The best ways to meditate may not be what you think

Can’t Meditate? Think Again: 10 of the Best Hacks to Shift your Brain Into Bliss, according to CBT

 

Of course, we’ve all heard that one of the greatest ways to combat everyday feelings of stress, poor concentration and anxiety is to meditate. Research has proven that this magic state literally changes our brain, as outlined in this Washington Post article. While it’s true that meditation is a powerful antidote to many of the everyday maladies of stress, it can be a real bear to figure out how to meditate in the traditional sense. As many of us experience, sitting still and trying to ‘empty your brain’ can feel downright frustrating and often people give up on the process completely.

 

Fortunately, science has also found ways for us to ‘hack’ our brains into a meditative state without all that sitting around. Cognitive behavioral therapists assert that to address depression, panic, and anxiety based distress, ‘behavioral activation’, which means focusing on behaviors in the present, is much more useful than absorbing yourself in feelings of anxiety, depression and other negative emotions. Active meditation, whether that means keeping your body or just your hands busy, can be a wonderful alternative for those who struggle with staying still and will provide enough distraction to quell a worried mind. Some of these ways include exercising, music, and crafting to produce the same kind of benefits to ward off unhelpful feelings and thoughts. The ultimate purpose of this ‘flow’ state is to bring your body and mind into the here and now, and there is more than one way to achieve this:

 

1) Knitting

As it keeps your hands busy and your mind on the task, knitting gives you a break from everyday thoughts of stress and overwhelm. Focusing on the knitting process does not leave your mind much room to worry about what is going on in your life at the moment or whatever else might be bothering you. Not only that, the creative fulfillment is a significant benefit as well. You will likely finish each knitting session feeling accomplished and relaxed.  Check out this article from Jane Brody of the New York Times in support of this evidence-based approach.

 

2) Taking a walk

While walking, you can achieve the same quiet observation of your surroundings as you can while sitting still, except now you’re able to stay active and get movement in at the same time. Try soaking up some nature as you stroll by answering these questions as you go: What do you see? What do you hear? What do you smell?  Focusing on the sensory aspects of the experience will bring you to the present and help anxiety and distraction melt away.

 

3) Coloring

Last summer six of Amazon’s top 20 texts were coloring books for adults. While this is another sit-down activity, it keeps your fingers and mind busy by deciding which colors you want to use while focused on staying within the lines. Be as creative as you would like with your coloring utensils and choose a workbook that suits your personality. Here are some of those best-selling Amazon coloring books that folks are raving about.

 

4) Rock climbing

My personal favorite! At 41, I tagged along on a Boy Scout trip to my local climbing gym.

A CBT therapist reducing her anxiety and stress right here in San Diego.

Your local cognitive behavioral therapist reducing her anxiety and stress

While being on the wall was (initially) scary, I also discovered that my busy mind was right there on the wall with me, focusing solely on the physical and mental task at hand. Since then it’s been one of my go to workouts, and I’ve made some great friends and muscles in the process as well!

Rock climbing, whether at a facility or in the outdoors, is a great way to meditate while keeping active. You must have a significant focus on where to place your hands and feet on each of the holds to maintain a steady ascension to the top. People from all walks of life can benefit from the low impact benefits of climbing, as you can see ages 2 – 80 scaling the slopes outdoors and in.

 

5) Listening to music

Relaxing music often triggers the release of dopamine in your brain, creating the effect of calming you from within. This could be either slow and soft tones, classical music, or something else entirely that makes you most relaxed and calm. Want to know the top 10 most relaxing songs deemed by neuroscientists to create a 65% decrease in stress and anxiety? You can find the playlist here.

 

6) Martial arts

The slow, purposeful movement of martial arts is beneficial as meditation as well. You are focused on each position change while keeping it controlled and purposeful. That focus required to do all of this is an amazing method of keeping your mind and body present in the here and now.

