Loss – Not Just Something You “Get Over”

Processing Grief in a Healthy Way

Emotions of grief may be triggered by the death of a loved one, the crumbling of a marriage, the passing of a pet, or a broken relationship, just to name a few. It is good and natural that we feel grief through these life circumstances. To think that over time we can just “get over” it is misguided. 

What Grief Looks Like

Everyone processes grief differently. We may experience difficulty concentrating, anger, guilt, withdrawal from others, sleep disturbances, irritability, intense sadness or tears, numbness, apathy, loneliness, listlessness, depression, and the list goes on. Sometimes our behaviors seem so irrational that we feel like we are losing it. Often we can be afraid to face our grief because we are afraid if we open that door, the tears or anger will never stop. This is where it is beneficial to let others help us through the grieving process. 

If may feel overwhelming and intense, but it is important to remember that these intense feelings are temporary and that acknowledging our feelings will bring about resolution quicker than trying to stop them.

Helping Ourselves During Grief

You have heard it said, “Time heals all wounds.” This is simply not the case. If we do not allow ourselves to grieve in a healthy manner, those wounds may never heal fully. It is important to accept the finality of the loss, acknowledge and release the depth of emotion we feel, adjust to our new life without that person, object, position or experience and to say goodbye. 

Here are some practical ways we can help ourselves in the midst of grief:

  • ž Give plenty of time to process
  • ž Expect decreased efficiency and consistency
  • ž Avoid taking on added responsibilities or making major life decisions for a time
  • ž Talk often of memories and grief
  • ž Kindly accept help when offered
  • ž Keep healthy diet and sleeping patterns
  • ž See a counselor
  • ž Exercise
  • ž Journal
  • ž Read books about grief
  • ž Allow ourselves to enjoy good times free of guilt
  • ž  Pray
  • ž Speak to a spiritual leader
  • ž Plan for special days or holidays as these can be especially difficult
  • ž Do something to help someone else
  • ž Find a grief support group locally or online

Having a good support system is helpful in this process, but often seeing a counselor will help us to sort through thoughts and feelings in a systematic way. Grief counseling can help us:

  • ž Understand the normal stages of grief
  • ž Accept loss
  • ž Work through the normal process of grieving by allowing a safe place to work through feelings
  • ž Focus on specific areas where coping is difficult
  • ž Identify strategies and behaviors to help you cope
  • ž Find comfort in positive memories

We don’t have to go it alone. There is help if we are willing to reach out.  If you or someone you love is struggling with loss, contact our office to make an appointment.  For our Paducah office call 270-777-4490 for the Owensboro location call 270-215-4000.

 

 

Concierge Counseling and Why You Need It

I know, you get it. We all have struggles, and may times would love to talk to someone about those struggles. Maybe it’s major depression, or anger, or relationship struggles, or maybe it seems relatively minor to you, like a little anxiety, but you know you need to talk about it. 

But you work a busy schedule. Maybe you have a full time job and 3 kids you have to get to ball games. How in the world will you find the time to see a counselor about your struggles? Most counselors work 9-5 just like you do. It’s easy to put our “stuff” on the back burner to deal with later when life slows down. But let’s be honest. Those struggles don’t just go away because you don’t have time to deal with them. And if you wait until “life slows down”, the window of opportunity to work through those struggles may be past. 

So what is a person to do? Enter Concierge Counseling. Don’t know what that is? Keep reading. 

Concierge counseling is where the counselor comes to you. Sounds pretty great, right? Everyone these days seems to have busy schedules, so this is a way to help more people on your timetable. That might be after work hours, or even on your lunch break. These sessions can be longer, with ultimate customization to meet your goals more efficiently. Keep in mind that this type of counseling is not covered by insurance, which also means you will not need a diagnosis or referral.

Benefits of Concierge Counseling

Convenience

You don’t need to get in the car and brave the rush hour traffic to get to your therapist’s office, or worry about where to park. This lessens the amount of time you have to be away from work or your family. You choose when is the best time to meet, and for how long.  

Real Life Problem Solving

Often the best results come when you apply the skills you learned in a session to your daily life. This can be easier to do when your sessions happen in your natural environment where you are experiencing the problems.

