Your mental health is important, why mental health apps? Sometimes you cannot afford to see a therapist, do not have time to go to one, or one isn’t accessible where you live. Perhaps you aren’t ready to see one but would like to see what therapy all is about. Maybe you see a therapist, but need help to put the helpful techniques they have given you into practice. Mental health apps can be very beneficial, free, low-cost or affordably priced, and offer a way to help give you therapeutic help on the go. So which ones are best? There are so many out there!
Mental health apps that I recommend:
Headspace is an app that just about anyone can use, whether you are dealing with stress, anxiety, lack of focus, or sleeping difficulties. It teaches you to “meditate and live mindfully”. Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, lessens anxiety, support emotional health, and enhances self-awareness. This app provides small meditation modules to accommodate people’s busy schedules and “SOS exercises in case of sudden meltdowns.” You can take advantage of their free trial and if you like it, you can make the jump to a monthly subscription.
Youper is an app that is powered by AI – “your emotional health assistant”. This app allows you to have conversations, guidance through meditations that are personalized for you and trackers that help you monitor your emotional health and mood. This technology created by doctors, scientists and engineers;focuses on the science and pursuit of happiness – helping those with depression and anxiety live happier lives with treatments personalized for them. This app also works in conjunction with seeing a therapist, as you can ‘share’ your information. Many of my clients use this app as complements many of the CBT techniques we use right in session.
Youper is free to download and have some free features; more advanced features are based on a subscription plan.
This app offers meditation training as part of a “mental fitness” approach. FitMind uses traditional techniques used since ancient times with western science. Using daily challenges, along with access to meditation instructors; FitMind can help you learn to meditate in a way that works for you. Again, meditation is a useful tool for improving mental health because of all of the health benefits you get from practicing it. This app is free and offers in-app purchases.
Sanvello is an app designed for stress, anxiety, and depression using strategies and resources that can help you with the symptoms and situations you are dealing with at the moment. You can customize goals; like mindfulness, building confidence and thinking positively. Based on clinically proven techniques, this app offers tracking for mood and sleep, tools for relaxation and meditation and you can connect to a group of your peers for further support. Free to sign up and install.
This mental health app uses four tools that are designed to enhance your mood, identify and change unhealthy thinking, track mood, and create journal entries. Managing negative feelings thoughts by identifying situations that cause stress, changing how you think, monitoring your mood through tracking, and developing self-awareness through writing is all of the ways MoodKit is designed to help you improve your mood and mental health. This app is only available on the iPhone and iPad, but is just $4.99.
Mental health treatment is no longer limited to the office and self-help books. Whether you are on the road, want quick help, or establish a daily cognitive behaviorally based self-care routine, there has never been so many options on how to start. It’s good for you, and most apps have a free trial! Jump in and let us know how it goes.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article by Elizabeth Bernstein, around 40 percent of people in the US say they are lonely. Thirty years ago that number was halved, around 20%. However, feeling lonesome is not just an unpleasant emotion you need to learn to live with. In fact, loneliness actually re-arranges your genes and changes you from the inside out. Unsurprisingly, recent studies have shown this emotion is linked to anxiety and depression.
Feeling isolated from time to time is natural, but it is important to understand why and nip it in the bud before it becomes something deeper. This article will give you the rundown of why you feel lonely, how you feel lonely, and what to do if you feel lonely.
Holy Moly! So Many Ways to Be Lonely
In order to keep away the lonesome blues during the holiday season, it is important to understand why you are feeling this way. According to Psychology Today, there are 7 distinct types of loneliness. Here is a run-down.
#1. A New Situation – You are a new person in a new place. If you just switched jobs, moved to the city, or are the new person at school what you are feeling is new-situation loneliness.
#2. I am Different – If you feel as though you are different from the people around you, you may be experiencing this type of loneliness. Maybe everyone around you grew up together except you. It could be you feel deeply passionate about a social issue that no one else around you cares about.
#3. No Romantic Partner – Sometimes, simply not having a partner during the holidays can drag you down.
#4. No Animal– Maybe you deeply want a cat, but right now is just not the right time. Maybe seeing pictures of cats dressed up like Santa depresses you. This is no-animal loneliness in action.
#5 No Available Friends – This tends to happen when your friends and family make life changes. No one has time for you, and you feel lonely.
#6 Bad Friends – If you do not trust your friends, you may feel lonely. You can have a lot of fun with a lot of bad friends over the years. However, at the end of the day, you ultimately felt unfulfilled.
