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'ASK A THERAPIST' RESPONSES
<p><strong>Mindfulness Skills for Managing Stress</strong></p>
<p><strong>Question:</strong> Between my work and family life I deal with a great deal of stress on a daily basis. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. My coworker recommended adopting mindfulness skills. What are these are how could they help me manage things better?</p>
<p><strong>Response:</strong> Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. It is a state of mind in which you observe your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations as well as the external activities around you. Observing in this way gathers your awareness and directs it away from worry about the past or future.<br/><br/>Mindfulness practice is like being a reporter and describing or noting what you are experiencing from an objective standpoint. When you are able to stop judging your thoughts, feelings and sensations as good or bad, you are able to get more distance from them and therefore more relief from the distress that might be associated with them.<br/><br/>We experience a constant cycle of habitual thoughts that lead to feelings about those thoughts and this leads to bodily sensations in response to both of these. Rather than get caught in the stressful and escalating cycle of thoughts, emotions and tension, we can take a step back using mindfulness and find moments of relief. <br/><br/>It is simple to start practicing mindfulness. A first step is to engage the senses. What are you hearing, seeing, smelling or tasting right now? Another practice is to “scan” the body, like taking an internal x-ray of bodily sensations. Start with your feet and notice the sensations there. They might be tingling, warm or cold, light or heavy. Remember, more important than the actual sensation is the process of noticing and being mindful of it. Next, notice your hands and the sensations located there. Focusing on the feet and hands can calm a person immediately. You can expand this practice to noticing the breath and when your attention wanders, practice bringing it back to bodily sensations or the breathing. </p>
<p>Renee Podunovich, MA, LCMHC</p>

Mindfulness Skills for Managing Stress

Question: Between my work and family life I deal with a great deal of stress on a daily basis. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. My coworker recommended adopting mindfulness skills. What are these are how could they help me manage things better?

Response: Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. It is a state of mind in which you observe your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations as well as the external activities around you. Observing in this way gathers your awareness and directs it away from worry about the past or future.

Mindfulness practice is like being a reporter and describing or noting what you are experiencing from an objective standpoint. When you are able to stop judging your thoughts, feelings and sensations as good or bad, you are able to get more distance from them and therefore more relief from the distress that might be associated with them.

We experience a constant cycle of habitual thoughts that lead to feelings about those thoughts and this leads to bodily sensations in response to both of these. Rather than get caught in the stressful and escalating cycle of thoughts, emotions and tension, we can take a step back using mindfulness and find moments of relief.

It is simple to start practicing mindfulness. A first step is to engage the senses. What are you hearing, seeing, smelling or tasting right now? Another practice is to “scan” the body, like taking an internal x-ray of bodily sensations. Start with your feet and notice the sensations there. They might be tingling, warm or cold, light or heavy. Remember, more important than the actual sensation is the process of noticing and being mindful of it. Next, notice your hands and the sensations located there. Focusing on the feet and hands can calm a person immediately. You can expand this practice to noticing the breath and when your attention wanders, practice bringing it back to bodily sensations or the breathing.

Renee Podunovich, MA, LCMHC

<p><strong>Grief and Depression Related to Infertility Issues</strong></p>
<p><strong>Response:</strong>Many people are familiar with postpartum depression and the importance of assessing and treating it, but another issue is the grief and depression that often accompany infertility. Infertility can be a painful struggle for a woman and her partner, but there is little emotional support from the medical field beyond tests and suggestions to remain hopeful and try again. This is where counseling support can be very beneficial.</p>
<p><br/>Women struggling with infertility often feel ashamed of the situation and blame themselves. The process of infertility is very stressful and disappointing and women may feel powerless to change the outcome. They can start to obsess on all of the little things they think they may have done wrong, for example exercising too much or not enough. They often have thoughts that are untrue, such as “This is happening because I am not fit to be a mother” and they compare themselves to others.</p>
<p><br/>All of these thoughts and emotions can be confusing and overwhelming and they take a toll on a woman’s self-esteem and often on her relationships. She may avoid baby showers or other important events because they trigger feelings of shame and inadequacy. It can often feel like she and her partner are the only ones dealing with this as they watch friends and family have children. She may feel that her partner doesn’t really understand how upset she is or that no one understands the grief she is experiencing.</p>
<p><br/>Many women who already have children but are having difficulty having another child can experience the same symptoms. Any time there are barriers to having the life we desire, we can become discouraged and need support.</p>
<p>Counseling can help sort out negative thoughts and feelings, regain confidence and renew our hope for living more fully. Counseling can help take the pressure off, offer coping strategies and help you regain your balance.</p>
<p>Renee Podunovich, LCMHC</p>

Grief and Depression Related to Infertility Issues

Response:Many people are familiar with postpartum depression and the importance of assessing and treating it, but another issue is the grief and depression that often accompany infertility. Infertility can be a painful struggle for a woman and her partner, but there is little emotional support from the medical field beyond tests and suggestions to remain hopeful and try again. This is where counseling support can be very beneficial.