 

7) Fishing

The act of baiting the hook, casting it into the water, and waiting for a bite is another way to hack your brain into a ‘be present’ state. It also requires a certain level of patience while waiting, as well as the concentration.

Harvard Medical School published this article discussing the empirically-based benefits of fly fishing, citing that an astounding 50% of study participants were able to reduce their blood pressure medication after 8 weeks!

 

8) Crafting

‘Creating’, whether it be cooking, putting together a scrapbook or photography, can help bring an overworked mind back to center. In one of my favorite ‘go-to’ articles, ‘This is your brain on crafting’, there’s a myriad of resources and ideas regarding things to do to shift from anxious to relaxed. As reflected in the article, active meditation has been effective not only for depression and anxiety but also post-traumatic stress (PTSD), attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

 

9) Yoga

Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned yogi, you concentrate on where your body is going and how it is positioned. This intense focus distracts you from everyday life, provides stress relief, and gives your body the release it needs. As something you can do Stress and anxiety can be reduced with meditative practicesalone or with a group, taking 90 seconds or 90 minutes, this is an easy activity to fit into a ‘too-busy’ schedule. Of course, the physical benefits outside of the practice are also welcome. Increased flexibility and reduced inflammation can make a big difference in levels of chronic pain, which can often contribute to a distracted mind and of course, anxiety and depression.

One of my favorite studios in Downtown San Diego is Yoga One;  the staff and teachers are welcoming, newbies will most certainly find comfort in the non-judgmental environment of varied levels of skill. Yoga One also has free and intro classes throughout San Diego so you can give it a try without the stress of a full commitment.

 

10) Writing/Journaling

Writing and journaling are activities that you can take part in at any time of the day, but practicing it at the end of your day is especially helpful. As you write down the positives and the negatives, focus on the positives while reflecting on learnings within the negatives.

Of course, doodling and artwork are encouraged.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear from anyone who experiments with some of these ideas. Do you have other active meditation ‘hacks’ for others who want to manage their stress and anxiety? Please share!

 

 

What it Takes to Succeed at Losing Weight: A Cognitive Behavioral Approach

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, “What’s the best way to lose weight?”, 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?

CBT is one of the best ways to lose weightYou 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, 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 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.

The Remarkable Connection Between Happiness and Productivity

A cognitive behavioral approach to achieve more happiness

Positive psychologists and cognitive behavioral therapists promote certain behaviors that prime the brain for happiness.

Shawn Achor is one of my personal heroes- you may have heard of him as the author of ‘The Happiness Advantage’ or through his infamous TED Talk which you can find here. After almost a half a century in the making, positive psychology is sweeping mental health landscape and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Cognitive behavioral therapists, educators and behavioral scientists are adopting techniques, such as the ‘happiness advantage’ to help people shift their mindset towards the good.

A Cognitive Therapist’s Answer to “Why Can’t I Find Happiness?”

Happiness’ makes many think of smiles, the sunshine, material acquisitions, and absolute bliss. People often perceive ‘happy’ as being beyond our control, that it has to do with external factors or some level of intangible success. However, when you depend on external factors to reach this mysterious state, you set yourself up for fleeting joy but also long-term disappointment, which can lead to depression and anxiety.

Contentment does not have to be controlled by external factors, what you have achieved, or what you or someone else consider the ultimate success. Rather than telling yourself that happiness is something to wait for, or believing that a partner, weight loss, or more money will lead you there, you can train your brain to be positive in the here and now. According to Shawn, if your brain is focused on positivity, it performs 31% more productively than when it is negative, neutral, or stressed. With the happiness advantage, your intelligence, creativity, and energy levels rise. That said, it makes much more sense to focus on how happiness leads to success, instead of the other way around.

It makes sense that managing depression and anxiety can be approached in a different and more effective way- by creating a new internal reality. As you learn how to become more positive in the present, the solution may not seem as hard to achieve. Training your brain to be more positive is something you’ve already taught it to do other tasks until it becomes automatic. Have you ever catch your fingers hitting the ‘F’ for Facebook without even noticing? Reaching for the snooze button? These are both common examples of automatic thoughts.