#7. No Warm Body – Maybe you are completely satisfied with your social life and your work-life balance. However, you miss the feeling of another person sharing your home. Living alone can be difficult sometimes, especially around the holidays.
We Were Born this Way
Well, about half of our loneliness can be attributed to our genetics. We know this due to studies on Dutch twin separated at birth. Unfortunately, this emotion is generational as well as heritable, especially for those less privileged.
As a result of Romania’s communist dictatorship’s ban on birth control, the 1980’s saw tons of children abandoned in orphanages. In these poorly run institutions, there were around 20 children per 1 nurse. When brain studies were given to the unloved and attention-deprived orphans, scientists discovered the children failed to develop a normal amount of grey matter. This means the children’s neural connections between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex were not strong. What is the result? According to New Republic, these people can be “moody, self-doubting, angry, pessimistic, shy, and hypersensitive to criticism”.
10 Tricks to Keep Loneliness at Bay
- Make Giving a Habit – Giving doesn’t necessarily mean money. This time of year especially, there are many opportunities to volunteer in the community.
- Find Like-minded People to Connect With – Try joining a Meetup.com group, a book club, or a workout class. Eventually, you will have a community.
- Stay Healthy – This includes getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and exercising. All of these things have been found to improve mood.
- Work on Existing Bonds – We now know intimate bonds are necessary to happiness. Work on fortifying your current friendships, whether long-distance or close-by.
- Learn from Your Experiences – Ask yourself what you can learn from your loneliness, and how you can put your new appreciation for connections into practice.
- Mindfulness – Identify your thoughts when you feel lonely. Many times you will have self-defeating thoughts about your state of mind. Realize these are just thoughts and do not attach any significance to them.
- Show Self-Compassion – Develop and nurture compassion, love, and acceptance of yourself. You can treat yourself to an act of kindness, or meditate on directing love toward yourself. In addition, you can practice self-soothing techniques.
- Get Comfortable with Yourself – It sounds cliché, but in order to beat loneliness, it is important to try and become comfortable alone. Sometimes people get down about doing fun activities alone. However, if you learn to work through the self-conscious thoughts you can actually start enjoying time with yourself!
- Get that Pet –Sometimes, you just have to go for what you want in the pursuit of happiness!
- Plan Ahead – If you know you get lonely during the holiday season, make a plan ahead of time. List some things that make you happy or that you want to try. Then, bust out this list when you are feeling alone!
When dealing with feelings of isolation during the holiday season, it is important to remember you are not alone. According to USA Today, 20 percent to 50 percent of people in industrialized nations experience loneliness. So if you are feeling blue this holiday season, cut yourself some slack and practice some of my tips. However, if your loneliness has progressed to anxiety or depression it would be wise to see a therapist for help.
Earning your clinical license opens up a world of possibilities, so you want to begin gaining ASW supervision hours as soon as possible. Regardless, the process can be confusing for the best of us. Throughout my years of providing ASW and LCSW supervision, there are certain questions that I’m asked on a regular basis. Here’s a nice compilation of many of these inquiries, as well as one vital tidbit that is often overlooked:
I have all of my hours, but I’ve been putting off the exam for months/years. Is there a timeline?
So, there are a couple of key points to remember:
The 6-Year Rule-
You can spend 10+ years earning IMF/ASW supervision hours, however, the only ones that count are the ones accrued during the last 6 years.
Abandonment of Application-
You don’t want this to happen! The consequences of abandonment can range from paying a new application fee to starting from square one. Per the BBS website, the criteria for abandonment are the following:
- Associate Social Worker does not submit the remaining documents or information requested in the application deficiency letter within one (1) year from the date of the deficiency letter
- Applicant does not complete the application within one (1) year after it has been filed
- ASW does not sit for an examination within one (1) year after being notified of initial eligibility to take the examination
- Applicant does not take an examination within one (1) year from the date the applicant was notified of failing an examination
- The applicant fails to pay the initial license fee within one (1) year after notification by the Board of successful completion of ASW requirements.
I’d like to obtain my ASW/LCSW supervision through video conferencing. Am I eligible?
Per the California Business and Professions Code section 4996.23 videoconferencing can be used for LCSW supervision when an intern works/volunteers at one of the following:
- Any government entity
- A school, college, or university
- An agency that is both charitable and non-profit. You can find out if your workplace meets these criteria by checking if they are considered a ‘501(c)(3); by the IRS
The ASW supervisor is responsible for ensuring client confidentiality, including a HIPAA compliant platform for video sessions. Skype is not HIPAA compliant, but there are other programs that are- your supervisor should be able to tell you what platform they are using and how they know it’s in line with privacy regulations.
