by Rosie Patton
For some of you, getting back into the swing of things started January 4. For those of you who are college students, your process of returning has been more recent. Personally, I just started and have had lots of things happen within the span of these few days. If you are in the same boat, with lots of things happening to you at once, some out of your control or comfort zone, try these tips:
● Start your day early and give yourself time to relax and take things a little slower. For example, try to not look at your phone before bed, and make sure your room is completely dark;
● Make a list of things you want to do and try to follow them within order, when making this list prioritize and make changes if necessary;
● Begin setting reminders for yourself (I use the calendar app on my phone);
● If you live with others, reach out to them let them know your needs an
example could be reaching out to your friends when feeling lonely; maybe you could schedule time together such as dinner once a week;
● Last, but not least, figure out what boundaries you want to establish. An example could be not working past 10pm.
All of these tips may help you begin to figure out how you want your school year or semester to go. It may also be helpful to make a list of goals or new habits and how you want to go about achieving the habits you want to get into. If you feel school is too overwhelming try writing down what it is that you need/want from those around you and rehearse how and when you want to say it.
Burnout was quite common even before the pandemic and it’s imperative to make sure your own needs are met so you do not experience the feeling of burnout: less motivated to do work, feeling irritated by little things, and the feeling of helplessness. Working from home can increase burnout because the line between work and home is blurred. If you are working from home, find a spot in your home that you can work best and reserve that for work only. Personally, I have experienced over the past year that I am someone who needs to get better with setting boundaries. For example I have learned to take time for myself just being alone without always having to be in the presence of others. I have begun to prioritize doing this for myself for at least 20 minutes every day because I know that I need the time. Like Jim Carrey in “Yes Man”, I have a tendency to say “yes” to everything and I am learning that it is okay to say "no". It is okay to put yourself first and focus on you; self care is not selfish and it will benefit you in the long run.
Prioritizing and boundaries can be hard to figure out. Therapy can help you make these decisions for yourself by evaluating the right kinds of choices and behaviors you could modify to get out of this state of feeling stuck.
In working with me, clients getting back in the swing of things would learn be to find out what behaviors and choices could be implemented in a realistic and timely manner. When helping you to decide your own choices we would discuss how each choice fits into your most basic needs, which will help you prioritize the order you want to complete your goals. We would look at work goes into making these goals a reality and even turn negative thoughts into more encouraging thoughts to help you to become the person you want to be.
Need a few more ideas:
21 Tiny Self-Care Rituals That We Guarantee You Have Time to Do.
53 Top Self Care Tips for Taking Care of You During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Beginning in mid-January 2021, PHL Therapy Collective will be adding 2 master's level practicum students.
I welcome Rosie Patton and Nicholos Grant from Temple University on their professional development with PHL Therapy Collective. With these two on board, services are now offered for teenagers and families, as well as grief and addiction counseling.
With this, the practice will be able to serve a greater number of clients and expand on the the age range and therapy focus, though teletherapy will remain the bulk of the work until there is further improvement in the COVID19 situation and vaccination efforts. Exceptions are possible and the office building and suite has taken additional steps to protect both the staff and clients.
The Philadelphia Inquirer ran an interesting article - "How not to destroy your relationship while spending 24/7 together..." - last week about maintaining a healthy relationship during the "shelter in place" that currently is in effect across most of the United States.
Brian Swope was featured in the article along with other Philadelphia-area therapists. Check it out and pass it along to anyone who could use the extra support - either with ideas that are mentioned or as a referral for for therapy.
What is solution-focused therapy (SFT)?
A short-term therapy style that focuses on exploring what improvement looks like and acting on it. It is less insight-oriented than other forms of therapy and generally lasts between 5 and 8 sessions. Each session is about 45 minutes long.
Click on the image or here for a free, short questionnaire to help you determine what effects the pandemic and response are creating in your life.