Let’s Get Happy!

Over time, reversing your formula for happiness in the now and leading your brain to focus on the the present and the positive aspects is a mighty force. The trick is to act differently right now, and your brain will begin to become primed for success, which means that you will be able to work harder, faster, and more intelligently in the moment as well as long-term. One of the ways that your brain can be trained is to encourage the release of dopamine, which is a vital ‘feel good’ hormone. Dopamine has two functions: first, to make you happier and second, to trigger all of your learning centers in your brain- of course, you’ve already watched Shawn Achor’s TED Talk and know this, right?

When I work with clients who are looking for solutions to anxiety or depression, I make sure I focus on behaviors instead of feelings. There are several actions that can train your brain to produce more of that precious dopamine.  Shawn asserts that if you practice a positive habit daily for 21 days in a row, you can build a habit and train your brain to be more positive. Three ways to achieve this are to:

  • Journaling- Write down one positive experience in the past 24-hours, so that your brain can relive that experience and start focusing on it. This habit teaches your brain that what you do and what actions you take each day matter.
  • Meditation- Take the time to slow down and meditate, giving your brain a chance to stop multitasking and to focus more on one task, such as the matter at hand. Opportunites to meditate are everywhere and are easier that you may think, as this article by Temma Ehrenfeld discusses.
  • Random act of kindness- Completing a conscious act of kindness can increase the dopamine levels in your brain, such as writing a positive email to a friend, praising a friend for something they accomplished, thanking someone for their support, or simply complimenting someone on their clothes or hair. Personally, this is one of my favorites. A few years ago I published an article on how volunteering can battle a sour mood. Do you live in my town of San Diego? Volunteer Match is a super way to get on it!

As the exercises above reflect, CBT helps you learn skills needed to be happier and more content. Behavioral interventions can be simple and if practiced every day, these types of activities help improve depressed moods and how to be happier in the present!

Happiness is within your control and is attainable with daily practice. Building some simple habits into your daily life will help you create that positivity and happiness that you desire. If you’ve already been influenced by Shawn Achor’s work, please comment below- I’d love to hear from you! 

Two Simple Approaches to Get Out of the Power Struggle with your Teen

positive-parentingPlenty 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.

Staying Grounded During Uncertain Times

 

Ambiguity, a sense of uncertainty about what’s going on or what might happen, is part of life. We all need to be able to tolerate ambiguity, yet this isn’t always easy. This post explores dealing with the unknowns in life and how to handle it.

What in the World is Going on Right Now? 

All around the globe, people are waiting to see what will happen after the seismic shift in the U.S. Presidential election. Many of my clients have spoken about a myriad of emotions, 3283088909_dc25f2b552_qranging from elation to grief, but all agree it’s uncomfortable to not know what might happen.

Our discomfort for not knowing is well grounded in experimental psychology. Research has shown that when given the choice, most people would prefer to receive an electrical shock immediately rather than wait and possibly be shocked later.

Daniel Gilbert, author of the best-selling book Stumbling on Happiness writes:

“Consider an experiment by researchers at Maastricht University in the Netherlands who gave subjects a series of 20 electric shocks. Some subjects knew they would receive an intense shock on every trial. Others knew they would receive 17 mild shocks and 3 intense shocks, but they didn’t know on which of the 20 trials the intense shocks would come. The results showed that subjects who thought there was a small chance of receiving an intense shock were more afraid — they sweated more profusely, their hearts beat faster — than subjects who knew for sure that they’d receive an intense shock”.

