Category: Stress

How to find the “Best Therapist” for you!

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Finding the best therapist for you is the most important part of maximizing your successful with psychotherapy. However, as many people who have experience looking for a therapist can attest, finding a provider who is just the right “fit” can be very challenging. Here, I outline some strategies to help you find the therapist that is right for you. 

Strategies for Finding the “Best Therapist” for you 

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1)    Evaluate your needs and goals for psychotherapy 

Who will be in therapy?

Therapy and counseling services can be provided to individuals, couples, families, or groups. Therapists often also specialize in providing care to clients within certain age ranges (e.g. children or adults). When searching for the “best fit,” it is important that you are clear about who will be engaged in treatment, as not all providers are trained to serve all these different types of clients. 

What symptoms are you experiencing?

Because treatment modalities vary by symptoms and diagnoses, being able to broadly describe your symptoms and concerns can be extremely helpful in finding a therapist who is the “best fit” for you. This can help ensure that you are matched with a provider who has experience working with clients like you; and you can be confident in their ability to help you meet your goals for psychotherapy. 

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What kind of treatment are you seeking?

There are many ways in which providers treat mental health concerns, ranging from medication management to different types of talk therapy. While it can be challenging to understand all the differences in treatment options, it can be helpful to consider what approach might work best for you (e.g. short or long-term therapy, focus on the “here and now” or preferences to understand how past experiences influence how you feel today, etc.).

What resources do you have available?

When seeking therapy, you will need to consider the amount of time you have to dedicate to therapy (e.g. time spent commuting, parking, and practicing new skills in between sessions). If you plan on using your insurance, it is important to know what types of services they cover and any limitations to this coverage. If you do not have insurance, it can also be helpful to consider budgeting how much money you plan on investing in a course of therapy.

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2)    Evaluate potential therapists.

What is the therapist’s area of expertise?

Psychology is a very diverse field of study, which means that most therapists specialize in some area of clinical service. When evaluating a provider’s expertise, it is important to consider their level of education or type of license, their defined client focus, and the treatment modalities they offer. A therapist who specializes in working with people who are like you, are more likely to be able to provide services that will meet your specific needs and goals.

How and when will you access care?

You should be able to access therapy with relative ease, as you will likely be attending sessions regularly, especially at the beginning of treatment. It is also important to understand your provider’s availability to take on new clients, any flexibility they may have in their scheduling, and, when applicable, estimated waitlist times.

3)    Choosing the “best therapist” for you. 

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Which profile or website do you connect with most?

For most people, first impressions of potential providers tend to be online. As you look for a therapist, I suggest that you read through their various online materials and visit their websites to get a better sense of who they are and what they do. It is important to be mindful of their expertise and how they fit your needs and goals for therapy. Once you have narrowed down your search, it is common to call several therapists or practices for an initial consultation before you ultimately make your choice.

Booking an initial consultation to evaluate fit. 

The initial consultation can be a great way to evaluate fit, as it allows you to assess what it would be like to work with this therapist. You can assess the timeliness of their response, their communication style, and ask more questions about their expertise and approach to psychotherapy. Once you know your provider has the right qualifications for you, it is important to assess if feel as though you can build a trusting therapeutic relationship with the provider.

By following the steps above, you will likely be well on your way to finding the “best therapist” for you. It may seem like a lot of work at first, but taking your time in choosing the right provider for you can make all the difference in determining your success in finding relief and support through psychotherapy.

To learn what the best fit for you looks like, read more here…

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If you would like to more information about the psychotherapy services at Coronado Psych, please contact us at 619-554-0120, info@coronadopsych.com, or click here to schedule an initial consultation. 

The Mind-Body Connection

The Mind-Body Connection and Deep Breathing

In my practice, I am acutely aware of many different ways, both physically and emotionally, in which my clients experience stress. Understanding the mind-body connection provides a useful framework for understanding our stressors and our abilities to cope. Moreover, I have found that taking the time to explain the science behind often prescribed relaxation strategies can help clients feel this connection better as they implement these strategies in their lives.

