Monday, April 29, 2013

How do you find us on the Internet?

We have listings with Google, Psychology Today and several other search engines. The most amazing find I have discovered recently is the number of people viewing our website internationally. This first graphic shows how many searches are going looking for psychotherapists. As you can see, 3,516 views of my profile have 2,389 people have viewed my profile. 323 clicks to our website and 90 phone calls. A growing number of new referrals are self-referred via this search engine. How do you find resources that you trust for matters as important and psychotherapy or marital therapy?

Mental Imagery & Healing the Body with the Mind

The article shown below is quite an amazing testimony on the power of them mind to manage pain, heal and repair the body after surgery. In essence, the article postulates that managing stress and relaxation enhance the healing process. By enhance, I mean, speeds it up healing of actual tissue, reduces suffering, pain and discomfort. The more specific you are in visualizing the healing, the more effective the process. If you were to take time each day even prior to surgery and after a procedure to create a positive response, you could help your body heal. When using mental rehearsal or imagery, be vivid and as specific a possible in seeing the tissue healing, blood flow to the area increasing, immune system working properly, mobility and strength returning. For example, see yourself walking, running, and active using your body even better than before the surgery or repair.
Visualize yourself compliant, working daily on your exercises, and responding well. The mind stands at the ready to assist you in your recovery from surgery or an injury. Tap into this inner resource and you will find strength and flexibility returning. In addition, positive thoughts deflect worry, anxiety and fear. Look for ways to validate your recovery from surgery and think the best thoughts you can muster. "I am getting better every day, My body is healing fast, I am going to do everything I can to comply with my doctor or physical therapist."
If you have trouble doing this mental work on your own, there is help with experts who know how teach you to use these tools. In fact, I frequently create podcasts targeting the best mental images and positive thoughts possible to heal the body with the power of the mind. This article was published in The Psychology of Mind, April 2013.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

So, What Do You Do If You Have Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is defined by its length (more than six months) and its resistance to conventional therapies. Acute pain is defined as pain that lasts 30 days or less. If you have chronic pain, there is helpChronic Pain Syndrome is not the same as acute pain or recurrent acute pain. Acute pain is due to actual or pending tissue damage. Its duration is short and its psychosocial consequences are minimal. A person's perception of acute pain and behavior following the onset of acute pain are commensurate with the inciting event. Acute pain resolves as healing occurs. 
If you are not getting relief, if pain persists, working in conjunction with a pain team is the best way to treat and manage your pain. Once pain sets in for an extended period of time, the brain loses its equilibrium. People with chronic pain, a front region of the cortex mostly associated with emotion "never shuts up," Techniques like Hypnosis, Biofeedback, Acupuncture, Yoga, Physical Therapy, Stress Management, Medication (non-narcotic), Meditation, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) all help quiet the brain and retrain it to redirect the pain signals, relax and reduce the stress associated with chronic pain. Sometimes, pain circuits get stuck in a loop and continue to fire even after tissue has healed; therefore, retraining the brain is necessary.
Chronic pain can be managed without mind numbing opiates. A multidisciplinary team of doctors, counselors, physical therapists, acupuncturists, chemical dependency counselors provide the resources to take back control of your life after suffering from chronic pain. The PaRC or Prevention and Recovery Center at Memorial Hermann Hospital has just opened an inpatient Pain and Recovery Treatment Program. If you are relying on mind numbing medications to relieve your pain and it is no longer helping, it may be time for you to obtain new tools and techniques from this team of pain management experts. There is help and relief for a chronic pain condition. For more information, feel free to contact me to learn more about this new resource. If you wish to speak to the Pain Program Manager directly, contact Dr. Christie Taylor at 713-329-7569.

Counseling by Computer

There is a major shift and movement occurring changing the ways mental health services are being delivered. The trend and shift is Telehealth or Telemedicine. Psychiatry, psychology, employee assistance, forensic evaluations and even medical consults are now occurring over the Internet. With a computer, broadband connection, webcam with microphone and speakers, you can get counseling and coaching services online. Since I am an early adopter, I have been at the forefront of this movement. For several years now, I have been doing coaching and psychotherapy over several different platforms that provide security, confidentiality and meet HIPAA standards for ethical practices. There are of course advantages and disadvantages in the Telehealth movement.  For example, face to face is a preferred treatment method, but what about someone what may be living in a remote area where counseling services are not available, or when someone is homebound or has a physical problem, transportation difficulties or other problems preventing the opportunity to get treatment. There are now a variety of forms of online therapy including chat rooms that are private, substance abuse recovery meetings, 12 Step Meetings, email therapy sessions, and even Avatar Therapy or a virtual reality called Second Life. You can actually engage in Avatar Therapy with a virtual therapist in real time. Pretty amazing stuff.