Women struggling with infertility often feel ashamed of the situation and blame themselves. The process of infertility is very stressful and disappointing and women may feel powerless to change the outcome. They can start to obsess on all of the little things they think they may have done wrong, for example exercising too much or not enough. They often have thoughts that are untrue, such as “This is happening because I am not fit to be a mother” and they compare themselves to others.


All of these thoughts and emotions can be confusing and overwhelming and they take a toll on a woman’s self-esteem and often on her relationships. She may avoid baby showers or other important events because they trigger feelings of shame and inadequacy. It can often feel like she and her partner are the only ones dealing with this as they watch friends and family have children. She may feel that her partner doesn’t really understand how upset she is or that no one understands the grief she is experiencing.


Many women who already have children but are having difficulty having another child can experience the same symptoms. Any time there are barriers to having the life we desire, we can become discouraged and need support.

Counseling can help sort out negative thoughts and feelings, regain confidence and renew our hope for living more fully. Counseling can help take the pressure off, offer coping strategies and help you regain your balance.

Renee Podunovich, LCMHC

<p><strong>Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)</strong></p>
<p><strong>Question:</strong> What is DBT and how could I benefit from it?</p>
<p><strong>Response:</strong> Dialectical Behavior Therapy involves skills that create space for solutions. In problematic thinking and behavior, one starts to experience symptoms that get in the way of reaching personal goals. Setting and reaching goals bring one to the scientific method or experiments. Learning creates results and motivation to have a purpose or position. The way that a DBT skill encourages one to process will invite goal success. Reaching goals will improve our mood and self-efficacy.  </p>
<p>Practicing the skills takes time and effort, but my clients LOVE the results. Once the skills are learned it is up to one to use it or lose it. Even if you lose it due to depression, anxiety, trauma, substance issues, stress or grief, a brush up session can get you back in tune with the skills.</p>
<p>Dialectical Behavior Therapy can be incredibly  time and cost effective for clients, improving mental and emotional health.</p>
<p>Camille Downing, MA, LCMHC</p>

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Question: What is DBT and how could I benefit from it?

Response: Dialectical Behavior Therapy involves skills that create space for solutions. In problematic thinking and behavior, one starts to experience symptoms that get in the way of reaching personal goals. Setting and reaching goals bring one to the scientific method or experiments. Learning creates results and motivation to have a purpose or position. The way that a DBT skill encourages one to process will invite goal success. Reaching goals will improve our mood and self-efficacy. 

Practicing the skills takes time and effort, but my clients LOVE the results. Once the skills are learned it is up to one to use it or lose it. Even if you lose it due to depression, anxiety, trauma, substance issues, stress or grief, a brush up session can get you back in tune with the skills.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy can be incredibly  time and cost effective for clients, improving mental and emotional health.

Camille Downing, MA, LCMHC

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<p><strong>Identifying Depression & Getting Support</strong></p>
<p><strong>Question: </strong>I think I might be depressed. How do I know if I am depressed and how do I know if I need counseling?<br/><br/><strong>Response:  </strong>We all feel sad, lonely, or depressed at times. These feelings are a normal reaction to loss and life’s challenges and transitions. If these feelings become overwhelming and last for long periods of time, they can keep you from leading a normal, active life. If you find that your feelings of depression are keeping you from living fully, that’s a good time to expand your support system and counseling offers a safe, non-judgmental way to do that. Counseling can assist you in gaining insight into thoughts and feelings that go along with depression and to develop new coping skills to start feeling better again. <br/><br/>According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of depression may include the following:<br/>•<span>    </span>Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions<br/>•<span>    </span>Fatigue and decreased energy<br/>•<span>    </span>Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness<br/>•<span>    </span>Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism<br/>•<span>    </span>Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping<br/>•<span>    </span>Irritability, restlessness<br/>•<span>    </span>Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable<br/>•<span>    </span>Overeating or appetite loss<br/>•<span>    </span>Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment<br/>•<span>    </span>Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings<br/>•<span>    </span>Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts<br/><br/>Many people who experience depression never do get treated for it and if left untreated, symptoms of clinical or major depression may worsen and last for years and in extreme instances can possibly lead to suicide.  Many people try to “push through” their symptoms because they believe they should be able to handle things on their own.</p>
<p>Counseling focuses on wellness, higher functioning and strengths and can be a relief as well as providing long-lasting benefits. If you need the extra support, please call 801.984.1717 to schedule a time to meet with me.</p>
<p>Renee Podunovich, MA, LCMHC</p>
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Identifying Depression & Getting Support

