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The Psychology of Coping Skills

The human brain is a powerful thing. It can control all of the body’s functions, store memories, and make decisions that will affect your life in more ways than you know. But how do you enhance these abilities further? One way is through coping skills, which enable you to effectively deal with uncontrollable situations. However, when the going gets tough, it’s easy to lose sight of what works best for us. In this article, we’ll explore what are some coping skills and the various strategies such as coping skills therapy you can use to live a more fulfilling life.

What coping skills mean

Coping skills are tools or techniques, meaning you can use them to help manage difficult feelings, reduce stress, or establish a sense of normalcy in your life. Sometimes, these strategies might be intentional decisions but other times, they’re automatically the way you respond when life throws curve balls. 

Coping mechanisms often come into play during tough periods like illness or the unexpected death of a loved one. It’s important to know what your options will be for handling these moments. These coping strategies can help individuals adapt and maintain their emotional wellbeing, especially in times when they feel lost.

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The difference between coping skills and self-care

Coping skills are your backup plan to get through difficult times, but self-care is the way you prepare for them. Self-care refers to things like exercise, reading, journaling, time with loved ones, and nutrition that can help reduce stress levels. Coping skills give us a foundation for our conscious and subconscious reactions to external stressors. When we’re running on empty, we can become more sensitive to those stressors, meaning that our coping skills may not be in place to help us reflect on rather than react to the stressor. When you know healthy ways of responding by learning what some coping skills are and what they can do for you, this makes all things easier on yourself mentally and physically, especially when combined with coping skills therapy. 

Types of Coping Strategies

When we’re faced with a challenge, it can be easy to think that there’s only one way of overcoming the obstacle. Coping mechanisms are different from person to person, and while some may make your life better in certain situations, others might not. An example is the avoidant coping mechanism which is characterized by ignoring or otherwise avoiding the problem: meaning passive coping skills can lead to a buildup of unaddressed problems and anxiety which might cause more harm than good in the long run.

On the other hand, people are better able to cope with stressors when they’re actively involved in the process. Active coping methods such as problem-focused and emotion-focused skills involve conscious attempts to minimize stressors.

Problem-focused coping

In coping skills therapy, problem-focused coping techniques are usually linked to methods of dealing with problems to reduce stress. People who like to complete tasks in their list of priorities and wonder what are some coping skills they can work on should adopt problem-based strategies. With this approach, you have to remember that small steps are a part of life, and there should be a balance between self-compassion and good momentummeaning in utilizing coping skills, some problems are very clear and anything you can do to move to a goal can lower your stress.

Emotion-focused coping

This is a great way to manage and reduce emotional stress, and using coping skills can mean you focus on emotions instead of the event. Exercise with your dog, take a bath, or spend time in nature. It’s important not to judge yourself when feelings arise; rather, use techniques like mindful breathing so that they don’t escalate into anything more than what you can handle at any given moment in time.

Coping mechanisms and mental health

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Effectively using coping skills may mean improvement in your emotional self-worth and mental well-being. However, life’s challenges, whether they are large or small, can be difficult at times. If you’re feeling stuck in an unhealthy pattern of coping, our team would love to work with you on creating a plan for long-term success. 

Therapy provides support, a safe space, and the opportunity to learn new ways of coping and working on improving your mental health and well being, one session at a time. Get started by reaching out today!

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EMDR Therapy Explained: How It Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

Do you want to achieve your goals but feel like something is holding you back? EMDR therapy may be the answer. This therapy can help people overcome the barriers they’ve been facing that have prevented them from achieving their desired outcome. The process involves remembering, processing, and releasing emotions around traumatic or stressful events in order to reduce their emotional impact on your life today. Read on to find out what EMDR therapy is and how it works.

What are the Benefits of EMDR?

EMDR has been around for more than 30 years, helping people with severe traumas and other painful life experiences. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a method that many therapists in the world have chosen to help their clients overcome traumatic situations.

EMDR Therapy Explained

What is EMDR therapy and how does it work? EMDR starts by focusing your attention on a given object, such as following the movement of a hand in a linear or circular pattern. What makes the EMDR benefits unique is how it works in redirecting your eye movements, all while recollecting memories that caused trauma. EMDR is employed by psychologists and therapists both domestically and internationally, proving to be an effective method for helping overcome distressing memories. It was first developed and introduced by psychologist Francine Shapiro back in the ‘80s when she observed that repeatedly moving her eyes along a pattern helped her decrease the negative emotion that’s related to her painful memories of the past.

8 Phases of EMDR

EMDR consists of eight phases, with each stage equally important than the rest.

Phase 1 and 2 (Planning & Preparation)

Your therapist will spend time getting to know you and your past so that they can best help during the therapy process. They’ll also work with you on a plan of action tailored just for you, which is great because it means progress on EMDR benefits will be made more quickly. It’s important to note that EMDR sessions may cause some discomfort, but this is normal and very common due to the release of repressed memories from your brain into consciousness.