PHL Therapy Collective is focusing this service on anxiety and isolation issues given the unusual circumstances we as a society find ourself in at this time. SFT can be used for relationship therapy and we are not ruling out working with other mental health and relationship needs. If you are interested in a more in-depth style of therapy, the work you have been doing with a therapist can switch to another type of therapy once initial stressors are coped with in a better way.
We are providing a mix of worksheets to track mood and progress in between sessions, helpful, fact-based information, as well as studied mind/body elements for you try.
Sessions are done via Skype, and payment is by Venmo. We are not limiting this to clients who can transition to in-person therapy in Philadelphia in the future. Standard sliding scale at this time is $30 and $50 for relationship sessions. If you have additional extenuating circumstances, please let us know prior to starting therapy.
Contact Brian Swope, LMFT via email or phone at 215.764.5469 to set up an appt.
The PHL Therapy Collective is following the direction of the City of Philadelphia and temporarily moving to a telehealth model to continue to provide services to our clients. This isn't ideal as we value in-person contact within a setting that provides respite from the places where you sometimes live in the stress that needs discussion and perspective from a distance. But your health and wellbeing are our concern.
With anxiety and stress rising and the discomfort that may come with social distancing and isolation, for the remainder of the forced changes from the routine we are providing an additional more specialized service around coping with these very specific stressors and situation.
We know the cause of the increased anxiety and depression: It is a drastic change that was not well prepared for and this is forcing societal and cultural changes that are maybe 2 generations removed us today. And this runs counter to everything we believed.
One simple thing you can do during this crisis is to limit the amount of time you spend seeking out or passively taking in the news. There are good sources and bad sources of information. The CDC and WHO and your local government can keep you up to date on information you need to know to keep you safe. News outlets can help to make this information more accessible and provide perspective.
News outlets that are mostly providing commentary and opinions on how well or poorly the response is going are fueling the panic mindset and anxiety that you are feeling. If you are taking care of yourself, you are doing all you can to support yourself and those around you.
If you or someone you know could benefit from a different perspective, from a mind-body connection, and making changes to the way we assess what is going on around us, then please reach out. Sliding scale rates are possible.
Social anxiety is a silent force that builds without anyone noticing and many times not recognized by others, because avoidance is a quick fix. This force is pervasive; it replaces our other feelings with fear at the thought of going into social settings and affects an estimated 12% of adolescent. In place of excitement or happiness, people with social anxiety experience:
• Difficulty breathing
• Ruminating on social interactions
These reactions and feelings come from worry about potential embarrassment or judgment in a social setting. There is constant apprehension that someone will feel offended by a comment you said, which can be partly true: overcome with anxiety in the social setting, our words can fail us, and an awkward comment comes out. These emotions are terrifying, and can cause individuals to withdraw, especially in adolescents, progressing into adulthood.
According to a 2012 study, adolescents with anxiety are diagnosed less than 20% of the time and are largely overlooked during development. These adolescents go unnoticed compared to those with ADHD and other disorders because socially anxious students appear quiet in class, not problematic. Most believe that these kids will “grow out” of this. But many of these feelings continue can become stronger with age as pressure builds and can lead to profound impacts in one’s life. (A) There are many different everyday occurrences that can activate social anxiety symptoms in people. Some common ones include:
• Making eye contact
• Going to school or work
• Going to parties
• Talking to strangers
Throughout my childhood and into adulthood, I was branded the “shy kid” in the family. In fact, I believed until my senior year of undergraduate school that I had overcome my “shyness” at the end of middle school. I was developing my own coping mechanisms and more able to be vulnerable with friends during this transition.
Through my training in psychology, I realized I had been living with social anxiety almost my entire life, and still experience it from time to time. I was the tallest person in my elementary school; this is when the feelings of being judged for being different started. This only got better once others started to grow taller and when I slowly started to make friends who didn’t focus on my height.
