahealthy atmosphere in you and around you for a happy, healthy mind and body.Your body positive affirmations for health I enjoy the foods that are best for my body I love every cell of my body I make healthy choices I have respect for myself I look forward to a healthy old age because I take loving care of my body. I am constantly discovering new ways to improve my health. I focus my thought and self-talk to bringing my body to a place of optimum health by giving it what it needs on every level. Healing happens when I get out of my way and allow the intelligence of my body to do its healing work.Now let’s talk about the power of forgiveness. You can never be free of bitterness as long asyou continue to think unforgiving thoughts. How can you be happy right now in this current moment if you choose to think angry and resentful thoughts?Being resentful or bitter cannot create joy, no matter how justified you feel. If you insist on holding onto the past,you will never be free. Forgiveness to yourself and others will release you from the prison of the past. When your affirmations are not working it usually means there’s some more forgiving to be done. When you do not flow freely with life inthe present moment it usually means you are holding onto a painful memory. This can be regret, sadness, hurt, fear, guilt, blame, anger, resentment, and sometimes a desire for revenge. Each one of these states of thinking and being comes from a space of unforgiveness a refusal to let go and to come into the present moment. You can only create your future in the present moment if you are not holding onto the past. It is in this current momentthat the true thoughts and words are so extremely powerful; so,don’t waste your current thoughts devoting energy to negative thoughts. Don’t give your own power away because you were placing the responsibility for your feelings on someone else. People in our lives may behave in ways that trigger uncomfortable responsesin us, however, they did not get into our minds and create the buttons that have been pushed. Taking responsibility for our own feelings and reactions is the mastering of our ability to respond in other, kinder words. We can learn to consciously choose topositively respond, rather than simply react to what those around us do. Forgiveness is a tricky and confusing concept for many people, but there is a difference between forgiveness and acceptance. Forgiving someone does not mean that you condone their behavior,and the act of forgiveness takes place in your own mind it really has nothing to do with the other person. True forgiveness lies in setting yourself free from what was done or said anddoing so to free yourself. Being free from holding onto the pain is simply an act of releasing yourself from the negative energy. Also,forgiveness does not mean allowing the painful behaviors or actions of another to continue in your life. Sometimes forgiveness means letting go of certain people in our lives. You forgive them and release what they did by taking a stand and setting healthy boundaries. This is often the most loving thing you can do not only for yourself but for the other person as well. No matter what your reasons are for having bitter unforgiving feelings, you can go beyond them. You can let things go. You can live in the now and you can choose to think thoughts that make you feel good right now. You can choose to practice thinking positively. Make little changes in your schedule to create a positive today and tomorrow. Know that in creating this habitual way of thinking, you are creating thinking habits that will serve you well. Affirmations like, “As I forgive myself it becomes easier to forgive others,” “I forgive myself for not being perfect,” “I am living the very best way I know how,” “It is now safe for me to release all of my childhood traumas and move into the life I dreamed of living,” “I forgive everyone in my past for all perceived wrongs,” will be an excellent way to start this process of positively letting go of the past through forgiveness.

If you say, “I have no creativity,” well that is an affirmation that will be true for you for as long as you continue to use it. There is innate creativity flowing in all of us and if we let it out it will surprise and humble us all. Many of us are tapped into the creative flow of energy in the cosmos. Some of us express ourselves more creatively than others but we all can do this. We are all creating our lives, our realities every day. Each of us has unique talents and abilities. You are creating every moment of your life from the most common ordinary creations of new cells in your body from choosing your emotional responses to your present job to your emotional health and stability, to your relationships with friends and your attitudes about yourself. No matter how you choose to express yourself creatively you want to have satisfaction and to be deeply fulfilled by all that you do. If you will allow it, you are divinely guided by God at all times. Know that God makes no mistakes. When there is a strong desire within you to express or create something, know that this feeling is divine guided. Longing is your calling, no matter what it is, if we go with it,we will be guided and assured of success. When a purpose or path is laid before us,we have a choice to trust it and go with it or remain stuck in the fear. Trusting the perfection that resides within you is the key. I know it can be scary, but everybody is afraid of something,and we can do it anyway. Remember that God loves you and wants you to succeed at everything you do. You are expressing yourself creatively every moment of the day in fact expressing yourself creatively is the only thing you do. Cognitive Behavioral TherapyCBT looks at our feelings, our thoughts, and our behaviors. It looks at how our feelings impact our behaviors and how our behaviors impact our feelings. If we don’t feel good or feel like exercising,then we likely won’t exercise. Many of us operate in a way where we are driven byour feelings and how we feel directly impact our behavior. CBT looks at what we think and how what we think impacts how we behave and then of course how we behave impacts how we think and how we behave impacts how we feel. So, for example, in the example that I just gave where if you don’t feel like exercising and you get up and you do it anyway, you probably will feel better afterwards and feel more energized. Now to change how you feel, that’s the trick that you need to master. There are at a lot of videos on social media and on YouTube that I’ve been looking at about therapy and it seem like these days it’s just very popular to say that what you think creates your world how do you behave creates how you feel and it’s only sort of true but that’s only half of what CBT encompasses. CBT is focused on what we think and how we act as they both create how we feel, so let me give you an example of how this might work for somebody who has depression. In general, people with depression have incredibly negative self talk. They will talk to themselves in a way they would never talk to a friend and if you’re doing