Phase 3 (Assessment)

When recalling memories in a therapy session, it is understandable when mixed emotions are triggered. This phase asks you to identify important events that are associated with your distressing memories and visualize an image that best represents them. Your therapist will walk through your memories by recalling them in short amounts so as not to overwhelm you during the session.

Phase 4 to 7 (Desensitization until Closure)

The EMDR process is a clever mix of light and movement. The therapist uses moving hand gestures or an electronic device that bounces lights back and forth across your eyes at varying speeds. This helps uncover and break down memories associated with traumatic events, so they don’t affect you as much anymore.

Phase 8 (Reevaluation)

The final phase will determine what needs to be adjusted in your therapy session. If there has been almost no improvement, your therapist might have to add in a few factors to your current plan that’s coming from the discoveries during the sessions to achieve improvement over time.

EMDR Benefits Among People Diagnosed with PTSD

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Traumatic events can have a lasting impact on the human psyche. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common amongst veterans or people who had immense distress in the past, and the United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) has recommended EMDR for people who experience PTSD symptoms. A 2018 study discussing the benefits of EMDR versus traditional treatment techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has shown that EMDR performs better than the latter in helping patients recover from PTSD and anxiety. At Miami Hypnosis and Therapy, your treatment plan may draw from both modalities of psychotherapy, depending on your unique situation.

Living Life Without Regrets

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It’s time to take the first step towards your goals. Whether you want relief from anxiety, a more fulfilling career, or better relationships with loved ones and friends, EMDR therapy benefits can help you achieve what matters most in life by helping to resolve emotional trauma. We hope this article has helped answer when we’ve explained what EMDR therapy is and how it works as an effective technique for many people who are struggling emotionally. Book a phone consultation with our licensed mental health counselor today to get started!

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Reframing 10 Cognitive Distortions Using CBT

What Are Cognitive Distortions?

Think of a room full of mirrors, all with different levels of distorted surfaces that refract and reflect the light, and yourself, in warped ways. Some may be subtle, some may be exaggerated, and some reflections may, in fact, be the real you. The “fun house of mirrors” is a great way to think about what cognitive distortions are: distortions of how we react to internal and external stimuli.

When the mind plays tricks on us through false thinking patterns based on an irrational belief system, it is cognitive distortion. These thoughts are usually inaccurate and negatively biased.

Cognitive distortions are a habitual way of thinking, leading to negative feelings and behaviors such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, eating disorders, and addiction, but how did these unwanted distortions develop?

Origins of Cognitive Distortions

When adverse events occur in our lives, the way we react to them internally may fluctuate depending on how we perceive the world around us. Often, it’s easy to react instantly and negatively to a perceived threat, where our cognitive response may not be reflective of the truth of what’s in front of us. This way of thinking stems from past and present traumas, from any insecurities we may have about ourselves or others, and/or from a variety of mental health reasons in our individual cognitive functioning.

The following ten cognitive distortions can be alleviated using cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques.

  • Polarized Thinking (All or Nothing) – This way of thinking is extreme and can lead to setbacks and relapses quite easily.
    • An example would be if someone were trying to stop overeating and realized they had already gone over their daily limit, thinking the damage had already been done, then continued to binge.
    • This form of thinking is done in absolute terms, as either black or white but nothing in-between.

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  • Personalization and Blame – This is one of the ten cognitive distortions that significantly benefit from CBT as it causes the blaming of either yourself or someone else entirely for a given situation even though there were other mitigating factors present that were out of your control.
    • An example would be if a parent was not in their child’s life growing up and that child grew up blaming themselves for something out of their control.
    • This form of thinking is based on pinpointing the reason something happened based on one particular person instead of realizing there were possibly many reasons involved.
  • Magnification (or minimizing) – Another cognitive distortion that can benefit from a list of CBT techniques is taking something negative and magnifying it while bringing something positive and minimizing that resulting in feelings of worthlessness.
    • An example would be if a person who had a fear of speaking in public gave a speech and did a great job except for a small blunder at the beginning which became the main focus instead of embracing the overall positive outcome.
    • This type of cognitive distortion can be helped through CBT by changing the focus from the negative back to the positive.
  • Overgeneralization – This distortion occurs when a person applies one negative experience to all of the same types of experiences, even those in the future.
    • An example would be if someone spelled a word wrong and then began thinking they are never good at spelling.
    • This form of thinking can be distressing but easily managed through CBT techniques.
  • Jumping to Conclusions – Jumping to conclusions is easy, especially if we think we know the situation’s outcome. A person thinks someone will react in a certain way or predict how an event will unfold, known as mind-reading or fortune-telling.
  • Labeling – Labeling is one of the ten cognitive distortions quickly helped with CBT as it involves making a judgment about oneself or someone else. Instead, seeing the behavior as a separate entity rather than defining who that person is.
  • Emotional Reasoning – Emotional reasoning is not based on reality but rather on the person’s feelings about a given situation.
    • An example would be someone feeling a lack of self worth and trying to find meaning in destructive patterns such as alcoholism or drug use.
    • This form of thinking is based on a judgment of oneself based on emotions instead of facts.
  • Mental Filtering – Mental filtering is a cognitive distortion that occurs when a person filters out positive thoughts and positive feedback, automatically replacing them with negative thoughts. This is common in those contending with depression and can lead to panic attacks, but CBT is a reliable treatment for alleviating this distorted thinking pattern.
  • Should Statements – An incredibly self-defeating way of thinking, using “should statements” emphasizes unattainable standards.
  • Disqualifying the Positive – When a person focuses only on the negative things happening while discounting all the positives, that person can experience debilitating low self-esteem and depression.