Presenting and talking in class is still is a challenge for me. I use deep breathing exercises and remind myself that no one cares as much as I do about my presentation, both which help me to lessen the anxiety. These are common mechanisms used in social anxiety treatment, using mindfulness and cognitive reconstructing, which help me to stop anticipating criticism and attempting to guess other’s thoughts to make these situations less frightening. I was then able to hear from people in my life who do matter and focus on my reality.
Social anxiety treatment includes working to counteract the feelings of not being able to do anything good enough, comparing ourselves to others and seeing that we are not adding up to where we believe we should be. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy can be beneficial to help us feel these emotions and then let them go, thereby lessening the impact. This can help one grow a stronger sense of self. Cognitive Reconstructing is process of rebuilding confidence through changing thoughts of oneself.
We are our own biggest critics. Mindfulness and focusing on the here and now can be a great compliment to any treatment for anxiety. Grounding exercises can help you stay present in daily life and not get lost in ruminating thoughts. Making this shift takes time but being consistent and active with this process while around people will give you a chance to really note the changes that you are creating.
Written by Lynsi Klimek.
When it comes to psychotherapy, an early question for anyone might be, “Why therapy?” Psychotherapy itself is relatively new. The very idea of coming into an office to be vulnerable and let out the parts of ourselves that we’d rather hide might have been unknown to our parents and completely foreign to us. It might run against the ways we see ourselves or ways our family tries to be.
But where did the idea of therapy come from that has you in this uncertain place? Was it a suggestion from a friend or family member? Was it genuine or a (not so) veiled attack? Was it your own idea, either based on friends’ own experiences, or something you read about or saw? These questions can give you some early insight into the kind of work therapy might be for you.
Therapy is what you make of it, and the different reasons that might be beneath the “Why Therapy?” question can guide you to the right type of therapist:
• A person to vent to and a space to work through sources of dissatisfaction
• Healing from past and/or ongoing hurt
• Self discovery and exploration
• Reconnecting to yourself and/or other people in your life
Marriage and family therapists - relationship therapists, really - such as myself - work from the idea that we are all connected through relationships, and help us to recognize the effects that relationships have on ourselves and how and why we find ourselves in some of them. But we don’t just see people in romantic relationships. We are always in relation to a parent or sibling, to a job, or our culture or religion. And each of these affects us in different ways - providing tension or fulfillment. Therapy provides an outsider, not to give a different solution, but rather to expand your perspective to find solutions that support your growth and understanding of yourself.
Therapy also provides consistency: regular appointments that allow deeper self work in between the times of crisis, however big those might be. People grow or shrink with the way adversity is handled, and those times after are important for taking in and doing deeper work. It allows the changing story of ourselves to settle in to be more accessible for the next time. Sometimes this means brushing the dust off old tools (ways of coping) that we have, or changing how we use them, before adding new tools going forward.
Many of these old habits served a better function 5, 10, 20 years ago, but we find ourselves with people who are different than with whom we grew up, and yet we rely too much on these old ways of being in new situations. We also grow up and have new experiences that make these old habits less or not at all helpful with the people with whom we developed these early tools.
All therapists spend time developing and building a professional relationship based on trust and competency and supporting vulnerability, because it is here that people confront fear and find avenues and paths through fear to a more expansive way of being. But each person has a comfort level and preference around gender, race, sexuality and ability. The training therapists go through is only part of how to see them.
Therapy is also a place to let difficult feelings and memories arise. By holding it while being in a safe space, we can explore and develop a fuller picture of ourselves. We can change our relationship to ourselves so that the power we feel our past has over us can be changed and diminished, not to get rid of the memory, but to experience ourselves for all that we are, not just one or a few negativities.
A more wholly connected person has more possibilities in how they relate and connect to and resolve whatever life might throw at us.
Why therapy is a broad question with a lot of answers, but as it’s become clearer, it’s about changing ourselves and letting that you be the catalyst for change with the people and situations we encounter every day.
3, 2, 1 ... Launch!
Welcome to the newly formed and soon to be growing Philadelphia Therapy Collective.