What is the mind-body connection?

The mind-body connection is both how our mental states influence our bodies AND how our physical states influence our thoughts and feelings. For example, fear and anxiety can lead to increased muscle tension, heart rate, sweating, etc. And physical pain can lead to feelings of anxiety or depression, especially in the long-term.

Woman lying down meditating and reflectingThe mind-body connection is generally quite adaptive, as physical symptoms, such as pain, and associated thoughts and feelings can trigger us to assess our health and seek treatment if needed. Moreover, our thoughts and feelings can quickly and efficiently get our bodies ready to act in a way that can keep us safe.

Our body’s physiological response to stress is most widely known as the “fight-or-flight” response, which refers to the triggering of our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) in response to an acute stressor.

The SNS is a part of our central nervous system (CNS), and activates us to confront or flee from stressors we may be facing. This system is useful for various situations but can become problematic when it goes into overdrive or is sustained for prolonged periods of time.

Fortunately, the CNS is also composed of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) which works to dampen the activating sympathetic response. If we think of the SNS as “stepping on the gas,” we can think of the PNS as “pumping the breaks.”

Both systems are equally important and are in a constant “dance” in our bodies to help keep our vital organs functioning. However, when prolonged stress or anxiety puts the SNS in overdrive, finding ways to promote the PNS can help us to feel more balanced both mentally and physically.

What can I do to de-stress?

Mind Body Deep Breathing Coronado PsychRelaxation exercises, including deep belly breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training, and guided imagery can be extremely effective tools to manage the physical symptoms of stress.

Studies have found that relaxation exercises call upon our PNS (our “breaking system”) when our SNS response to stress has our system in overdrive.

Relaxation exercises can help us feel calm and refreshed, have clearer thinking, and increase our awareness to better manage our sources and symptoms of stress.

While different strategies work better for different people, I typically like to recommend deep belly/diaphragmatic breathing to clients who are beginning to explore these techniques, as it is one of the simplest relaxation exercises (See link below for a useful tutorial).

The beauty of deep breathing is that once we have some practice with this exercise, it is very easily accessible in that you can call upon it anywhere–at home or on the go.

For those just starting to experiment with relaxation strategies, I recommend starting to practice these techniques at times when you are less anxious before calling upon it when experiencing heightened symptoms of stress.

By doing this for as little as a few minutes each day, you can actually build your ability turn on your PNS during times of stress. Like any other new skill, it may take some practice, but is worth the investment of your time, especially if you are struggling to manage symptoms using your current strategies.

If you have any inquiries about the mind-body connection and the practice of deep breathing, or are interested in psychotherapy to cope with stress, please contact us at 619-354-4027 or info@coronadopsych.com

Deep breathing tutorial:

Sources and Symptoms of Stress

Assessing our sources and symptoms of stress provides a useful framework for understanding our stressors and our abilities to cope. It may be daunting to try to “unpack” all of the ways in which we feel stressed. However, once we embark upon this task together, my clients often find that this process can provide some relief and improve confidence in their abilities to tackle their stress. 

What are some sources of stress? 

Becoming aware of our sources of stress can help us orient ourselves with our stressors in a way that can illuminate pathways for effective coping tailored to our unique struggles.Stress Definition Coronado Psych

Stressors can range between everyday hassles (e.g. paying bills or running late to work) to major life events (e.g. divorce or death). They can also be negative events (e.g. losing job or being hospitalized) or even positive events (e.g. going on a trip or planning a wedding). 

Stress can also come from many different domains in our lives, including work, health, finances, friends/family, or environment. By assessing our sources of stress, we can empower ourselves to better manage our stressors. For example, we may be more mindful about taking on new responsibilities at work or in our social lives to better manage our stress moving forward.

Symptoms of Stress

Stressed Person Coronado PsychIn addition to understanding the sources of our stress, we can also increase our awareness of the different symptoms of stress—where do we feel stress and how does this affect the way we think and feel? 