How CBT Works to Overcome the Ten Cognitive Distortions

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One of the best forms of treatment for the ten cognitive distortions is (CBT), which provides positive ways to think about the things that are causing the inner turmoil.

CBT is based on thoughts creating feelings which then produce our behaviors or actions in response to those emotions. By simply changing the initial thought, we can ultimately shift the outcome of our behavior.

The list of CBT techniques is long and includes imagery-based exposure, relaxed breathing, exposure and response prevention, and cognitive restructuring.

Cognitive restructuring, also known as cognitive reframing, modifies or replaces the cognitive distortion’s negative and irrational thoughts.

  • Step 1: Identify and Be Aware – Being able to identify and be aware of the negative thought is vital to stop and change it before it can affect you.
  • Step 2: Question the Thoughts – Ask yourself important questions.
    • Is the thought genuinely realistic, and is it based on fact or feeling alone?
    • What is the evidence for this thought, and could there be any misinterpretations of this thought?
    • Are there facts to support this thought, or does it come from an unsubstantiated place in my subconscious mind?
  • Step 3: Evaluate the True Origin of Thought – Learning more about what is hindering your mental wellbeing by pinpointing the origin is the key to unlocking the chains that bind your happiness.

At Miami Hypnosis and Therapy, we offer integrative CBT to overcome the ten cognitive distortions. By implementing CBT with other forms of therapy such as neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and hypnotherapy, we work with you to transform and reframe your thoughts in a new, positive light..

Let go of the negative thoughts and take charge of the way you think. Conqueror unwanted beliefs and start feeling happier and healthier. Take that first step to overcome whatever cognitive distortion is holding you back from living the life you deserve, and contact us today!

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How does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Experts have referred to CBT as the gold standard of psychotherapy. CBT is a psychological intervention with proactive treatment. Essentially, cognitive behavioral therapy works by training practitioners to challenge negative thoughts with positive truths, Cognitive behavioral therapy methods revolve around forming habits to take ownership of feelings and beliefs through behaviors of positive reinforcement.

How does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Work?

Cognitive behavioral therapy works through a close relationship between you and your therapist, where you will be actively applying psychoanalytic principles and customized methods in order to facilitate progressively healthier thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

In contrast to other methods of psychoanalytic therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy emphasizes using the present to work towards the future as opposed to prioritizing an understanding of the past to understand the present.

Put simply, CBT works through action towards forward motion to improve your quality of life.

Understanding how cognitive behavioral therapy works involves recognizing what goes into a typical experience with this psychological treatment. Keep reading to explore the therapeutic methods and the steps of CBT!

What are some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Methods?

We’ve found that the best application for CBT methods are integrative rather than an isolated approach. Our effective, blended application of CBT also draws from modalities like neuro-linguistic programming and hypnotherapy.

At Miami Hypnosis and Therapy, we also consider the cognitive psychology approach. This involves working with our mental health professional, who studies human thought processes, investigating her patient’s cognition based on scientific evidence. After cognitive psychology sessions, therapists then recommend specific activities and exercises tailored to counter the negative thought processes and replace them with positive solutions.

In general, no matter the specific psychoanalytic applications employed, how cognitive behavioral therapy works hinges on how the counselor and her client work together to reach the individual’s goals. These efforts to shift thinking and behavioral patterns may include working on facing rather than avoiding fears, practical strategies to calm the mind and relax the body, and developing confidence in one’s own abilities or recognizing sources of satisfaction in one’s own life.

CBT also leverages the power of role-playing to prepare for using problem-solving skills for difficult situations and in forming the habit to challenge negative thoughts with positive truths. These methods center on learning to recognize and then reevaluate problematic, distorted thought habits.

Role-playing can also help those using CBT to gain a better understanding of others’ behaviors and motivations, as opposed to continuing with their own often erroneous preconceptions about those around them.

Obviously, not all these methods are useful in every circumstance. Cognitive behavorial therapy methods may vary, but all CBT remains aimed at changing perceptions to positively affect behavior and mood. What’s important is finding a therapist who strives to create 100% trailer-made treatment plans that align with your mental and behavioral health goals.

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What are the steps of CBT?

While the steps of CBT range significantly depending on individual circumstance and treatment goals, most of the time, Cognitive behavioral therapy follows a general pattern of one-on-one therapy sessions paired with relevant assignments. That “homework” will then be addressed in follow-up during the next therapy session.