Two Ways to Handle Anxiety:

We can’t hope to eliminate ambiguity in our lives but we can manage our reactions to ambiguity in healthy ways using one of two techniques that the best cognitive behavioral therapists employ:

– The “Worst Case Scenario” 

This CBT technique helps clients analyze their fears and address them in a logical way.  Not knowing what will happen often leads to an unhealthy level of negative thinking and anxiety. People can be too quick to imagine horrible outcomes. The ‘Worst Case Scenario Technique’ is a seven-step process that individuals can use to confront and manage their fears about the outcome of an event, big or small. The technique can be summarized this way:

1. Picture one of your worries

2. Identify worries associated with that event.

3. List the worries that come from that worry.

4. Use if/then thinking to deal with each worry.

5. Acknowledge your ability to cope with the outcome.

6. Work out how you would handle a “worst case scenario” if it happens.

7. Choose a final image or phrase to use against your worries.

–  The A.C.C.E.P.T.S  Technique

If you find that your rumination is unproductive or gets in the way of doing things you enjoy, temporary distractions can be immensely useful. When there is no way to control an outcome and you find yourself emotionally flooded, it’s time to shift course to a more productive way of doing things. Consciously choosing to focus on something for a time gives your mind some rest and relief. The acronym A.C.C.E.P.T.S stands for distraction techniques individuals can use to feel better fast:

1. Activities – Do some housework or go for a walk.

2. Contributing – Do a little volunteer work

3. Comparisons – Compare your new self to your old self, or yourself to others.

4. Emotions – Do something to evoke the opposite of a negative emotion.

5. Pushing Away – Consciously push the distressing thoughts away.

6. Thoughts – Think about anything else that you can concentrate on.

7. Sensations – Do something positive to engage your senses.

Learn to use one or two of those strategies whenever ongoing ambiguity becomes a real burden. While practicing under the guidance of a therapist can be useful, the techniques themselves are easy to understand.

Quiz: How Well Do You Manage Uncertainty?

Everyone has a different level of tolerance for ambiguity. Wondering how good you are at tolerating ambiguity? There is an easy way to find out. The Tolerance for Ambiguity scale will tell you. You will respond to a set of 16 statements about your attitudes and behaviors. Whether your score is particularly high, or lower than you expected, it is interesting to know where you stand. This information might also be helpful to a therapist who you consult to help you manage anxiety.

Take the Quiz

Life is full of suspense….. Public reactions to the 2016 presidential election makes it clear that uncertainty about the future can throw the best of us. We all face personal circumstances that create unhelpful worry and stress. If so, using distraction techniques or working out the worst case scenario and how you can respond constructively can be key cognitive behavioral therapy interventions that you can use to help you feel more grounded and engaged with the real world.

FAQs:Receiving Clinical Supervision Online

In the State of California, most clinical interns (IMF, ASW, PCCI) can receive their supervision via teleconferencing. This move is allowing interns to break some of the past barriers to obtaining hours, and also grants more freedom to find a clinical supervisor that meets your needs….regardless of distance!

Am I able to receive supervision via videoconferencing?

Per the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, if you are working for a non-profit charity you are able to obtain your supervision through teleconferencing. Governmental entities, colleges, universities and most schools also meet this criterion.

The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the California Association of Professional Clinical Counselors (CALPCC) have all recognized the value of using videoconferencing in supervision as well as therapy.

How do I know that my supervision is confidential and follows HIPAA regulations?

As with all intern supervision, a letter of agreement will be signed by all members establishing confidentiality in group sessions, with the exception of mandated reporting. Sessions will be held through VSee, a videoconferencing platform designed specifically for HIPAA compliant sessions. VSee is free for interns to download and use.

 How much does supervision cost?

Most LCSW intern supervision can be completed online in California

ASW Supervision throughout California

One hour of individual supervision is $80

Two hours of group supervision is $60

How many hours can I complete under group supervision?

For associate social workers (ASWs), marriage and family interns (IMFs) as well as professional clinical counselor interns (PCCIs), groups will satisfy up to 52 of the 104 required weeks of supervision.

What is covered in the group process?