Mental Rehearsal Enhances Sports Performance

Mental rehearsal or visualization is a powerful tool for athletes. The research is clear on the benefits, applications and efficacy of training the mind to enhance performance. 

What studies have been done?
A study in 2004 found that volunteers were able to increase muscle strength simply by imagining using the muscles. Scientists divided thirty volunteers into groups: some did physical training of their little finger for 15 minutes, five days a week for twelve weeks. The others only imagined doing the training. At the end of the twelve weeks the group doing the physical exercise had increased their muscle strength by 53% as expected, but the group that imagined doing the exercise also had a significant increase in strength of 35%. Another study in Canada showed that participants who learned a series of foot movements through mental rehearsal alone showed an improvement in performance. Not only that, but scans showed changes in the brain had occurred that were consistent with the kind of changes that occur after physical practice. The researchers suggested that mental practice improved performance by acting on preparation and anticipation of movements.
A study using volleyball players showed that individuals differ in their ability to mentally rehearse. Mental rehearsal correlates with physiological measures such as heart rate, breathing frequency and skin temperature. The same patterns of physiological response were shown when playing volleyball and when mentally rehearsing, and these patterns were associated with better performance when players had to receive a serve from the opposition. The researchers concluded that mental rehearsal may help to create neural ‘information processes’ which can be used when the same action is performed for real.
Why Does it Work?
There is no single theory, which explains the mechanism behind the effect of mental rehearsal on physical performance. However, the general idea is that when you imagine yourself performing how you want to perform, you lay down the neural networks, which tell the muscles what to do, as if you had actually physically performed the action (Porter & Foster, 1990). The brain does not know the difference between what is real and imagined – when we imagine moving a part of the body, the area of the brain that governs that part is also activated.
In addition to training the mind, mental rehearsal also prepares us for possible obstacles and threats that may arise. If we visualize successfully dealing with these, this reduces anxiety and improves self-confidence, which may enhance performance. In addition, stress may be reduced as mental rehearsal involves a certain amount of relaxation.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Brain on Pot

If you were wondering about the effects of smoking marijuana on the developing brain of a teenager, perhaps this brain scan will help you understand.  The deterioration is obvious by the "hole" produced by a three year history of 4 times a week of smoking marijuana. The result is decreased prefrontal cortex activity. The prefrontal cortex is the brain region implicated in planning complex cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision making and moderating social behavior. The basic activity of this brain region is considered to be orchestration of thoughts and actions in accordance with internal goals (from Wikipedia). If a growing and developing brain, synapses, new connections and "brain circuitry" is being established and formalized for life. Marijuana and alcohol use impair these connections and development. These scans show what is happening to a normal brain and one of a marijuana user. 

A report by the Director of NIDA, the National Institute of Drug Abuse study from the National Institute of Drug Abuse reported the following from January 2013 study. "The message inherent in these and multiple studies is clear. Regular marijuana use in adolescence is part of a cluster of behaviors that can produce enduring detrimental effects and alter the trajectory of a your person's life--thwarting his or her potential. Beyond potentially lowering IQ, teen marijuana use is linked to school dropout, other drug use and mental health problems." Given the current number of regular marijuana users (about 1-15 high school seniors) and the possibility of this number increasing with marijuana legalization, we cannot afford to divert our focus from the central point. 

egular marijuana use stands to jeopardize a young person's changes of success--in school and life." Other studies are clear that there is in fact a decrease in IQ noted of 8 points for early and ongoing use of marijuana.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Top 5 Regrets of the Dying

No matter what your age, I believe the topic of this blog is relevant to you. Why wait to the end of your life and collect regrets? The time to fulfill your wishes is now. Practicing the 5 topics listed below is a good guideline for being happier. The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying article was written by Bonnie Ware.

1.     I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2.     I wish I didn’t work so hard.
3.     I wish I had the courage to express my feelings.
4.     I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5.     I wish I had let myself be happier. 

“"Life is a choice. It is your life. Choose consciously, choose wisely and choose honestly. Choose happiness.” The time to live your life, have more fun, express your feelings, stay in contact with your friends and let yourself be happier is now. Be proactive about your happiness.

Why Worry? Recently, a reprint of the book  Why Worry  by friend and prolific author, Eric A. Kimmel was recently released. Gayle and ...