These “homework” assignments are critical: rather than relying only on a therapist, medicine, or other similar external sources of therapy, CBT practitioners learn to use strategies to provide therapy to themselves. How cognitive therapy works depends largely on you, the client, being an active participant in your therapeutic journey.

Steps of CBT mainly include:

  • One-on-one therapy sessions
  • Frequent feedback
  • Homework assignments. These assignments usually involve keeping some kind of a regular written record that is focused on cognitive behavior, which may range from a gratitude journal to lists of negative beliefs to challenge with positive truths.

During this process, those following the steps of CBT form new, empowering habits to challenge or restate negative or inaccurate thoughts in order to re-shape their problem-solving abilities in a positive light. In recognizing how to rethink and reevaluate their perception of the world, following the steps of CBT can instill a more balanced, less reactive awareness of the world both within and outside of the mind. The goal is to take ownership of feelings and thoughts to positively affect perception and behavior.

How do I know if CBT is a good fit for me?

Now that you understand how cognitive behavioral therapy works, you may be wondering if this treatment would be a good fit for you. CBT is a valuable asset for anyone looking to help navigate life, whether it’s how to process stress more effectively or working through a deeper concern.

If you think CBT sounds like it could help you, we at Miami Hypnosis and Therapy are here for you. With Miami Hypnosis and Therapy, you’ll find up-to-date practices and therapy methods that you can personalize to your own needs and experiences through our professional custom-made treatment programs created individually by our lead practitioner. Find your clearer path by contacting us today.

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Support Your Trauma Therapy with Journaling & Prompts

Trauma journaling is a scientifically effective way to begin to address underlying issues that may be causing stress and anxiety in everyday life. Unlike keeping a regular diary, trauma journaling takes a more focussed approach and gives you the tools to begin to reflect and learn along your healing journey. Ultimately the work you do in your journal is a very personal experience, so you may consider trauma therapy journal prompts useful as a starting point, and you may find your approach evolves over time with practice.

There are plenty of anecdotal mental health benefits to expressive and creative writing. Those that journal daily can find it provides a structured no-judgment zone to reflect and refer back to in the future. It can be a low impact, low-commitment addition to a good mental wellness routine when combined with cognitive behavioral therapy.

If elements of your life are starting to feel out of control, this kind of proactive approach can help you begin healing and get a clear picture of what your triggers might be. It’s not a replacement for therapy but it can provide valuable insights whilst you decide when and how to find a trauma therapist to address issues with the guided help of a professional.

Find a Routine That Works For You

Find a quiet place, and pick a time you know you can work undisturbed. It can take around 21 days to make a healthy habit and 90 days to fix it into your routine, but don’t feel you have to journal every day. Dealing with complex issues from the past can be triggering so it’s important to take breaks and step away when it becomes overwhelming.

Are you someone who gets the most done in the morning? If so, perhaps this is the best time to set aside time as you may find trauma therapy journaling prompts the best response early in the day. Before you start putting pen to paper, take a breath and pause for a moment to reflect on how your trauma has impacted your life. This will help to contextualize the work that you do and anchor it to making positive changes.

Ask Difficult Questions

It can be difficult to know where to begin with a blank page staring back at you. Don’t get intimidated! Start slowly by using some of the below trauma therapy journal prompts into your notebook or journal. Ask yourself the questions that take you outside of your comfort zone but remember to check in with how you feel and be kind.

  • What kind of life would make me feel content and fulfilled?
  • How is my trauma holding me back from experiencing the life I want to live?
  • When do I feel most powerful?
  • When did I realize I had experienced trauma?
  • What feelings do I experience when I relive the trauma?

As you begin to journal you may find that other questions will surface, so note them down and return to them when you’re ready to address them. If you feel comfortable you can use this knowledge to find a trauma therapist or hypnotherapist, where your journaling work gives you a head-start and a good sense of what you’re ready to work on.

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Let Go of Expectations

Remember this is a resource for you and you alone. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it doesn’t have to be pretty. Try not to focus too much on getting the right words onto the page every time. It should be a creative exercise to guide you through addressing trauma. You don’t have to do this the ‘right way’ or alone, and may find others online using their trauma therapy journal prompts that could be useful to you too.

Ultimately trauma therapy journaling is just one tool you can use wherever you are on your healing journey, with other tools like therapy. It may be something you use daily, or it may be a resource you use occasionally when things become overwhelming. Remember there’s no pressure, and you can take the learnings from the exercise to keep growing and evolving on this pathway to mending emotional wounds.

Take a breath, be kind, and just begin.

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Understanding Trauma – Informed Counseling and Therapy

Traumatic experiences can have long-lasting effects on a person’s mind and body, so counseling for trauma is essential. Since everyone reacts differently to trauma, the outcome can vary depending on the psychological and emotional impact of the event or events.

Trauma is an emotional response to a traumatic event. Initially, a person may experience shock or denial. As time goes on, the reactions can worsen into unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, and relationship problems.

A traumatic event can include any incident that causes physical, psychological, emotional, or spiritual harm. Gaining a sense of emotional and mental stability is the main goal in conquering the effects caused by the traumatic experience, but that takes time, depending on the cause of the trauma.