Most interns I have worked with come with various levels of competence and needs depending on their professional responsibilities and career trajectory. I create a plan with you at the beginning of supervision to establish your professional goals and what skills are needed to reach them, as well as how to know when they have been met. Each plan addresses all of the following areas of competency: Biopsychosocial and risk assessment, ICD-10 and DSM-5 diagnostics, treatment plan development, cultural competency, therapeutic interventions, developmental theories, community resource coordination as well as legal and ethical standards.

The California Board of Behavioral Sciences Board Examinations is broad and covers what each LPCC, LCSW and MFT should know as a licensed practitioner. The general content in each exam is addressed consistently throughout our work together. It’s strongly encouraged that you use one another to build ‘study teams’ when you are six months away from your first test.

What are the expectations of each participant?

The goal of supervision is to increase your clinical acumen and skill; my job is to ensure that you receive a rich and collaborative environment to do so. Group work provides a unique opportunity to receive constructive feedback and ideas from a diverse group of peers. It is expected that all participants will take turns presenting case consult as well as provide helpful input during to others. There will be times that either one of us may request an individual session as appropriate.

My goal for all interns who come for supervision is to create a stimulating, safe environment that encourages open thought and professional growth. Group supervision is a place where you can feel free to ask questions and to come to a better understanding of how to best help your clients. You can be assured that we will work specifically on cases that you bring to the session and address the clinical issues of your clients, and help you reach your goals.

Frequently Asked Questions about CBT

FAQs about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in San DiegoOver the years, I’ve found that there are some questions that I’ve asked time and again about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and how it works. Thought I’d share them with you- please comment if there are others you’d like me to address in future blogs!

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?

The theory behind cognitive behavioral therapy is that the relationship between thoughts, behaviors, and feelings dictates how we function. By identifying unhelpful thoughts or habits and replacing them with more helpful messages, positive changes are created.

Other modalities under the CBT umbrella are Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Trauma-Focused CBT (TF-CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Therapy (CT), Behavioral Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), and Integrative Couples Behavior Therapy (ICBT).

Is CBT a good fit for my needs?

Research has established that cognitive therapy is useful for a large array of issues such as depression and anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, insomnia and pain management. Trauma-focused CBT has been proven effective for PTSD and is used in many counseling programs.

What is the research regarding CBT’s effectiveness?

Ongoing and substantial work continues to reflect efficacy for a multitude of mental health issues.  Funded by the National Institute of Health, a review of the research on identified therapeutic approaches asserts cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most effective interventions for short and long-term benefits.

The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-analyses (2012)

How does CBT help me in the long term?

The reason that cognitive therapy fares so well in long-term studies is that it provides tools that the client can generalize to future challenges. Most people report finding that using the techniques in other aspects of their life becomes quite natural after practice.

How long until I see results?

When you see a cognitive behavioral therapist, you and the clinician work as a team to help you change your presenting problems. The more you work outside of the sessions by doing your homework, the faster you will make improvements. Many clients report a shift within the first week.

What is the relationship between cognitive therapy and hypnosis?

Aaron Beck, the father of cognitive behavioral therapy, has endorsed the use of hypnotherapy along with CBT. Integrating the two can ‘amplify’ the healthy thoughts and behaviors that the client and psychotherapist have identified as target goals.

Hypnosis for Weight Loss: Doing it Differently This Time

According to a recent Gallup poll, more than 51-percent of Americans want to lose weight, but only about 25-percent have found a way to seriously work toward their goal of Healthy womanshedding pounds and losing inches. Diets are complex, and most weight loss plans either do not work or work slowly, meaning results are not seen for weeks or months. Add to this the fact that many individuals fail to address the underlying reasons for obesity, and it easy to understand the large discrepancy between those who want to shed pounds and those actually doing something about it.

In an ongoing effort to find new methods that help individuals work through the physical and psychological reasons behind being overweight, there is a resurging interest in hypnosis for weight loss. With hypnosis, individuals are able to change their perspective about food, disassociate their real self from negative thoughts and images that are inside the mind, re-frame negative images to ones that are more positive and learn how to recognize what they really want when they are using food as a coping mechanism.