that it’s very helpful to be aware of it so you can gradually change your self talk to be more positive and compassionate. Imagine someone who is depressed and can’t get off the couch and lays on the couch all day, maybe eats an entire bag of potato chips and salsa earlier in the day and then ends up feeling worse and worse. Then because they feel awful,they probably don’t get off the couch and the whole thing just spirals downward. The behaviors contribute to the thoughts, the thoughts contribute to the feelings,and it goes around and around and around. An example of how this might work for anxiety, think of your boss being sharp with you and you have a lotof anxiety you might immediately start saying, “I’ll be homeless if I lose this job…” and within about 30 seconds you’re on the street and your body is completely activated and you are feeling emotionally stressed and anxious, your thoughts are getting more anxious, you’re probably shutting down more and more, and this creates even more anxiety. This may lead to you avoiding certain tasks or people because anxiety isso bad that you actually don’t do any work for the rest of the day. This might lead to yougetting into trouble at your job. I’ve had several patients say, “I don’t like how I feel. Help me change how.” I feel that talk therapy can be very difficult if not impossible to directly change your feelings. So,to change your feelings, you need to either change how you think or change how you behave. Try to focus on where we canchange cognition patterns or patterns of thinking. Think about what patterns of thinking and behaving are incredibly unhelpful or destructive. We call these negative patterns of thinking and behaving toxic as they are usually pretty distorted. Then we also look at what changes can we make in behavior? One of the tools commonly used in cognitive behavioral therapy is called a thought journal. This can be extremely helpful as you can reflect and journal what thoughts led to certain behaviors and what behaviors led to certain thoughts throughout the day and in various situations.