About the Causes of Trauma

Trauma can occur at any age and appear as a single event or a series of events.

Trauma affects us differently due to how we handle each situation, the age the events occurred, whether the cause is buried in the subconscious, and other factors. Counseling for trauma is vital in order to unearth the root causes and explore their depths in a safe, supportive environment.

In the days to weeks following a given trauma, there are signs and symptoms to look for that can lead to other issues such as acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Signs and Symptoms

If left untreated, traumatic events can lead to other mental health issues due to trauma’s psychological and emotional damage.

Emotional and psychological symptoms can include:

  • Anger – Anger after trauma is one of the psychological effects which can be triggered due to survival instincts related to the trauma itself. This anger may manifest itself overtly but may show up in more subtle forms like increased irritability or a resistance to change.
  • Depression – The long-term psychological effects of trauma can increase the risk of developing depression, whether clinical or otherwise, with an increased likelihood of abandonment issues or other co-dependent responses.
  • Anxiety – Experiencing a traumatic event can increase someone’s fight or flight response and thus their anxiety, typically when seeing, hearing, or smelling something that reminds the individual of their trauma’s cause, whether subconsciously or consciously.

Young woman in Miami looking into the distance

Counseling for trauma can also help with physical symptoms, which may include:

  • Insomnia or nightmares – When the experience is so shocking, the mind keeps bringing the memory back to understand it better.
  • Difficulty concentrating – The stress caused by trauma can leave a person in a state of heightened vigilance and, over time, puts extreme pressure on the mind and body, making concentration more difficult.
  • Easily startled – Trauma itself startles the body and mind leaving it vulnerable and yet prepared if it were to happen again.
  • Racing heartbeat – When any trigger of the traumatic event occurs, the mind remembers and prepares the body for action by increasing the heart rate.

When trauma occurs, the mind will find coping mechanisms. Traumatic responses and the resulting ways people cope are directly connected with behavioral health issues such as the development of eating disorders and substance abuse through drugs and alcohol.

When the signs and symptoms start interfering in daily life, including day-to-day activities, school, work, and relationships, it may be time to consider trauma-informed psychotherapy.

Treatments for Trauma at Therapy

Sometimes, we need to breathe and release, but it is not easy, especially when past traumas take over. Still, with counseling for trauma administered by a trained professional, the past no longer has to control you.

There are five primary principles with trauma-informed psychotherapy, which are:

  • Safety – Ensuring that the physical and emotional needs of the patient come first in a safe environment.
  • Choice – The patient is provided options regarding their unique treatment plan.
  • Working Together – Making decisions with the patient provides a sense of power and mutual collaboration.
  • Trust – Being clear and concise along with creating healthy boundaries help build confidence and assurance.
  • Empowerment – Having the patient learn and contribute to their therapy plan helps provide inner strength and the skills needed to conquer any obstacles that may occur in the future.

Utilizing trauma-informed care is a unique type of counseling for trauma that involves the therapist focusing on three main aspects of how trauma has affected a person’s life.

  1. The realization of the magnitude and prevalence of the trauma
  2. The recognition of how the trauma affects all the individuals involved
  3. The response of the therapist by applying a specific or multiple type treatment plans

One of the best forms of treatment is trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is based on our thoughts that create our feelings and, ultimately, our behaviors. If we change our thoughts, we change our behaviors, resulting in a more positive and enjoyable life.

With trauma-focused CBT, trauma-sensitive interventions are infused with CBT to provide a reduction in traumatic stress symptoms along with the skills needed to regulate behavior, thoughts, and relationships while enhancing safety, trust, and communication.

At Miami Hypnosis and Therapy, we offer a wide range of counseling for trauma treatments, including CBT, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), and hypnotherapy. In addition, we apply integrative treatments by combining therapies to expedite and enhance the results.

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Releasing the adverse effects from past traumas can feel like you just climbed a huge mountain and finally made it to the top, which can be accomplished through trauma-informed psychotherapy.

Contact us today and overcome whatever is holding you back from living the joyous life you were meant to live! Let Miami Hypnosis and Therapy help you pull you off the path of fear and take control of your mental well-being.

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Understanding Acute Stress Disorder Criteria

The criteria for acute stress disorder (ASD) can include any stress reaction occurring in the initial month after exposure to a traumatic event. Acute stress disorder is an unpleasant reaction that starts shortly after an overwhelming traumatic event and usually lasts less than one month. If the symptoms persist longer than one month, it is then deemed to be more chronic, and the diagnosis changes to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

Differences Between ASD and PTSD

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Both ASD and PTSD are reactions to traumatic events, but there are a few differences with acute stress disorder vs. PTSD.  An acute stress reaction occurs initially, with the chance of its manifesting into post-traumatic post disorder after. That being said, sometimes you may develop post-traumatic disorder symptoms that last more than a month without having had that initial acute stress reaction.