Stress can lead to symptoms in three main areas:

1) Our physical reactions, including muscle tension and fatigue

2) Our thoughts, including excessive worry, feeling depressed/irritable, or difficulty remembering things

3) Our behaviors, including poor sleep, procrastination, and avoidance of various sources of stress. 

Once we are aware of our unique sources and symptoms of stress, we can then begin to assess the potential need to do something different.  For example, relaxation exercises may be useful in reducing physical symptoms, while challenging our automatic negative thoughts may work to relieve our excessive worries or depressed mood.

Is it Time for a Change?

Stress Relief Coronado PsychIf you find yourself struggling to manage your stress over many days or weeks, it may indicate that you might benefit from trying new coping strategies. 

Similarly, if you find that you are facing the same stressors over and over again or you are feeling overwhelmed with all of the different kinds of stress you are experiencing, it might be time to try something new.

It’s important to note that often the goal of coping with stressors or building resilience is not to erase our sources and symptoms of stress. Effective coping is often focused on how well we manage our stress as it comes about.

By organizing our understanding of our stress into the various sources and symptoms, we can begin to make decisions about which strategies may work best to help cope. Psychotherapy is also an effective way to learn how to manage our sources and symptoms of stress.

If you are interested in learning more about how psychotherapy can help you manage your stress, please feel free to call or email us.

Sources and Symptoms of Stress

Assessing our sources and symptoms of stress provides a useful framework for understanding our stressors and our abilities to cope. It may be daunting to try to “unpack” all of the ways in which we feel stressed. However, once we embark upon this task together, my clients often find that this process can provide some relief and improve confidence in their abilities to tackle their stress. 

What are some sources of stress? 

Becoming aware of our sources of stress can help us orient ourselves with our stressors in a way that can illuminate pathways for effective coping tailored to our unique struggles.Stress Definition Coronado Psych

Stressors can range between everyday hassles (e.g. paying bills or running late to work) to major life events (e.g. divorce or death). They can also be negative events (e.g. losing job or being hospitalized) or even positive events (e.g. going on a trip or planning a wedding). 

Stress can also come from many different domains in our lives, including work, health, finances, friends/family, or environment. By assessing our sources of stress, we can empower ourselves to better manage our stressors. For example, we may be more mindful about taking on new responsibilities at work or in our social lives to better manage our stress moving forward.

Symptoms of Stress

Stressed Person Coronado PsychIn addition to understanding the sources of our stress, we can also increase our awareness of the different symptoms of stress—where do we feel stress and how does this affect the way we think and feel? 

Stress can lead to symptoms in three main areas:

1) Our physical reactions, including muscle tension and fatigue

2) Our thoughts, including excessive worry, feeling depressed/irritable, or difficulty remembering things

3) Our behaviors, including poor sleep, procrastination, and avoidance of various sources of stress. 

Once we are aware of our unique sources and symptoms of stress, we can then begin to assess the potential need to do something different.  For example, relaxation exercises may be useful in reducing physical symptoms, while challenging our automatic negative thoughts may work to relieve our excessive worries or depressed mood.

Is it Time for a Change?

Stress Relief Coronado PsychIf you find yourself struggling to manage your stress over many days or weeks, it may indicate that you might benefit from trying new coping strategies. 

Similarly, if you find that you are facing the same stressors over and over again or you are feeling overwhelmed with all of the different kinds of stress you are experiencing, it might be time to try something new.

It’s important to note that often the goal of coping with stressors or building resilience is not to erase our sources and symptoms of stress. Effective coping is often focused on how well we manage our stress as it comes about.

By organizing our understanding of our stress into the various sources and symptoms, we can begin to make decisions about which strategies may work best to help cope. Psychotherapy is also an effective way to learn how to manage our sources and symptoms of stress.

If you are interested in learning more about how psychotherapy can help you manage your stress, please feel free to call or email us.