I want to take a moment to talk about unhealthy behaviors. So unhealthy behaviors typically fall into the category of compulsive behaviors or avoidant behaviors. Compulsive behaviors can be working too much, overeating, drinking too much, and avoidant behaviors could be not driving if you’re afraid of driving, not socializing if you have social anxiety, or isolating if you’re depressed, procrastinating if you have fear. Some of the things that you’re doing right or saying right now are heavily contributing to how you feel. Everything that you think and do becomes either an affirmation or a trigger for cellular memory. When we feel a heavy emotion, our cells store this negative energy. When we feel frightened, stressed or nervous, our cells store this energy. Our cells remember everything that we say and do. Therefore, we need to choose our words and actions very carefully. Don’t sit around saying, “I wish I were different, or I hate my life.” These words are stored in our cells and our cells regenerate these feelings. Try using affirmations to gently change what is happening within your cells. Try pushing yourself to do something that once made you happy to gently change what is being programmed in your cells. In taking action through words and behavior modification, you will gently create the change necessary within your mind and body for long-lasting change. This is how I like to use CBT in my therapy practice. If there isn’t action behind your words, nothing will change.Reinforcing fear increases anxiety and this can also increase depression symptoms. Calming behaviors throughout your daily routine can greatly help to reduce, even eliminate, anxiety and depression symptoms. Calm and healthy behaviors that can be added throughout the day or when anxiety heightensare going for a walk with a friend, taking a cold shower, meditating, or spending time with a havea pet. All of these can make you feel better for a second, minute, or even all day if you sprinkle in these calming/happy things in throughout your day. You can complete a daily log or journal to write out the facts of what happens in various situations, your feelings within various situations, your emotional and physical needs and wants, and then label them on a scale of 0 to 10. Try to be specific if writing things out butuse bullet points so that you don’t feel that you have to write a journal entry but rather a reflection journal about your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
When reflecting, if you notice specific thoughts, self-talk, or reactions to issues or people, try to focus on how you can redirect your thoughts throughout the day. What could you say in those moments to yourself that would make you feel better? What affirmations have you tried that has helped in the past? Maybe store those in the notes in your phone so that you can have something visual to look at in times when you are stressed, triggered, sad or anxious. Now think about how you can reframe certain situations that have happened in the past? Think about what the neutral fact is within the situation and what your reaction to the situation was. What would you say to a friend in this situation? Try to say the same things to yourself. This is the practice of self-compassion. Now think about some alternative behaviors that might be more adaptive and help you feel better during the situation. Try to write down all of the coping techniquesthat you think would help in this situation so that if you are triggered again you can pull up the notes in your phone and have redirection techniques and affirmations that will help to pull you out of the negative thinking pattern. The more that you are able to redirect and reframe, the more your emotional brain focuses on the things that help you to feel better. So even if you’re not feeling better when you initiate these changes you are creating new patterns of thinking and behaving and eventually,theywill be stored in your subconscious. What many people don’t understand is that you are likely driven by your feelings, we make ourselves want to do something that we don’t want to, however, if we make ourselves do things anyway,we can create new muscle memory and new patterns in cognition. Having anxiety and depression is very limiting and sometime exposure therapy is the best thing that can move us through the negative thoughtsand feelings to more happy and hopeful feelings. After a while you won’t haveto make yourself do things anymore but rather you will want to do the things that make you happy and this change will come with little to no resistance. One important takeaway of this message is that your behavior is that initiating positive healthy behaviors that help you feel better is a very big part of CBT. You can’t simply talk your way to happiness, there has to be action behind your words.
People thrive in environments that help them meet their innate emotional and physical needs. As humans we have an emotional desire to fulfill certain needs within us and within our daily lives and when we don’t fill those needs, that is when mental health disorders can creep in. Mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. When we are not able to fulfillthese needs,we unavoidably suffer. Taking action is extremely important to meeting our needs. Anxiety is a signal that you are not meeting your needs in some way. Depression is also a signal that you are not meeting your needs in some way. How we make sense of what is happening around us in our world can also either create mental illness or challenge us to thrive within choppy waters. It is often easier to change feelings than it is thoughts. Emotions are a fundamental necessity for humans and imperativefor human physical survival. A change in our thoughts is a natural consequence of a change in our emotional responses. For PTSD and trauma, and phobias, it’s not faulty thinking that’s the problem but it is necessary to come feelings as you institute change/

Three ways to take back control and CBT are:

Focus on how the feelings will change. Feelings are fluid and inevitably will change. When you’re feeling nervous about something it is a gauge as to how you are feeling and responding to a certain situation. This is a great way to note when you are feeling better about a situation. So,notice what you do that tells your mind that you feel better about a situation so that you know the beginning feelings and indications of when anxiety begins to call. Chew it over and act normal. Anxiety is a real survival response. This is a response that can go wrong sometimes because it can hinder more than it helps. It may feel like it’s helping by protecting you,but it can actually keep you from overcoming certain situations or fears. One way to train anxiety to be hey of itself is to give it feedback to let it know that it is not needed right now because anxiety can hold us back from certain things rather than helping us move through fear us. Then you’re telling the fear response within their amygdala that there is not a real threat that it is simply miss guided survival response. So,I encourage you to ask normal during high anxiety times to turn off the anxiety response quickly. Simply knowing that you can do thisgives you a sense of control back and a sense of confidence. Anxiety is all about anticipation to what is coming.

