Q. Many people may consider counseling at some point but are unsure for many reasons. They may wonder what counseling can offer, how to get started, what the options are, and what to expect. What would you say to someone in that situation?
A. First, we are in a community with many great options for mental health services. Counseling services, like other medical fields, have made many advances. Historically, people may have only sought out mental health treatment for severe symptoms. However, now people seek healthcare services in a more preventative way with greater access to a wide range of treatments. For example, a person experiencing stress from work may then notice physical problems such as headaches or sleep disturbances. For many, work stress then follows the individual home and effects their family life and can lead to unhealthy coping such as increased alcohol use or other types of issues. Today this person has a variety of options for services that can be individualized, many of which are covered by insurance. For instance, at our practice we offer stress management classes, individual yoga, massage therapy and counseling for individuals, couples and families.
All practitioners have at least a master’s degree, are licensed in Arkansas, and have additional specialty training. To get started the person just calls the office and schedules an initial assessment. A referral from a doctor is not necessary, but we do work with the family physicians when appropriate. During the phone call the person is matched with a practitioner in their insurance network, as well as the best on staff for their concerns. During the assessment with their practitioner, a plan is put together to best help the client reach their wellness goals. We have many clients who have a therapist for individual and/or family sessions, see another therapist for individual yoga, attend stress management classes, and/or get a massage. Life is full of stressful situations as we all juggle so much, and we want people to know there are a lot of options to help get back in balance.
Ayisha Canant, PhD
Conway Counseling & Wellness Center
Q: What helps a client to have a successful outcome with their therapy?
A: A successful outcome or experience with therapy looks different for every client. For some, it’s being able to share openly with another person their story, their hurts, and their shame. For others, it’s being brave enough to make the call and show up for their appointments. For most it’s finding the courage to work through the problem or the emotion that brought them to treatment to begin with. The bottom line for successful therapy is the bond that exists between the therapist and the client. This is achieved by the therapist consciously honoring and affirming each client for who they are, their strengths, and where they are in their process.
The following are a few key components that are instrumental in fostering a successful therapeutic experience:
• A safe environment in which the therapist maintains a respectful collaborative approach.
• Remain committed to the process. Do not stop showing up because it’s hard, frustrating or scary.
• Speak your truth. Be honest. Be okay with owning your hurts.
• Use the hour to practice doing what is best for you.
• Don’t be afraid to tell your therapist what is or isn’t working for you in the treatment process. Not every approach works for every client.
• Practice what is learned in treatment. Knowledge without application hinders progress.
Detra S. Clark, LCSW,
Licensed Clinical Therapist
Q: As a therapist
in private practice, what is one of your specialties?
A: In addition to working with relationship, behavioral, and mood issues, I work with many clients who have experienced a trauma either recently or in the past that is affecting their life in a negative way.
Q: What is trauma?
A: Trauma is when a disturbing event occurs; it can get stuck in the brain, with the original picture, sounds, thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. Once it gets locked in there a reminder can trigger the original experiences. A trauma may be major such as a tornado, flood, car accident, parents divorcing, the death of a loved one, a painful breakup. The event can be personally experienced, seeing it happen to others, or hearing about it happening to others. It can also be experiencing repeated exposure to traumatic events, i.e. (firefighters, EMTs, police, medical professionals, and mental health professionals).
People who have experienced a trauma may experience nightmares, be startled easily, have excessive worries, more tearfulness, irrational fears, numbing and sleep disturbance. During a traumatic event these experiences are expected, however later they are symptoms which may interfere with everyday tasks and relationships.
Q: What techniques do
you use to work with trauma?
A: One of the techniques I use is Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR helps your brain’s memory network to process in a very natural way. EMDR seems to unlock the nervous system and allow your brain’s natural mechanism to work through the experience. This is similar to what happens in REM sleep (dreams): Both sides of the brain are activated by using eye movements, taps, or tones that may help unlock the stored disturbing material. It is your own brain that will be doing the healing and you are the one in control. The memory tends to change, losing its painful intensity and becomes a neutral memory of a past event. Associated memories may also heal at the same time. Linking related memories can lead to rapid and dramatic improvements in many areas of life.
EMDR has been used successfully to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, panic attacks, depression, stress, phobias, sleep problems, complicated grief, addictions, pain relief, and self-esteem. The process is usually experienced as something that happens spontaneously, and insights arise naturally from within. Most people experience EMDR as natural and very empowering.
Wendy Blackwood, MS, LPC-S, NCC, DCC
Healing Path Counseling
Q. Since therapists and psychiatrists can diagnose mental health disorders, what reasons would someone have for seeking psychological assessment?
A. Typically, we are not the first line of defense in treatment. Our referrals come from therapists, psychiatrists, primary care physicians, schools, and even parents. These individuals are typically confused by a person’s lack of progress or adverse effects to medication. Rather than continue treating the same problem with poor results, they want a comprehensive assessment for differential diagnosis to see if something has been overlooked. Our approach is to consider all other possible diagnoses or issues that may be contributing to the symptoms of concern, because many disorders have overlapping symptoms. We receive referrals from physicians who want confirmation on a diagnosis before prescribing medication. Many physicians, especially those who treat children, do not want to prescribe without first having an evaluation conducted. We appreciate providers who do their due diligence when treating patients with mental health concerns. They do not assume they know everything about mental health disorders and they are willing to take a step back and have us take the time to find the missing pieces to the puzzle.
Additionally, we conduct assessments for schools to determine if a child needs additional support in the educational setting. Parents contact us for evaluations before beginning treatment for their children so they can be sure the treatment is appropriate for the problems identified.
Much of the time, adults have struggled for years in their relationships and jobs, and they just want to know if there is a name for the patterns in their behavior. Our goal is help individuals, therapists, physicians, and family label the problem correctly, so treatment can be fast and effective.
Kim Dielmann, Ph.D.,
Conway Psychological Assessment Center