Undergoing a hypnosis session for weight loss involves entering an altered state of consciousness that allows for a new level of relaxation. In this state, individuals are more open to positive suggestions and often realize the inner strengths that can help them to lose weight effectively and keep unwanted pounds off. Hypnosis sessions might also include guided visualization which helps you to see the journey you are on and watch yourself eating healthier foods, making positive lifestyle changes and losing unwanted pounds. Visualizing yourself as a success can be very powerful, and it can help to re-frame any negative thoughts that currently exist inside your mind.

The idea of undergoing hypnosis for weight loss is sometimes scary, but it helps to realize that hypnotic trances occur normally in our day to day lives. Self-induced states of hypnosis occur when individuals fall into a daydream at the office, feel zoned out in front of a favorite television show or in any way become less aware of the outside environment. While in a hypnotic state, the mind is simply more open to suggestions, and individuals cannot be forced to do anything that goes against their moral beliefs or personal values.

One of the most effective ways to use hypnosis when trying to lose weight is to combine it with cognitive behavioral therapy. This form of therapy offers very effective strategies that can help you to develop coping techniques and overcome negative thought patterns. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you to recognize barriers to your weight loss, develop techniques to overcome those barriers and set realistic goals that can help you to obtain a healthier lifestyle and body. Your therapist provides regular feedback regarding your efforts and results and keeps you motivated with positive reinforcement and a re-framed mindset focusing on what you can achieve when it comes to losing weight.

While skeptics still exist regarding the effectiveness of combining cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnotherapy for weight loss, research on this subject has surprisingly positive outcomes. In a 1985 issue of The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, a study was analyzed that included 109 people who completed a behavioral therapy program for weight loss. Half of the subjects had a hypnosis element added to their program. Subjects with receiving solely cognitive behavioral therapy had as much weight loss success as those receiving additional hypnotherapy, but the subjects who participated in hypnosis continued to lose weight at eight month and two year follow ups in significant numbers. Those who received only cognitive behavioral therapy did not.

Another important piece of research conducted by the University of Connecticut regarding hypnosis as a form of therapy to benefit weight loss efforts looked at 19 studies comparing cognitive behavioral therapy as an exclusive program for weight loss versus cognitive behavioral therapy subsidized by hypnosis. Findings showed that adding hypnosis increased weight loss efforts for 90-percent of the participants and helped subjects to maintain their weight loss efforts up to two years after studies ended.

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and practicing therapist, it is my professional opinion that the best approach to losing weight is to combine healthy eating habits, regular exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy and hypnotherapy. When taking this approach, it is important to seek out a qualified therapist with experience in various interventions. Visit with the therapist prior to your hypnosis session, and make sure that individual helps you to feel relaxed and comfortable in the office. Your therapist should empower you with words and coping techniques in order to assist you in conquering your negative mindset so you can overcome your weight loss challenges. If you are interested in hypnotherapy for weight loss in San Diego, contact my office to schedule a consultation.

Hypnotherapy for Teenage Anxiety

How Can Hypnotherapy Help My Child?

Teenagers suffer from anxiety in much the same way as their parents and other adults, even when living in loving homes and surrounded by supportive family and friends. While

the actual concern that brings about the anxiety may be different, many of their emotional and physical symptoms are similar and oftentimes, quite frightening. This is especially true when the anxiety results from a first time experience, such as changing schools,

This is a photo of a stressed out teen

Hypnosis is one of the best treatments for anxiety; the intervention not only provides suggestions on how to decrease anxiety, but also provides a new answer in how to relax at the same time.

watching parents divorce, losing a loved one or moving to a new town, and she or he has not yet had the opportunity to learn effective coping skills to help them manage.

The good news is that anxiety is one of the most treatable mental health conditions, and there are even many strengths inherent in the anxiety prone temperament.