Catch the underlying assumption and chase down the logical solutions. So,if someone feels anxious about something it’s because they have a fear of some consequence. It might be a fear of meeting new people, being embarrassed, or not being liked. The real question is how will you deal with that? Remember that people in your past have liked you and that you have been in this situation before,but you have overcome it. So,finding contradictions to the fear you are currently feeling will help you to move through the anxiety. This can simply be a step to something positive as you are constantly learning more about yourself and that you can not only survive but thrive in these difficult situations. Strong feelings shape thoughts, not the other way around. We can lift feelings so that thoughts align more. Working to reframe thoughts can be really useful. We can help people remember that feelings always change and focus on how they expect the current feelings to change. You can try this and you can teach your childrento alter their feedback so that what they are saying to their sympathetic nervous system this changeis for the better, and this will take time so don’t give up but rather think of it as a challenge and a push through feelings of doubt or uncertainty and know that change is possible. We just have to change the patterns of thinking, it’s really that simple. Enables clients to catch underlying assumptions and follow the underlying solutions and think about how they can thrive even if the so-called worst were to happen.

Being afraid of failure

The fear of anxiety and the fear of failure are the two biggest factors that hold people back fromliving the life they dream of living. If you’ve had anxiety attacks in the past and they have caused a great deal of fear,it’s almost as if you experienced a traumatic event because anxiety attacks can cause some pretty harsh physical reactions that havesent millions of people to emergency rooms. Whether it’s heart palpitations, sweaty palms, shaking, or blurred vision, anxiety can be terrifying, especially if it happens repeatedly. When these physical symptoms happen it is extremely difficult to remain calm or positive or think of any coping skills that were discussed with your therapist.Therefore, the fear of this situation happening again, especially in public, can be debilitating and too many people as it actually keeps people from doing the things that they love to do for the fear that they will have anxiety or a panic attack again in the future. The idea of not having control over our thoughts or actions is terrifying and can cause anxiety attacks all on its own. Most people experience anxiety because they feel as though they don’t have control in some aspect or all aspects of their life. Therefore, if you can focus on the areas in your life where you do you have control then anxiety will decrease or not show up at all because you are focused on being in control and living the life that you want. However, if you focus on areas of your life where anxiety has been high or controlled you, then it is almost certain that anxiety will strike again. Anxiety attacks tend to happen after periods of a high anxiety as anxiety releases stress hormones throughout the body and can cause many negative adverse effects throughout your physical body. That’s why most of our coping skills for anxiety include tasks where you focus on what you are in control of, whether it is called therapy and putting yourself in a situation where you can breathe in cold air or put ice cubes on your wrist, etc., or it’s deep breathing and using the box breathing technique, these are focusing on things that you can control does lowering anxiety because you’re not focusing on things you can’t control but rather you’re focusing on where your power is.

interactions With Others Can Cause Ruminating

Have you ever had interactions with people whether it’s at work or at the grocery store or at a family function, and then over analyze the interaction for the next day or week? Overthinking or over analyzing interactions with others is one of the biggest causes of anxiety as we focus on our fear of doing something embarrassing or saying something embarrassing or saying or doing something that we would regret or that people would talk about or that would make people not like us. Over analyzing any situation will cause anxiety because we are over thinking a situation that has happened in the past, a place where we have no control. When we think about the past or the future,we are powerless. Reflecting lightly on the past or setting goals for the future and getting excited about them is one thing however when we over analyze or overthink a situation whether it’s in the past or something that we want in the future, and it leaves us feeling awful with a pit in our stomach then we know that we have over analyze which is overthinking a situation to the point where it has literally made us sick Taurus stomach.Remember that reflecting to learn about oneself and the situation is good however over thinking and analyzing a situation is terrible and can only cause harm to ourselves.

Cellular Memory

Our brains are not the only part of our body that remembers the stress, fear, worry, sadness, etc. Our physical body takes on a lot of adverse effects when we go through negative situations, especially if the negative situation lasts for an extended periodof time. If you are in a heightened state of stress or anxiety for example for several weeks, months, or even years, when you over, that negative situation it might be placed on something else. For example, if you are stressed, fearful, or worried about going to work every day for several months or years, your body stores that feeling at the cellular level. Therefore, your cells remember that intense feeling and if it lasts for an extended period of time this intense feeling just becomes normal to your cells. Then when you find a new job that you are happy or excited to go to, and anxiety or stress or this overwhelming negative feeling is still present, you might wonder why however if you’ve lived in a heightened state of anxiety and stress for an extended period of time and your body remembers that, your mind and body will transfer that anxiety or stress on to a different situation in your life.