Question: I think I might be depressed. How do I know if I am depressed and how do I know if I need counseling?

Response:  We all feel sad, lonely, or depressed at times. These feelings are a normal reaction to loss and life’s challenges and transitions. If these feelings become overwhelming and last for long periods of time, they can keep you from leading a normal, active life. If you find that your feelings of depression are keeping you from living fully, that’s a good time to expand your support system and counseling offers a safe, non-judgmental way to do that. Counseling can assist you in gaining insight into thoughts and feelings that go along with depression and to develop new coping skills to start feeling better again.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of depression may include the following:
    Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
    Fatigue and decreased energy
    Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
    Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
    Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
    Irritability, restlessness
    Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
    Overeating or appetite loss
    Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
    Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
    Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

Many people who experience depression never do get treated for it and if left untreated, symptoms of clinical or major depression may worsen and last for years and in extreme instances can possibly lead to suicide.  Many people try to “push through” their symptoms because they believe they should be able to handle things on their own.

Counseling focuses on wellness, higher functioning and strengths and can be a relief as well as providing long-lasting benefits. If you need the extra support, please call 801.984.1717 to schedule a time to meet with me.

Renee Podunovich, MA, LCMHC

<p><strong>How to Help an Addicted Loved One</strong></p>
<p><strong>Question: </strong>I have an adult alcoholic daughter; what should I do?<br/><br/><strong>Response: </strong>I commend you for reaching out for help with your loved one’s harmful behavior. He or she is stuck in a relationship with something that is slowly killing them and the family members are the first ones to recognize the truth of this situation. We often think that the loved one with the compulsive behavior is the only one with the problem, but the fact is that everybody is affected and is either adding to the problem or adding to the solution. <br/><br/>Assessing the severity of the alcohol use can take a couple of sessions because of the shame and fear associated with drinking. Once the client and I have some honest conversations about their drinking, I can introduce ways to educate that the alcohol and the compulsion is bigger then perceived. Detoxing under the care of one of our referred physicians is how most of our clients like to begin the process of recovery. <br/><br/>Involving a professional is important because of the terror associated with stopping a compulsive behavior. When we tell our loved to gain control of their situation they don’t have the tools so they feel more fear and say things like “leave me alone”, “it’s not a big deal” and “you don’t understand.”</p>
<p>There is hope and great reward getting into recovery from compulsive behaviors, obsessive thinking and painful emotions, but it takes time and encouraging support from all involved.</p>
<p>Camille Downing, MA, LCMHC</p>

How to Help an Addicted Loved One

Question: I have an adult alcoholic daughter; what should I do?

Response: I commend you for reaching out for help with your loved one’s harmful behavior. He or she is stuck in a relationship with something that is slowly killing them and the family members are the first ones to recognize the truth of this situation. We often think that the loved one with the compulsive behavior is the only one with the problem, but the fact is that everybody is affected and is either adding to the problem or adding to the solution.

Assessing the severity of the alcohol use can take a couple of sessions because of the shame and fear associated with drinking. Once the client and I have some honest conversations about their drinking, I can introduce ways to educate that the alcohol and the compulsion is bigger then perceived. Detoxing under the care of one of our referred physicians is how most of our clients like to begin the process of recovery.

Involving a professional is important because of the terror associated with stopping a compulsive behavior. When we tell our loved to gain control of their situation they don’t have the tools so they feel more fear and say things like “leave me alone”, “it’s not a big deal” and “you don’t understand.”

There is hope and great reward getting into recovery from compulsive behaviors, obsessive thinking and painful emotions, but it takes time and encouraging support from all involved.