PTSD symptoms start slower than ASD symptoms but can last longer up to several years if not treated. Another disorder that also has similarities to ASD is adjustment disorder, but like PTSD, there are subtle differences.

Differences Between ASD and Adjustment Disorder

An adjustment disorder is similar to acute stress disorders in that it is an emotional or behavioral response to a stressful event in a person’s life. With acute stress disorder vs. adjustment disorder, the criteria for adjustment disorders involve an unhealthy and potentially excessive reaction within three months of the stressful event. 

Adjustment disorders are also caused by more broadly stressful events such as job loss, a marriage, or the birth of a child. In contrast, acute stress disorder criteria include more extreme causes of trauma.

Causes of Acute Stress Disorder

The causes of ASD can include a wide range of issues, including:

  • The death of a loved one
  • The threat of death or severe injury
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • A physical attack, mugging, rape, or other sexual violence
  • Natural disasters

Risk Factors for Acute Stress Disorder

Many factors may contribute to a person’s risk of developing ASD, and a few include the following:

The symptoms that may develop also vary depending on the type of manifestation that occurs. 

Multiple-Type Symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder

Acute stress disorder criteria include many symptoms that can occur during the traumatic event and manifest further through physical, psychological, dissociative, intrusion and avoidance-type symptoms. 

Physical Symptoms

  • Heart palpitations or thumping heart 
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Headache

Psychological Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability and difficulty concentrating
  • Emotional ups and downs

Dissociative Symptoms

  • Feeling disconnected from one’s body
  • Emotionally unresponsive
  • Feeling dazed and confused 

Intrusive Symptoms

Another very significant symptom of acute stress disorder is the overwhelming feeling of intrusion where the traumatic event plays back repeatedly through flashbacks and recurring dreams. When these intrusive thoughts take over, they can feel incredibly overwhelming and restricting, adding to the feelings of stress.

Avoidance Symptoms

Avoidance is another signifier in acute stress disorder criteria, signaling someone is avoiding potential triggers from the originating distressing event. These symptoms should present themselves at a severe level to be considered ASD, at which time proper treatment should be given.

Treatment for Acute Stress Disorder

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One successful treatment for ASD is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT works by changing the thoughts or the patterns of beliefs surrounding the traumatic event and making them a more positive influence rather than harmful. CBT also works to change the behaviors that cause anxiety and stressful feelings that may occur. 

Another treatment option is hypnotherapy which can help address what constitutes acute stress disorder criteria since hypnotherapy can be extraordinarily effective for dealing with trauma.

Seeking therapy is highly recommended to navigate PTSD. There are many different therapy forms, so finding what therapy is best for you or someone you love is an essential first step.

At Miami Hypnosis and Therapy, we offer a wide range of treatments, including CBT, hypnotherapy, and many others. Our tailor-made treatments are often blended to form an integrative type of mental health healing designed to work for your individual needs. We will work with you to determine if what you are experiencing falls under acute stress disorder criteria, and offer help to process what you’re going through in a safe, supportive space.

Learn how to let go of unwanted fears that are holding you back from living the joyful life you were meant to have. Transform your life, and book your appointment today!.

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5 Tips for Helping Teens Manage Stress

Teenhood can be an incredibly stressful and confusing time in a teen’s life.  Teen stress levels rise more and more every single year. Bullying, depression, peer pressure, social media, and academic pressures are just a few of the social issues that teens are faced with. Parents, guardians, and friends may wonder what they can do to guide teens in a safe and healthy direction. Finding the right kind of teen stress management can make a tremendous difference in the life of not only a teen but the entire household. 

Getting More Sleep

We know that getting more sleep can be easier said than done. A lot of teens have loads of homework, extracurricular activities, and social lives. But, getting more sleep is essential to avoiding teen stress. Experts recommend that teens get 8-10 hours of sleep within 24 hours. 

Some practices that you can use in your healthy bedtime routine are;

  • Avoiding large meals
  • Being consistent
  • Limiting screen time

Yes, you read that correctly – limiting screen time. Think about being at a party and there are tons of flashing lights. It would be near impossible to just lay down and go to sleep. Providing the brain with time to leave the party, come home, and snuggle up under the covers makes a big difference in your bedtime routine. 

Another way that teens can get more sleep is by taking naps. The world seems to scream the word “naps” at babies and toddlers. But, if a teen has additional teen stressors like exams or a strenuous project that is due soon, a nap can contribute to getting in those 8-10 hours of sleep.

 

Spending More Time Outdoors

A teen girl hiking outdoors

Spending time outdoors has been proven to significantly reduce stress and anxiety. We know that a lot of teens are involved with sports and other activities that require them to be outside. But, spending time outside without instruction or a specific goal provides natural stimulation and motivates exploration. Not to mention, physical movement is a healthy and easily accessible way to handle teen stress

 

Decrease Negative Self Talk

Transforming negative thoughts into positive thoughts does not only change the way you see yourself. Instead of saying, “I can’t do it. I will never be able to succeed at this”, say, “I can do this. I just have to think of a method that will work for me and try again”. Your classmate may study by only reading over their notes once and get an ‘A’ on every single test. You may need to use flashcards or repeat your notes out loud the night before the test. Using what works for you doesn’t make you any less of a person or less smart. 