The Long Term Value of Learning How to Manage Anxiety
Learning to manage anxiety in the teenage years is an important skill. Developing effective coping techniques can prevent anxiety from continuing into adulthood and manifesting into phobias, physical health problems or in ways that permanently alter the individual’s ability to achieve success, socialize with others, form relationships and reach short and long term goals. One effective strategy for helping a teen to work through anxiety is hypnotherapy.

How Hypnotherapy Can Help
Hypnosis is a popular therapeutic intervention for teenagers because it is both safe and effective. It does not rely on medications that may have the potential to cause adverse side effects and are often only a short term answer. Hypnosis based interventions empower teenagers to develop beneficial coping skills and find their own solutions that can be used throughout a lifetime. This has the powerful effect of allowing them to move forward in life, increase their feelings of hopefulness and realize endless possibilities for themselves.

The exact method used to treat anxiety in teenagers will vary from patient to patient, but most combine both positive imagery and powerful suggestions to replace negativity, doubt and fear in the sub-conscious mind. A skilled hypnotherapist guides the client through various suggestions while the client is in a trance-like state and open to different and more helpful ways of thinking and reacting. This helps to release stuck beliefs within the mind and break the cycle of feeling anxious, fearful or lacking self-esteem.

Affirmations – Tools for Life
Part of the hypnotherapy practice involves providing the teenager with tools that they can beach-hooray-contact-205x300take with them long after the sessions are over and use in the future when facing their fears. These often come in the form of affirmations. Affirmations are statements that are repeatedly made while the teen is in a deep state of relaxation. They might include things like “I am cool, calm and collected”, “Let time pass”, “I am brave” or “Accept this moment”. In most cases, the therapist will start by saying several of these phrases slowly during a session and ask the teen to repeat them one at a time. This allows positive, peaceful and calming thoughts to flood the sub-conscious mind and replace negative self-talk that may be at the root of the anxiety.

Using Visualizations
Teenagers may also be taught to visualize calm and peaceful places to help them relax in the earliest stages of an anxiety induced panic attack. The image should be one that the client is comfortable in and wants to escape to such as the beach, mountains, a quiet reading nook or a favorite childhood home. Oftentimes, a word is used when the vision is created and while the teen is in a deep hypnotic state. The teenager is then taught that when the word is heard or said during full consciousness, it is a cue to mentally escape to their happy place, breathe deeply, relax and let go of tension. This provides teenagers with a powerful coping mechanism that manifests in both physical and mental ways and can be used anytime anxiety strikes.

Trusting the Hypnotherapist
One of the most important characteristics that improves outcomes during hypnotherapy sessions is trust. If the teenager is comfortable around the therapist, he is more likely to have positive expectations about the outcomes from each session, open up about his feelings and provide information that can help the therapist get to the root of the problem causing the anxiety. A therapist can then use that information to target the exact needs of the teenager, bring forward any stuck emotions that the sub-conscious mind may be repressing and create the most effective affirmations, visualizations and positive suggestions. Teenagers are also more likely to feel relaxed around a therapist they trust, and this can lead to a deeper state of hypnosis and higher level of success throughout the sessions.

Anxiety in teenagers is a condition that can develop at any time and have a life altering impact on their physical and mental well being. The good news is that it is treatable. For many, the solution lies in hypnotherapy. If your child is unusually stressed, fearful, isolated or anxious, I am a licensed therapist in San Diego and here to help. Call my office to schedule your teenager’s consultation and begin the path toward hopefulness and healing.

Hypnosis for Anxiety

Anxiety occurs when a certain stimulation or event causes us to behave apprehensively. It offers a form of self-protection and often triggers our fight or flight response so that we take action when faced with dangerous, unhealthy or unsafe situations.