Camille Downing, MA, LCMHC

<p><strong>How to Parent Your Teen</strong></p>
<p><strong>Question: </strong>My 17 year old son does not care about anything, including graduating High School. My husband and I differ a great deal on how to handle this situation, but we both agree that he needs to go to college. I’m afraid that if he doesn’t get his act together he is going to live in our basement on our dime until he is 30. What should we do and how can I fix him?<br/><br/><strong>Response</strong><strong>:</strong> First things first, your son is not “broken” so there is no need to fix him however; he appears to be in a time in his life when he could use some guidance. There must be an understanding of why he has started “not caring about anything” because usually these thought patterns develop out of an event or experience. This may be something that you can discuss with your son during a neutral calm time, or something that he would like to talk to a therapist, social worker, or school counselor about.<br/><br/>Second, you and your husband must be a united front on how to handle these behaviors. It would be helpful for you and your husband to sit down and discuss what the rules are in the house (attending school, finishing homework, etc.) and the consequences if these rules are broken. This will make the conflict situations easier and calmer because you both will have a good understanding of what needs to be done and what has been decided as fair.</p>
<p>It is my hope that this helps with your situation. Please contact me should you need any further assistance.</p>
<p><a href="http://www.lifestonecenter.com/Jessie-Shepherd.php" target="_blank">Jessie Shepherd, MA, ACMHC</a></p>

How to Parent Your Teen

Question: My 17 year old son does not care about anything, including graduating High School. My husband and I differ a great deal on how to handle this situation, but we both agree that he needs to go to college. I’m afraid that if he doesn’t get his act together he is going to live in our basement on our dime until he is 30. What should we do and how can I fix him?

Response: First things first, your son is not “broken” so there is no need to fix him however; he appears to be in a time in his life when he could use some guidance. There must be an understanding of why he has started “not caring about anything” because usually these thought patterns develop out of an event or experience. This may be something that you can discuss with your son during a neutral calm time, or something that he would like to talk to a therapist, social worker, or school counselor about.

Second, you and your husband must be a united front on how to handle these behaviors. It would be helpful for you and your husband to sit down and discuss what the rules are in the house (attending school, finishing homework, etc.) and the consequences if these rules are broken. This will make the conflict situations easier and calmer because you both will have a good understanding of what needs to be done and what has been decided as fair.

It is my hope that this helps with your situation. Please contact me should you need any further assistance.

Jessie Shepherd, MA, ACMHC

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<p><strong>Question:</strong> My wife has struggled for years since an auto accident. She has attempted to Overdose several times to get her out of the mental trauma. She needs help and I don’t know where to turn.</p>
<p><strong>Response</strong><strong>:</strong> Traumatic experiences can have an effect on a person that can last for years after the event.  It is not uncommon for people to resort to extreme measures to find relief from the emotional pain that can result from trauma, which can be extremely intense.  If a person continues to struggle with a trauma for a prolonged period of time and/or the trauma continues to impact their ability to function in their lives and relationships, it is recommended they seek professional help.  The good news is that help is available and very effective in helping people to resolve trauma and to move forward in their lives.  Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is one of the most effective treatments available to treat trauma and is a treatment we are proficient in using here at Life Stone.  To learn more about EMDR, visit <a href="http://www.emdria.org">www.emdria.org</a>. </p>
<p>We wish you the best of luck.  Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.</p>
<p><a href="http://www.lifestonecenter.com/anastasia-pollock.php" target="_blank"><strong>Anastasia Pollock, MA, LCMHC</strong></a></p>
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How to Cope with Trauma

Question: My wife has struggled for years since an auto accident. She has attempted to Overdose several times to get her out of the mental trauma. She needs help and I don’t know where to turn.

Response: Traumatic experiences can have an effect on a person that can last for years after the event.  It is not uncommon for people to resort to extreme measures to find relief from the emotional pain that can result from trauma, which can be extremely intense.  If a person continues to struggle with a trauma for a prolonged period of time and/or the trauma continues to impact their ability to function in their lives and relationships, it is recommended they seek professional help.  The good news is that help is available and very effective in helping people to resolve trauma and to move forward in their lives.  Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is one of the most effective treatments available to treat trauma and is a treatment we are proficient in using here at Life Stone.  To learn more about EMDR, visit www.emdria.org

We wish you the best of luck.  Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.

Anastasia Pollock, MA, LCMHC

 
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