Your body is used to feeling a certain way and even though you don’t like the feeling it will strive to find thatfeeling again, so anxiety might be placed on going out in public for example. So, you might notice that social anxiety gets worse when it wasn’t an issue before, and you might be really confused as to why this happened because you never had a problem out in public or around new people. However, because your mind and body were used to living in a heightened state of anxiety or stress, your mind and body might be placing that on a different situation so that it can feel the way that it once dead. It’s as though you are comforted by this feeling of heightened stress and anxiety even though you didn’t like it and it wasn’t enjoyable, your mind and body at the cellular level lived in that state of being for so long that it became comfortable here, even though itis unhealthy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), and exposure therapy are three great approaches to use when trying to restructure your mind and body at the cellular level because when your mind and body work together and you become used to feeling different sensations while thinking differently, you can change your patterns of thinking and behaving and eventually change your beliefs. The longer you are able to change your thought and behavior patterns, the more instilled this sense of calm and contentment will be stored at the cellular level.Cognitive behavioral therapy will help change your body and a cellular level because as you say affirmations or intentionally choose to redirect when an irrational thought comesinto your mind, you are restructuring your thought process and how you react and respond to various external and internal stimuli. For example, if you watch a lot of the news you might noticed that you are in a heightened state of stress and in telling yourself an affirmation that calms you down or something that just gives you hope, and that you are restructuring how your mind and body respond to that external negative stimuli in the future. And by responding this way over and over again your amygdala which is in the center of your brain can store this response, therefore easing your fight, flight, or freeze response. And the more that you do this the more your body will respond in a calm way. The idea is to think of your self talk and affirmations as a horse and carriage. The horse is like our self talk and affirmations as it leads the carriage, and the carriage is like your physical well-being or emotional well-being that can be either calmed by a thought or sent into dysregulation by a thought or something that has happened around you. Therefore, your self talk which is like the horse leading the carriage should be calm and how you want to feel or how you want to respond. For example, I am confident or high and successful. You are saying how you want to feel, not how you currently feel. Whatever you say over and over again is going to be eventually how you feel so be very mindful of what you are telling yourself over and over again because you are literally speaking it into existence.Dialectical behavioral therapy is extremely action oriented. Therefore, if you behave in a certain way and it’s a negative pattern that you’ve noticed, dialectical behavioral therapy focuses on the action stops to give you a different, yet trained response to stimuli or trigger. For example, if you know that you get nervous before exams, you could bring something with you that would put you at ease, like a squishy stress ball to squeeze or a rock that you found when you were out walking or a seashell that you found at the beach. This action step and many others are the main focus and dialectical behavior therapy. Some other DBT skills that are focused on our mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and the most important, emotional regulation.

Exposure therapy is an excellent way to overcome an issue or a situation that triggers a negative response by intentionally putting yourself in that situation with the right frame of mind and safety measures. For example, if you are afraid of a certain situation, through the use of cognitive behavioral therapy and the use of affirmations and positive self talk before, during, and after you put yourself intentionally in that specific situation, you are telling your mind and body that there is nothing to be afraid of within that situation and that you are safe mentally and physically within that situation. The key is to use positive self talk and affirmations before, during, and after you intentionally put yourself in a situation that has previously caused you a lot of distress. More often than not when people are afraid of something or when something has is them anxiety or stress, they avoid that situation in the future. For example, if you have social anxiety and you have heightened stress and anxiety or have had anxietyattacks when you go to the grocery store because of all of the people that are there, you might be inclined to avoid going to the grocery store. If this thought and avoidance continues your fear of going to the grocery store will grow, that fear will not subside on its own if you are intentionally avoiding that situation as a protection measure. If you notice that every time you think of going to the grocery store you feel a sense of panic or your mind starts racing and you revert to ordering your groceries online and having them delivered or is simply going to have someone load them in your car, you are solidifying the fact that the grocery store is a scary and unsafe place for you, and the more you do this the more you are solidifying the fact that the grocery store is a scary and negative place for you. By avoiding the things that caused us fear or heightened stress and anxiety the more power we give it and the more it can control us. However, if you push through that negative feeling and force yourself to do the activity that you are afraid of with the right frame of mind and the right self talk and affirmations, you are putting yourself in control of that situation. Remember that you have to intentionally have positive self talk and use positive affirmations before, during the activity, and after the activity so that you are solidifying the fact that that activity is safe and good for you and that there is nothing to be afraid of and that it was a good experience for you, so that the next time you have todo that experience that you will be less afraid of it.