We are writing today in support of the American Psychological Association’s Mental Health Blog Party. Here’s to all of us who have chronic, acute, or occasional issues with mental health. That’s commonly thought to be 1 out of every 4 people. But to be honest, being human pretty much guarantees at least occasional difficulties with mood, anxiety, interpersonal issues, learning, or attention—and often these difficulties are substantial even if they don’t add up to a formal diagnosis.
In addition, all of us deal with people in our family, at school, at work, or in the community that have problems related to mental health. So, we are all in this together.
In our practice, we tend to concentrate on getting through the day. In other words, we try to help people (as well as ourselves) solve the puzzles and get through the challenges that face everyone in the here and now. The premise behind Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which we practice as well as write about, is that how we think about things and what we do affects our moods. But clearly, other types of events and issues also affect mental health. These include genetics, health, diet, family experiences, trauma, political events, economic maelstroms, and natural disasters among others.
Many people, including some professionals, often seem to think that CBT ignores the importance of early experiences or biological influences on mental health. Not at all, but we concentrate on doing the best we can with whatever tools or hardware we are given. Although we focus our change efforts on the present, we try to maintain a perspective on where all the current problems came from, as well as other factors that may be impacting the present. We apply this perspective to ourselves and those we have treated or consult with.
Therefore, we recommend that you always seek therapists who want to hear about your past, your present, and then move on to setting goals for the future.
Good luck and take care,
Chuck Elliott and Laura Smith