Private and Relaxing Environment

Because the therapist comes to you, you have the freedom to choose the location that is most comfortable to you. Whether that is home, your office, or a park, the goal is to have a safe environment where you feel relaxed and free to talk. This also provides increased confidentiality. 

This is a unique service that is gaining popularity across the nation. You may be interested in this service if:

  • ž You have extensive trauma work you want to accomplish. We can meet several times a week which can help the process move faster and help you heal and feel better sooner.
  • ž You value your emotional health and the benefits of reducing the negative effects of anxiety and depression and want to create and maintain positive relationships. 
  • ž You don’t want to be labeled with a psychiatric diagnosis
  • ž You don’t want a mental illness diagnosis to follow you throughout your life.
  • ž You want your personal history to remain confidential. 
  • ž You want the power to choose your own therapist instead of being limited to a list of names on an insurance company’s list.

If you would like more information call our Paducah office at 270-777-4490 or the Owensboro location at 270-215-4000.

 

Anxiety & It’s Subtle Manifestations

You probably know friends or relatives who talk about their stress or anxiety levels, or may be taking a medication to help keep their anxiety in check. Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. It’s such a common word in our culture today that it’s tempting to brush it off and think it’s not a big deal. However if ongoing, it can become debilitating if not dealt with. 

We tend to think that anxiety is just about being fearful, or feeling overwhelmed or nervous. But there are a lot of symptoms that can signal a struggle with anxiety. 

 

  • ž  Belching
  • ž Blushing
  • ž Breathing Difficulties
  • ž Chest Pain
  • ž Chills
  • ž Concentration Problems
  • ž Cough
  • ž Difficulty Speaking
  • ž Digestion Issues
  • ž Dizziness
  • ž Feeling ill
  • ž Feeling Shaky
  • ž Headaches
  • ž “Heart Attack Symptoms”
  • ž Heart Pounding/Palpitations
  • ž Insomnia/Drowsiness
  • ž Lack of Air
  • ž Lightheadedness
  • ž Low Energy
  • ž Muscle Tension/Sore Muscles
  • ž Nausea
  • ž Shallow Breathing
  • ž Sweating
  • ž Tiredness
  • ž Yawning

These are the most common anxiety symptoms, aside from the more obvious feelings of fear and overwhelmed. Anxiety is sometimes called “The Great Imitator” because of its ability to mimic other health conditions. If you have these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean you have anxiety, but if you do have anxiety, you are likely familiar with some of these symptoms. 

When it comes to treating anxiety disorders, research shows that therapy is usually a part of the most effective options.  Therapy can help you uncover the underlying causes of your worries and fears; learn how to relax; look at situations in new, less frightening ways; and develop better coping and problem-solving skills. Therapy gives you the tools to overcome anxiety and teaches you how to use them.

If you are experiencing anxiety, contact our office to make an appointment.  For our Paducah office call 270-777-4490 for the Owensboro location call 270-215-4000.

 

 

Telehealth and Therapy

Counseling via telehealth has been used for years and is now becoming more mainstream. Telehealth, in counseling also commonly referred to as “distance counseling” or “tele-mental health,” is recognized as a promising method of providing counseling.  Initially utilized for people who are physically limited or who live in rural areas that are not close to a therapist’s office are unable to access in-person care, telehealth is now available to most. Millions of people are now able to receive the treatment they need through video conferencing, messaging, phone or live chat, which means they can communicate with their therapists in the comfort of their own homes or offices.

School and work often times cut into the time that is needed to travel to and from a therapist’s office, which also poses an issue for some who are interested in counseling.  Although in-person face to face counseling is irreplaceable, the ability to speak to a therapist at a convenient time without being physically present is a very convenient and attractive option for many people. 

Compass Counseling offers distance counseling and it may be an excellent option for you.  The risks and benefits would need to be discussed with your therapist as they may vary depending on your specific goals and needs.  A couple of questions that you may consider are asking your therapist or counselor if they are licensed in the state of your residence and if they have had training in telehealth services.  Further, it is important to ask about the security of your online counseling with your therapist and how it may differ than in-person counseling.  If you are interested in learning more please contact our office in Paducah at 270-777-4490 or Owensboro at 270-215-4000.