While anxiety in and of itself is not unhealthy, and can even be beneficial, it can be overbearing and even crippling. This might result in an individual becoming so fearful that they:

-Worry excessively about everyday things
-Lose sleep because of spinning thoughts
-Ruminate that an event will negatively impact their life
-Avoid social situations
-Experience physical symptoms, illnesses or medical conditions related to the anxiety -Begin to avoid triggers and in effect limit themselves from fully experiencing their potential

Reducing anxiety has many benefits including improving focus, mental clarity, physical health and self-esteem. This can positively impact every aspect of your life, every relationship you experience and your ability to clearly see a future that is bright, hopeful and free.

Highway hypnosis is common and can be used as a reference for what state one needs to be in for clinical hypnosis

People often ask me, ‘How will I know that I’m hypnotized?’. The answer is easy- have you ever been driving, aware of your surroundings yet you miss your exit? That’s a hypnotic state.

Many different treatments are available to assist individuals who are dealing with unhealthy levels of anxiety including hypnotherapy. A great amount of research has been conducted showing the benefits of using hypnotherapy to treat anxiety and what methods are most effective.

Evaluating the Client
With hypnotherapy, it is important for the therapist to first learn more about the patient and her perception of the anxiety. The evaluation should include asking questions about what triggers feelings of anxiousness, how the anxiety typically manifests and what coping mechanisms have proven successful in the past. Once the therapist has a better understanding about the individual, it is helpful to explain how hypnosis works and what the potential benefits of treatment include. The client should have opportunities to ask questions so that she gains positive expectations and is fully comfortable both with the therapist and while entering the trance-like state involved in hypnotherapy.

Hypnosis for Anxiety
Once a hypnotherapy session begins, there are many different techniques that a therapist can use to help the client overcome anxiety. For some, simply inducing a state of deep relaxation and providing direct sub-conscious suggestions about moving forward when faced with a stressful situation or remaining hopeful in the earliest stages of anxiety are enough to provide relief. When this is the case, sessions are often repeated several times to provide positive reinforcement and help the client to truly let go of past patterns.

Systematic Desensitization
Hypnotically-facilitated systematic desensitization is another effective method for many individuals who are faced with anxiety. Think of this as repeatedly exposing yourself to an uncomfortable situation so that it has less of an impact on your life and is easier to cope with. With this method, clients enter a deep, trance-like state and visualize themselves in a stressful or uncomfortable situation. They are then taught how to take control over the situation, restructure past patterns or actions and make new choices regarding how they will respond to future events. Many clients feel empowered after experiencing systematic desensitization and more in control over their actions and choices.

Strengthening the Ego
Hypnotherapy also provides clients with ego-strengthening tools when poor self-esteem contributes to overbearing feelings of anxiety. By re-framing how they feel about themselves or bringing to the surface negative events or feelings from the past, individuals learn to overcome these barriers and develop new coping techniques that empower them to begin looking at life in a hopeful way. This lends to curiosity about the future, making new discoveries and moving forward without crippling feelings of anxiety, negativity and fearfulness.

Regression Techniques in Hypnotherapy
Sometimes it is difficult for individuals to remember a time when they did not have to cope with these unhealthy feelings. In these situations, therapists often help clients to overcome anxiety using age regression. With hypnosis, it is possible to age regress to a time when anxiety was not such a prominent part of their life. When one can recall their gifts and strengths that allow them to move forward through life there can be remarkable progress. Age regression can provide a mental anchor of how it felt to live without anxiety which can be brought to consciousness during high stress times. Clients who are able to associate their feelings with a life experience also have an easier time understanding why they become anxious, and this can be a first step toward self discovery and healing.

As a professional hypnotherapist, I can help you to identify the root of your anxiety and establish concise goals and expectations for your sessions. Throughout therapy, some or all of the techniques mentioned above may be used to help you delve into your sub-conscious mind, get unstuck, reorganize your thoughts, strengthen existing coping techniques and learn new techniques to replace previously unsuccessful ones. After therapy, you can expect to feel more relaxed when faced with challenging situations and ready to tackle your anxiety with a new level of clarity and focus.