Practice saying positive affirmations to yourself every morning and night. It may feel silly at first, but it will help you to feel better over time. Tell yourself that you are smart, courageous, and successful – every single day.

Take a Break

A major key to managing teen stress is recognizing when you’re about to “burn out”. To burnout is to be in a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion due to being under high stress for a long period of time. This is an awful feeling and it’s important to take a break before you reach the point of burnout. Breaks can be a 30-45 minute nap, closing your study book for 10 minutes, grabbing a quick snack, or even going for a brisk walk. 

Working hard is great and admirable but you can not enjoy the results of hard work if you are exhausted. Learning how to navigate what works best for your mental and physical health while simultaneously accomplishing your goals is essential to conquering teen stress management

Talk to Someone

Two teens talking about teen stressors with warm beverages

Feelings are always “better out than in”. Talking to positive and like-minded friends about teen stressors can be relatable and helpful for some teens. Just like adults, teens can find comfort in speaking to people who can relate to them. 

Teen stress can also be healthily managed by talking to a trusted adult. Some issues that teens deal with are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep issues
  • Family changes
  • Academic pressures 
  • Trauma and more

At Miami Hypnosis and Therapy we understand that growing up can feel like you’re stuck in a whirlwind and that’s why we offer an innovative approach in our teen therapy practices. We believe that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a highly effective method for managing teen stress. Life transformation starts with taking the first step. Take the first step and we’ll walk you through the rest. Contact us today.

Young man in a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Session

The Cognitive Psychology Approach in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a psychosocial intervention that concentrates on improving mental health. Hand in hand with a cognitive psychology approach, CBT opens the eyes of an individual to inaccurate, irrational, or negative thought patterns—helping people respond to real-life situations in healthier and more effective ways. There are many types of CBT; all it takes is to find the right fit for your needs.

Young man in a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Session

What is the Cognitive Psychology Approach?

Cognitive psychology and cognitive behavioral therapy are like peanut butter and jelly. One complements the other. Using the cognitive psychology approach in CBT means your therapist will use evidence-based knowledge, as well as years of mental health experience, to investigate and evaluate your mental health. By doing this, your therapist will be able to orchestrate a therapy treatment program that fits you best.

Cognitive Psychology is an investigation of human cognition based on scientific evidence. Human cognition is all of our mental abilities; the way we think, learn, remember, reason, perceive and understand. The definition of a cognitive psychologist is a mental health professional who studies the nature of the human mind and thoughts, in hopes to gain a better understanding.

Our primary practitioner and founder at Miami Hypnosis and Therapy Anna Marchenko, LMHC, M.A., Ed.M, is incredibly qualified in the mental health field. As a licensed mental health therapist, Anna Marchenko specializes in effective and innovative CBT practices, drawing from neuro-linguistic programming and hypnotherapy, among other modalities and techniques.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Used to Treat?

In conjunction with neuro-linguistic programming and hypnotherapy, CBT can be used to treat:

  • Anxiety – Feelings of high intensity and worry. Anxiety may cause increased blood pressure and avoiding certain situations due to being worried.
  • Phobias – A type of heightened anxiety and fear response; excessive fear of certain objects, foods, animals, or situations.
  • Trauma – Deep emotional or physical anguish following a stressful event or time.
  • Addiction – Having a dependency on a substance or activity.
  • Eating & Mood Disorders – Having an unhealthy preoccupation with food, exercise, body weight, or shape.
  • Self Esteem – One’s self-respect or confidence within themselves.
  • Relationship Issues – Having tension, trauma, or toxic behaviors in a relationship, whether it’s a personal or professional relationship.

With a cognitive psychology approach, CBT can be successful in treating the issues above. Transform your life now and feel the difference within yourself, your relationships, and your everyday life.

Understanding the Different Types of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

  • Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy – A short-term psychotherapy that helps you identify negative thoughts and feelings that are self-defeating. After those thoughts are identified, Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy guides you into challenging the rationale of those thoughts and helping you to replace them with positive and healthy ones.

 

  • Cognitive Therapy – This form of therapy is intended to guide you into developing healthy problem-solving skills. Cognitive Therapy usually focuses on present-day behaviors and communications, instead of the past.

 

  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy – This form of therapy is an evidence-based psychotherapy that is proven to be useful in treating individuals who may struggle with mood disorders, self-harm, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts.

 

  • Cognitive Processing Therapy – This form of therapy has been proven to successfully treat individuals with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD can be developed after someone endures a traumatic event, such as physical or psychological trauma caused by abuse, family conflict or separation, natural disasters, unexpected change or loss, or war.

 

  • Stress Inoculation Training – A common type of psychotherapy that aids in the identification of negative thoughts that may influence your behavior throughout your everyday life.

 

  • Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy – This form of therapy uses mindfulness meditative practices and a cognitive psychology approach to guide individuals in relapse prevention, particularly those with major depressive disorder.