Walk & Talk Counseling

Walk and talk counseling is done outside of a therapist’s office. There are several benefits to walk and talk counseling and many are beginning to utilize it more!  Of course, walking encourages more activity, which has been proven to reduce stress and make people feel better by increasing endorphins that make us feel happier. Being outdoors can also make patients calmer and can also allow for the reduction of what some may feel is awkward eye contact because they can focus on their surroundings instead of the therapist or a wall. This is especially useful for patients who have struggled with shame. 

This option in counseling can help clients open up more to their therapist.  Building therapeutic alliance with your therapist allows him/her to better understand their clients concerns and leads to a better understanding of what the client is wanting to work on and set goals to see that happen. Walking in nature can help clients feel like they are moving forward instead of being stuck, which can create more of a positive attitude and environment. Getting outdoors can also influence clients to be more active and encourage them to maintain a healthier lifestyle, which is oftentimes part of the goal when seeing a therapist.

Movement and activity increases blood flow and increases activity to certain areas of the brain to increase awareness and thought processing. A clearer mind leads to more expressive conversation and provides clients the opportunity to maximize their time in their counseling sessions. As with all types of counseling it is important for your therapist to address the appropriateness of walk and talk therapy for your goals and what the risks may include.  Compass Counseling offers walk and talk counseling.  If you are interested in learning more please contact our office in Paducah at 270-777-4490 or Owensboro at 270-215-4000.

Pledge to Protect Childhood

Parenting has never been an easy task, but living in the digital age has brought unique challenges to parents.  My awareness has become heightened to the fact that the technology we once praised for offering us conveniences is actually causing a vast myriad of problems.  A friend we visited recently observed that the four of us parents all had our phones within arms reach while our kids played happily together.  We didn’t need to keep our phones on us, especially since no school would be calling us in an emergency.  Yet we are accustomed to having the phones on us at all times.   If you’ve been to a restaurant recently you’ve probably observed a family at the table together, yet each individual is interacting with a screen, rather than family members.   

PledgeWhiteHeart.jpg

Social media is taking a big toll on families.  If you are a parent or grandparent you may be wondering about the impact of social media and digital media on the children you love.  Though research is ongoing, it is clear that there can be a negative impact. Teens, tweens, and younger children are all looking for validation from pictures or posts on their social media accounts.  In previous generations, bullying occurred at school and on the bus.  The bully couldn’t go home with a student and harass him or her throughout the evening.  In today’s age, cyberbullying prevents students from being able to escape harassment; there is no longer a safe haven.  The saddest part is that many parents are unaware that their children are suffering.  They do not set any boundaries on digital media and are not educating their kids about the potential harm.  This is why I’ve created a Pledge to Protect Childhood. I believe parents must stand together and become more proactive in supporting each other on this topic.   

I’ve gathered a group of other parents to share their tips and to make a pledge together to challenge the times we live in.   I’ve received feedback that having this community has been tremendously helpful.  This is a virtual group on Facebook.  I encourage you to engage in the conversation or to get your own group of parents together for a live discussion.  My hope is to inform caregivers of the dangers of social media without boundaries.  I hope you will set guidelines on digital media and pledge to stay current on media formats your child has access to now or in the near future.  Parents are welcome to contact me, Jamie Jit, LPCA at Compass Counseling of Owensboro 270-215-4000 or simply request to be added to the Pledge to Protect Group for a copy of the Pledge, which states five key areas to protect children in the digital media age. Find the group on Facebook  @pledgetoprotectchildhood

Jamie Jit

Concierge Counseling

Millions of people benefit from counseling, but many opt out because getting an appointment between 9:00 A.M. and 5:00 P.M. just isn’t convenient with work, school, or other responsibilities. Concierge counseling allows clients to have a more customized counseling experience with extended or after-hours appointments and flexibility.  In many cases, our concierge clients prefer that their therapist meet them at their own office for their appointment.  Concierge clients prefer ultimate customization with the to expedite the development of their plan for counseling to meet their goals most efficiently.  Insurance does not cover concierge counseling so there is no diagnosis required and we are able to offer maximized confidentiality.  If you are interested in concierge counseling please contact our office in Paducah at 270-777-4490 or Owensboro at 270-215-4000.