My hours are complete, and my exam is scheduled! Am I still required to maintain weekly LCSW supervision?
Until you have your license in hand, you want to complete an hour of individual or two-hours of group LCSW supervision.
Do I really have to sit for the Law and Ethics exam? Is this something I need to retake annually until I earn my license?
Yes! There are no loopholes on this one- no matter how much training and classes you have taken.
Once you pass the Law and Ethics exam, you have completed your requirement as long as you keep your license active. Get this done quickly, as you may not be able to complete your annual renewal without a passing score.
Which study guide do you recommend?
The majority of my interns recommend the Therapist Development Center (TDC) programs for both the exams. TDC not only provides materials on content but also test taking strategies that will help IMF/PCCI/ASW interns approach the exams in a logical and educated manner.
When can I start collecting LCSW Supervision hours?
It’s exciting to finally earn your graduate degree, and you’re probably chomping at the bit to start collecting hours. Many have contacted me and said, ‘I’m waiting for my BBS number, but I want to start supervision this week!’
In this case, patience is the key. Don’t spend time and money on clinical supervision until you have that intern number in hand, as hours won’t count until then.
My former supervisor can’t be found. How can I verify my hours?
At the beginning of ASW intern supervision, it’s critical that you and your supervisor create and sign the following documents, all located on the BBS’s website.
- Supervisor Responsibility Statement
- Supervisory Plan
- Any letters of agreement or other documentation agreeing to the ASW Supervisor/ Intern relationship.
Just as important, discuss how you plan to document logged hours. I encourage all of my supervisees document their hours in detail and have me initial and sign it each month.
As soon as your time with each supervisor is complete, print out the Experience Verification Form and complete this together.
ASWs are fully responsible for all original paperwork. If you follow these guidelines, you will be in good shape if for any reason you can’t connect with your previous supervisor(s)
I am the only social worker/counselor at my job. How can I earn my hours if I don’t have a clinical supervisor at my agency?
There are a lot of ASWs in a position where clinical supervision is not readily available. Fortunately, your intern supervisor does not need to be employed by your agency.
If you are the lone ranger in your company, I recommend searching out some group supervision to expand your support system, increase your exposure to new opportunities, and see what others in the field are doing. Several of my interns that were in group have helped connect one another to jobs, resources, and even have partnered in private practices!
There’s one question I’ve never been asked, but what everyone should know……
The 104- week rule
Several years ago, an ASW Intern I had been supervising for a year came to my office to get her last hours signed. She had been working with several supervisors throughout her time and worked hard to get her hours wrapped up as soon as possible, often putting in 60+ hours a week so that she could meet that 40-hour clinical max.
As we were finishing up her paperwork, we came to the realization that although she had easily met 3200 clinical hours, she was two months under the 104-week requirements. She was terribly disappointed, and we spent two more months getting those last few weeks in.
The story has a happy ending- Margaret Miller, LCSW now has a thriving private practice at my office- you can check her website out here. So now you know- in addition to the 6-year window, interns have to meet a minimum of 104 weeks of ASW supervision, so expect to spend between 2-6 years gathering your experience.
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It’s sunblock and swimsuit time in San Diego! Most of us are making sure we have our summer essentials in place, and pretty soon it will be time do your favorite summer activities! Like clockwork, my clients begin to express anxiety about an upcoming pool party or BBQ where they may be wearing a lot less than they have in the last few months. I’m getting the annual calls asking, “Can I use CBT for weight loss?”, and more often, “I can lose the weight but gain it right back, how can you help me?”.
If you’ve never lost a pound or if you’ve successfully lost weight only to gain it back, you are certainly not alone. Cutting calories, exercising more, and watching your carbs is not enough on their own. Almost everyone knows what they need to do to lose weight, but may not be clear on how to make it happen. The most powerful aspect of moving towards a healthy body is a change in mindset. Knowing that each individual has their own reasons for wanting to change, what works for one client will almost certainly not work for everyone. Creating a specific plan, tailored to your unique thought process, can make a significant difference in effective weight loss.
What is the best diet plan for weight loss?