 

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy – This form of therapy helps individuals to move forward from difficult emotions from the past and focus on the present.

 

  • Motivational Interviewing – This form of therapy is completely client-centered and tailored to influencing behavioral changes in an individual by raising awareness of contradicting ideas or thoughts about a person or thing.

 

  • Habit Reversal Training – This form of therapy is a type of awareness training. It is used to bring attention to troublesome behaviors and treat them by teaching an individual how to identify when a habit is about to take place. Thus, giving an individual an opportunity to practice healthy coping methods, in place of troublesome behaviors.

There are many different types of CBT, and we’ve listed many of them above. At Miami Hypnosis and Therapy we pride ourselves on being innovative and up to date in all of our practices and therapy methods. When you work with us through whatever challenges you’re facing, you’ll experience a cognitive psychology approach in your CBT sessions. To learn more and get started on a clearer path, give us a call today.

Young person shaking head fast with hair across her face

5 Symptoms of An Acute Stress Reaction

We all know what stress feels like, regardless of how minor or major the stressor was. How we respond to those stressors, though, is what matters. Some can experience an external event and process their stress response effectively. Others may not have the same mechanism in place, which is where what was an acute stress reaction could develop into something deeper.

Causes of an Acute Stress Reaction

An acute stress reaction is an initial response to a major event that triggers the body’s natural stress response. In response to a traumatic experience, this may lead to a long-term response known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Unlike ongoing PTSD, an acute stress reaction typically lasts 3 to 30 days following the event.

Approximately 5 to 20 % exposed to a traumatic event will develop an acute stress reaction. When a traumatic event occurs, the body has a built-in stress response that kicks into either a fight, flight, or freeze mode, and traumatic events can be caused by many things.

A few traumatic events that can cause an acute stress reaction include:

  • Death of a loved one
  • The threat of severe injury or death to oneself or a loved one
  • A motor vehicle accident
  • Sexual assault, rape, or domestic abuse

Trauma of any sort can affect a person differently depending on how they handle the stress emotionally, physically, and mentally, and the symptoms can also range in severity. So, what are the five symptoms of acute stress?

Psychological and Physical Symptoms of An Acute Stress Reaction

The psychological symptoms of an acute stress reaction can vary in intensity from person-to-person, and include the following five main categories:

  1. Intrusion Symptoms – These symptoms occur when a person cannot stop thinking about the traumatic event through flashbacks, memories, and dreams.
  2. Dissociative Symptoms – These symptoms include an altered sense of reality and feeling numb and detached without a clear recollection of the event.
  3. Arousal Symptoms – These anxiety-like symptoms can involve sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, easily startled, agitated, and extremely tense.
  4. Depressed Mood Symptoms – These symptoms may encompass negative emotions such as feeling worthless, broken, sad, depressed, and potentially suicidal thoughts.
  5. Avoidance Symptoms – These acute stress reaction symptoms include purposely avoiding anything that reminds that person of the traumatic event, such as thoughts, feelings, people, or places.

Physical Symptoms of An Acute Stress Reaction

When stress occurs, the body has a physical response by releasing adrenaline (epinephrine) as well as putting the nervous system into overdrive, causing the following:

  • Heart palpitations and or a pounding heart
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea
  • Sweating

These physical symptoms tend to develop within minutes to hours and may last for weeks. In some cases, symptoms can be even more severe, especially if a person has any risk factors present.

Some people are at a higher risk of developing an acute stress reaction.

  • Any prior confrontation, experience, or witnessing of a traumatic event
  • A personal history of having acute stress reactions or PTSD
  • Being under 40 years of age
  • A history of other mental health disorders

Acute Stress Reaction Versus PTSD

Besides the timeline of acute stress reaction taking place sooner and PTSD occurring later, for PTSD to be diagnosed, the person’s symptoms must persist for more than 30 days or first appear more than one month after the traumatic event occurred.

Managing Acute Stress Reactions for Balanced Coping Strategies

Woman stretching and holding the back of her neck at a coffee table

Regardless of the severity of an acute stress reaction’s symptoms, there is hope! The treatment plan should include ways to reduce the symptoms, improve coping mechanisms and prevent PTSD from occurring.

One of the best forms of treatment for an acute stress reaction is trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which effectively develops solid coping skills. CBT also helps the person affected identify and challenge irrational and unwanted thought patterns.

At Miami Hypnosis and Therapy, we offer a wide variety of therapies, including CBT. We create individualized treatment plans because we know each person has unique needs in their quest for wellness. We may also incorporate other forms of therapy, such as hypnotherapy which can help clients attain treatment goals faster.

The benefits of therapy can be an extraordinarily life-altering experience. Not only can you learn how to cope with debilitating fears, but you will also acquire the ability to have a better handle on future events that may cause an acute stress reaction. Find help for reframing whatever life throws at you with a more neutral and balanced approach, and rediscover joy!

Take that first step in living a more joyful and stress-free life, and book your appointment today so you can conquer anything tomorrow!

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