Archives for June, 2010
The expression “busy as a bee” may actually need rethinking. Sure, bees work hard, flying many miles, collecting pollen, building hives and taking care of other bees. But a recent study shows that they know when to call it quits. Even when constant daylight is available, bees still take an overnight break.
Mental illness, as it has been portrayed in film, has come a long way since The Three Faces of Eve, Lisa and David, Marnie, Misery, Ordinary People and Spellbound. While admittedly compelling, these and many other films tend to portray those with mental illness as utterly defined by their mental illness. Even (and sometimes especially), films based on true stories. We suppose this is natural since a film (or play), generally lasts under two hours and therefore must distill character down to archetype. But recently, with the grassroots efforts at de-stigmatization of mental illness, documentary films about mental illness have been gaining ground. A couple months ago we interviewed Katie Cadigan, producer of When Medicine Got It Wrong which explored the founding of NAMI, the National Alliance of Mental Illness. (We recommend it if you haven’t seen it—it offers a glimpse into the American cultural history of mental illness and activism).
We continue talking with Dr. Eric Chamberlin about Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback and it's usefullness in psychotherapy. What have you noticed from working with your patients? A suburban mom comes in distraught after not sleeping the night before. Very anxious, she has been ruminating unproductively about not being able to get her boys to camp this summer for trivial reasons. The therapist’s attempts to encourage her to think about the situation differently are no match for her urgency and desperation. She begins HRV to try to get her into a more balanced state where she can process more effectively. After 12 minutes she states “I feel better…they can go next year…it’s no big deal right?” With her balance and problem solving capacity restored, the solution was spontaneous and straightforward.
Dr. Eric Chamberlin discusses his work in Mind-Body medicine, and how a relatively new technology brings something new to psychotherapy. Welcome, Dr. Chamberlin. Can you tell us about the genesis of your work with Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback and psychotherapy? I really enjoy seeing people get better, and am always looking for tools that will increase efficiency and enhance outcome. In 2006, HRV Biofeedback devices became available on the consumer level. Having practiced Mind-Body Medicine since the early 90’s, I was intrigued by the possibility of individuals being able to fine-tune their nervous systems at a very deep level. When the so-called “Autonomic Nervous System” was discovered it was erroneously believed to be out of the realm of voluntary control. HRV represents an exciting leap forward by helping people learn to balance the two branches of the ANS—the Sympathetic “Fight or Flight” and Parasympathetic “Rest and Digest” systems. And with balance of the ANS comes greater balance in life.
Today we interview Julie Hanks a psychotherapist with perhaps an unfamiliar twist to many of our readers. She is a talented singer-songwriter (Gladys Knight recorded one of her songs), a television personality... and a practicing Mormon. Though many of her clients are Mormons and seek her out for that very reason, many are not. Julie has a unique ability to relate to people that is at once warm and loving, and non-judgmental.
To believe or not to believe? That's the question we’re asking in this blog post (after being prompted by a reader’s email). After years of questions, searching, studying, and rigorous intellectual and emotional examination, we arrived at a position of profound belief in God. So that is where we are coming from. To us personally, the pinnacle of general spiritual development is belief in a God who wants something from us and one of the most important pieces of what He wants from us is to help others. (A parent loves those who love his children). Even though this belief motivates us in our work, this motivation has mostly been internal—we don’t usually advertise it. These blog posts in the God in Therapy series are a chance to talk with readers, professionals, and others about how this all fits into therapy, if it does at all.
In the first part of our talk with NYC therapist Karol Ward, she agreed that she has noticed an increase in the number of patients contacting her. Many of them seem to be doing so to discuss anxiety they are having that is related to the economy, unemployment fears, the environment (especially prompted by the terrible oil spill), and other national, rather than personal issues. We continue, below.
If you read the first part of our interview with psychotherapist Karol Ward, you know that some therapists are seeing growing numbers of people struggling with anxiety about how America's (and world’s), problems are affecting them. Floods. Hurricanes. Tsunamis. Earthquakes. Volcanoes (both pronounceable and unpronounceable). Drought. Violence. Crime. Terrorism. Suicide Bombers. War. Child Soldiers. Oil Spills. Global Warming. Global Cooling. Disease. Epidemics. Autism. Learning Disabilities. Physical Disabilities. Poverty. Hunger. Economic Downturn. Unemployment. Job Instability. Debt. Bills. Abuse. Infidelity. Arguments. Divorce. Bullying. (And the Loneliness. Sadness. Depression. Worry. Fear. Anxiety associated with them).
Some people appear to be experiencing what can only be described as an epidemic of hopelessness in the past several months. On an anecdotal level, only, this general hopelessness seems to be manifesting in some individuals as increased anxiety and to a certain extent, depression. Rather than sharing just our own views on what appears to be a growing phenomenon Therapy Soup is speaking about the situation with Karol Ward, L.C.S.W., author of the new book, Worried Sick: Break Free From Chronic Worry to Achieve Mental & Physical Health (Berkley, 2010).
SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) is a government agency that has had some major successes over the years. It has ten overarching initiatives, the most primary being the prevention of substance abuse and mental illness. How's it doing? Well, in terms of research and information and resources--terrific! It has also influenced government policies, including health reform (for which the long and even short-term results are not yet known). I am briefly blogging about SAMHSA because I want to share this important resource with you. I get emails and calls several times a week from people seeking information that can be found on the pages of SAMHSA's web site.