You can use any reasonable diet you want- when you pair it with new habits of thought you will see it work. The question is not simply ‘What is the best weight loss plan?’, but rather- ‘How can I think differently about myself and my health?’. This is where cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) comes into play, as it guides you to focus on changing your perceptions of yourself and replace sabotaging thoughts, which can lead to massive long-term changes in your health.
Do this first before anything else….
One of the first exercises I complete with clients is to create an ‘advantages’ card, which is outlined with more detail in Judith Beck’s book outlining CBT for weight loss, The Beck Diet Solution. When you write down the reasons you want to lose weight, it can really add a boost to your motivation. Looking at it a couple of times a day can build excitement in reaching your big goal. The advantages card is your ‘eyes on the prize’ reminder, and whenever you hear yourself saying “One donut won’t hurt”, you pull out your handy card out to kindly remind you what you truly want. The more you conquer your cravings, the more confident you will become in knowing you can do this!
Messed up? Excellent!
Relapse is part and parcel of changing any habit- it’s also one of the most exciting opportunities for change. Now is when your new CBT for weight loss skills are put to the test, as you begin to see how to shift your behaviors and habits that combat those negative, self-sabotaging thoughts. We only change when we are uncomfortable, so when you are struggling or simply doubting yourself this is when the magic happens. Most of us are much more capable than we give ourselves credit for; imagine how pushing yourself through this challenge will confirm strong you really are. This is the time to use your supports to boost you up and let you know you can do it!
If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’ve already discovered that establishing weight loss plans on without outside help often doesn’t produce the results you aim for. Evaluating and making shifts in the way you look at your problem can create a long-lasting solution that will not only help you lose weight, but also help you recognize skills and resources within you that can be useful in any aspect of your life.
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Plenty of parents call me this time of year, exhausted and tell me, “my teen needs therapy stat!” or “I was fine raising my child but now that he/she’s an adolescent I’m at a loss”. Parenting a teenager is a new and scary experience for most, and to shift how you interact with your children can be a difficult. The good news is there are some parenting techniques for teens that can help you successfully build family harmony and a healthy, independent young adult.
As children get older, they test boundaries much more often. This can be challenging at times, and that is why it is extremely important to build structure when parenting a teenager. They need someone to guide them without being smothering. So, instead of constantly guiding them by the hand on a path that should be their own, you can see yourself to be like the railing of a bridge. You can be there to make sure they don’t crash over the side while also being the guiding force that they desperately need.
Teenagers thrive with a positive method of parenting so they feel independent, as well as heard and supported. They may not voice it, but the support and guidance you provide as a parent is appreciated. When I hear kids say their parents are ‘getting in their face’ and ‘nagging’, they often become resentful and will refuse to cooperate simply to win.. The more they feel confronted or attacked, the more they will retreat away from you. Building structure for any child often means setting boundaries and being there for them in the way that they need. As you play the role of the railing of the bridge, keeping them on the right track but not guiding them by the hand, they will figure more out on their own and gain valuable life skills.
How do you Become the Rail and Stay off the Road?
As a parent coach, here are a couple of skills my clients have reported as the most effective ways to communicate with their kiddos:
The When/Then Technique
Using the when/then parenting skill in situations that would normally end in a power struggle and screaming match. The when/then technique was popularized by Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions, and works as a way of replacing the word if, with when, while directing your child to do what you request of them. “If” gives a teenager the illusion that they have a choice, while the word “when” implies that they have no choice but to comply with what you’ve told them to do. For example, saying, “When you do the dishes, then you can go out with your friends.” There is a reward built into it, which is also useful as positive reinforcement. Using this method means there is no yelling, just a simple restructuring of phrases. They will understand that when they do what you want them to do, then they can do what they want to do.
The Broken Record Technique
Applying the broken record parenting technique, especially when you want to keep your teenager safe. Instead of debating or arguing with them, you repeat the same instructions over and over until they do what they are told. This shows them that you know what is best for them, and that they need to comply before they get to do anything else. If you don’t change your request, they will come to realize that you mean business and they aren’t going to be allowed to break the rules. You are keeping them safe and happy, and showing them that you mean what you say.
Yelling and battling is exhausting- it may produce short-term results, but in the long term won’t move your child towards success. Building structure, creating boundaries, and utilizing positive reinforcement can go a long way in helping your teen become a better person and have a smoother life all around. They need your love and guidance more than anything else at this time in their lives, as they figure out who they are and what their purpose is. So in focusing on your role as the railings of a bridge as a tool for positive parenting, you will give them exactly what they need to shape themselves and learn how to function in the world.