Counseling and Your Insurance Benefits

A lot of people who are interested in getting counseling are not sure how to pay for it. It is common now for counseling to be a part of your insurance benefits. You can call the customer service number on the back of your card to check your own benefits. You could ask "what are my outpatient mental health benefits in-network and out-of-network?"  This would let you know how much you may be responsible for out of pocket and how much your insurance would cover.  It would also let you know if you are wanting to use the benefits if you would need to use a provider who is “in-network” with your insurance or if you could also use your benefits with a therapist who is “out-of-network.”  At Compass Counseling we accept many types of insurance. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment at our Paducah office you can call 270-777-4490 or in Owensboro 270-215-4000.

Using HSA and Flex Spending in Counseling

HSAs and FSAs cover different types of counseling, including marriage counseling and drug-dependence counseling, which makes therapy accessible to a wide range of clients. Often times you may use your HSA or FSA  to see a licensed counselor of your own choosing regardless of the counselor is in or out of network with the insurance company.  Of course, when choosing a healthcare plan, HAS or FSA it is important to know your options, if you are unsure you can contact the administrator of your Health Savings or Flexible Spending Account to ask them if “counseling is an approved expense under my plan?”  If you are interested in learning more please contact our office in Paducah at 270-777-4490 or Owensboro at 270-215-4000.

Coming to Counseling the First Time - Part 2

This is part 2 in a series. See part 1 here.

What is is like going into a counseling sessions for the first time?

Meeting your therapist/counselor for the first time…Now, with the business stuff out of the way…what can you expect at your first visit?  First visits can feel a little uncomfortable.  In reality, the first session is kind of like the first day of class.  In school, you meet your instructor, go over the syllabus and see what is expected and what you can expect in the class, and then you get to ask questions. The same goes for your first counseling session. You meet your counselor, go over what you can expect, paperwork, and typically your counselor will tell you about him/herself—so that you can know the person that you will be trusting your personal information.  Your counselor will lead you, so you do not need to feel the pressure of “knowing what to say or not to say”.  Your therapist will ask you questions, so that your purpose for counseling can be established. 

What will your counselor ask? Again, your counselor will take the lead in guiding through the session.  The first session, he/she may tell you to expect this session to feel introductory.  The questions you may be asked include, “why are you coming to counseling” or “have you ever been to counseling before—if so, what did you find helpful/unhelpful”.  Each counselor will ask some variation of these questions, and will ask more—in order to get the best understanding of who you are, as well as where you are, which will help the counselor walk with you to the place you are attempting to reach.  

What can you tell your counselor?  There are few limits to complete confidentiality within your counseling session. Your counselor will go over those with you during your first visit, and you will sign paperwork reflecting this. But, your counselor is a mandated reporter.  This means, he/she must report if ever you disclose or have reasonable cause to believe that child abuse, elder abuse, harm to others or self-harm is evident.  Outside of these, unless you specifically give consent or your counselor’s notes are subpoenaed, everything you discuss in session is private. There is nothing that you cannot tell your counselor that will make them think less of you, judge you, or be too much! Your counselor can act as a sounding board, creating a safe space for you to talk about the concerns you have. 

How long does counseling last?  When we think about the idea of being exposed, or vulnerable, we often wonder “how long will I need to do this?” or “how long until I’m feeling/doing better?”   This is a completely normal question, and asked frequently.  Counseling is a process. In the same way that all snowflakes are completely different, your counseling experience will be completely different.  You may want to consider what your insurance covers as well as how often you would like to have sessions.  You’ll be able to work out with your counselor what will be best for you—which is your counselor’s goal.  At the end of your first session, you counselor will answer your questions, take payment and schedule your next appointment. 

If you have any questions or are ready to schedule an appointment, please visit our website or give our office a call and we would be happy to help you on your path to change.  

Paducah-  www.compasspaducah.com 270-777-4490

Owensboro- www.compassowensboro.com 270-215-4000

About the Author 

Jenny Linville lives in Paducah with her two men—husband and English Bulldog Manly.  Jenny is a beginning counselor, soon to be LPCA, who is seminary trained, and loves to help people through many different life changes, challenges, and hard spots.  She and her husband enjoy cooking and going for walks with Manly.