Saturday, August 17, 2013

Pain & the Brain: Is your pain all in your head?

The answer.........yes and no. What do I mean? The brain is the epicenter of pain in the body, natural & medicinal strategies to relieve discomfort often focus there. For example, when you stub your toe, skin receptors send electrical signals through nerve fibers to the spinal column and then up to the brain. Pain specialists note that genetics, upbringing, and cultural practices of various ethnic groups can all affect how pain is felt. With acute pain caused by minor aliments usually resolves itself after the affected region heals. Chronic pain is very different. It should be viewed similarly to chronic diseases like diabetes, since it likely will require the same kind of sustained, comprehensive treatment plan. Here is the good news. Research has shown that people can activate their descending pathways to block pain by "mind over matter" techniques.

The photo of the two brains shows how "mindfulness meditation" can change the brains reaction to pain. Hypnosis, biofeedback, yoga, relaxation techniques, mental rehearsal, visual imagers and CBT techniques help produce comfort and decrease activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, the areas of the brain that processes the emotional response to pain.

There is help. Call if you want to learn more. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Internet Counseling: What is in it for me?

There is a movement happening all across the globe, it is TeleMental Health and TeleMedicine. This shift is changing the delivery of Mental Health services in a profound way. Why choose web-based counseling? Busy schedules, traffic, being readily available and sheer convenience may be a few good reasons. There are security questions that need to be answered. For example,
  • Is the video conferencing platform encrypted? 
  • Is it HIPAA compliant for privacy, which is required for any licensed therapist. (iChat, FaceTime, & others are already compliant)
  • Do you have the comfort with the technology?
  • Do you have a good broadband connection for smooth video & audio?
  • Does the therapist have an informed consent describing the process?
  • Is there a backup plan in the event of a lost connection?
As it turns out, I love technology and social media. To that end, I have developed 3 blog sites, 4 websites, and have done employee assistance work and executive coaching over the internet in a total of 15 countries around the world. There have been many advances in the technology that make TeleMental Health Services viable. Research is now beginning to demonstrate the benefits and outcomes of TeleTherapy. The studies are coming out quite positive and encouraging. There are now Distance Counseling Credentials, Certifications in online therapy and forums for creating an online practice. As you can see on this blog, I have a special connection that provides a direct link to a video counseling session. The article below is a good example of the trend.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Biofeedback Practice with the Stress Thermometer

Biofeedback has been around a long time. If you are interested in some mental techniques to quiet your mind and body, biofeedback can help. Biofeedback is easy to learn and convenient to use to help you calm your mind and wind down to sleep better. relax, get in touch with your body and find the "relaxation zone." Biofeedback doesn't do anything to you, it only reads biological signs from you. Biofeedback can read temperature (see the Stress Thermometer), EEG or measurement of you brainwaves. We have 4 brainwave levels, Beta, Alpha (relaxation), Theta and Delta. Most of the time, we are in Beta. The goals, get to Alpha or relaxation waves. EMG measures muscle tension, and GSR or Galvanic Skin Response measures electrical skin conductance. All forms can help you learn to relax. 

Recently, I purchased a Heart Wave Monitor for my iPad and iPhone. This app helps you pace your breathing and heart rate, leading to relaxation. Since everything is essentially mind/body, the goal with Biofeedback is to obtain mental, emotional and physical harmony. 

#1 Factor for Success

What do you think it takes to be a success? It is luck, hard work, personality or connections? The experts say, it the willingness to make mistakes. Taking risks, trying new things are that actually facilitate success. If you are fearful, worried, holding back, chances are you won't achieve your dreams or goals. You can spend a great deal of time, money and energy "thinking" about success, or figuring out what you want, however, until you actually make attempts at discovery, practice and invest yourself in an activity or action, you will not really know or make any progress. Everything starts in your mind. Your mindset or way of thinking determines everything about the problems you face in life. A Positive Psychology makes all the difference in the world. Focusing on strengths can keep you going when the going gets tough. Work on developing an "invincibility mindset." So, whatever happens, you deal with it. This falls into the category of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you are always waiting for the proverbial "shoe to drop," it will. Worry sets in, anxiety increases and these feelings can be debilitating. Once worry takes over, your world gets smaller, you quit trying things, risks and adventure disappear and then your changes for success in any endeavor diminish. Live from a position of strength, confidence and invincibility, then worry, fear and "perceived obstacles" disappear. CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) works!

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