Tips & Tools for Mental Health Professionals

Three Self-Esteem Boosting Tips and Activities

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Original article on pro.psychcentral.com

It has never failed to amaze me in my many years as a therapist that no matter what type of problem a client presents – whether it be depression, anxiety, relationship problems, or stress management issues, the crux of the problems almost invariably lies in the shadow of low self-esteem. Self-esteem issues directly correlate to so many facets of mental health and life adjustment. The more persistent the symptoms, the lower the self-esteem. So whether you are a therapist, client or anyone wanting to get at the root of low moods, unhealthy thoughts, deep regrets, and debilitating anxiety, self-esteem is a good place to start. The following are 3 essential tips and tools to love yourself to love your life!

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Helping Clients Improve Communication Skills

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Original article on pro.psychcentral.com

Perhaps the most valuable life skill that leads to personal and professional success is the ability to communicate assertively. Especially in this current climate in our country, in which we are exposed every day to more and more brashness and insensitivity, going over the basics of healthy and respectful assertive communication will help therapists and clients alike in improving their own corner of the world.

Teaching our clients how to effectively communicate and offering guidelines to differentiate between assertive, aggressive, and non-assertive communication can provide skills that will improve the quality of their relationships with family, friends, co-workers, clients and others they encounter in everyday life.

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Helping Your Clients Forgive: 10 Tips and Quick Quiz

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Original article on pro.psychcentral.com

One of the most difficult burdens that weigh heavily on our clients is being weighed down by bitterness and grudges, as they continue to torment themselves by the sense that they have been wronged. Sometimes they see the tormenter as no one other than themselves, and they get emotionally paralyzed by self-blame and guilt, crippling self-esteem and limiting optimism about the future. Forgiveness for the wrongs committed by self and others are one of the primary obstacles in treatment, and an important skill to help clients learn. Help your clients learn about the healing power of forgiveness with these main points and the following quick quiz. All too often our clients have misperceptions of what forgiveness is and is not, and here are some points to help them release themselves from the chains of bitterness.

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Five Quick Tips and Activities to Help Your Clients Start the Year off Right!

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Original article on pro.psychcentral.com

Help your clients “jump start” the new year with these five life skills tips!

Every year, millions of people make New Year resolutions, but it doesn’t take long for most of them to fizzle out. Without a plan and the right tools in place, it’s hard to keep up the momentum throughout the year. Here are five quick tips and tools to help your client learn and use practical life skills that can help them stay motivated!

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Therapeutic Use of Metaphors

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Original article on pro.psychcentral.com

Did you ever use a rubber band with clients to make a point? A magnifying glass? How about a carnival toy finger trap … or a visualization of monsters on a bus?

Each of these can serve as an example of therapeutic metaphors. Metaphors reach us in a way that unlocks insight and makes complex topics easy for our clients to understand. Metaphors use visualization plus words to reveal emotion and insight. Even the most resistant or confused client appreciates the relevance of a well-chosen metaphor. Using metaphors as a therapeutic tool generates many “aha” moments, and the more metaphors we have at our fingertips, the more potential we have to get our clients “unstuck” and on the path to growth and healing.

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Helping Clients Eliminate Cognitive Distortions

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Original article on pro.psychcentral.com

In my 40-plus years of being in the field of psychology, one thing that often strikes me is how clients come to therapy lacking basic life skills. Even the most successful and accomplished clients frequently need some education on basic life skills such as to how to manage stress, how to deal with anger, and how to communicate assertively without lapsing into non-assertion or aggression, to name a few.

It became clear to me as my career progressed that as therapists we have an obligation not just to listen, not just to support – but to educate!

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Quick Quiz: What is your Forgiveness IQ?

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Forgiveness Self-Test

The Benefits of Choosing to Forgive  

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NOTE: This is beautiful guest post from Healthline, a wonderful site that offers heathy solutions to life.  Check it out! 

 

Although most people prefer not to hurt anyone in any way, ever, the fact is that in the course of their lives, almost everyone somehow hurts others whether they mean to or not. It’s simply part of the human condition—and it means that we’ve all been hurt at one time or another.

 

Forgiving those hurts, big and small, can have a huge beneficial effect on our lives—but it’s not always easy. The key is realizing that forgiveness isn’t about the person who hurt you, or about making them apologize or change. To forgive another is to free yourself of hurtful thoughts and feelings.

 

Forgiveness is the decision to release feelings of resentment and bitterness toward the person who hurt you. It isn’t reconciliation, however. Forgiveness is not about them. It’s about you.

 

When you’re angry with someone and can’t forgive them, you’re carrying those hurtful and negative thoughts and feelings around with you everywhere you go. You might forget about them for a time, but something always happens that brings the hurt and anger bubbling up to the surface again. Those emotions trigger chemical and hormonal responses in the body that may, over time, turn into health issues.

 

We all know someone who’s nursed a grudge for years, someone whose whole outlook on life has turned sour and pessimistic. Perhaps if she’d forgiven the person who hurt her, she’d be a sunnier, happier, less closed-down person.

 

When you practice forgiveness, you rid yourself of those painful thoughts and feelings once and for all. Your spirit is free to move on.

 

Forgiveness means you accept your own life for what it is. Forgiveness means accepting others as they are, too. Some people get hung up on the old adage “forgive and forget.” They’re different, though. You can forgive being hurt, but there’s nothing wrong with remembering how it happened. Remembering events is how we learn and how we prepare ourselves for the future. The trick is to remember—and maintain forgiveness. You don’t have to absolve the person who hurt you. And in fact, you may not be able to. When we’re hurt, how we see and interact with someone changes. It’s only human.

 

The mind is a powerful thing. It can literally make us sick. When we nurse old grudges and rehash old hurts, dredging them up for another once-over and feeling the original anger and frustration yet again, our bodies can’t help but react. The result might be recurring headaches or a chronic sour stomach.

 

Not forgiving can also change the way we perceive the world at large. We may apply our reaction to old hurts to new circumstances—and in so doing, sabotage the outcome of new endeavors and even our own happiness now and into the future.

 

Forgiveness is healthy. Forgiveness is life-affirming. It may not be easy to do, but it can be learned. Cognitive therapy, where you learn to change your thoughts from negative to positive, is an excellent way to get started in learning to forgive.

 

Remember that in forgiving others, you’re really forgiving yourself. You’re lightening your load—your heart, your mind, and your spirit—and giving yourself room to breathe. You’ll be healthier, have better relationships, have less hostility, lower your blood pressure, and lower your risk of depression. You’ll have less anxiety and stress, and a much better feeling of spiritual and psychological well-being.

Leslie Vandever is a professional journalist and freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience. She lives in the foothills of Northern California.

 

References:

 

 

Identify Cognitive Distortions!

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COGNITIVE DISTORTIONS

12 ways to fight depression

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Robin Williams suicide was a wake-up call – 12 ways to fight depression.

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